Since 2010 I have ran a successful wedding videography business called Love Gets Sweeter Wedding Films. I lived and breathed weddings, finding I actually worked more hours now I worked for myself than I did working in the demanding film industry (I’m a very tough boss it turns out). Trying to fit anything else in was challenging enough…
Photo thanks to Mick Cookson Photography (WAY before baby plans!)
It was after a very busy May (with weddings from Cheshire to Aberdeenshire and both mine and my husband’s birthdays to celebrate) and only a few days before a well deserved break to Italy in June that I found out I was pregnant (we had been trying since before Christmas in the hope we could fit having a baby in around ‘wedding season’…forever the planner!).
Being self-employed and working alone means all that planning for maternity leave is down to you and as I hadn’t had any experience of that before I tried to be as organised as possible. Firstly was to work out how many weddings we thought I could manage. With 14 already in the books we decided to stop taking any more on (although I did sneak two more in because I can’t turn down nice people I know-I did however make it clear that I was squeezing them in and so their films would take longer than everyone else’s which they seemed happy about). Plans were then put in to place to start preparing my schedule and allowing for a bit of maternity leave before the baby was due, informing all my clients on the run up to due date and the first ones booked in ‘post baby’. Clients were told when I hoped to have completed work by and nearer the time I tried to keep reminding them when I would be stopping working (and even after all that I still had a few clients clearly not getting the the fact this deadline was pretty fixed ha).
Took me a while to look like I actually had a bump…
As I wasn’t sure how editing with a baby was going to work I tried to reassure couples that my priority would be to make their perfect film and not try to rush them to meet deadlines so I would make sure I kept communicating with them throughout and thanked them in advance for their patience. I’m very lucky that they were very supportive and continue to be while I cram all my wedding work in to a few full days now Paisley is in nursery…and that’s my big tip for now. Childcare. As wonderful as it may appear to the outside to be able to work from home with a baby you really can’t work. You can squeeze in a few emails during a nap or try to do things in the evenings should they ‘sleep through’ but then you don’t ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ and if you’re not resting you’re burning yourself out. I found out early on that with breastfeeding on demand, frequent waking in the night, long wedding days, a baby not taking the bottle well and pressure of working around the baby were going to break me and so early on we started to look at childcare options.
This was my view most days whilst trying to type emails one handed…
Even with all that planning I still worked up to my due date and as she was late (a whole 12 days) I was back to work only 3 weeks after she was born. After giving the couple the option to book someone else or go with my numerous back up plans they stuck with me (how sweet is that to have someone trust you that much?). With that first wedding we had a few plans in place as we didn’t know how the birth would go. Although it went well I did end up weak with an infection and so Plan B swiftly came in to action and my two talented assistants were there to film the wedding for me and bring back some awesome footage for me to edit. Even overwhelmed and exhausted I still loved editing their wedding, you can see their gorgeous Highlights film over on my wedding blog, and I’m super proud I did it and did it well!
It’s worth spending the time getting plans in place for every possibility as you really can’t be certain how ‘D Day’ will go, even if it is a planned C section nothing is set in stone. You can plan as much as you like but when you’re basically going in to the unknown (the Mum’s I know on their second and third say it never goes the same each time), and even the ‘due date’ isn’t set in stone it’s hard to really know what needs to be done to make life a little bit easier once the baby arrives. I’ve found early on that I had to go with it and be ready to change plans or how I work to work with the baby. If I got too caught up on deadlines or dated to-do lists I could feel myself getting really stressed and that doesn’t help anyone.
Relax your personal deadlines
and Plan some more
Make time for yourself as well as Mum and baby time, it really does make a world of difference when you’re self employed to have those days completely away from work. It also helps ease the Mummy guilt you get from working so soon when everyone else appears to be staying in their PJs and only having to worry about getting dressed or putting the washing on… (more on that in a later blog I’m sure!)