Lisa and her sons, Lucas and Theo

Lisa Jackson, 41, lives in Berkeley, California, her husband Nick and their two sons, Lucas, aged six, and Theo, aged four.

I was born and raised in San Francisco but came to Berkeley for college twenty years ago and have never left. I love that Berkeley is a diverse and dynamic small city, and I love the weather. I work as a graphic designer. I’m owner of Good on Paper, a design and stationery company, and I also work part-time as a senior designer for a large engineering and architecture firm. This is my ‘day job’. I started Good on Paper so that I could take on more creative projects. The idea came about after I designed all our wedding invitations, and note cards. I received a lot of compliments, and my friends and family encouraged me to start my own business.

I work from home for Good on Paper on Mondays and Tuesdays (as well as most nights after the kids go down) and then I go into the office for my other job the rest of the week. Luckily I have a very flexible and supportive boss and team so this makes things easier, but balancing motherhood and work is a constant juggle. The thing is that life is constantly in motion when you have kids, work, school, etc, to contend with. It’s like a big wave and you just have to learn to ride it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but being flexible is so important, as is remembering that little changes can make a huge difference. Also choosing to pick your battles – such a game changer.

The thing is that life is constantly in motion when you have kids, work, school, etc, to contend with. It’s like a big wave and you just have to learn to ride it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but being flexible is so important, as is remembering that little changes can make a huge difference

The pluses of having my own business are that I am my own boss, I can be creative and work with amazing people, yet knowing that I also have a financially stable day job keeps me sane. The minuses are that I probably work a lot more overall than if I just had a full-time nine to five job, and that I have a lot of different things to juggle. Aside from my kids and their schedules, I have my freelance clients and deadlines, and then I have a whole other set of unrelated clients and deadlines at my day job. But overall I love what I do and that keeps me going.

Lisa and her sons, Theo and Lucas

A typical day starts at 6:45am. I get up before the kids to get myself ready, this really helps give me a head start in the morning. I prepare breakfast and pack their lunches (which I’ve prepped the night before) then get the kids up, dressed, fed, teeth brushed, sunscreened and out the door. Every morning is a crazy hustle. Lucas goes on the school bus and I take Theo to preschool. By 3pm (which comes around so fast) I head back out to pick up the kids and either go to a park or come back home for some playtime while I prepare dinner.

I am incredibly lucky that my family lives just 40 minutes away in San Francisco. My mom comes to our house every Wednesday through Friday and takes care of Theo. She’s a saint and my kids adore their po po, which is grandma in Chinese. Nick is an awesome dad and loves playing Pokemon with Lucas, building forts with Theo, reading to them and taking them on adventures. He’s also an amazing musician and is constantly playing music or writing rap songs with the kids.

Lisa's husband, Nick, and their two sons

Since booming a parent, I’ve accepted there’s going to be a lot of scheduling, piles of laundry, and picking up lego from the floor (drives me crazy), but I really try to be present and savour those sweet moments that are weaved into each day – when Lucas makes me a pop-up card and writes that he loves me, or when Theo asks me for a hug to make him feel better – those are the moments that make it all worth it.

I’ve also learnt that I don’t actually have to do it all. I’m the kind of person that tends to take on too much and I often I don’t know when to stop, or ask for help, until it’s too late. Stress is real and so unhealthy. Earlier this year I got ill due to stress and it was a big wake up call. My body was telling me to slow down and take care of myself, so I did, and really, it’s been the best thing.

For more about Lisa check out Good on Paper Design

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