As you may know, in September last year my world was turned upside down by the arrival of my baby boy. I took the first 3 months pretty much completely off while Sarah did a brilliant job keeping things going, but since then I’ve been balancing being a mum to a very active, very determined little bean who was not a big fan of sleeping for a long time with continuing to run Well & Truly Workshops and supporting our amazing clients.
For transparency, I’m very lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband who works from home most of the time, but I don’t have family nearby to help out regularly and we don’t have a nanny.
Whilst I’m by no means claiming to have nailed the balance of having a baby and a business, I’m alive and pretty healthy, baby seems to be doing well and the business hasn’t folded, so it’s not a complete disaster. As such, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up over the past 3 months.
You need to be opportunistic. If you’ve been to any of our training or read our blog, you probably know that I’m a huge advocate of timeboxing. However, if you have a baby, this doesn’t work so well. Instead, I work out at the start of the day what I need to do and roughly how long each thing will take, and then I opportunistically do them when I see a window. This might be during a nap (much easier from 5 months onwards when babies’ day sleep starts to extend), if you have a visitor who can entertain them for 20 minutes, or if you’re fortunate enough to have a co-parent it may need to wait until they’re done with work for the day. It’s also a good idea to work out what simply requires lots of thinking or just needs your phone, both of which you can probably do while feeding. Whenever you do have the opportunity to work, doing so without distractions becomes even more important as time has never been so precious. I’ve been amazed by how much I can get done in an hour with all my notifications fully off and the only device (other than my laptop) anywhere near me the baby monitor!
Delegate. It goes without saying that, unless you have full-time help from early on, you won’t be able to do as much as you used to. Whether you have a wonderful business partner (as I do) to pick up the slack or you need to hire a virtual assistant, asking for help is absolutely key.
Become one of those people who looks like they’re talking to themselves. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, your baby will at times only sleep in their pram. Having headphones with a microphone means you can use these walks to take calls or even dictate notes for later. In fact, this is what Sarah bought me for Christmas!
Rest and recharge. Even if you don’t run a business, this can feel impossible as a mum. However, even if it’s just for 20 minutes and all you can manage is some simple breathwork, it’s absolutely vital. Don’t do what I did in February, when I took no time for myself for a couple of weeks, completely burnt out and ended up with tonsillitis. Our blog post on what to do if your sleep is dreadful might be a helpful one for you to check out, or you may need some advice on how to break the downward spiral.
Prep as much as you can. This is for anyone who thinks they might find themselves with the baby/business combo in the future. Use your pregnancy to work out what you’re going to be able to do and what you need to hand over (keep in mind this might change depending on your baby’s personality). If applicable, create as much content in advance as you can. And finally, sort out your network of babysitters, whether that’s family or hired help, to be on hand when you need more time than naps can offer.
I hope these tips are helpful. Above all else, as always, try to be kind to yourself. There will be days that don’t go to plan. If you don’t get something done because your baby woke up too early or would only nap on a walk, or just because you’re completely shattered, try not to beat yourself up. You’re keeping another human alive, and some days that might be all you can do; it’s certainly the case for me about once a week!