Amanda Hughen, artist and graphic designer
I have two small children -- ages 1 and 3 -- and two careers, so my life is something of a juggling act. So far, I have managed to stay reasonably sane and have time with my family. I have exhibits of my work this year in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, but it is difficult if not impossible to support oneself on art sales (galleries take 50% of sales, and the art market is always fluctuating), so I also work as a freelance graphic designer. As a result, balance is the number one priority in my life.
Sometimes I have lots of graphic design work, sometimes I have art exhibit deadlines, so my work life is a roller coaster. I try to take the ups and downs as they come, and not be overly affected by either.
My husband also works for himself -- he is an architect -- and the fact that both of us are self-employed comes with advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that we are truly co-parenting. My husband is fully involved in the day-to-day activities, trials and triumphs of our children. When one of us has lots of work, the other one is able to step in and take on more responsibility during that time.
1) What is your top tip for balancing it all?
Flexibility and awareness are key for me. Staying aware of my body is important. If I am tired or frazzled or feeling like I need more time in my studio, I pay attention to that and do what I need to do to regain a healthy equilibrium. I am a firm believer in the idea of putting the oxygen mask on mommy first so she can take care of others. Or as they say in the south, "If mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." When either I or my husband seem over-worked or over-tired, the other one steps up and takes on a bit more for a few days.
One disadvantage of my husband and me both being self-employed is that we work seven days a week. So we frequently divide and conquer. The trick is finding quality time for our entire family to be together, and we do that in the mornings, evenings, and weekend outings.
2) How has being a mom impacted your success?
Being a mom has increased my openness to and the importance of fun in my life. Before I had kids, I was quite serious and rigid about my career, but my kids have enabled me to realize how much better everything is when fun is involved. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, I was carrying heavy boulders for no reason, and I have put them down. It feels great.
My biggest fears about having children were that I would not have time to make artwork, or that I would lose the desire to do so. But somehow, being a mom has made me a more prolific artist. There is the saying, "99% of success is just showing up", and for an artist that is particularly true. I am fiercely protective of my studio time. It is tempting sometimes to accept an invitation for brunch, or to finish a graphic design project, or just clean the kitchen instead, but I resist and am in my studio like clockwork.
3) What is your best mommy moment?
When the four of us are together and happy and calm, I am in heaven.