By Jenni Schwartz, Founder of Jenni Schwartz Design
My goal is to make my life look effortless in that “fake it till you make it” type of way. Meanwhile, as I sit down to write, I’m staring at the clock in the upper-right hand corner of my laptop knowing my 13-month old daughter, Mia, is going to wake up from her nap soon. I’m wondering how I’ll have time on this Sunday afternoon to complete this post, food prep, and get a head start on my work week, among a million other things. I’m an entrepreneurial mommy who, like most, is juggling many roles daily and constantly working towards that dreaded, clichéd word “balance.”
When Mia was born in 2015, our lives were flipped upside down and our hearts exploded. My husband and now business partner, Mike, left the startup he built to take care of our daughter, and despite receiving dirty looks from our baby nurse, I was back in my home office immediately after giving birth. Our postpartum roles weren’t traditional, and even with the lack of sleep and nursing breaks, I pushed through the fog to sit at my computer for a few hours a day. Why? First, because it gave me a sense of normalcy and control in my new life as a mom, which was completely foreign to me. But mostly because I love what I do. I am one of those fortunate people who has been able to follow a passion into a successful career.
I’m also lucky that my career allows me to fold in a healthy lifestyle, another of my passions. I began freelancing as a graphic and web designer in 2005 and took almost every job that came my way. But after receiving an amazing opportunity to brand a popular cycling studio in its infancy, I began to formulate a niche. From there, more and more fitness opportunities came up, and I began marketing my design business towards wellness, a booming industry that it's impossible not to be excited about. I call it multitasking at its best when taking a mid-day barre class can be considered part of my job. And it has helped me get back in shape postpartum after gaining nearly 60 pounds (eek!).
Mike joined me professionally last fall to take my business from a one-man operation to a multi-disciplinary creative studio. We quickly learned that it’s impossible to be productive at home while changing diapers, steaming carrots, and singing silly songs, so we enrolled Mia into full-time daycare. I felt uneasy, horribly guilty, and cried every day during drop-off for the first few months. It didn’t help that I would constantly get reactions like “that’s a long day” — which in return I’d try to justify that it’s basically a room with three nannies and other babies. It took some time, but I finally moved past the guilt and gave myself permission to retain my sense of self beyond being a mother. Mia is safe and happy in daycare while I continue to do the things I love, like designing, working out, and creating a happy home for her through our expanding business.
Meanwhile, Mike just left our apartment to take a boxing class because, as he explains, the 2-hour “Yoga for Cyclists” workshop he plans to attend later today, although awesome, may not be physically challenging enough. I mean, really? I gave him a few digs before he left, mentioning my heavy to-do list, but the truth is that I’m okay with it. It’s important to him and we believe that when something is important, you do it. You make the time. Our marriage works as a tag-team. When one of us wants to take an hour, usually to work out, the other covers. Marriage is a difficult balancing act in itself, so adding the title of “business partner” into the mix can complicate things even more, hence the need for our own personal activities. Our life is a modern day partner-dance choreographed by a shared, color-coded iCloud calendar. We block off hours and sometimes days to do whatever we may need, to feel fulfilled and nourished beyond our roles as spouses, parents, and professionals.
Truthfully, I’m really tired and I don’t have it all figured out. Our juggling act is a constant work in progress that we may never come close to perfecting. Often times Mike and I get frustrated with each other, and after writing this piece and analyzing my less-than-perfect life, I think “balance” is complete BS. There I said it.
At the end of the day, just make sure you’re content. If you can get there, you’re winning in my book. We created a life we love, and we get to share it with an incredibly special child. I’m happy, I’m grateful, and somehow I found time to shower today, which gives me just the balance I need.
Jenni Schwartz is the Co-Owner and Creative Director of Jenni Schwartz Design (JSD), providing graphic and web design services to healthy lifestyle brands. After receiving her BFA at the University of Michigan, Jenni worked as an in-house designer for a variety of professional sports leagues. In 2006, while achieving her MA at the City College, Jenni established JSD after deciding she wanted to wear yoga pants everyday and work solely on inspiring projects with passionate people. This drive, coupled with her obsession for fitness, helped cultivate her niche in the wellness space. Jenni loves working closely with her clients to highlight their specialty, develop their brand, and create clean, memorable and user-friendly designs. Jenni lives and works in Manhattan’s storied Greenwich Village with her husband, Michael, and daughter, Mia.