The highs and lows of running our business with a baby to boot!
I’m going to give you a bit of insight into what it’s like to work full time with a baby and the struggles we faced as a family and business.
It started in January 2017 when we found out we were pregnant. We had been trying for our daughter, Emma, for about three months as we felt we were ready. The business was going well and we felt we could financially support a family.
We found out we were pregnant on January 7th. On January 9th, we lost our business.
As you can imagine, life went downhill pretty rapidly. We had to face the reality that we were up the creek without a paddle. There was a baby on the way and we had to earn money fast to keep us afloat.
With no income, we had to use our savings and credit card to pay rent, bills, and grocery shopping. We constantly worked, day and night, trying to build our business back up. We were tired, struggling mentally, and emotionally and falling out a lot. Amongst that, I was suffering horrendous morning sickness.
By May, we had made some progress, but we weren’t earning enough to take the impact off the credit card, which was causing us debt. In late May, we went to visit my family in Manchester after it suffered a horrendous terrorist attack. This is the point where it all changed.
THE WORKER BEE
Before heading to Manchester, we decided to create a Manchester Bee sticker to represent the close, hardworking people of Manchester. We offered these for free on our website as a gesture of goodwill and so people could show their support. We also took some to Manchester with us.
Our sticker proved so popular that we were approached by a few companies who wanted to buy them in bulk from us. We charged a small fee to cover our time, materials, and postage.
This changed things for us and allowed us to pay our rent and get off the credit card. We were able to support the people of Manchester, and they were able to support us.
Life Lesson – Just hold onto each other, don’t give up and work hard. Be gracious and be supportive, and you will benefit. Oh, and don’t put your eggs in one basket!
MATERNITY LEAVE? NO WAY!
You might think, ‘why would you say “no way” to maternity leave? Are you crazy?’ Trust me, I wish I could have taken maternity leave, but when you run your own business (and I mean run it as in me, and my hubby on our own kinda run it), there is just simply no time to take off.
We worked through my pregnancy, including the day I gave birth.
As our business is a two-person team, Don had to adjust when I was in the hospital. He essentially had to take on all the work and also fit in the time to meet his new baby. He was working early in the morning, at the hospital on his laptop and as soon as he arrived home. However, he learned from this.
He learned how to do certain jobs on his own, so I was no longer needed to help, thus saving time. He learned how to be more efficient, and he passed this newfound experience on to me. It helped when Emma and I returned home too.
Life Lesson – Don’t be afraid of a challenge. You are capable of achieving absolutely anything, just put your mind to it. You will learn from the struggle, and you will grow from it. Life and business are always changing, so consider ways to improve and be more efficient.
BACK TO BUSINESS, BABY
There have been different struggles with Emma through each stage of her growing, and this has affected how I’ve managed to work. As a newborn, she was really dependant on her milk feeds and constant bum changing.
As a breastfeeding mum and Don working every second of the day, it was very much up to me to feed her and nurture her, so it was hard to juggle work and Emma in this way. I was also very tired, constantly. A piece of advice people always gave me when I was pregnant was, “When Emma sleeps, you should sleep.”
I took advantage of Emma’s naps, but I didn’t sleep, I worked.
One of the beautiful things about having a newborn is they are so content in their little baskets. They snuggle up and fall asleep so easily, so I pretty much relied on this to give me some work time.
As Emma developed more and I returned to working full time, things became more hectic. I knew I couldn’t rely on Emma sleeping so much to get my work time in, so I had to learn to be more productive in the short amount of time I had.
Emma was also starting to walk everywhere, and I needed to have eyes in the back of my head but also try and stay on top of work.
My emotions changed here, and I began to feel guilt, frustration, despair, and overwhelming love.
Guilt because we were trying to work so hard, and we were constantly working, feeling like we weren’t giving our child enough attention now so we could give her a great future.
Frustration because she developed separation anxiety, and I couldn’t even leave the room without her screaming down the house.
Despair because I was really struggling to juggle work, Emma, the chores, cooking, and being a good mother and wife.
Overwhelming love because through all of the tough things we were going through, we were doing it for the ones we love. This is how it needed to be today for a better tomorrow.
Life Lesson – When juggling multiple important aspects of your life, remember the importance of why you are doing things and try to establish a balance even if it takes a while to get right. Focus, work hard, love harder, and you will get to where you’re meant to be.
TIPS & THINGS I’VE LEARNED
I’d like to note here that you may wonder why we constantly work. We do this because we are aiming for big things and hoping to make these changes before Brexit finalizes. Hopefully, things can calm down soon.
I have genuinely learned a lot along the way. I’ve realized there are some things I should or could have done differently, some things I wish I’d implemented sooner and some things I would like to do to make life and business easier.
I’ve come to realize that there are definitely not enough hours in a day, especially when I have to split them between so many things. An important thing to do here is to spend an afternoon to ‘plan’ your ideal schedule for work and life. I use inverted commas as we all know things never really go to plan.
A structured work plan, even a basic one, can help you become more efficient with your day.
Have a vice
Ok, so this really is a personal one to me. I find that especially after a Monday or Tuesday (my most hectic days), I love nothing more than going out and grabbing a toffee latte to go. We pull up somewhere in the car, people watch, let Emma watch CBeebies on her tablet, and discuss the night ahead or other things for half an hour.
The latte and the time away from physical work allows us to hit the refresh button before we head home and start work again. (Yeah, you heard that right, Meant to be made wouldn’t write itself). It’s important to break away from work even if it’s just for half an hour.
Let it go
Dishes, sweeping, washing, showering. Don and I once laughed about the fact that we hadn’t showered for about 8 or 9 days because we were just too busy. At one stage, we lived on noodles and dry shampoo.
On a serious note, though, the chores can wait, take that time to spend time with family, or get some extra minutes to focus on a project. P.s. I am writing this with a destroyed kitchen and a baby on my lap.
You’re going to be stressed
Let’s look at our emotions here and be honest. If you are running your own business from home and have just added a tiny human to the mix, then things are going to become a little crazy. Keep your emotions in check and realize that the work is just going to get harder, but it’s not going to last forever.
As mentioned above, if you can grab half an hour to yourself to recentre your emotions, then consider doing it, which also brings me onto my next tip.
Our family has been a great aid with the preparation and care for Emma. They purchased necessities for us when I was pregnant, but have also helped babysit a few times to give us adults a break. Our family is scattered across the world, so we don’t get out much, but when we do, we make the most of it.
If you are offered help in any way, then take it! Also, don’t be ashamed to ask for help too. I’m sure your family and friends will be glad you asked. Accepting help doesn’t just mean for babysitting.
Consider thinking about other ways your family can help, including helping with your work now and then or with chores so you can get work time in.
Life is genuinely a rollercoaster when you run your own business or even when you work from home. There are so many ups and downs, so many more stresses, and so many more sacrifices. It’s clear to see when you look at your work life and home life and it becomes the same thing.
I hope by reading this post you can find some comfort and tips on how to juggle your family and business.