When I first had the idea to start my business back in 2012, my partner and I were buying a house, planning a wedding and we knew we wanted kids. I didn’t want to do the juggle of full-time work with kids and I had a very romantic notion of being my own boss and running a business with kids – as a freelance writer – ooh la la!
So, we got married, came back from honeymoon, me unemployed/self-employed. First day back from honeymoon, I put all the washing from the holiday in the washing machine, and had a suspicion something was going on! But I sat down at my new “home office” to work as my first day as a self-employed business owner. I didn’t have any clients so I went looking online etc – I joined networks etc. Later that week, I couldn’t ignore this niggling feeling anymore… something that was supposed to have happened didn’t. I’d missed my period. And me being inpatient I thought “I’ll just take a pregnancy test just in case, but I bet I’m not.”
Can you guess? !
Yep. Preggers. Not long before the nausea and tiredness hits – hard. It’s hard to build a business when you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.
And so to cut a long story short, things didn’t go too well first time around and after my daughter was born I quit it! Got a part time job and we tried for another baby – which second time around took almost a year. By the time my second daughter was born I was very bored at the part time job and decided to start the business again – I’d give it one more shot.
And wow what a difference second time around!
So, you could say I’ve done both/done it twice. I started the business while pregnant. But it was re-born and flourished with two pre-schoolers under my feet. Now my eldest is at full time school with my youngest about to start next year.
This is how I manage.
Thankfully, I am a morning person! So I do all my exercise at 6am (either gym class or go for a run) then back home by 7am when hubby leaves for work. Once kids are at school I get straight to work from about 9am and work until about 2pm. But I love the fact that I can faff around all day if I want to, knowing I can work again in the evening once kids are in bed. And as well as being a morning person, I get a second wind in the evening and I often to my best work at 8pm – I think it is because I know the day is done and my mind is clear so I often do my creative work at night and my admin or more functional work in the day.
2.30pm – 7pm is family time and kids activities although depending on what is going on I may check and reply to emails etc. If I have started drafting some work in the day I can leave it for a bit an come back to it later with fresh eyes.
I don’t work Monday or Thursday as my youngest is home with me so we do play time and all my family/personal errands etc so my work days are clear. I often check emails and plan out my work day for the next day but I don’t usually do any actual work those days. Next year when both are full time I will be able to work 5 days a week.
My tips to other Mums…
1. It’s up to you if you want be “loud & proud” about the fact that you have kids, or keep it out of business. However, I strongly advise to get it into your head that you are a business owner and avoid phrases like “girl-boss” or “Mumpretrenur” – I hate those terms!
2. Working from home or running a business is a wonderful way to balance work and family, but remember that work is still work. And you need to have a designated hours or workspace etc
3. Value your time and charge what you are worth – just because you work from home or work for yourself does not mean people can pay you less or take advantage. So grow a thick skin and operate a business-like approach to everything.
4. When I started I was far too nice! I got walked all over and I think people saw what I did as a hobby – I’ve worked hard to develop a business-mindset and educate others that my work is high-level.
5. Choose wisely where you invest your time and money into training/development etc. It’s worth it to get some professional or personal training – sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Same goes for getting a professional website etc.
6. Be proud of what you are achieving and let your kids see you working hard to do something you love and provide for the family.
7. Find your professional networks – join online and face to face networking or mentoring groups.
8. Be patient! It can often take time to build up a successful business and you may fail along the way but if you keep going and learning, you’ll get there (I had to admit defeat early on, put the business to bed for a bit and when I came back to it, success came much easier).