Before Mia was born, I tried to find an amazing blog, book, podcast, insta account – anything – to help me navigate parenthood alongside managing a business. Everything I read came up short, it felt like it was something that people didn’t want to talk about – and I was left wondering what I was in for!
Mia is now 14 months old and I have learnt a lot in that time – about myself, motherhood, babies, relationships and believe it or not, business.
There are way too many details to go into here of what the first year of being a business-owning Mum has been like for me. I was certainly thrown a few curve balls even from week one and at times had to do more work than I would’ve liked, and other times, much less.
There have been times where I was *definitely* ready to get fully back into work, at around 6 months, then 8 months, then I was more than ready when she was 10 months. However, things always happen much more slowly than my ambitious mind would like – I believe that’s mainly because the universe has my back. Mia was not ready. My universe now includes hers.
Recently we’ve had a nanny start to tend to Mia for four days a week and while my time management is still critical, I have many more hours in my day to keep across everything. It really is perfect timing, we have a huge exciting business year ahead and I needed that time with Mia to ensure she was settled enough to come along this crazy ride.
With the benefit of hindsight, the following is what has worked for me – and had I known, what I could’ve done to have found a balance between taking “maternity leave” while managing a business. While my business continued its growth trajectory and ongoing success, I definitely could have done certain things better, so hopefully the below will help you find your balance.
My 15 tips of what to do when planning to have a baby AND run a successful business…
Plan for YOU – your post-birth recovery, physically and mentally. Read The First Forty Days, cook nourishing, slow cooked warming meals to store in the freezer. Move everyday – walk, run, dance – do whatever you can.
Look objectively at whether the business can survive without you for a while, is it worth putting things on hold for six months, or hiring people to ensure it’s running proficiently day-to-day without your oversight.
Write out your main responsibilities and tasks – can new roles be designed around some of these, or could they be outsourced? Have new hires in place at least three months before your due date.
Create / update your detailed financial forecast for six months post-birth, can you afford to hire, and do you have the cashflow to cover all expenses.
Select and prepare one person who you can check in with to gauge how the team is doing, and how projects are tracking. Choose wisely.
Have an idea of when you might like to return to work and whether that will be full or part-time.
Communicate your plans to your team and manage expectations around your availability and return to work dates.
Focus on YOU – your health, your energy and your recovery. Take things slowly. The more you can put into rest and recovery, the sooner you will feel like you can take on other responsibilities.
Don’t even try to replace your much needed sleep with work. If you burn yourself out, you will be of no use to anyone.
Within the first month, aim to complete 1-2 work tasks per-week max. Following that you should be able to work for an hour or two a day while the baby sleeps (only if you’re feeling up to it). A baby wrap helps! It will get harder to fit in work around sleep at around 3-4 months.
Importantly, don’t put yourself in the position of being responsible for client deliverables or communications. You will let them down. Don’t do that to yourself or them.
Have a regular check-in on your financials, and with your nominated person (email/text/phone call – whatever you feel up to).
Don’t pre-plan any meetings, schedule them on the day around whatever your baby’s rhythm is that day.
If you can (and when you feel ready to), plan to have a family-member or friend (or hire a nanny!) to come and look after the baby while you spend some time on the business. Make it a slow transition back to work if you can.
Two months prior to your pre-planned return to work date, check in with yourself to see if it still feels right, then ensure you have childcare in place ready to go from that date.
Kate Skipper runs Skipper & Skipper, a full service creative agency that helps people live healthier lives. The agency has offices in London and Melbourne and works with health, wellness and sustainability brands as well as those wanting to incorporate wellness within their brand ethos and communications.
If you want to get in touch, please email email@example.com or find me on Linked In or Instagram.