Phoenix Wedding Photographer

Setting Boundaries To Get Your Life Back


Posted by Kimberly Jarman

I’m a workaholic… I admit it fully. I LOVE to work. However, I’m learning that in order to have balance in life and enjoy life you have to have boundaries.

I’ve talked to a lot of business owners, mostly moms, who all have the same thing in common. We are a little overwhelmed. Running a business takes a lot of time and a lot out of you and being a mom does the same thing. It’s hard figuring out how to do both and be good at both.

Being a business owner demands time. Clients want things right away. Work is always there. Your email is always calling your name. Your phones are (hopefully) always ringing. Everyone wants something from you at all times. It’s natural to want to be the best at what you do, and many times that means taking care of everything right when it comes in and working non stop in order to make everyone happy. I’ve always done this. I’ve worked all day and through the night and tried to get my to do list down so I can enjoy life, but it never really goes down. It’s always there lingering over me.

Being a mom demands time. My daughter wakes up at 5 or 6 every morning. During the night she might wake up a couple of times as well. When she wakes up she wants me, no one else, me. She wants to play. She wants to eat. She wants to go to the potty. She wants my full attention, nothing else will do, and when she doesn’t get it I see it in her eyes and I’m overwhelmed with emotions.

I’ve been in business for 8 years now. At first it was just me and my husband and I put my entire life into the business. I spent time with my clients and my husband but no one else saw any of me. I worked from home so I was ALWAYS working. My cell phone was my business phone so clients could reach me at all hours of the day and night, and they did. I always answered my email and I got a lot of business. It felt really good actually. I’m driven by that.

After a few years I started to get burned out. My husband wanted more time with me and I never saw family or friends. My friends only saw me if they wanted me to take pictures of them. Pretty sad, but true.

My husband would call me from work and say he was on his way home and I would quickly jump into the shower (sometimes), other times he would walk home to me still in my pajamas working away. My friends would call to go to lunch and I still hadn’t showered so I had to say no. I would wake up at 7:00 and start work and not put the computer down until I went to bed.

I decided I needed to start setting boundaries. I needed to be normal and like everyone else. I envied people who had 9-5 jobs. They came home after work and shut off their mind to all things work related. Then when they got into work the next day they would start up again. Although I knew life would never be fully like that, I wanted something like that.

I started by getting my own studio. A place to go to work each day. I would have to get up, shower, get dressed, and interact with other humans. I was excited. It was a step. I switched my cell phone number to a land line and when I was at work I worked, when I was at home I mostly didn’t work (in all reality I still did, but i tried to limit it).

When I became pregnant with my daughter I knew life was going to change. I did not want to be the mother who never saw her daughter, and when I did see her was on the phone, emailing, and only working. I wanted to be a mom that gave her full attention. I decided to set more boundaries and truly only work from the office so that when I got home she had my full attention.

Many people have asked me how to you balance work and being a mom. There really isn’t a good answer I don’t think. I do know that I’ve tried to make my job like a normal job; I take her to school each day, go to work, and then when I get home I get to be a mom. If I need to work more I do it once she’s gone to bed. I don’t get to be a “stay at home mom”. My business doesn’t allow for that and I choose not to go that route. I wanted her to have fun and learn while I was working and I didn’t want to just stick her in front of a television to babysit her while I was working at home. (Now don’t get me wrong… sometimes I need her to watch a movie while I get some work done and it does happen, but I didn’t want that every day.)

Each day being a business owner and a mother is a struggle. My clients demand a lot out of me and I expect that. I want to give them everything fast and perfect. That’s how I work, but I also really want to be a good mom and give my daughter as much of me as I can.

Over the last 8 years I’ve been working on setting boundaries. This isn’t something I’m perfect at. I give in and break down a lot, but I’m trying hard. When I keep the boundaries I’ve set my life is more balanced and I’m happier. When I don’t, I get overwhelmed and my clients, family, and friends don’t get the best of me. I have a family who needs me, not just part of me, but all of me. I have friends that I would like to hang out with. I have books I want to read, places I want to go, things I want to see, and if I work ALL the time I won’t get to enjoy those things and in the end I think I will become a bitter woman.

I thought I would write up this post and share from my heart. I hope it helps some of you out there to know that you are not alone and we all struggle with this. I also wanted to share some of the boundaries I’ve set (and try hard to stand by).

1)  Set office hours. I have set times that I come into work. I work Tuesday – Friday from about 10:00 – 5:00. Lately I’ve included Monday’s in there as well, but really try to take one day off a week for me and Kailee.

2) Have a set phone line, that is not your cell phone. My life changed when I made my business line an actual land line. I knew that the phone calls to my cell were most likely friends and family and when I was getting an inquiry or client call it was coming through my land line. It also allowed me to leave work at the office and enjoy dinner with my family, knowing I wouldn’t have interruptions. I’m the kind of person that if the phone rings and I think there is an emergency or something that has to be done, I will answer it no matter what and that is frustrating to friends and family if you are trying to spend quality time.

3) Set Certain Days for Shoots. I realized that when clients called I would automatically work around the days that were good for them to shoot. While, this is important, it is also hard to have a life. If you are randomly shooting on every night of the week how can you have any commitments to things that you want to do? I ended up giving up all my sports teams that I was playing on, my small group, any fellowship with friends, and my life. It was depressing actually. Now, I shoot and meet with clients on Wednesday – Friday. Monday is my day to meet with my small group, who have become very dear friends and something I look forward to every week. They keep me going and lift me up. Tuesdays I take my daughter to swim lessons and then we go out on a date. My clients know that I can shoot on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and normally are ok with that.


A random pictures of my little girl at her swim lesson. Needed times!!   (we need some type of pictures in this post)!



4) Don’t work on the weekends unless it’s a wedding. There are only 52 weekends in a year. That’s 52 weekends that I have to spend with my family if I’m not working. Since I work all week long and so does my husband, that’s really only 52 weekends that I have with them. I am a wedding photographer and shoot 20-25 weddings a year. Weddings are always on weekends, so that leaves me with about 25 weekends a year that I have to spend with my family. I don’t shoot portrait sessions or meet with clients on the weekends anymore. I can’t do it. I have to spend that time with my family because my life is going by way to fast and my daughter is going to be 3 soon and I have no clue where the last 3 years went. That’s a boundary I have to keep.

5) Don’t work on Sundays (except for a very few weddings). This is pretty much the same as above, but I need to push this a little more. Since most of my weddings are on Saturdays and my husband is an accountant (meaning during tax season he works on Saturdays) most of the time Sunday’s are our only days together as a family. While I will shoot weddings on Sundays (there are very few) I have committed this year to not shoot or meet with clients on Sundays. I know that a lot of my Bride and Grooms are from out of state and only come into town on the weekends and I know that everyone works on the week and can sometimes only meet on the weekend, but I promise you want me to be a balanced person and when i do decide to come and shoot on Sundays and leave my family, I’m a mess. I’m not fully there and all I’m thinking about is my baby girl and my husband, who I never see, so it’s best just to say no. Luckily with technology there are other ways to meet with clients and I can always skype or do a conference call, or facetime, or a number of ways to get to know you. I understand it’s not the same, but it’s something and can work!! I’ve done it before!

6)  Answer phone and emails during business hours. While you will still find me checking email ALL the time on my phone and ipad, I really try to only answer emails while I’m in the studio, unless it’s an emergency. As much as I love the iphone and that technology is at my fingertips, it’s also a horrible thing. My poor husband gets to watch my mood change all the time, especially when we go on dates and I quickly check email to find out something isn’t right or a client needs something right away. My thoughts go from him, directly to work, and I’m a mess all night. I like to fix things and I’ve just screwed up a perfectly good night because i checked my email when I was supposed to be enjoying my night. There really isn’t anything I can do about it until the next day anyway, so I’m working on finding that balance of putting down technology when I’m with my family and then picking it up again the next day. Man it’s a learning curve.

I’m sure there are more, but this is getting to be very long and you are all going to stop reading soon, if you already haven’t.

It’s been good setting boundaries. I’ve been able to spend time with my beautiful baby girl. I’ve been able to see and enjoy my husband. I’ve been able to spend more time with family and friends (not as much as I would like, but I’m trying still). I’ve also been able to be more fresh for my clients so that I’m not as burned out and can do a good job.

Lately, I’ve realized that although I’m working on the boundary things I’m not great at it. I still cave in and I still so things I say I’m not going to do. It’s my nature and I know that it will probably keep on happening, but for the sake of life, family, God, and everything else, I’m going to work hard to create a good balance between work and family. It has to be done.

I know it’s hard for clients and vendors to grasp that one sometimes and I might loose out on some business, but I promise I will be a happier and much more rounded person if I become more balanced.

I became a photographer because I love taking pictures. I became a wife because I love my husband. I became a mother because I love my daughter. I want to continue to love life at it’s fullest and that means setting boundaries to keep life enjoyable and manageable.

Life is short. It goes by so fast. Make sure that you are spending time with the people you love and not getting pushed around. For those photographers or business owners out there who are dealing with this as well. Keep your guns. Stay strong. Find a way to get some of your life back to normalcy!

Thanks everyone! Have a great week!!!


Kimberly Jarman:)

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March 23, 2011 - 8:11 am

jennyp - It didn’t email me Kim! I’m only chiming in because I saw this comment when I logged in to make a new blog today! 🙂

March 18, 2011 - 12:44 pm

Allison Marie - Thanks so much for this post! It’s definitely been something I struggle with, especially now as a newlywed! Great advice!

March 17, 2011 - 10:23 pm

Jennifer Bowen - Great post Kim. You and I have talked so much about these things and yet continue to struggle with the demands of both. Beautifully written and expressed friend. xoxo

March 16, 2011 - 11:58 am

Jody Frost - I think every mother struggles through this in one form or another. I envy those who can organize their time well, but most importantly can simply walk away when necessary. Kim, I have a deep admiration for your confidence and the thoughtful suggestions you continue to offer. Thank you!

March 16, 2011 - 11:50 am

kimberlyjarman - So, when I respond on my blog does it email the person I responded to??? Jenny… chime in!

March 16, 2011 - 11:46 am

Amanda - Good advice… I struggle with this too, but it’s hard because I work a full-time job as well. And as my photo business gets bigger, I’ve really been struggling to fit it all in. If only the full-time job didn’t pay so well that I have to keep it… 😉

March 16, 2011 - 11:37 am

Michelle Koechle - Awesome post! I’m finding that, with starting my new business, I’m having a hard time understanding how to balance all of this too. I don’t have a child but I’ve been so excited about getting started that I’ve been putting all of my time into it. Thanks for sharing your method!

Oh and congrats on the AZ Bride Best of 2011 nomination! 🙂

March 16, 2011 - 11:22 am

JennyP! - i LOVE this kim!!!! I love when you put up a boundary and I love when you take Kailee days 🙂 I think you could have mentioned that your lovely office manager often tells you you HAVE to say no, and sometimes says no before you even get the phone call 🙂 but…..i check my work emails all night so i’m not one to talk!!! ps–the swimming picture of k is soooo sweet! what a honey 🙂

March 16, 2011 - 10:38 am

Jessi - Great info and advice! A lot of that can apply to my daily job working from home! Heck, I’m still in my pj’s and I’ve been going at it since 7am!

March 16, 2011 - 10:26 am

Jenny Bishop - You are AMAZING, Kim! Love this post!!! Seeing as I’m going to enter the wife-mommy-business woman world very soon I definitely took away a lot from what you wrote! Thanks for being so open and honest! PS…I miss you! 🙂

March 16, 2011 - 9:50 am

kimberlyjarman - Sarah… My husband hates it too:(

March 16, 2011 - 9:49 am

kimberlyjarman - Amy… we are all guilty of it, especially me. I have to remind myself all the time!

March 16, 2011 - 9:39 am

Amy - Guilty! Thank you for this post! Keeping me in check and reminding me my career will always be there, but time with my family goes fast! Can you believe our girls will be 3 this year!?

March 16, 2011 - 9:34 am

Sarah goodman - Brilliantly said. Especially about checking emails while on dates. It drives my hubby nuts! It’s so great to hear other peoples challenges. Thanks so much for sharing from your heart. 🙂

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