Anelise Salvo | Another Mother Her Way
Anelise and I were connected by a mutual friend who saw this Instagram post of hers and thought it was so very MU. I got over my initial bout of intimidation that this might possibly be the coolest person I've chatted to and we hopped on a call and quickly broke through the small talk. Anelise is an incredibly talented designer whose perspective I love for her candor on choosing a career path that would afford her the lifestyle she wanted. She and her husband now spend the summer season in Lake Tahoe and the rest of the year traveling with their son, Costa. She talks about structuring a work week specifically around a set number of hours to let her be the mother she wants to be, the unexpected gift of intention in her work and a wish for presence in this season of life.
1. How did you change after becoming a mother?
It's funny when I hear this question because I instantly think, oh in every single possible way I’ve changed and at the same time in not so many ways. I think the main way I have changed as a person is having tunnel vision on what the most important values to me are in my life and that actually clarified a lot of things in my career. It made me take a hard look at the hours I was working and I decided that being with my baby was more important than hustling for other people, even though I had spent four years building my business up to its current state of feeling secure and content. As Costa has been growing into a tiny person (he is nearly two years old), I have realized just how important it is to be present and mindful throughout the day. The amount of change in a child’s development that happens in one day and at the same time to me as a mother is astronomical and it’s just so clear how quickly it all goes by. I won’t ever get these moments back so I’ve really become a more mindful person and mother.
2. What choices did you make to accommodate motherhood? Would you make them again?
In terms of my career, I decided being a full-time mother was the most important thing to me when my son was born but at around four months postpartum I really was craving getting back to work so I changed my work hours to 25-30 per week and I set a schedule with specific times of the week I reserved for work and client calls and for family and life. I wish I had made that work schedule for myself when I started my business instead of waiting until the baby came along because it really taught me how to work smarter and with great intention. My productivity is better, the work I produce is stronger, and I respect my time outside of work way more than I ever have. Most importantly I get so excited to go to work on my work days instead of feeling like I just have to cram in the work whenever I have a free second.
I am about to go on maternity leave in June with baby number two, and in this season of life, I am just ready to be on maternity leave for 7-12 months without feeling like I need to check email or “be” somewhere else. It’s a different feeling than I had before, but it just feels right to be a full-time mom and soak it all up!
Another choice I have made that I think is pretty common among new mothers is putting the baby and literally everything else ahead of myself. I am the first to admit I feel guilt when I am doing something that is not baby related, and I am slowly learning that this might be the most unhealthy way of living and that the guilt is uncalled for. I’ve been consciously working on taking care of myself so I can be a better mom, and when the time comes business owner again, but if I had the perspective that I have now I would carve out time for myself like I did for my business and throw the guilt out the window.
3. Describe yourself as a mother in 3 words. What kind of mother would you like to be?
Patient, encouraging, consistent.
I hope to be the person my children know has their best interest at heart 100% of the time, someone who is endlessly encouraging to the things that bring them joy and I hope that I can set boundaries and guidelines for them so they have the space to be really great people who are full of empathy, drive, and enthusiasm for life. I want to find that super fine line between being incredibly involved, present and supportive while allowing them to figure things out on their own and to make mistakes and learn from them. I don’t yet know what that feels like, but I constantly have that image and feeling in my mind as I go through the day with my son.
4. How do you take care of yourself outside of motherhood?
I wish I had a really inspiring answer for this one, but as I mentioned, I am guilty of falling into the trap of feeling like there is no time for myself. I do though have a lifestyle that allows my family and I to travel for seven months of the year (while we live and run a business in Tahoe, California in the summer months) which has been my husband and my dream since we got married. We get to raise our babies together, travel and spend all of our days together which to me has always felt like the ultimate gift and reward for working like we do. But that’s not an excuse….I still need to make time for self-care, I know!
5. Every mother needs help to find balance. What does your village look like?
My village looks like a handful of amazing mothers around the country who I check-in with and seek advice from constantly, it’s just normally via my phone since I’m kind-of all over the place. Because my family and I are a bit nomadic, I don’t have a core group that I see in real life regularly, which is the downside of traveling like we do. On the upside, the women and support network that I do have is incredible, and when we do get to see each other face-to-face, I always feel a huge sense of gratitude for getting that time together. Our summer tribe in Tahoe brings us so much inspiration to live-out-loud in the nature we are surrounded by and they have really made our summer life our home-base and the place we can reset and feel like the homebodies we miss during our off-season. We have brunches and a cookbook book club regularly that ground me and allow me to really feel rooted.
6. What are you working on improving about yourself as a woman and a mother?
In this spring and summer season coming up I am working on carving out time to exercise, to learn to enjoy cooking, to read, to make time for baths and for getting outside to enjoy activities I love but never put ahead of everything else. I have also been talking with my husband a lot about how our phones play such a huge role in our personal and work lives and what that means for the little babies we are raising. Essentially I would love if they would describe me as a mom who has always been present instead of head down in a phone so I have been consciously making an effort to not be a slave to the phone and to train myself to live life like it’s 2008 when we could be present and enjoy life without having to document every move or use the phone as a tool to combat silence or downtime. My son is still so young, but it’s so obvious how he catches on so quickly to what I show him as important just by observing me. It’s been a huge life lesson and a reality check for sure.
I also have realized that making time to foster the community I do have is vital to my well-being as a woman so I will be making more time to put the time and energy into the people I love. I have always had this image of the woman and mother I want to be and this season feels like the time to work on making those changes to encourage new habits and practices.