Start a Business During Your Maternity Leave? Are you fu*@ing KIDDING me?
I had lunch with a GORGEOUS mate and her new baby last week and feel compelled to open the conversation on something that’s been bugging me for a while.
Listening to a podcast in my car the other day (currently OBSESSED with podcasts) I heard someone proudly announce they wanted “to let new mums know how to start their business during their maternity leave”. I nearly stacked it into a nearby tree with rage! But this is a worrying and growing trend.
Infact, type “Starting a business during your maternity leave” into google and the results are alarming. There’s article up article, waxing lyrical about how this is the “perfect time to do it”! Is it just me, or has the WORLD BEEN DRINKING?!
Since WHEN did Maternity Leave become synonymous with starting a business? And why is there an increasing trend to imply new mums aren’t grabbing life with both breast pads if they’re not ambitiously attempting to add “mumboss” to all the hats they’re trying to rock whilst grappling with a new life?
So, let me just get this straight?
Somewhere between dropping a sproglet out of my shocked vajayjay, dealing with the psychological impact of this wrinkly leather handbag someone has carelessly left strapped to my front which apparently DIDN’T disappear in the birthing suite (who knew?!), pretending I know how to look after this baby (essentially an Ikea build with no instructions) changing nappies, grappling with sore nipples and cabbage leaves (thank GOD for cabbage leaves!) making cups of tea, thanking for flowers, adjusting to zero sleep, deliriously rifling through the duvet at 2 am for my “lost baby” AND feeling entirely overwhelmed and generally like I’m not measuring up to all the supermums, I NOW have the pressure to START A BUSINESS?!
Well, I’m sorry but THIS Business Mama is CALLING TIME.
ENOUGH! Just ENOUGH ALREADY.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m ALL ABOUT SUPPORTING THE SISTERHOOD. I want women to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be. I want to empower women to dream biggger than they ever dreamt possible and growing and pushing out a human is the most incredibly liberating and empowering experience, ultimately encouraging you to believe so much more in yourself and what you can achieve in life!
And I’m a grafter! I got up at 3.45 for the past 3 years to host Heart Breakfast so I GET that juggling life and children means that you make certain sacrifices and it’s vital to me that my kids see me knocking life out of the park on a daily basis! I want them to see they’ve got a strong, go-getting mama. I’m speaking at The Festival Of Marketing this week alongside Sir Alan Sugar, Jo Malone and other business leaders (*gulps!) so these days I’m ALL about business and, as a freelancer, I’m ALL about making your work / home life WORK! It’s just all about TIMING and being kind to yourself during those early months. And knowing that not everybody NEEDS to start a business in life! I found being a new mum a lonely road – incredible and rewarding but tough – which is why I started this blog in the first place and why I feel the need to shout loudly about this topic right now.
Finding a life that works for you? AMAZING. Of course life changes when you have a child. Big time. Yes, chances are you might take time to re-evaluate what’s important to you and you might even be trying to work out how you can build more flexibility into the not-very-flexible working environment we currently live. If so, check out Mother Pukka (Anna) and her amazing FlexAppeal to find your cheerleader on this one and get involved!
And if you DO have business plans of your own? Again, AMAZING. Building a life that works for YOU is what it’s all about and, if you’re inspired, go for it! . I’m just saying your maternity leave isn’t necessarily the right time to put yourself under the added pressure of starting a business.
I recently heard someone explaining how they “run business while my new baby naps”.
Early doors, this may seem like a great idea but how about those days when they DON’T nap? I used to feel frustrated if it was time for mine going down and there they were, bright eyed and bushy tailed with ZERO interest in catching those zzzzzzz’s! And all I’d planned to achieve while they were asleep was maybe send some emails, or make the house look slightly less like we’d been burgled, or cook some fish fingers for my eldest – not launch and run a freikin’ business!
So please everyone – let’s just take the heat off can we?
Enough with the myth – often fuelled by social media – that life with a newborn is the perfect time to start a business!
And new mums – ENJOY MOTHERHOOD! Trust me – and just about everyone who stops you in the street to coo over your baby – those early days will be gone before you know it and you can never get them back.
Life isn’t going anywhere. If you’ve got big dreams inside you – AMAZING! By all means – dream, dream, dream the biggest bloody dream you’ve ever dared to so that, one day, you can make that dream happen.
But please, for now, scratch “Start Business” off your Maternity To-Do List and cut yourself some slack.
In some cultures, they have the “Fourth Trimester” and new mums stay in bed, being waited on hand and foot while they bond with the baby, crack the breastfeeding and let their body recover – for THREE WHOLE (delicious) MONTHS! Bliss. Yeah, we totally live in the wrong place, right?
And while we’re on the subject – this post ISN’T targeted at women. It’s just suggesting that WHOEVER is the primary caregiver in those early months may not relish the current pressure to start a business whilst working out how to care for a new life!
SO – if you’ve got a new baby – PLEASE don’t let the fact you haven’t got a business plan sorted make you feel like you’re under achieving at life! Go and relish being in the moment with that incredible creature and give yourself permission to do so. Believe me, before you’ve blinked you’ll be wondering, like me, how the hell you have a kid who’s just started secondary school!