by Tracy Bradbury
Time – how do you find time to balance children, life, home and photography? Its one of the questions seen an awful lot on the Clickin Moms photography forum.
I’m a single parent bringing up my children alone so for many years, to be able to follow my dream and pursue doing photography was put to one side, something that I used to dream I would “one day” make happen. One day I decided that instead of just thinking about doing photography, I wanted to take the plunge and start learning. To start with, I joined an evening class at my local college and bought my first DSLR, my oldest child was able to babysit so the evenings were when I had some free time. I made sure that I was organized before leaving for college – all school stuff ready for the morning etc. and my homework was done during small slots
of free time that I had. Taking this course made me realize exactly how important photography was to me and when it finished after a year I knew I needed to find a way to carry on learning. My college didn’t do any further evening courses and I wasn’t able to do day ones due to home commitments so that lead me to looking online and luckily for me I found CM.
So now I had found the perfect environment to carry on my learning but I also had to learn to manage my time a lot better so I could make full use of all the wonderful information at hand. To do this effectively, and free up as much time as I could without the children feeling resentful or house becoming a complete mess (but it still is often untidy), I did a few simple things:
I started doing two things at once, like kids in bath – so I clean the bathroom. Kids outside playing – do some gardening. Kids doing homework – me doing my workshop reading/tutorial reading. Trying to do chores as they arise rather than leaving several to mount up. One of my best tips is to try to stay on top of things at all time since once you fall behind it seems to take forever to catch up. Online shopping – so much easier. Doing these simple steps alongside using children’s nap/sleep times for being online, taking photos, etc. allows me to continue learning and practicing but not taking me away from precious time with the children.
So, you ask, what do I get out of pursing my passion as a hobby? I can answer that and so much more!
For me the fact that I have a hobby that I love means that I’m not as stressed as I was before; I now have something for me. I find that having a creative outlet helps me feel more cheerful and I gain a real sense of achievement when I learn a new technique or finally get one right that I’ve been practicing. I particularly find taking macros extremely calming though I need to slow down and really focus when taking these. It’s the one time I’m not rushing around.
I usually try to take macros and most of my other photos either in my garden or in the local countryside around where I live. Spending just 30 minutes out shooting and I feel so much calmer and less stressed. In fact, all the photos in this article were taken in or around my home.
I personally think that me having a hobby makes me a better parent. We all need to learn new things to grow as a person and my children can see my enthusiasm for what I do and they often ask me questions about what I’m doing and point out things they think that I might be interested in. They can see how much I’m enjoying my hobby and how it’s made me happier and calmer. They can also see the benefit of studying hard to achieve what you want and it encourages them to try harder in all that they do!
I’ve met new friends through photography and having people that enjoy the same things as you do gives you things to talk about and ideas to discuss. As much as we mothers love talking to our children, it’s so good to be able to talk to other adults about common interests and I’ve found that I’m not as lonely as I used to be before I started photography.
For me, the most important thing is the sense of achievement when I’ve accomplished a task or project that I’ve been working on. I’m not just a Mum, someone’s parent, but I am me and I’m important too. I’m proud of my achievements in photography and I know my children are proud of what their Mum has achieved too.
So my message to any Mums out there that are thinking of taking a hobby up, whether it be photography or something else, do it and see how much better you feel for it!
Tracy Bradbury, England
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Tracy lives in a tiny village in the UK, and is a SAHM bringing up 3 children. She is a hobbyist enjoying documenting her family life as well as having a passion for macro photography, which she says “slows her down and relaxes her”. She loves lattes, the smell of vanilla and the sound of the ocean. She presently shoots with a Nikon D3s with an assortment of lenses and a Lensbaby.