So as I’m sure you’re aware I’m a new Mam...well she turns 1 on Saturday...how long can I call myself a new Mam for? I swear you’re learning every day! Anyway, I’m a ‘relatively new’ Mam and trying to navigate running a business with enjoying motherhood. I thought sharing my ‘work life’ balance with you all might be an interesting insight for anyone that is interested, worried about having a family and managing work, currently getting ready to go back to work or anything in between!
If you read my last personal blog post you’ll know that I took over our family business back in 2015. I’d had this in my mind for a while but had wanted to move away for a little bit, gain my independence, go to Uni and then work in another business in the hope that I would learn some useful skills that would help with my bigger plan of coming back to take over the store. I always knew I wanted to end up back in the north east when I was ready for ‘settling down’ so that I could start my own family close to where my family are but as I was taking over the business I wanted to have a good few years under my belt before taking my foot off the pedal a little to have kids. I also hoped I would make enough of an impact to grow it so that it could afford to hire my husband Matt when the time came to have a family so that I could have time off knowing the business was safe in his hands. We have an absolutely amazing team and the luxury of my parents knowledge and help but Matt is the closest thing to me – we're so similar in our decision making, drive and passion for this business so I knew I would be comfortable enjoying maternity leave with him here to take the reins.
I’m so lucky that I have a job that I love completely, even on bad days where the stress is next level and it feels like a really tough ride. It means that I really want to work but I really want to make sure I get enough precious time with Grace as I’m already so aware that they grow up way to quickly! Handling that balance of guilt is really tough which is why I wanted to write something on it, because as the months have passed I have come to terms with the fact that there is no perfect formula for a work life balance, we’re all different and we need to make choices that we are most comfortable with which give us the most fulfilment and happiness.
When you run your own business its really hard to switch off from it completely; email notifications pop up on my phone constantly, phone calls, the pressure that if you’re not there ‘doing’ then things are going to take a down turn and also my parents live right next door to our premises so when visiting them it's hard not to want to drop into work! For me personally, being at home with Grace all day just wasn’t for me. I needed to keep active and get out and stop myself from thinking about work so that I could fully enjoy my time with her. I joined up to so many groups and lessons so that I had something planned for each day. These were a lifeline for me, it was so lovely to spend time with other mams, see that we’re all winging this together and hear tips we were all sharing or realising that no babies sleep so mine wasn’t the only one! Having this time with Grace meant that I didn’t feel too guilty if I popped over to check in on the business for a quick visit, answer some emails and messages and have the odd meeting, I felt like I was managing to devote my time to everything that I loved so that neither had to suffer.
In no way have I managed it perfectly. The pictures below show poor Grace at 4 weeks napping in her car seat while I helped out with mixing as we were too busy and needed the extra help. I dragged her along on a car journey to a paint manufacturer at about 6 weeks as we were out of stock and it was the quickest way to get us going together, and I once organised all of my wallpaper sample meetings to be on the same day so that I could wear her in the sling for closeness and napping with a couple of built in breaks for a feed. I have had to say no to a couple of meet ups with other babies and classes because the need to get something done at work on that day was greater but hand on heart can say that I have ensured that mostly I’ve done everything I wanted to with her, and everything I have wanted to at work. I’m tired (which new Mam’s aren’t!) but it's been a blast.
I started officially transitioning back to work in January one day a week once Grace was almost 6 months old. I’m lucky that mam can have Grace one day a week for me as I can pop down and have random cuddles and my lunch with her. This was a great transition into work for me which actually changed sooner than I had planned due to Covid. This is probably another blog post all together so the short story is my maternity leave effectively ended a little early and since June Grace is at nursery 3 days per week, with Mam 1 day per week and I have 1 day a week to get my time in with her.
I guess I decided to write this blog post and what I’m up to in the hope that it can reassure others if they’re at all worried about balancing motherhood with work. I’ve found it important not to compare myself to others or let the internal dialogue make me feel any way about it. I came back to work in some form at 6 months and quite honestly have been working throughout but so what. I’ve spent so much wonderful time with Grace it doesn’t make me less of a Mam if I’ve done some work in between. On the flip side, it doesn’t make me any less of a driven, motivated business women if I have taken time off, thoroughly enjoyed my new lifestyle of classes, mam friends and coffee and cake rather than thinking I need to work 24/7 to look like I’m doing well at business. It sounds cliché but the moral of all of this is you do you. Do what makes you comfortable and happiest. I’ve found a balance that works for me and I have a happy little girl and a thriving business but most importantly I am loving my version of being a working mam. Make decisions based on what makes you happiest...for example I’m now knocking off an hour early to collect Grace and pop to the park with another mam friend for a takeaway coffee and a catch up. I’ll be able to log on when she’s gone to bed to get this finished and that’s what I call balance