I'm so glad that you have been enjoying this series, "Real Talk with Real Moms." These honest conversations need to happen in the blogging community to share the reality of the challenges we face as business owners, moms, wives and friends. Sometimes our perfect pictures can give the impression of a perfect life, and we want to make sure you guys know we are trying to figure out this mom thing just as much as the next person. Today, we're continuing the conversation with childcare and work...

AVE Styles existed before I became a mom, but when Elle came along I knew I needed to put her before my work. Motherhood is a very important job, and I take it very seriously. This is a decision I make every day, especially now that I have Levi as well.

When Elle was under a year old I designated sleeping time as the only time I would work. Occasionally there were times when I would bring her to photo shoots, but when she turned six months old I started shooting only on weekends when Ryan could watch her. There would be an exception here and there, but it was rare. One thing was certain, I was going to do my very best to be present when she was around and give her my undivided attention. 

As she grew and my business grew I ended up having my good friend's mom watch her two full days a week. I made this decision so that I could give my full attention to work, and then my full attention to Elle when I got home. The rest of my week was just us. 

Fast forward to having two kiddos, it's just not that simple anymore. My attention is divided between two kids now and my business has grown even more. Something has to give somewhere and it's not going to be my health, my marriage or my kids. My husband and I both feel that the work I am doing is a needed financial contribution to our family, and without getting too spiritual on ya, that I'm meant to continue this career path for now.

Elle turned 3 this year so she was ready for preschool when Levi was born, and she has been thriving having social interaction with friends. That has left with me one one one time with Levi two mornings a week, which I treasure so much. I was really starting to wonder when we would have that time together.

But with nap times not always synching and evenings needed for my marriage, I'm left without any time for AVE Styles. So, this year we made the choice to have someone help us for 9 hours a week in our home. Three mornings a week for three hour chunks so I can do the work I need to do to keep AVE Styles growing. I also hired an assistant to handle several writing projects and miscellaneous things, so that I can focus on the blog, my Pinterest classes and my clients.

I will tell you that I have never been more efficient with time in my life. I have never been more protective of such a limited resource, and I have never been more thankful that I can continue having my kids home with me for the majority of their weeks.

My advice to any man or woman managing a business from home is to set specific work hours so that you can be fully present with your kids. If your income is needed to continue working outside the home or what you do is rejuvenating to you so that you can be a better parent, I am in full support of you. Just give your kids 100% when you are with them so that they know that they come before your job. Put the computer down and go play because they deserve it. Not everyone is in the same situation and sometimes there are seasons when you are going to have greater workloads, but just don't stay in a place where you can't give your child quality time when you get home from work.

Hear from other bloggers on their decisions to introduce childcare and how they balance their businesses. I love that everyone does life differently with the end goal of being the best person and mother they can be. 

To see past posts in this series, check out my experience with sleep, travel and feeding.

Jen Pinkston, The Effortless Chic
Caitlin Flemming, Sacramento Street
Hilary Walker, Out Style Stories
Rebecca Gallop, A Daily Something
Em Scott, Em the Gem
Sarah Sherman Samuel, Smitten Studio
Samantha Wennerstrom, Could I Have That
Amy Anderson, Parker, etc.
Erin Heimstra, Apartment 34

Photos by Rennai Hoefer and Gina Meola

The Not So Glamorous Side

Most people have the idea that being a stylist is just shopping, picking out clothes and dressing people. They think it's a glamorous job, and anyone and everyone wants to do it because you're basically getting paid to shop. TRUTH: It's actually only about 20% glamorous and the rest is physical, emotional and mental labor.

When someone seeks out a stylist for a personal shopping job they are in a moment of dissatisfaction with their wardrobe. BUT usually the culprit is much deeper - the dissatisfaction often comes from feeling like they don't fit in, feeling fat and lacking confidence. Personal styling is mostly a counseling job. You're usually meeting a person for the first time, quickly discerning their likes and dislikes all while reading in between the lines of what they want and what their insecurities are dictating. Of course, the wonderful reward is getting to encourage those people, lifting their spirits, and seeing their faces light up when we find the perfect clothes that complement their bodies and personalities. But again, that's only 20% of the job. It can be emotionally draining, and of course, physically draining as you spend hours walking from store to store.

As for styling for commercial and fashion shoots, it's first hearing the client, reading between the lines of what they want, and then story boarding everything out. From there, we sometimes have to find makeup artists, hair stylists, locations and models. A lot of the time I do all of those things. Once I have measurements, I have to go hunting for clothes, which takes a full day (8 hours) because you not only have to find what you need, but you often need to pitch the ideas to get stores to lend to you. Once you find 8 full looks at least, you have to steam and prep all of the clothing for the shoot. (Last week, I spent FIVE HOURS steaming wardrobe on my knees for a cast of 24 people).

The day of the shoot you have to have fittings, adjust the clothes with clamps and pins, and of course be there for every second of the shoot to keep an eye on the clothes, placement of the jewelry, etc. After it's all over, sometimes you have to re-tag everything, fold things, and then drive all around returning the clothes.

This whole entire process takes about 25 hours of work.

The reward is seeing the finished product in a photo and a happy client.

For me, even though the glamorous moments are only 20% of the job, they weigh far more than all of the time put in doing everything else.

I say all of this for those thinking about being a stylist, for those that know nothing about the job, and for those that work with stylists all of the time. It's a serious job and art form. I can only hope that one day it's valued more than it is now!