Balancing a Small Business and a Family | My Personal ‘American Dream’ | Toni Jay Photography
Maybe for you, you replace the words “small business” with “teaching position” or “hobby farm” or “nomad lifestyle.” All of our dreams look different, and that’s how it should be. My dream includes balancing my family life while living out my dream as an entrepreneur. Doing those things while traveling a bit around the country in a remodeled camper would be icing on the cake, but, that’s still a dream in the making. (PS, how cute is is this couple and their pups?!)
A few years ago I was talking with a girl who told me that she didn’t want to get married until after she traveled the world, because “she didn’t want anyone holding her back.” Honestly, that broke my heart a little bit. It broke my heart because she wants to be married. Plus, she’s super laid back and fun, so it broke my heart because I want to shoot her wedding, but that’s just me being selfish 😉
I don’t want anyone to hear this as me saying that getting married is the ultimate life achievement. Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I’m over here screaming; “YES!!! TRAVEL THE WORLD!!!! Absolutely!! And if you don’t want to get married, then don’t!!” It’s the fact that she felt that getting married prior to seeing things that would take years to accomplish would hold her back. That’s the part that made me a little sad. When we make a choice to not do something out of fear, not only are we holding ourselves back, but we are missing out! And on a deeper note, if you get into a relationship with someone, and this is how you feel about the person you’re dating, then maybe this is a red flag for that relationship. A friendship is supposed to be a place to build each other up, support each other’s dreams, stepping to the plate when the other one is down, and sometimes just being down with them. Isn’t friendship one of the basic building blocks of every relationship? If it isn’t, then it’s no wonder you might feel like that person is holding you back! If marriage is important to you, then life should be enjoyed with that person! You support their dreams, they support yours…it can be a beautiful thing!
I’ve been a business owner longer than I’ve been a parent, and about as long as I’ve been a wife (9 years). I also have many industry friends who have a healthy marriage, or kids, and run multiple small businesses, too. With the right support system, you can balance these dreams. When Aaron and I went on our cross country motorcycle trip a few years back, we met several people on the road who impacted our life deeply. One person was a wife and mother who was working at a KOA in Moab, UT. As she was making our pancakes, we were asking her where she was from (incase you didn’t know, it’s super common for people to travel all over to work at KOAs, so most of the time, the workers are not local). She shared with us that she lives on the east coast with her husband, 4 year old daughter, 3 month old daughter, and that her and the 3 month old were spending the summer at the KOA. She and her husband were both teachers, and her 4 year old had a few weeks left in her summer school. The husband was going to stay back with her while she finished, the wife and baby would head to Utah, and then husband and 4 year old would come meet them in Utah for the last couple weeks of the summer. They have done this for several years, every summer, at different KOAs all over the country. And at times they both worked at different ones across the country from each other just to explore a city they each wanted to see. She told us how awesome it was to then get home together, and share all about their experiences with each other. Since having kids, they still did this, but modified. They would decide on a camp, and all go to the same one with the kids. This specific time since it was just her and the baby for the first half, she needed one with childcare, and this one offered that. She would work the breakfast shift so she could have the rest of the day with her baby, go on hikes, tours, etc. They had a free place to stay, made some money working, plus had lots of time to explore! MAN did that linger with me! They were a happy family, living out their dreams, and found a way to balance family with their dreams.
I think we have been trained to believe that if you want to get married, or are married, or have kids, that your life has to be put on hold. Obviously we still have to take care of our families, and there may be those rare instance where life is put on hold. However, if your dream is to live in the suburbs, with 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence, then do it. If your dream is to buy an old camper, remodel it, and spend as many summers, weekends and holidays as possible living out of it or traveling with your family, then do it.
A family unit actually needs very few things to survive, and you can manage these things while taking that new job, living life on your hobby farm, or traveling the countryside in your remodeled camper, with a family. Not saying it’s easy, but it’ll be alright.