Today’s Motherlode Monday Guest Editor is Erica Islas of California-based EMI Interior Design. It was through social media where I first learned about her work as a designer, then later (and offline) I grew to know her as a friend. We had the good fortune of meeting in person during Brizo Fashion Week last year where we were inseparable. I have so much respect for Erica not only for the beautiful work she produces, but also for her values as a wife and mother. Today she discusses the surprising lessons learned about change and finding balance in her personal and professional life.
I have been running a successful interior design business since 2000. It hasn’t always been easy though and my business has gone through many changes. One of the biggest changes was becoming a mother.
I became a mother in 2003. Best thing ever! I remember during the pregnancy I continued working as if nothing was different and as if nothing was going to change. I finished up some client’s projects and to the others I explained I would finish up after I returned back to work in about 3 months after baby was born.
When my son was born, everything changed….. I did not realize what a life changing experience having a baby would make. I could not bear the thought of leaving my little boy to go back to running a business. Yet, I could not bear the thought of not doing what I loved. I started in the architecture / design industry in 1994, so I was deep into the career and I loved it. So I decided I would take him to job sites with me and work around his schedule.
Somehow, like all mothers do, I managed to juggle schedules, and make time for baby, hubby, family life and work. But then the baby grew and he’s needs got greater, he was now crawling and wanted to move about, and so it was time to change things up again, leaving him with a sitter for a couple of hours a couple days a week. That was a stressful time, I had been so comfortable in a routine and having my son around at job sites and in the office. But it had to be done and so we did , we changed the routine and schedules again. But that wouldn’t be the last.
Almost 2 years later came baby #2 ,my little girl. Then the juggling got more difficult with two babies. Sure I could have taken the time off and made things easier on myself, I was in a great position to do so, my husband was making great money and I didn’t need to work. I struggled with my design passion and I couldn’t stop working so I found a way to do it all.
Today, although my children are not babies anymore, I continue to juggle. Like my children, my business also continues to grow and change. My business went from a sole proprietor business to a Corporation and now most recently, got a contractors license for the business, making us a design build firm, making us even more busy. So our juggles continue, and schedules keep changing, but I make things work. Just like other mothers out there. But it’s not a struggle anymore. I have learned to take the pressure off myself. Throughout the years, I learned that you can’t do it alone, so it’s important to delegate. Get others to help you. Whether it’s trading with a mom at school to alternate pick ups or delegating more design work to your assistants, just delegate. If you can learn to take the pressure off yourself and delegate, you’ll be far more productive and less stressed.
I believe I will continue to shuffle around schedules and create new routines until the children are off to college. In the meantime I am enjoying these moments. Taking them to school, taking them to practices, girl scouts, boy scouts, the birthday parties, the soccer games, the Lego robotics competitions, the playdates, our family date nights, our date nights, etc, etc. all along running a design build firm.
What makes this juggle all worthwhile is the look on my kids faces when I pick them up from school or when I am volunteering at their school, it makes them so happy and it fills me with joy. Also, my clients appreciate my work and that makes me love my job more. Not to mention how proud my husband and kids are when they see mommy in a magazine or on T.V. My hard work has paid off. I have the best of both worlds and I am thankful.
For me, there is no such thing as a perfect balanced life…. Sometimes I will work more, other days I will spend more time with family. That’s my balance.
I couldn’t be happier and I am so glad that never stopped working and being a mom ALL at the same time.
Free yourself – Take the pressure off, delegate, it’s a juggling act for everyone.