This blog is written to help other self-employed mums and mums-to-be – whether it is your first baby or your fourth here are some tips for helping with the work/new baby balance:
- Manage expectations from the outset: I informed all my clients that I would be having a baby therefore wouldn’t be able to do any one-to-one meetings, attend networking events or start new projects for at least the first 6 months but I was on the end of an email or the phone if required.
- Give yourself time: One regret is that I didn’t confirm an official date for going on maternity leave before my due date, therefore I was still fielding client requests @ 41 weeks. I thought it was better to work as much as possible before the baby arrived, but actually it just left me tired and stressed.
- Be prepared to be judged (again): I’m sure by now you know that as a woman/mother/self-employed person, you just can’t win… half the people want you to sit on a lily pad for 12 months and half expect you to be strapping baby to your chest and heading out to work the next day. The truth is just do what works for you and your baby. I started to work in my office with the baby asleep next to me after the first 4 weeks, I then only had client meetings via Skype when someone else was in the house to take baby if she woke. I caught up on any emails in the evening or when baby was napping and the eldest was at school. It is a juggling act, but at the same time I enjoyed the distraction that work offered away from the early days feeding, changing, napping cycle. My advice would be just to find your balance, don’t feel guilty for not checking emails/responding to people or on the flip side for taking calls and responding straight away to someone – do it all in your own time.
- Don’t overdo it: As it was my second baby I thought I knew what I was doing (laugh out loud). On day 12 I received a desperate call from a client asking for a meeting, so I agreed. Although the meeting was only an hour long and just down the road, I hadn’t taken into account that my sleep-deprived brain and “new mummy” body was not so ready to be out and about giving professional (i.e. paid for) marketing advice. It was only once I got back in the car after the meeting that I realised I had only put make up on one eye and was leaking milk…
- Not much changes: Having returned to the networking scene after 10 months I discovered that it was still the same people doing the same things at the same events. Although some people asked ‘where have you been?’, I didn’t feel like I had missed out on anything at all as I did try to stay vaguely connected by checking LinkedIn and Twitter from time to time (got to love the internet!).
- Set up an Out-of-Office: Although I got emails pinging up on my mobile I had an out-of-office on for 9 months so if I didn’t get back to someone new straight away they knew why and I didn’t feel so pressured to respond.
- And finally… Enjoy the time with baby (they grow up so fast): Work will pick up again, (I’ve just had the busiest month ever and I’ve not actively done any new business since before baby was born) and you are still great at what you do, so just be confident in your ability, be kind to yourself, and lastly, indulge in those precious baby snuggles.