Becoming pregnant less than a year into starting my business was not part of the business plan! Since it was my absolute passion, there was no way I was going to close shop when I'd focused everything I had into launching it and building it. And one of the main reasons I wanted to work for myself was so I could eventually stay home and raise my kids while also bringing home some bacon.
Since my business was only a baby itself, it has definitely been a challenge! Luckily at Christmas I was able to quit my other job (yes I had two on the go! It was also work from home, but the pressures from all sides were slowly killing me and it had to go)
So, I'd love to share what I've learnt as these are the things I WISH I had known earlier
(and could have saved me some grey hairs).
1. There is a danger you become made entirely of toast (and biscuits)
Make sure you eat well! Looking after a teeny human AND following your passion requires a lot of you, so oil that engine with more than just teabags and bread.
2. You may crave routine
So like me, you've probably quit the 9-5 to escape the ground hog day vibes? As a self confessed hater of routine, this came as a bit of a surprise!
When my son was in his first few months and on the ‘awake 2 hours, nap 2 hours’ cycle (if I played every single card right of course) then I could actually focus within those gaps and get quite a lot done.
As he’s grown, trying to set all the right conditions for one or two naps that last longer than a kettle boiling, requires effort and what feels like meticulous planning. So, when it doesn’t go to plan, oh how frustrating it can be when after all of that, you've managed one email. As babies change month to month, so does their sleep schedule and I’ve found myself craving being able to know exactly when that slot for me (work) time will be that day. Trying to guess or strategise only ends in tiredness and disappointment, so I’ve learnt to just go with the flow and be happy with whatever I manage to get done that day. It’s best for both of us! So try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
3. Business (AKA your passion) always has to come second which can be really frustrating
Sometimes you feel your business is suffering (ok more than sometimes) For all the reasons above! Of course, your baby is more important so must come first, but when you’re passionate about what you do, it can be a pain in the bum to be time restricted. I’m learning that feeling guilty about either doesn’t help anyone and that my business has to grow at the pace that is right for my situation. So ignore what everyone else is doing, their journey is different to yours.
4. Creative block
Having to stop-start a creative train of thought really kills the magic and can leave me feeling desperate, stressed and overwhelmed. I know that sounds extreme! But for me, to really feel an idea and play with it, I need a chunk of time. Coming in and out of that just disrupts the natural flow of my mind! Ooof.
All I can recommend is to get outdoors everyday and switch off. Although that may sound counter intuitive, fresh air & resting your mind does help break down the blockage and weirdly, helps ideas flow better. On the way home you might find ideas start popping back in your head, I recommend using voice notes to lock them down before you get home and start being an octopus again!
5. Deadlines are killer!
If, like me you don’t have a magic baby who sleeps through from 7pm allowing you evenings to blissfully enjoy, then before everything snowballs, you may need to relax about the expectations you put on yourself.
I know if I set myself strict or unrealistic deadlines, I just find myself battling through each day, stressfully juggling all that is motherhood and work. Because when you can’t get what needs doing done during the day, you save it for the evening. But when the evening is a total write off due to baby waking up etc etc, you start the next day with to-do’s spilling over. That’s such a horrible feeling. Especially when it keeps snowballing with doom day approaching at breakneck speed. So try to avoid strict deadlines and give yourself smaller, bitesize goals (hello sense of achievement).
Again, learning to just do what I can and to not beat myself up if it doesn’t all happen the exact way I imagined, because, well… motherhood. And to also really reward myself and celebrate when it does!
6. You learn to work in very strange positions
Stuck on the floor with baby on boob or sound asleep = typing with your spare hand with two very dead legs (current situ). Grabby hands and new found climbing skillz basically mean your laptop requires a baby restraining order, and sometimes you’ll find me standing on the sofa, laptop on top of a bookcase while my son plays below! No solution for this one!
7. Oh you will laugh! But cry you shall too.
Babies are really funny and you'll have a great time despite how awful the last 6 points have made it sound!! But if you do find yourself needing a cry, that’s OK! Allow yourself to feel all the feels because every mumma, working or not, is going through their own mix of mess and joy. So if you’re having a hard day, that’s normal and nothing to do with whether you’re a good mum or not (because guaranteed, you are).
8. Never Doubt Yourself
Oh the guilts! Sometimes I wonder whether I’m being a bad parent trying to juggle work into the day rather than give my baby my 100% attention. But I have to remind myself that I’m building the foundation bricks for his childhood and our future. So remember this:
You are a life preserving, teacher, nurturer (and cleaner!) who deserves a jolly good pat on the back for all of your selfless endeavours. Working to provide for them on top of that plus doing all the bedtimes and silly dances is another huge feat. Never, ever beat yourself up about having to juggle both. Trust me, in caring for your little one so fiercely and tirelessly you are being the best mother you could be.
9. You may feel overwhelmed, so take smaller bites
Sometimes the amount to be done and the time to do it in don’t match up. And there are always other life factors that come into play. Was I naive in thinking it would be breezey?! When I’ve felt like I’m drowning (up until Christmas, juggling both jobs was pretty awful at times) I made sure I squeezed in mindfulness and affirmations to keep me feeling positive. Have a look over your to do’s and see what are the absolute TOP 3 priorities, anything else… put them to the back of your mind and just focus on one thing at a time.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Ok, I am AWFUL at this. Mainly because I never want to be a burden on anyone. We don’t have family nearby so there is no help for childcare but last year my mum was lovely enough to come and stay so I could exhibit at Stylist Live and do a talk at Blackheath High. This year I realised that if I want to get anything done, I need to delegate. So, I have invested in a brand consultation day with someone who can help me get my year planned out (something I never have time to finish but is essential). And there are also so many virtual PA’s and assistants out there ready to take on those little tasks that never-get-done-but-could-really-do-with-doing as they have a habit of building up into stress elephants in the room!
Can you ask a family member or friend to come and play with bricks while you make a dent in your inbox?
I hope that my experience can make at least one more working mumma feel sane and less alone in feeling what we are all going through. Because it can be tough, but it can be done!
Make sure you reach out to people if you’re feeling low, nip it in the bud.
I have felt so alone through all of this sometimes, please don’t make my mistake! We can now literally contact people with just a little thumb action. Gone are the days of ink pens, pigeons and waiting in gloom a-top a castle turret. So no excuses.
Lastly, take your journey at your own pace. Try to have a shower and get dressed as if you’re going to work (it makes such a difference). Talk to others. Remember you are an ACTUAL WARRIOR for doing what you do and TAKE CARE of yourself as well as everyone else.
All my love to you, reach out to me if you need.