Lucy in the Snow 2017

Snow Days and Chasing Slow

Lucy in the Snow 2017

The last few weeks have been short ones around here. We got back to a somewhat normal schedule after the holidays, just to be slammed with more days off of school for the kids than I can count.

Just kidding, I’ve counted. Twice.

Basically with the combination of national holidays and inservice/teacher learning days, we have four-day school weeks from now until mid-February. Which, let’s face it, isn’t ideal. Not only does this make my work schedule difficult, it is hard on the kids as well! It’s almost impossible for any of us to get into a groove when our schedule is all over the place.

When I’m faced with these types of working mom problems, I tend to get extremely over-stressed and anxious. I find myself making lists in my head of everything I won’t be able to do because I won’t have the time. I torture myself by looking at the social media feeds of my competitors and colleagues, seeing all their perfectly lit images and the work they have been doing, and instead of cheering them on, I feel resentful. I worry that I’m falling behind, yet again, and that I’ll never get ahead of the game. I decide that I’m destined to fail, resign myself to my bed with some fuzzy socks, ratty PJs and Netflix. Why bother even trying, right?

WRONG. Because I don’t have to live fast in order to find success, and the whole idea of hustle equating happiness just doesn’t resonate for me anymore. When my kids have a day off school, I enjoy being with them. I like stepping away from the computer and being present as we throw snowballs at each others heads or read books. I don’t feel lazy when I’m in my PJs with them until 11 a.m. I feel happy. Joyful, even!

Tate in the Snow 2017

So why I am I torturing myself? When they were babies and I worked out of the home full time, I felt guilty for missing all these moments. When I started my own business and they were in preschool, I felt guilty because I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to. Now I’m feeling guilty when they have days off elementary school. I keep waiting for the next phase of life, when things slow down, but I’m starting to think that’s NEVER gonna happen. There will always be something pulling me in one direction while another is pushing me the opposite way.

This year I am planning to focus more on being present, but also on listening to my inner self when it comes to my schedule and work. I am finding doubling down on hustle when it comes to work isn’t always resulting in success. Instead, when I focus on doing what feels right in all facets of my life (working, creating, mothering, reading, meditating, eating chocolate, whatever) the success seems to follow. Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to read the new, beautiful book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which really speaks to this topic. Erin chronicles her journey from a fast life, to a slow life and back again…and her conclusions aren’t what I expected. Instead of being a book about slowing down your life, this book was more about the question of why do we believe we have to have any particular sort of life for it to be a happy one? I related so much to her journey, and it made me think twice about my goals. Do I want a fast life? Do I want to be a minimalist? Do I want to disconnect from the internet and live in a yurt? Do I want to move to New York City and take my kids to school on the subway? Do I want neither? Both?

Chasing Slow

Do I have to decide?

Maybe we can just be balancing along the middle…sometimes wanting to throw out everything we own because the clutter is strangling us and other times buying a shirt on sale just because it looked cute online. Who knows? But for now, I can only be where I am. And I am a mom of two kids who are growing into grown-ups faster than I can fathom, so if they have a day off school, I’m probably needed on the front lines of the snowball fight. Afterward, when they are sipping on hot cocoa and fighting over marshmallows, I’ll likely sneak away for a little editing session or to answer a few emails. I’m not perfect, but luckily, no one is.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

If you’re looking for more info on this topic, the podcast “The Lively Show” is an amazing listen. I recommend starting with this episode!

Instagram, Algorithms and Social Media Stress

Since it’s a Monday morning, I figured we should start out the week with a light topic….like how Instagram is ruining EVERYTHING!!!

Instagram Changes

Okay, seriously, I’m kidding. Everyone take a deep breath, we can get through this together.

Remember when social media was simple? Ah, the good ole’ days, when you could follow someone on social media because you wanted to see what they were up to. And then, like magic, you could see what they were up to! But then came the Facebook algorithm and the whole internet lost their collective minds. No longer could we see the posts of our friends or companies we followed, now Facebook was deciding what we get to see! For small businesses like mine, it was the beginning of the end of my Facebook strategy.

I’ve talked before about how Instagram is my favorite social media platform (while Snapchat is closing in….) and it still is. But Instagram is about to change how the app works in a pretty dramatic way. If you’re totally confused and wondering what I’m talking about, this New York Times article lays it all out for you:

The photo-sharing service plans to begin testing an algorithm-based personalized feed for users, similar to one already used by its parent company, Facebook. That means it would shift away from the strictly reverse chronological order that the service has used since it began in 2010. Instead, Instagram will place the photos and videos it thinks you will most want to see from the people you follow toward the top of your feed, regardless of the time those posts were originally shared.

Sound familiar ? Instagram is now owned by Facebook, and while we all use these social media platforms for free, they are still companies that need to make money somehow. I get that, and I totally understand why they are changing. Technology evolves faster than we humans, though, so I also understand all of the freaking out. We liked how things were, and we don’t want them to change. I’ve worked really hard to grow my Instagram following, and have more than doubled in the past six months, so to know that all that hard work is now being compromised isn’t a good feeling. However….

I’m learning more and more that real social media reach isn’t about having a zillion followers, it’s about engagement. Sure, I don’t have the following of some photographers or writers, but I engage with the community I do have. I think 10 engaged and excited followers that are participating in your conversations are worth 1,000 followers who never like or comment. It’s about COMMUNITY, not POPULARITY.

(This is a great post about the algorithm change by Jasmine Star that is chock full of info!)

And so, I’m doing my best not to freak out about all the changes afoot. Yes, it will hurt small businesses. But as a blogger and an entrepreneur, the rules are always changing, and being adaptable is part of the game! If you’re looking for some ways to stay ahead of this thing (or if you’re just a recreational Instagrammer that wants to see your favorite posts) there are a few things you can do:

1. You can turn on “Post Notifications” – I’m sure you’ve seen this about 300 times in your feed by now, but by clicking on the three little dots in the upper right hand corner of a user’s photo, you can turn on post notifications and never miss a post by that person or brand. This is similar to what I’ve recommended with Facebook. However, at the moment this means that you will be receiving constant alerts and pop ups on your phone with notifications that people have posted a photo, which is no bueno for me! In the Facebook app, you can have the notifications turned on, but only popping up when you’re in the app. For Instagram, there is no way to do that, so it’s constant DING DING DING from my phone when I turn on post notifications. Soooo….that one doesn’t work for me, and I won’t be asking my followers to do that. But if you don’t mind the notifications, go for it! You definitely won’t miss a post! (My friend Cody wrote a fantastic post on this for her blog, if you want to learn more!)

2. Unfollow Accounts You Don’t Love – Are there certain accounts you never really even glance at, just scrolling by when you see their photos? Unfollow them! The less clutter in your feed, the less likely you’ll see images you don’t really want to.

3. Interact with Accounts You Do Love – The new algorithm is based on interaction, so if there are accounts you love seeing in your feed, let them know! Like, comment, and be a part of the community. The algorithm will see that and promote those posts to the top of your feed. If you’re a small business owner, make sure you’re engaging with your followers. Go to their pages and like/comment as well! The more you interact, the more likely your posts will stay at the top of their feeds as well.

4. Post Good Photos! –
This is a no-brainer, but make sure you’re posting quality images and captions if you want people to see them. The algorithm will be looking at images that are most pleasing to the eye, and those posts that have no captions will probably be bumped to the bottom.

Here’s the deal…Instagram isn’t trying to ruin our lives. Currently, according to their research, we only see about 30% of the photos in our feed. That means that 70% of what’s posted, we aren’t seeing anyway (unless we plan on scrolling through for hours on end). All they are trying to do is ensure that 30% is filled with our favorite posts. So let them know your favorites! And if you’re a blogger or small business owner, show your followers why you should be a favorite!

Instagram Changes

Then take a deep breath, chill and remember…it’s social media. It’s not the end of the world. And maybe get some ice cream. Ice cream always helps!

Elsewhere : The Kansas City Moms Blog

Ever wondered how I went from a mom who worked out of the home 50+ hours per week to a work-at-home mom with her own business? Well, I’m sharing the whole story over on the Kansas City Moms Blog:

But I still felt like something was missing. As my children grew, I found it was harder and harder to balance my high stress job with my parenting duties. My husband’s company became extremely successful, and he was less and less able to pick up the slack on the home front. We were all exhausted, and together, we decided a change had to be made.

You can read how it all came together over at Becoming a Mom Boss on the Kansas City Moms Blog!

You can also read my post on my complicated relationship with Facebook, and how I think we should all probably just move on over to Snapchat:

Ahhh, Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with the king of social media platforms. Yes, it provides me with entertainment in those times when I just need a break from the insanity of life as a mother of small children. But sometimes it feels like a black hole from which I can never escape! One minute I’m commenting on my childhood friend’s new vacation photos, and before I know it, two hours have passed and I’m wondering what I’m doing with my life!

Read more at Is Facebook on Its Way Out? on the Kansas City Moms Blog.

Are there any other parenting topics you’d like to see me cover? Send me a note at megan@crazybananas.com or drop me a comment below!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

I had big plans for a beautiful, heartwarming blog post all about gratitude and love and the holiday season…but then, late last night, we discovered our family is being hit with pink eye, head lice and an ear infection simultaneously! Merry merry! Anyway, I am grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met and worked with this year, and for the flexibility that this job gives me to tend to hours of sheet washing, nit picking, eye drop distributing and urgent care waiting rooms.

Happy Holidays!
In all seriousness, before this self-employed life, situations like this were entirely more stressful. And without all of my amazing clients, friends and colleagues, I wouldn’t still be self-employed. The first year in business is a pretty big deal, and to have done well enough to simply keep going is a gift! So thank you! And I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

A Note From the Trenches of Motherhood

Oh, hey there friends! Is everyone doing okay? Keeping your heads above water?

Sunday Morning Project

The last few weeks have been overwhelming and awesome. There are days when I am so, so grateful to have a flexible work life so I can be with my kids when they need me, and days when all I want to do is drop them off at daycare and run out the door. These few weeks at the end of summer are always challenging, as our summer babysitter heads back to college, but my kids don’t yet head back to school. This year was doubly challenging because we had gone on an amazing vacation, so the work had piled up while we were away, just in time for me to be a full time mama again. Yes, I realize these are ridiculous problems (oh no, too much work AND an amazing vacation…poor me!), but they are problematic nonetheless. I realized pretty early into this three week period, I would have to suck it up, and some things would have to fall through the cracks. Things like this blog.

Now, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to not be able to find time to blog (please see note above about ridiculous problems). This very summer I taught a blogging workshop for creatives where I proclaimed bloggers MUST BE CONSISTENT! BLOG ON A REGULAR SCHEDULE! USE YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR! PLAN AHEAD!

Ahem.

While I still believe all of those things wholeheartedly, I also believe a person’s health and well-being are more important than a consistent blogging schedule. Also, when I’m stressed I get insane writer’s block. I’ve learned that trying to force it when I am blocked just doesn’t work, so this time around, I decided to let it go. I still had writing deadlines for some of my freelance jobs, plus photo sessions to edit and new projects to plan. My coveted screen time had to be reserved for those priorities, and so the blog sat quietly.

But that’s the thing I’ve learned about blogging in the past 11 years…no matter what, the blog is always there. In previous years it’s sat dormant for over a month before I could write, and it didn’t disappear. These days I’m lucky to have an amazing social media following, so I can still connect with my readers and followers, even if I don’t have the time or energy to devote to a full blog post. In fact, some of my favorite projects have been created during these types of dry spells. Just this morning I woke up inspired and decided to create a new photo series called the “Sunday Morning Project.” Will it be amazing? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just an idea that will fade. I don’t know. All I know is that my head is currently above water, and within the next week, both of my kids will be back in school. So for now, there’s just one thing to do….

…just keep swimming.

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