Some girls come into this world knowing exactly what they were meant to do with their lives. From the moment my daughter could speak, she has been telling me she is going to be a teacher some day. She is so sure of herself that I believe this will probably happen. But for many of us, the path ahead is only made clear with time. School years are spent in a variety of classes and subjects, then our jobs in the “real world” lead us here and there, all the while wondering what we want to be when we finally “grow up.” Somewhere in the midst of all this, many of us start a family. Adding babies to the mix is amazing, but also complicating. As we survey our increasingly full and multi-faceted lives, we are often overwhelmed by the sense that we can’t possibly “do it all,” and that we, like so many women before us, must choose between the twin priorities of work and family.
A Mother’s Work: An Introduction
“A Mother’s Work” is a blog series challenging the traditional concept that women can’t prioritize both their careers and their children. Featuring female entrepreneurs who are also mothers, “A Mother’s Work” showcases women who are passionate about running their business while also raising a family, each with interesting and inspirational stories to tell about their continuing journeys through career and motherhood, and their own challenges and victories in the age-old quest to balance work and family.
Born of my own winding journey through years in the finance industry, starting a photography business on the side, and finally making the leap to follow my heart and launch a full-time career as a professional family photographer, all with children in tow, “A Mother’s Work” is inspired by the countless women I have met along the way who are managing the same balancing act as me, and my effort to share stories of entrepreneurship, of motherhood, and of hard work, each of them unique in their details yet uplifting and energizing in the familiar passion for work and family.
A Mother’s Work is baby raising, but it is also risk taking, dream chasing, business owning and choice making. And yes, it’s cliche to say it, but a Mother’s Work is never done.
I hope my readers will find inspiration in these stories of courage and determination and hard work. For me, it was so scary making the leap to entrepreneurship because I had two kids ( and one of the way! ) and I wasn’t sure how I would manage it all. My hope is that “A Mother’s Work” encourages others to persevere in finding what they were put on the earth to do, and reminds them that, though it might look like a hot mess at times, we really can “do it all”.
A Mother’s Work: Antoinette Hemphill | Owner, Mamabeasts
Meet Antoinette Hemphill. She is the founder of Mamabeasts — exercise classes and a fitness community for mothers. She has been inspiring Boston area Moms to ‘get it done with their little ones’ since 2011. Antoinette is also a mother to three boys and is an inspiration to so many. She suffered severe post part depression and anxiety after the birth of her third son and she credits exercise for contributing to her recovery and the success of Mamabeasts! Personally, I have been taking classes at Mamabeasts for a little over a year now and I can tell you first hand that it is ah-ma-zing. I don’t need to pay for childcare while I exercise, the workouts are challenging, and the community is welcoming and kind (and it doesn’t hurt that the tank tops are super cute!) But by far, one of the best things about Mamabeasts, is that the kids get to see their moms exercising, being awesome role models — demonstrating how important it is to take care of themselves!
The person who first introduced me to Mamabeasts told me that it ‘saved her life’ after the birth of her first son and I believe it! I remember exactly how lonely and isolating it can be when you have your first baby and I only wish I had had Mamabeasts when my first son was born. It is not enough to be motivated to work out, you need a tribe of people to cheer you on when you aren’t feeling motivated to work out. And Antoinette has created just that. Read on to find out more about Antoinette’s journey and find out how you can try out Mamabeasts for free!!
- Tell me the inspiration behind Mama Beasts
Mama Beasts really came from wanting to create a community and workout during a season of life that I personally found incredibly confusing and difficult – motherhood. As a new mom, I had an experience with exercise where it truly saved me on an emotional level. It made me see a stronger and more capable version of myself at a time in life when I needed it. There are plenty of Mommy and Me classes out there, but I created Mama Beasts for the moms. You can take your babies and young children – and they benefit immensely. But I wanted moms to have an empowering and challenging workout that was something they looked forward to and gave them a spark for the rest of the day. It is an hour they give to themselves – but in a way that they can actually do it. I also wanted to create an environment that was equally challenging and supportive. The classes itself, the community, the eventual challenges and play-dates – I wanted it to be a celebration of motherhood, of women, and friendship – and an antidote to the struggles that often come along with this season. After I had my third son, I got to test out my creation first hand as I experienced a pretty severe postpartum depression and anxiety. Mama Beasts – both the workouts and sense of community – were a huge part of my recovery.
- What is your favorite part about being your own boss?
I think it’s the ability to be creative and the opportunity to constantly challenge yourself. You wear a lot of different hats, so it never gets boring. I can be teaching class in the morning, then onto email marketing and website updates that afternoon. If I start to feel antsy, there’s always new things to learn that can make your business better. And one of the main reasons for creating this job for myself – I don’t miss out on a lot of my kid’s stuff. It can take some planning, but I get to go to holiday concerts and volunteer at their schools. These can be huge challenges for working moms, so I am grateful for that flexibility
- What is the most challenging thing about running your own business and raising a family at the same time?
That something always has to give! When I feel like I am killing it at work, there’s usually guilt about things slipping at home. I love that my boys have seen me work really hard over the last five years, but there’s always the worry of distraction. I think when you run your own business, no matter how small, you feel “on” all the time. For me, it’s always an ongoing challenge of unplugging from work (and social media – which has been critical in building Mama Beasts!) and being present as a mom. Some days, it happens and some days, Paw Patrol is on, so I can get work done.
- What are three words you would use to describe the Mama beasts community?
Kind. Unstoppable. Magic.
- What is your favorite exercise ?
Oh man! This is definitely like choosing a favorite child! But I’m going to go with a burpee. And running. I like sweaty cardio with high endorphin results. I really feel like you can burpee problems out (or they at least sort of block out problems in the moment. Ha!), plus they work everything! But the trainer in me feels like I have to say, moms definitely have to work on fundamental core strength before doing burpees like a boss. For challenges, I was in love with our “spring squad” challenge we did for 2018. Seeing moms get to know each other in small groups and have fun (the team photos and videos were ah-maz-ing), while accomplishing goals – it doesn’t get better than that!
- What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to get into shape or into a fitness routine for the New Year?
You can’t depend on motivation alone to create consistent healthy habits. Even the most motivated people are going fall off track. That’s why you need to do two things: 1) find a workout/class/sport/mode of movement that you LOVE. This might take some time, but if you love how something makes you feel, you will find a way to make it happen. Exercise can’t be a punishment. It can be challenging, but it must uplift you emotionally, not beat you down. 2) Find a tribe who has a similar passion. They will be there for you on the days your motivation isn’t or for when the exercise you love does get challenging. A tribe provides accountability, helps to break plateaus, and is just necessary for a woman’s mental health in this must-do-it all society. If you can connect a tribe to physical activity, you’re golden.
- When you were little, was there something specific you wanted to be when you grew up?
Yes! I always wanted to be a writer. I used to dictate stories to my grandmother before I could write and she was my stenographer. Poor lady! And after college, my first job was a local newspaper reporter and then I had the opportunity to do a lot of freelance projects, including selling stories to magazines like Modern Bride.What I love about Mama Beasts is I still can still write and create – whether it’s challenge content, website copy, or newsletters to the tribe! Actually, for 2019, my resolution is to write more regularly.
- Please let me know if there is a coupon code I can share with my audience so they can experience Mamabeasts for themselves!
Use coupon code CARA for TWO free classes at any location!
Classes currently offered in West Roxbury, Canton, Hanover & Norfolk, Massachusetts.
Cara Soulia a Boston Family Photographer who specializes in capturing real, beautiful moments. See more of Cara’s work here or get in touch to find out more about scheduling a session for your family!