Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

Welcome to BoldHeartMama!
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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Labeling myself a work-at-home momma, FAQ answers

Last month readers posted questions to an FAQ request. Today I'm sharing more about my experience as a work at home momma.

How do you like being a working stay-at-home mom (do you consider yourself that?)

Finding the right language to describe my role as a working mother has always been a little challenging for me. Part of the conflict is that since I became a mother I've worked only in a part-time capacity and from home. Because such a small percentage of my time was focused on work, and because most of my energy and joy was derived from the kids and our family life, I didn't consider my work a hugely substantive part of my identity and while I called myself a work-at-home mom, I thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom.

When I left my job over the Summer to pursue teaching and labor support, I was crowned with the official title of stay-at-home mom. Andy and I both made some lofty assumptions about the ways that life at home would be restyled with this new phase of my career. Andy imagined a direct translation to a cleaner, more tidy, and better organized home; a calmer and more relaxed wife; flexibility for him to work more hours at his own job; and more sex. In addition to all that I thought I would also have more time to invest in self care and looked forward to more quality time with the kids at home and around town.

I had no idea how quickly or passionately I would jump into developing my birth services concept for MamaBorn, or how rapidly business would come, not to mention how great a commitment the hours would be. In general, I work around 30 hours a week, and most would consider those to be the hours of a working mother. Of course, the early investment required to get a small business off the ground can be tremendous, so I expect the time commitment to wane a bit now that I have laid the groundwork. Happily, we are finally realizing some of those ideals we initially imagined for ourselves.

I've always felt that working from home, while seemingly the best of both worlds, left some things to be desired. For me, I missed the clear boundaries between work and home (designated space and designated time to focus on work responsibilities), face to face adult interaction, the requisite to begin the day with a shower, and makeup, and a put together outfit; the opportunity to leave the house and mingle in regular life.

I cherish the opportunity to have breastfed both of my kids and to have bypassed the challenges of separation and pumping, and to have always been within arms reach whenever I or they needed the other. I love that I was able to keep family at the heart of every day, while still growing my career and maintaining some financial independence.

Still, setting effective boundaries is a learned skill and working and living under the same roof makes it difficult to carve-out time dedicated solely to either one. I find it a much greater challenge now that I work for myself and when my work is so close to my heart: an extension of how I live and love, and a true integration of career and family. During my work at home hours I am also fielding questions from the nanny, checking in with the kids, facilitating discipline when needed, and hearing their every move through the walls of our small home. Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate with all that interruption and so I spend a fair amount of my fifteen dedicated hours sitting at Starbucks where I can work truly free from thoughts of the kids. On the flip-side, it takes effort to remain unplugged (as much as is possible when on-call) during family time, and to give myself permission to be free from my endless list of business related to-dos.

Over the last year I've developed my identity as a working mother with a great amount of flexibility to be present and engaged with my kids throughout the week. I love my work and I love my family, and I have to consciously balance my commitment to my business with my family's necessary sacrifice and meet them somewhere in the middle. Given that I have two young children and a husband who works a demanding job an hour out of town, my dreams for my business are constrained, in a way, by my responsibilities to my family and by our collective resources of time, energy, and finances. This reality keeps me focused on the priorities of my work, which is a good thing, because I can (and would) brainstorm business and birth all day and night.

In general, I feel more confident in my role as a working mother, but as with all transitions we are fine tuning our approach to learn what works best to make a dual career household run smoothly. I think working from home and being entrepreneurial throws in a twist, but it feels a little bit like an adventure!

What is your working arrangement and what do you call yourself?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How I make my career work for me: childcare, FAQ answers

Last month readers posted questions to an FAQ request. Today I'm talking business and mothering, and sharing how I make my career work for me.

How do you handle running your own business and managing your children? Do you have structured work hours or do you just try to squeeze work in throughout your day? Do you use childcare or just work around the kids somehow? 

I have always enjoyed learning about how other moms balance their careers with mothering and home life. I'm lucky to have a close group of girlfriends with a spectrum of experience integrating work into their lives, and they have inspired me to think unconventionally about how I structure my time.

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of  work arrangements. After graduate school I held a fairly traditional 9-5 job for a non-profit in Washington DC, which included a 35 hour work week, 15 hours of commute time, and some routine business travel. When Roscoe was born 3 years later, I took a 20-week maternity leave then cut back to part-time employment at two days a week working from home. I gave up my benefits, increased my hourly wage, and gained a huge amount of flexibility. We hired a nanny who cared for Roscoe 7am to 2pm, on Mondays and Wednesdays. The rest of the week I was free to attend to family obligations and relationships.

At some point during Roscoe's first year (maybe around 9 months) I ramped my hours up to 3 days a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Then when he was around a year old, and shortly after we found out we were pregnant with Merritt, I increased my hours again to 4 days a week (28 hours). My position was grant-funded and that fiscal year we did not expect to receive additional funding, so I front-loaded my hours and figured that a new baby would create a graceful exit strategy. I took 6 months off after Merritt was born and then, when some money turned up again to fund my position, I resumed working from home at 3 days a week for a total of 21 hours. In July 2012 I quit my former telecommuting job, but retained the help of our nanny 15 hours a week to supplement my work effort dedicated to MamaBorn.

All that to say that my professional work and my need for paid help has followed a non-linear path!

I have found that a professional work-from-home career requires dedicated work time and the help of reliable childcare. Not every job or personality type would demand it, but so far that has been my experience. We are very fortunate to have found compassionate and committed women who readily adopted our parenting style in caring for the boys, and to whom the kids have formed great attachments. Without them I would not be able to pursue my career as I do.

Over the last four years we've relied on 5 different nannies, 2 of which were temporary hires during our move from DC to Richmond. Our first nanny was with us for about a year and a half before we moved South. The second has been with us since we moved here a year and a half ago; she took on more responsibility at her other job at the end of last year and remains our primary babysitter for monthly dates and other miscellaneous childcare needs. Our third and current nanny started working with us in January and will remain with us until the kids begin preschool this Fall.

I now have 15 hours a week set aside to catch up on home organization, errands/chores, and MamaBorn related commitments. The hours are divided between Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 8-1pm.

In addition to these set aside hours, I typically have at least two, sometimes three, client appointments during weeknights and weekends. I also allocate a couple hours over the weekend to respond to urgent messages, write birth stories, edit photos, or prepare for class. When I have a Bradley series in session, I teach one night a week and that accounts for another 4 hours between travel and class time.

Two weeks ago, for example, I attended a birth from late Monday night to mid-morning Tuesday, taught class Tuesday evening, enjoyed Wednesday night at home, met with a client for her prenatal visit from 6:30-9:30pm with travel on Thursday, hung out Friday night at home, consulted with another  potential client on Saturday afternoon, and then in the evening co-led a community meeting for a non-profit birth organization. In addition, I am usually on-call for at least one mama at any given time, so we are limited in the radius that we can travel outside of Richmond, usually an hour or so is as far as I will venture out. Not all weeks are this busy, but many of them are!

My ability to work is directly dependent on my husband's commitment to caring for our kids while I am out of the house in the evenings and on weekends, in addition to our nanny during the work week.

In your role as a doula how do you arrange for child care? Women in labour hardly ever follow a schedule and while I am sure your husband takes care of night duties how do you manage flexible child care for when he is at work?

Because of the relationships that we've developed with our two current nannies, I can rely on each of them to care for the kids if I am called to a birth, and my sister also lives close by. In a pinch, I once asked my mother in law to drive from DC to stay with the kids for the afternoon. In general, I usually arrange a combination of sitters to fill in for the hours that I will be gone. It can be intense to organize childcare on the fly, but it works out fine, and once arrangements are made I don't have to think twice about what is happening at home, which allows me to fully focus my attention on my role supporting mamas through labor.
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