What does a day in the life of Tess look like?
Every day looks different but always starts the same. I’m all about the morning ritual. Every morning I leap out of bed, chuck my hair in a top knot, dress my 2-year-old, we get on our push bike and ride to our local for coffee. We take our time, stroll the streets, explore the beach and then head home to tackle a creative to-do list. Somedays it’s fast paced and other days it’s calm and collected. It all varies; sometimes I’m on the computer creating all day and other days I get to create with my hands. No day is the same and that is why LOVE my job.
What’s your motivation for being self-employed?
Lifestyle and motherhood! After working for myself I am too spoilt for any other way. I love that I can choose my deadlines, the hours I work, and the jobs I take on. I love that I decide how I want to spend my time; it’s not dictated by someone else’s decisions. I’ve done the 9-5 grind, It was great for a time but the predictable notions really didn’t mesh well with my personality. I love the spontaneity that goes with working for myself and I love that I can spend more time with my family!
So you’re running a company and raising a child, how does that work for you?
I get asked this a lot — let’s be real, it’s not all glam… But, I have a few little things in place that make work/mum life somewhat easier. Some days it’s smooth and I feel on top of the world and sing songs like “Freelance is the free life”, and other days it’s not so great. Trying to meet a deadline with a 2-year-old is a stress and plain right crazy (sometimes I drop a few %$#@) -but right now we have a pretty good set up. My husband and I are those silly dreamers that decided to leave the comfy life and go for our BIG crazy dreams and silly us, we both decided to do it at the same time. Sometimes we look at each other and say “we are crazy!” “Are we stupid?”But we both decided we’d rather be 80 and old, and stoked that we tried!
This is how it works for us; at the beginning of every week we plan who’s working and who’s being mum . Some weeks we can only plan day by day… so when Caleb’s in-between stunt gigs, I’m full-time designer and when he’s on a movie full-time, I’m full-time mumma doing the crazy juggle:working some serious late nights and sneaking in some work when Peaches is having her day nap. Or sometimes I have to put her in front of a few episodes of Pepa Pig to meet a deadline (guilty). It’s a serious juggle but it somehow works in this crazy little nomadic family of ours. Some days I cry when it’s hard and other days I think to myself I wouldn’t’t have it any other way. We could never say life is boring – I LOVE the flexibility we have and I love how every week is different. Tomorrow will look different again, and I love that!
Do you ever get the motherly guilts when juggling your two babies?
Everyday! It’s a constant internal battle of mine. At the end of the day, one baby is clearly more important to me than the other. Family is always first in this crazy equation. So when push comes to shove, I choose family. But yes, the guilt is real when I have crazy deadlines and I’m trying to do both. I fail at the balance daily and have learnt to give myself grace. I think motherly guilt is something we all face when we bring a little human into the world, we all deal with it differently and it shows its face in many different forms. I find talking things out is really helpful and directs me to regain perspective on a regular basis. I don’t think any mum is exempt from guilt even if you are ticking all the right boxes. Every mum just wants to do their best by their kids.
What do you tell your little one about your work?
Her current vocab sports the sentence “You doing work mum?” To her “work” is me tinkering away in the studio. She’s only 2 so I don’t think she truly understands what I do but she would know by now that it’s creative. There is always something exciting going on in the studio [and] she is very curious and often tries to get in on the action.
What are your tips for juggling time?
Write lists, reply to emails ASAP, always let the ball be in the other person’s court when it comes to emails, have a paper diary, use nights as a backup if the days prove to be un-productive and keep weekends sacred. I don’t work weekends or check my emails in this time. Time juggle is something I have to re-assess weekly, I think if you’re going to be a mum working from home, the word “juggle” will be something you re-visit, re-adjust and re-tweak weekly. The juggle is real!
How does your partner work in with it all?
We juggle this out together. Both being contractors, we have learnt to check in, plan together and help each other make it work. Communication is crucial in us getting it right. It’s tough sometimes but I love that we are both very involved in each other’s creative worlds and both backing each other’s dreams! When we are functioning like clockwork it truly is magical!
What are your 3 top tips for mothers who run businesses?
1/ Surround yourself with other mums who are also doing the freelance juggle. They will truly understand the depth of the internal battles that come with the juggle and will be a light to you when you need clarity.
2/ Keep your nights as a back-up to get stuff done. I don’t love working nights and try really hard not to, but having this option takes the pressure off me during the day if my 2-year-old decides to have an “off day”. Knowing my nights are free allows me to close the laptop during the day if my daughter needs me with the fall back plan to get productive / meet deadlines and get the job done later on when she goes to bed.
3/ Time off, is time off. Be strict with boundaries, put an auto-response on your email over weekends and be with your family. It will pay off during the week and you won’t resent your business. You need to enjoy the perks of working for yourself, un-disturbed time is one of the perks you need to choose to guard. Weekends were made for fun!