As one of the 18% of the missing 32%, and short on time, I'm honored to imperfectly navigate my #Archimom life. I'm a sole practitioner of 25 years, and an adjunct professor of 16 years. I designed this life to embody my personal definition of mother; to be conscious, available and engaged in my daughter's evolving childhood. She's 16 now, and despite her lack of interest in anything architectural (despite, or thanks to both her architect parents) she's knows how to navigate a construction site, is intimately familiar with every building department in our county, is a museum know-it-all, and has been an honorary student on every college campus I've taught. What pleases me the most about her, is her independent and creative ability to solve her own problems, and her patient tolerance of our crazy life. If not for the privilege of raising her while trying to contribute to the built environment, who knows how one-dimensional we'd be.
There is no 'typical' day, there are no secrets, and there's no judgment about how individual families navigate their live/work lives. My Secret Sauce Ingredients and Everyday Moments of Truth have less to do with architecture, and more to do with what works (sometimes) for us, and what we are constantly learning as we bumble through.
My Secret Sauce Ingredients:
1. Accept that you cannot do everything all at once, and build a village of like-minded peers, mentors, and friends. Ask for help.
2. Don’t hesitate to pay other professionals their worth to help you be the professional you need to be.
3. Accept that everything changes, nothing stays the same. Be adaptable.
4. Give up perfectionism and have a sense of humor about your own imperfections.
5. Cultivate the art of saying no to what you cannot or don’t want to do.
6. Eliminate feelings of guilt; they’re a waste of your precious energy.
7. Give yourself quiet time and space (even if in small intervals) to recharge, replenish, day dream , rest, or meditate.
8. #Archimoms wear many hats, and change those hats many times throughout each day. Build into your daily routine ‘transitions’, vestibules of pause when transitioning from one role to another.
9. Delegate: Practice trust by sharing decision making, execution, authority and responsibility.
10. Express gratitude. Thank everyone, all the time.
My Everyday moments of Truth:
1. Designing takes time. Since becoming a parent, those long stretches of hours when I could work are no longer there. My days seem to be a collection of 2.5 hour intervals (including travel time). If I can’t get the task done in that interval, it doesn’t get done that day. Whether it’s attending/conducting a meeting, creating a design solution, procuring a permit, composing emails/contracts/proposals/syllabi/invoices/reports, etc., taxi-ing my daughter, hunting & gathering (domestic & professional), teaching a class, cooking/cleaning, being volleyball/basketball team-mom, or reading/research, I don’t have the luxury of a lot of time. So FOCUS is my priority; being in the moment, whatever that moment is.
2. I’m a morning person, who discovered that if I don’t get the bulk of my work done beforenoon, the day is lost. So, I begin my day before sunrise, working on the tasks that require the most concentration first.
3. I love to cook, and try to prepare great meals for dinner, but Fridays and Saturdays, it’s eat out or take in, mom cooks nothing. Then Sundays, we cook a lot, building in leftovers for the week.
4. I’m in the ‘sandwich generation’, which is difficult, yet rewarding. So, involving my teenage daughter in some of the care for my octogenarian mother helps me, her, and bonds the three of us.
5. I’m a maker. My daily practice and teaching doesn’t give me that outlet. “Making” roots me in creativity and soothes me. So when I feel stressed, my evenings turn to craft: sewing, map-making, crocheting, sketching, all of which come in handy for #Archimoms who like to make costumes, gifts, and help with school projects.
6. I remain in the mentor/mentee sandwich. The women who encouraged me early in my career (1980’s) were the pioneers of architecture (Kate, Margot, Virginia, Norma, Wena, Lisa, Joanne, Ena). They amazingly and graciously maintained their femininity and sensitivity, while paving the way for us, fighting gender discrimination, and significantly contributing to the built environment. I still go to them for help, advice, and just to listen to what they have to say and pay it forward to my students.
7. My schedule and responsibilities don't allow for the time to attend all the conferences, lectures, exhibits, and parties I'd like, but nothing is as important as what I'm doing right now.
Nina Briggs, designer and educator @aninsggirb