Navigating motherhood, work and maternity leave (as a business owner)
The post below is also available for you to listen via audio, if you prefer. To access the audio version, click HERE.
If you’re following me on social media you may know that a few weeks ago I had a full week of solo parenting. As much as I tried to prepare for it, as often happens in life, things didn’t go as planned. Maya was poorly so I was navigating work, mothering and taking care of everything else that needed to be done.
While it was challenging and tiring, it was also a timely and empowering reminder as I’m preparing to welcome another precious human into our family – whatever life throws at me – I can manage. I’ll be OK. I can carry myself and care for myself through it.
The reality of running your own business while raising humans is like most things in life — BOTH AND. Fabulous, amazing, fulfilling AND tiring, challenging, overwhelming and scary at times.
While we often seek a perfect solution, a perfect formula for how to do things (how to eat, how to exercise, how to parent, how to work…) the truth is that there is no one way to do life.
And there’s definitely no one RIGHT way to raise precious humans, just like there’s no one RIGHT way to navigate work as a parent.
Because everything comes with a trade-off. Something always has to give. You may have it all, but you may not have it tied up in a bow, all at the same time.
So then the ‘magical formula’ becomes, instead of there being one universal truth, a personal quest in which each individual identifies their own values, priorities and vision and chooses the trade-offs based on these, according to the season of life they are in and in honour of their truest hearts’ desires and aspirations.
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. But, this too, has trade-offs. I think any entrepreneur / self-employed / business owner could testify to the challenges that come with it. As I am thinking about how I want to take maternity leave as a business owner I am reminded of this complex reality.
Knowing my personal values and having a life and work vision I feel deeply inspired by and connected to in place, has helped anchor me as I’ve been sitting with the question: “what’s next?”
I think, when you have a wider/longer-term vision, it’s easier to maintain a sense of agency and make decisions, without feeling like you’re sacrificing something because you can see the bigger picture.
Since I found out I am pregnant, I've been reflecting on the postpartum period and my maternity leave with Maya. It soon became clear to me that I want to do things differently this time around.
Guilt showed up loud and quickly, If you’re a mom or caregiver you can probably relate. As a mom, it’s easy to feel like you’re always losing, always failing at something. You feel guilty when you’re not with your kids and then you feel guilty when you’re not working or taking care of yourself or nurturing your passions.
As the saying goes: ‘mom guilt is in the water.’
Last pregnancy, I stopped taking clients after a certain point. I wanted to make sure they all completed their programs about a month before my due date. After Maya was born, I took about three months fully off, then slowly (really slowly) started to ease back to work, but it wasn’t until January 2020 (almost 6 months later) that I started working with clients again.
If you’re a business owner you may have experienced how challenging it can be to wake your business back up after it’s been asleep for quite a while. So came March, I got my momentum back and was excited about my business plans, all to watch the world changing before my very eyes (hello Covid!). My plans were thrown out the window, and without any childcare or family support, I found myself overwhelmed with all the responsibilities.
I love and I’m truly grateful for the time I got to spend with Maya. And, I feel differently this time. In retrospect, I needed this time out from my business. The break allowed me to ask myself questions such as – What do I enjoy most supporting you with? When I am back from maternity leave, how do I want to continue serving you? How can I keep showing up most aligned and authentic so you can feel inspired to do the same in your life?
It allowed me to pivot my business and led me to the work I’m doing today. My big life transition inspired me to guide other humans through their life transitions, work and beyond.
And this is the thing, I have never loved my business as much as I have in the last 3 years. It’s my creative outlet, it’s where I get to experience the most personal growth, and most importantly, it allows me to use my most unique gifts in service of other people’s lives.
It really just lights me up so much!
How do I navigate my aspirations with my desire to be there with my children? And, how do I work through the inevitable mom guilt?
I haven’t found the cure for mom guilt, but I figured out how to manage my energy so I feel it less often. Management that includes following what feels right for ME without comparing myself to others or taking in unsolicited advice. Starting with recognising and honouring the desire to do things in a way that perhaps isn’t ‘the norm’, but that works for me.
How can I honour my calling as a mother AND as a coach and creator? How can I run my business, without putting it to sleep, while also having maternity leave?
I've switched from not having a plan at all and just seeing how I feel (which is kind of what I did with Maya), and having a detailed plan ahead and scheduling everything in advance.
None of these options felt good.
The definition of Crossroads is the place where two roads meet. It’s an image that reinforces the narrative that we're being forced to make a binary choice between roads that someone else has designed and paved. If life was two-dimensional maybe that would have been true, but there's always a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th option.
If we let go of that first image, and instead imagine a point where many paths meet, we can come up with new, wonderful and creative options and solutions. Ones that reflect our own unique blueprint.
There is always space to carve out new paths, or at least traverse the existing ones in ways that no one has traversed before.
So that’s what I did, instead of choosing THIS OR THAT, EITHER OR, I looked at what would it look like to intertwine these two in a new way that felt exciting for me.
This is where I landed (‘my plan’):
(part of the plan is giving myself permission to go off plan if needed)
I'm taking December off (apart from working with a few clients) to wind down towards the birth, to nest and prepare our home for baby number #2, to enjoy some me-time and solo-time with Maya before things get full-on over here, to review and reflect on 2022 (both personally and professionally), and to savour the festive season with my family.
I’m planning to take January fully off to soak it all in, heal, and be as present as I possibly can.
I’ll start working with my existing clients around February (I have limited these client spots to only a couple of hours a week) and will open a few more coaching spots in Springtime.
(if you know you might be interested in working together around spring, email me and let me know so I can add you to the waitlist. You’re not committing to anything at this point, it just means you’ll be the first to know when spots are available before I share it publicly as I’ll have limited spaces to start with)
In terms of my emails…
If you’ve been with me for a while now you are probably used to getting my weekly emails every Monday and you may have even noticed - I hardly ever missed a week. Because I truly LOVE writing these emails to you! So thank you for welcoming me into your inbox every Monday AM.
Things will be quiet over here for December and probably January... I might be writing some, but not the regular weekly email (actually, I’m working on a review, reflect and reimagine, end-of-the-year type email, so watch this space for that).
A lot of entrepreneurs plan out and schedule their content for the entire time they take maternity leave. I considered doing that, but it didn’t feel right. That being said, the last few months have been overflowing with creative energy and inspiration so I’ve been writing A LOT, and I have so much content I want to share with you!
I’m just not scheduling it up front, because, and I’m taking you behind the scenes here, when I choose a topic to write about, I think about YOU, the person who reads these emails. I try to feel into the kind of support, reminder, wisdom or encouragement you most need to receive right now… Obviously, I don’t really know, I just go with my gut! So this is what I’m planning to do with all this content – feel into what and when it’s the right time.
I also have so many ideas for new offerings and ‘projects’ that have been brewing (pregnancy tends to do this, after all, it’s the season of creation!) that I’ll keep simmering on and brainstorming as and when I feel inspired to do so.
That’s it. I have a plan in place, one that feels good. And I also know, while I love it and hope to follow it, that sometimes plans change, and the best way to handle that is to stay open to creative possibilities.
In the primal conflict between our longing to surrender to the service of parenting, and our need to hold onto our innermost selves, all we can do is courageously step into it with a heart of curiosity.
To be human is not just to change our circumstances, but to be changed by them. It’s not just to steer the ship or direct the current, but to let yourself be washed over by the waves. It is to let go of old paradigms so you can face the next chapter.
With love and gratitude for reading my emails,