How I Kept Up Business With Baby
Tips and Tricks For New Mama Entrepreneurs
I know how it feels to have many doubts as to when to have a baby and how to properly raise him/her without taking a career toll.
When is a good time to have a baby? How do I prepare? What do I do with my business?
Let's face it, there is never truly a perfect time to have a baby, however it helps to feel confident with your partner, and to be at an ok place with your work. Most importantly, I think it’s key to be excited about the idea of bringing a cutie into the world, who is half you and half your partner.
My first year with Baby was more fun than I thought, although it started off quite slow and sleepless - not unexpected, of course.
My husband and I had decided to do our best to keep my business and our lifestyles maintained as much as possible with the new family member arriving. We believed that if I was to get stuck into being a mommy 24/7, getting back to self-employment at a later point will become increasingly difficult. Also, more importantly, keeping me a passionate individual with interests apart from just baby talk would be best for my mind and the future relationship with my son.
Here are some of my tips and tricks for new and expecting mommy entrepreneurs.
Seeing Past That Big Belly
First off, I slowed down on in-person meetings after my 6 months bump started getting too noticeable, especially with the new clients and sales pitches. It is not that I was uncomfortable with my changing body, it just seemed that no matter what, the belly was all that people ever noticed and talked about. I felt like a walking billboard saying: “Let's talk about my baby!” Even if I tried to brush it off after from the get-go. In the moment, I was more excited to dive into discussions on design rather than mull over the pregnancy symptoms, preparations, motherhood, etc.
Over the phone, email or video call, there is no need to talk about the baby - you are back in control if you prefer to talk business at the moment.
Help? Yes, thank you!
We opened our arms to all the lovely people around us who wanted to lend a hand - parents, in-laws, sisters, close friends - why not? Whether it was a date night for us, or a couple of hours for a drink with a contact - we could get someone to look after our little bundle of joy for a bit. There is a hidden benefit in being able to let others take care of the baby, even if only for a little while, as this might help alleviate or limit anxiety and attachment issues down the road.
Furthermore, my husband took paternity leave for the first 6 weeks, which was incredibly helpful. The little one took extra two weeks to meet us, but even 4 weeks of 24/7 of hands-on support was of immense assistance to help me get into a routine.
We kept up a habit to giving each-other time off - he would go for a tennis match one evening, while I went to my biweekly mastermind group meetings. This way I could insure my mind stays active on what is next for my business while keeping up connections with like minded entrepreneurs.
Every Minute is Precious
Half an hour of pumping was another 30 minute time to read, or write or catch-up on email. It is so easy to get into the sluggish, I-am-too-tired-to-do-anything state (happened more than a few times for me too) which only brought up a feeling of being disappointed in myself a little while later. Yes, resting and catching up on sleep is essential, but so is keeping good mental health and feeling accomplished.
Let's face it, you might spend a full day, or two or even more at home without a breath of fresh air initially. Keeping your mind on the go with a life-line to outside would will likely do you good. One of my favorite things to do was to catch up on podcasts - 99% Invisible, The Allusionist, Online Marketing Made Easy, By The Book - too many great ones to mention. Furthermore, I find podcasts motivating in helping me come up with pitches, business plans, improvements, and so on.
Routine Is King
Nothing we were able to achieve would have been possible if baby’s schedule was in charge of our lives so we tried to reverse the flow as much as possible. The good thing is that babies love routine!
We were convinced to get our little guy into a schedule once our pediatrician said he is of a decent weight and no longer needs night feedings. We heard of multiple scenarios where parents went on to feed babies at 3 am. for so long that kids learned to expect it and adjusted to this midnight snack. That was likely being reinforced by parents habits more than babies' needs.
Furthermore we read a few valuable books: Bringing Up Bebe and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to name the ones we liked the most.
The key lessons for us were:
- The Pause: don't just jump to aid Baby as soon as there is a scream or a grunt. Babies might just be in between naps or passing gas, no need to interrupt them straight away. Waiting 10 seconds was the way to go.
- Sleeplessness Changes Relationships: if you are functioning on low sleep because you want to be there for your baby anytime and all the time, you will get more irritated and short-tempered. At the end, your relationship with your baby and partner will suffer. So no need to be the martyr, you are a priority too!
Keeping Physically Active
Since our son was a winter baby, it took some time before we were able to get out and fully enjoy the outdoors with him. We started our proper routine of getting out there after a few weeks. A short daily walk was good for the both of us - baby quickly fell asleep after intently staring into the live-movie happening in front of him - birds singing, people jogging, buses moving... With a stroller or carrier walk, I got some time to exercise, think and breathe. We ended up exploring new stores in the neighborhood, small parkettes, even storefronts. We also quickly found out the opening hours of all the cafes and shops nearby.
Do not neglect your own exercise either. Starting month two, we were back on our workout routine at home for at least 20 minutes a few times a week.
Set The Deadlines, Boss!
No one knows how busy you are. New clients and inquiries don't know the state of your life. So set the deadlines and schedule for the project that make sense for you. There will be an occasional client who this will not work for - just apologize, say you are too busy with other projects at the moment and move on. Baby is a lot of work and will take the priority no matter what. There might be a lucrative offer you cannot resist, so lean on your network and go for it! A feeling of being appreciated and accomplished will likely help you dive right back into being a mommy with new eagerness. Staying with my parents or in-laws on the weekends gave me plenty of uninterrupted time to work on larger initiatives as well.
In reality, my business took a more digital focus due to my limited mobility and the little cutie waiting at home. Although my work includes installations, interior decor, signage, and murals, I let the branding contracts, self-marketing, and conceptual art lead the way for the time being. This way, I was able to have calls, and make the time for work as I needed to. Little one’s two hour nap could mean an hour in bed for me and some extra time left for work.
Also, there is much time when doing something routine (i.e breastfeeding or changing diapers) our mind wanders into different topics and solutions. I find it ideal to have an ongoing project or two on the back-burner, as ideas and sparks can appear at any point.
Full Day Off Mommy
We decided to put our little guy in daycare starting 6 months for one day a week. We thought that he would benefit from being able to socialize with older kids and be stimulated by professional caregivers. Mommy could also use a bit of time to herself to miss him and get useful work done. Lunch and coffee meetings or, perhaps, a half day at my co-working space were perfect for the daycare day.
Every time my little cutie was in daycare, I would pass by the empty crib to get motivated and not procrastinate. My time away from the baby had to be maximized to make the best our moments together after. In addition, my husband was able to work from home a day or two a week, not only giving me some extra time, but also forging the ever-important father-son relationship.
No current inquiries or clients? Take the time to plan your marketing tactics, build your sales funnel, re-evaluate your company, write blog posts, work on your social media calendar, and so on. As entrepreneurs, we hardly make time for these essential tasks during peak-work times.
The Mommy Community
All mamas are taking a significant amount of time off. Where I live, that could stretch from 12 to 18 months! Boredom and ideas are bound to hit all moms at some point during this extended period. Neighborhood meetups, baby swimming classes, library programs are not only great for baby to meet future friends, but also to develop networking opportunities for you. We find like-minded entrepreneurs, future clients, or perfect referral contacts through talking to people - use every chance you can.
No need to see your pregnancy and entrance to parenthood as a career killer.
It is what you make of it and, remember, once your baby turns into an adult, you wouldn't want to be left twirling your thumbs or having regrets thinking about what you could've, should've, would've, but didn't do. You are at a wonderful stage in your life with all the networks, spousal support and technological advancements at your disposal to become the best mother and remain successful in your own aspirations. So take that leap into being a passionate entrepreneur mama!