I never envisioned being a mother. I had dedicated 7 years of my life to creating a successful business and didn’t think I had room for being a mother and a businesswoman because of the demand on my time for both of them.
The business I own is not a very baby friendly business, even though it is run from home. It is a dog boarding facility so it isn’t a place a baby can crawl around safely and because it is like a dog park, in that dogs run around with other dogs, the concentration level whilst at work has to be 100% – Suffice to say, for me, having both world of career woman and mother was not in my mind’s grasp.
And as I write this, I am staring at my beautiful almost 7 month old son and have found out I am also 12 weeks pregnant with the second one. How did this happen? Well, the stories are true … if you find the right person, things change and things sure did change. Not only will I have two babies under 2 by November this year, I also have two stepchildren, which are my partners. Going from zero children to four within the space of 3 years!
And yes, my business is still running and I am as full time in it as I can be, but these days I am in the house, working on the administration, marketing, client liaison side of things instead of doing he dog care and face to face client contact. And no, my partner isn’t around in the week, he works 5 days a week, full time and is on call for the RFS so he is a busy man as much as I am a busy woman.
Once I found out I was pregnant I went into auto pilot organisation. I hired more staff to get trained and cover the business; I hired a cleaner to assist with the daily things that didn’t make me money so I could spend time making money and being a mother instead of cleaning. I organised everything to within an inch of its life before I turned 35 weeks pregnant because I wanted everything to be efficient, mistake free and smooth for when I went to hospital and when I came home for those first 6 weeks. I wanted privacy, I wanted a business client count still count on and I wanted to learn how to be a mother.
One of the most important things, which got me through the first 6 months of being a mother and running a business at the same time, was that I cared for myself. If the carer isn’t cared for then she is ineffective in her production of daily life.
It is really very logical. Don’t run yourself in caffeine and sugar because you will burn out very quickly. Make sure you have prepared food that’s healthy for you prior to going into hospital and this way you can unfreeze it and have something nutritious. If this isn’t possible start a lean cuisine or similar home delivery service with prepared meals for the first 6 weeks at least, for you and your family. Good food will see you get the energy and stamina to get through those multiple sleepless nights and still have enough energy to work on your business.
In terms of when you work on your business. For me, I didn’t nap when baby napped every time. I napped once a day in the early morning when bub napped and also went to bed as soon as bub had the last night feed, say 7.00pm. This way you get sleep earlier, so you get more hours and with the nap in the morning you make up for the lost sleep throughout the night and this way you can power on when bub is asleep during the day and do some business.
It is important to mention I made a special point of not being quiet when bub was young so he didn’t wake at the slightest sound, such as tapping a keyboard, turning pages, phones ringing. If you create the noise, they get used to it and it will make carrying on with daily life so much simpler. Just remember, it is loud in the belly and also in the hospital so keep bub used to the lights and noise.
You find your mind goes a tad mushy, forgetful so it is vital to keep it switched on, and with making sure good food in your body you will give the memory added bonus to function correctly. Fish is great for this and also for brain development of the bub, especially if you’re breastfeeding. So, I read books, business books and fantasy books every time I was breastfeeding. This occupied my mind and got me thinking of other things than baby and business, which is so important for the balance of life and being a good parent and business owner.
Spirit is important, it keeps us grounded and if this isn’t met it makes stress easier to occur and fatigue. Simple things such as a 20 minute hot shower or what I did was a warm bath with lavender in it with bub every evening to calm me down, relax me and chill out my baby and get him into a nightly routine. It was great! I still do this every night and I look forward to it. This invigorates you and also allows you to be mother at the same time. Anything that’s different, walking with your baby, or gardening with baby in rocker … something in nature or soothing renews your spirit to do it all again the next day.
And remember, nothing goes to plan, murphys law … so go with it. If you stress out, then bub picks up on it, partner gets antsy and the vibe goes downhill. Give yourself this one time in your life to be OK with going at a slower pace. One mantra that got me through was: Raising a child is not a distraction from your important work, it is THE most important work you can do.
Wilhelmina Ford is Pack Leader/Director of Doggy Pause.