I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile now. Partly to get my thoughts down, because it can be kind of therapeutic, but also partly because I want people to know what it’s like.
This blog post isn't for everyone, so feel free to stop reading now. Here's who I'm talking to today:
- Women in business who are hoping/planning to be mums
- Mums with small people who are planning to start businesses
- Everyone else who wants to know the reality for mums in business
I hope this blog helps to open your eyes, walk in my shoes for a few minutes, prepare you for the changes to come, or even just change your perspective a little.
Being a mum is hard.
Being in business is hard.
Combining the two is incredibly challenging, but not impossible.
I started my business about a year before I fell pregnant with baby #1. Soon after the pregnancy started, things got a bit wobbly. The business practically flat-lined once the baby arrived. They’ve slowly been coming to life again since, but it’s been a slow process with a lot of changes.
I was surprised at how
hard impossible things have been. I thought women were supposed to have it all. I deliberately set myself up in a business that I could do from home so that it would be compatible with babies once they arrived.
I had pictured myself...
- Being a stay a home mum
- Keeping house
- Managing all the meals
- While making a decent income in between it all
The reality (at least for a time) was quite different, and I wish I’d been more prepared.
So, here are some things I’ve learned and would like you to know:
Feminism Is About Options
I’m all about girlpower, but women can’t have it all.
Allow me to explain...
Women should have the option to do whatever they want.
But that doesn’t mean that women can or should be expected do it all. And certainly not all at once. It’s actually physically impossible, trust me. We all have 24 hours in a day to decide what we want to do. Saying yes to one thing is always saying no to something else.
If you choose to be a mum, it’s best to accept (as soon as possible) that for now, you will need to do less other stuff, even if you utilise childcare. That might mean slowing down your business, doing less housework, and ordering takeout every second night. You ARE superwoman already – you don’t need to try and do everything all at once to prove it to anyone.
This was my biggest mindset shift. I realised quickly that if I tried to cram too many things into my day, I only ended up sucking at everything. If I chose to focus on just a few things at a time, everything went more smoothly. Accepting that I don’t have to do it all meant that I could focus on what’s really important.
You can have all the options in the world open to you, but you still have to pick a few to focus on.
This Is Temporary
Introducing a child into your life means constant change. Each phase you go through is temporary. This is important to understand for two reasons:
1) It’s okay to slow down and live in the moment. You won’t regret it ever.
2) Your battles will change all the time. That is, the things that are making it impossible to get stuff done in your business will come and go.
Be prepared to adapt. Allow extra time for everything and always have a plan B. This week’s challenge could be sleep deprivation, next week could be sickness, and the following week might be over-stocked with children’s birthday parties. This is your new normal. Roll with the changes.
Who am I kidding? Sleep deprivation has been a constant challenge for 2.5 years now :'). I'm still crossing fingers that this one is temporary.
Find Your Tribe
Pre-baby me had no clue. Post-baby me would probably annoy pre-baby me (and vice versa).
What I'm saying is... find other mums in business who share similar goals to you. Nobody will get you like they do. Form alliances and work together if the opportunity arises. Mums in business tend to be extremely motivated, but everyone has the same understanding that family comes first. That kind of empathy is rare in business, but you’ll come to depend on each other for it.
Simply. Automate. Focus
If your business existed before your child, the best thing you can do now is simplify it. Automate what you can. Focus on what you can do in short bursts of time to make the most money. Motherhood is very disruptive to focused work. Long-term projects are not always a viable option, especially when your children are small.
Embrace Your Passion
Try to do what you are most passionate about. This is key because all of your passion is likely going to be focused on your new baby… your business is going to have to compete for your attention! If it’s not something that excites you, you’ll let it go.
And by the way, if you have a baby and decide that you just want to "do the mum thing" and can survive without working... DO IT. It's okay to just be passionate about your baby.
Think Long Term
It can be so hard when the days and weeks feel like forever to even imagine what life will feel like when you come out the other side. But at the risk of sounding cliché, these years are short. Your kids grow SO fast (as I’m realising even more now that I’m watching baby #2 grow).
It’s okay to look long-term. You probably can’t accomplish much in the short-term anyway, so start thinking about tiny steps you can take each day to move towards a goal in a year, two years, or more. This could be reading/listening/watching something business-related each day to stay up to date or learn. Or it could be planning out bits of content, strategy, or products that you will use in the future.
Business and babies are a challenging combo but totally do-able.
I love following successful mums in business on social media as it gives me hope that I can do what they’re doing (and it often helps that they keep it real by sharing the toddler messes and breastmilk stains in between business wins, hah!). Some of my role models are Emma Isaacs (Business Chicks), Sara Blakely (Spanx), Tracey Harris (Mums with Hustle), Nikki Elledge-Brown (Naptime Diaries), Elle Roberts (Worthseekers & Artful Biz Community) and a bunch of others that aren’t coming straight to mind. But they are out there!
If you’re pregnant or a new mum and already juggling a business, or are thinking of starting a business to have greater flexibility around your family, know that it is possible, but you will need to accept your limitations… be kind to yourself! 🙂