The last three months have been one heck of a challenge I’m not going to lie. Running a business is hard work at the best of times but doing this as well as bringing up a tiny human results in a whole host of new hurdles and experiences. Balancing business and motherhood is tough!
I’m no expert but I’ve learnt a lot since February so I wanted to share my experience so that anyone who is going to be welcoming a new addition to the family while running a business can hopefully feel like they aren’t alone when the time comes.
I’ve also contacted some of my lovely mum boss pals who have kindly shared their advice, thanks so much ladies! xxx
Give yourself time to adapt to family life
This may seem obvious but you really do need to allow yourself a good few months to adapt to being a mum and most importantly – heal! Labour, no matter the situation is one heck of an experience and the aftermath is a journey in itself. Accept the fact that you won’t be checking your emails or posting on social media for quite some time. Spend precious time with your tiny human, the business can wait.
Did I do this? Nope. I felt like I instantly needed to be able to manage both business and baby but in hindsight all it did was make me feel worse. Having a baby is one massive whirlwind so embrace it and make provisions if you can to get help with your business in the early weeks or months.
“When I went on maternity leave I added an out of office just to alleviate some pressure. Now it permanently stays on to notify people that I will try my hardest to reply within 48 hours but on weekends it might be longer. Just that little act helped my own sanity.
I can happily say that no one has ever chased me for a reply but I get anxious with myself if I don’t answer things promptly which conflicts with the guilt I feel via my daughter when she catches me on my phone again. I am having to learn to ignore it whilst she’s awake on the days I should be spending with her and prioritise my time with her properly – as it should be.
I have two dedicated work days a week at the moment and between those and my auto reply, I think it’s brought in a necessary structure that benefits us all.”
Ellen, LND Events
Allocate specific working hours
As soon as a child is added into the equation, whether you like it or not it’s impossible to do whatever you want, whenever you want. For me, if I want to send an email whilst Mabel is awake I’m doing it with one hand whilst feeding her. For weeks and weeks I really struggled with not being able to do simple admin tasks, so much so that I’d get really frustrated and upset. I hated that I was working when I should be bonding with my baby yet I wanted to be working because it’s my business and I genuinely love it.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now structure my day so that I can enjoy my time with Mabel and work mainly on an evening when she sleeps. If I can answer emails or arrange calls during the day whilst she naps then I will, but no longer do I get frustrated about it. I use the day time to take Mabel to classes, go on sunny walks – pretty much anything that involves us both with no laptop to be seen. You’ll probably hear this constantly when you become a mum but it’s true – they are only small for such a short amount of time, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty!
Obviously as she gets older my working hours will change and I’ll be able to get more done during the day but at the moment for me this structure works really well and has improved my mental health massively.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
If you are anything like me you will think that you can do anything and everything no matter what life throws at you. I think that’s what I’ve struggled with the most. Before Mabel I could get so much done during the day no matter how long the to do list was, whereas now I feel I deserve a medal (or a glass of wine!) if I manage to take a phone call, reply to an email and put a wash on…!
Celebrate the small wins and don’t feel like a failure if you have days where you achieve absolutely nothing.
“For me it’s listening to my body. Running a business and being a mum is a constant learning curve. I’ve realised over the years of being self employed that my best working hours are 11-3. I’ll then pick up the kids, unplug and be present with them and then I’ll do another couple of hours when they go to bed. It means I get to have an organised home, be a mum first and work hours around the children. If I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll have a day off. Have a bath and a nap or go get my nails done. Realising you’re human and you can’t be 100% everyday is so important.
I’ve also had to learn to say no to people. At the beginning of being a mum boss I wanted to be high in demand and obsessing with how much money I was making. Now success to me is having a good balance. Quality time with the children and keeping my clients happy. A couple of hours of work and bed time stories is what it’s about and that to me is success.”
Dani, Deluxe Blooms
Talk to people
This is a big one for me. Bottling up your thoughts is really damaging for your mental health. If something is worrying you make sure you talk to your partner, friends or fellow business owners. You’ll be surprised how others have the exact same struggles, life is not how it may appear on social media. Talk to people and offload, you’ll know who to turn to.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Thats either physical or emotional help. It can be an incredibly lonely journey motherhood and being an entrepreneur. When its gets a bit overwhelming call your peers!”
Carolyn, Gray Starling Designs
Accept the change
It’s fair to say that when something this huge happens in your life your business will have to adapt and change. I’ve only been a mum for three months and I have already made quite a few changes to my business and I’m fine with that. I love what I do but my priorities have doubled and changed overnight. The good thing about running your own business is you can adapt it to suit you and your lifestyle no matter what is going on in your life.
“In and amongst the chaos – you will sometimes lose yourself but makes sure to do things for yourself that may seem self indulgent at the time but actually are totally necessary. Be it scheduling time off from both child and work without any plans, going for lunch alone, getting your nails done… Something that is entirely for you.”
Tory, Fox and Moon
I hope this post has been useful to anyone who will soon be juggling both business and baby. I’m pleased to say that I’m on my way to having a much better work-life balance. I have really good days followed by really rubbish days but that’s just life I guess! 🙂
A special mention has to go out to my husband Jamie who puts up with me every day and is the most amazing dad to Mabes. The fact that he fully supports my business makes it even more worthwhile.