This post is a part of a blog series of stories of working moms. I’m excited to share 13 stories from real working mothers. I also really would like to hear YOUR story and I’d love to hear it. Keep the conversation going in the comments & on social media using #wellcraftedworkingmoms. A huge thank you to the women who volunteered to share their stories, Mary Boyden of Mamma Bear Magazine for her photography and Madeline Roosevelt for hair and makeup!
I met Erika about three years ago at a couple Pacific Northwest Blogger events. She has such personality and is incredibly fun to be around. You also really want to get on her Christmas card list as she sends the best cards! Erika creates Art Every Day and shares it on her Instagram account with the hashtag project #makeart2016.
I really wanted to share Erika’s story because she is one of the many working moms out there that also are their own full-time childcare. Some working moms work their schedules out so that they are home throughout the day and work before their kids wake or after their partner is home for the day. It takes all kinds and I wanted to try to share as many examples as I could get!
Meet Erika, a working mom
Erika is married and has two kids, Nora (age 3) and Everett (age 1). She worked throughout her pregnancies and was fairly busy during her last pregnancy. Erika is a full-time artist.
Six years ago Erika left her corporate job in finance to go after her love of painting.
“It was grueling and extremely stressful. I was working sometimes 60 hour work weeks. I kept thinking to myself, if I was able to invest this much time working at a job that I didn’t love, then I should be able to make the time to go for a passion project” said Erika of her decision to leave the traditional workforce.
Erika started things out slowly having coffee with a friend who also wanted to leave the traditional nine to five life. They kept meeting up and talking about goals, eventually, one winter Erika made a goal to make and sell ten paintings by the end of summer. She was hooked and started applying for art shows.
She explains, “This is my dream job and it’s a lot of hard work but it’s extremely worth it and very rewarding.. similar to having kids! An artist has many hats, it isn’t just about making the art, its also a lot of marketing and selling the work. You have to love it, in order to be an artist and do whatever it takes. Being brave or at least being braver everyday is key.”
A typical work day in the life of an artist that is a mother to two
Erika wakes up everyday at five in the morning—even weekends! She wakes up and checks emails and work on her Make Art Everyday project. If she is busy she will give herself thirty minutes to an hour to complete. She then catches up on emails and checking her planner for projects that she is currently working on. After that she begins working on commission or client work.
Erika’s children typically wake up around 7:30 in the morning. She spends her time with her children and then sometimes gets in an hour of work around nap time. She spends the day with her kiddos and her husband after work but around 8 in the evening she will head back to her home studio which she shares with her husband and work a few more hours. She typically goes to bed around 10 to 10:30 so that she can be rested and up again at five!
When my kids are adults and look back at their childhood, I want them to know…
“My mother was a working mother. She worked extremely hard and was able to raise 3 children. Have a hot dinner on the table every night and kept a clean house. She taught me a crazy work ethic. She showed me hard work really does pay off and that you need to jump into the water with both feet. She taught me how to go for it. Even though she doesn’t really understand my art career, since it’s very non traditional,” said Erika.
She continued, ” I hope to share that drive and work ethic with my kids. That handwork is very valuable and anything is possible if you put your heart into your work.”
Maternity Leave, Childcare & Mom Guilt… oh MY!
I absolutely had to ask a few questions about some of the topics that often come up for the working mom such as maternity leave, childcare, and the challenges & joys of working. I love the answers so much that I felt it was best to just put it in their own words. Read on to learn about the ups, downs, ins and outs of Erin’s working mom experience!
When did you go back to work after having your children?
I worked on commissions and holiday work for about 3 or 4 days before Everett was been. He is a November baby! Then, I took about 6 weeks of maternity leave, but I still was working in those 6 weeks. I felt extremely creative when I was pregnant with Everett. I started my project Making Art Everyday in 2015 when Everett was about 6 weeks old. Its a project that I am extremely passionate about because I share my artwork everyday on social media, When I was pregnant with Everett I was worried that I would lose my creativity and that I would leave my studio and be a full time mother. I needed art. I needed a piece of creativity for myself. Everyday. Now I am on year 2 of the project and it’s the best thing ever. I don’t think I can stop at least sharing my journey and relationship with art. I am busier now than I have ever been.
What type of childcare solutions do you use in order to work?
My child care is me! if I have a really large project. I have my mother or my husband take on a few hours of being on duty.
What challenges do you have as a working mother?
The biggest challenge is time. There are days when my kids need more mommy time and that’s my number one priority. I think the biggest thing is staying consistent and not giving up. You deserve to have it all and be a mother with a career. Not every day is perfect but you are showing your kiddos how to follow your passion and that life doesn’t have to be anything but ordinary.
What joys do you have as a working mother?
My work is my joy and gives me a sense of that I am more than a mother. I have so much admiration to a woman who can dedicate 100% of her life to her family and household. I just want something different. I love to paint and am a maker. I love being creative and want it in my life everyday. Making art fills my cup and brings me joy and it makes me a better mother. It’s my one thing that I have for myself, that I love to do.
How do you fulfill the other needs in your life (going back to school, working on a dream business, seeing friends, being creative, etc.) while working and being a mom?
There is always a way. My work schedule used to be that I would stay up very late and work.. Sometimes it would be until 3 or 4 am and I was so wiped. I couldn’t be a good mom because I was so tired. I couldn’t give my kids what they needed. I decided to flip my schedule to wake up early in the morning. It was game changer. Now I can go to sleep at a reasonable time and wake up early and sometimes I do get the occasional nap but that morning time is so extremely precious to me. If I don’t have it, my day feels off. It’s my time to get my work done and be ready for the day.
Make a work schedule, even if it’s one hour a day that is your time. Having my husband watch the kids isn’t really option for us because he works full time. So my choices to work, is before everyone wakes up or when the kids go to bed.
How do you prioritize your family and children as a working mom?
We have family time everyday, when my husband gets home for work. We do a lot of dance parties and always have dinner together. On the weekends we try and have a family day and we do something for the kids. It can be as simple as going for walk to the park or sometimes the zoo.
Read more from Erika:
Read Erika’s blog www.atinyrocket.com for more on her work and life!
Thank you! A huge thank you to Erika for sharing her story as a working mom and participating in this series. Does her story resonate with you? Share in the comments below or on social media with #wellcraftedworkingmoms !
Check out Momma Bear Magazine for more articles on motherhood and to check out the great momma swag!