I wanted to share my experience with any other mommies out there who are working in graphic design and finding that work life before baby was quite different. Being a designer, things in my personal life tended to take on shapes from work life—organization, schedules, deadlines, ideas…the practices from work seemed to fit well. Having a place for everything, a tidy house and clothes, keeping a flexible schedule to finish up a pressing deadline, time to plan the next house project—all of these things are now GONE. And coming to the realization that this is okay was a weight lifted off of my shoulders; for now you have the biggest project of your life in your hands—a child. I don’t think I could have ever imagined how work life would be until the first seconds I held him in my arms, and suddenly how I organized, scheduled, and handled deadlines changed. A new set of ideas surfaced in my head; the way I think about things was renewed.
Since I had my son a little later in life, I think that made it a little harder to transition. The freedom of not having a child allowed me to work as much as I needed, anytime, and all the time. But now, coming up with a work-life balance has been essential. Knowing that my priority is my little man changes everything. Patience plays a bigger role, taking time to figure things out is more focused and solid. And understanding that time needs to be managed better than before has helped.
So for all you designing mommies or expecting mommies, this is what I can say to you in terms that we all understand:
The bliss of the unexpected. Embrace it! As you know, being in this field, things change with the ping of an email. The design direction of a project was suddenly changed and you have only hours to revise a concept and get it back to the client for approval before it goes out for print. Quick—what do you do? Well having a little one is very much like a design direction change on a pending project. You think that you have it all figured out, and then suddenly they tell you it’s not what they want. Then you have to reach into the ideas in your head to figure out how to make them happy. Having a creative mind helps, for we don’t think traditionally most of the time and I think it makes it easier. However, realizing that your time is not just your time anymore is hard. Getting the call that your baby is sick and needs to be picked up from daycare, nobody in the house got any sleep the night before a big day in the studio; a whole sippy cup of juice was spilled on your cream carpet…all unexpected and all need to be embraced. It’s a part of parenting that no one can really prepare you for, but if you keep in mind that it’s a part of a bigger and better concept, you will survive.
Sleep is for the bears. We know this. We all went to school and pulled very late nights all the time trying to finish up mid-term projects that we waited to do at the last minute. We have had to come into the studio early and stay late…well it’s sort of the same thing. When the kid is up and active, so are you. Just accept it and realize that maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps keep you going. For those of you who love coffee, you’ll realize it is something that you begin preparing the night before so you can just turn it on first thing in the morning so it’s ready as fast as it can be made. But as I had previously stated, be healthy. Find time to be active—either going for walks during your lunch break or going to the gym when you can. That little bit of active and “alone” time gives you the recharge you need to make it through the work day. It also helps keep the creative juices going…experts say.
There is no more grid. I think, for the most part, designers are pretty neat and tidy. We keeps lists, we keep our personal spaces organized. Well, there are no more neat and tidy grids anymore. There are toys, dirty clothes, food stains on the floor, and messy faces. Accept this. My best friend once told me that “dirt is patient” which at the time I didn’t understand or accept. What do you mean? I won’t be able to keep my floors clean and my desk organized, my clothes ironed and neatly hung up? Nope…
Just as you would take the time to prepare that presentation to the client or to do research on the latest trends in web design, you have to now take time to just be with your little one. Those day-to-day items will always be there but watching them roll over for the first time or take that first step only happens once. Don’t spend your time obsessing on keeping the grid of your life perfect because you will miss the unspoken joys of watching your child experience their “firsts” in life.
Stay tuned for further insight from the Designing Mommy…as I experience events or run across something that I think you will be interested in, I’ll write it up and share.