It takes a village to raise a baby
Life with a newborn is hectic and rewarding. Life with a two and a half year old is like that but on steroids! Coffee is very much my friend – thankfully I have a fantastic coffee machine at home!
Since baby Mathew was born in April this year, my world view of work and motherhood has been put under the microscope. I am aware leading a team of women, I have become somewhat of a role-model for working mums, however I feel very reluctant to endorse what I do as a preferred way of managing motherhood and work. However, it’s my way and I’m okay with that.
I recently coached one of my clients who is about to have her first baby – she looked at me and said “I’m really nervous about this – I have worked really hard in my career and in my position and I fear that I might lose my stance in the organisation”; I get that – I felt that. With my first born I admit I rushed back to work in fear I would lose my business.
This time around, I thought to myself I want to put things in place to make me not feel that way.
I was invited by one of my clients this week to “show off the baby”. I was really honoured and felt appreciated as a woman in business to be asked to bring in a baby to work! They saw me not only as a valuable supplier, but a mum who has been lucky enough to experience the joy of motherhood – twice.
I did get a few people ask me “How are you doing this?” I have had comments in the past like “Gee, I wouldn’t be seen going out anywhere… you look great – you even managed to put makeup on!”
To be honest, I felt really embarrassed by this – I felt people were putting me on a pedestal for successful working mum of the year!
So let me break this down for you in regards to my work and life choices… to get me to the point where I can work from home, run a business, manage a team and spend lovely time with two sons… I stress I am not doing this alone, I am not wonder woman, I get frustrated, cry and become overwhelmed; I laugh, smile and feel joy for my career and motherhood!
Here is what I have done:
- I have designed my life to achieve motherhood and work: I employ a nanny who comes to the house Monday to Thursday, I have 5 staff members who run the business beautifully. I am not taking a wage. This is my investment into my family and to my work. I am very aware of the financial costs of this and believe every mother knows this. I do wish we live in a world where this was not true, but it is, so I am making it work for me! I’m grateful I have two boys so Mathew can wear his older brother’s hand-me-down clothing – if I had a girl I would be running a significant debt on buying her sparkling, glittery shoes…
- I believe in routine – I researched a lot about this. I read the book “Save My Sleep” and “The Contented Baby” and looked at the pattern and trends for managing routines. What I discovered is having a routine can mean you are able to predict and understand your baby’s responses. This isn’t about controlled crying, it is about understanding a pattern, which follows something like this – baby wakes, change nappy, feed baby, play with baby then put baby to bed eyes awake so baby learns to settle – if baby awakes within 45 minutes, go and resettle baby until baby has a full sleep. Then start the process all over again. It teaches the baby not to rely on milk or a dummy prior to sleep. It’s hard work, but I found it gives me peace of mind so if I need to have a 1-hour coaching phone meeting I’m able to do that.
- I found the Wonder Weeks process really interesting – they are two researchers who discovered babies go through these “unsettled” periods and it is linked to significant changes in their brains. I have an app that maps out the likely times these instances will occur (and after two babies I know it’s pretty accurate!) and I know that I will have a couple of tough weeks so I plan to not have too much of a heavy client load so that I can manage through this time.
- I have a home office and use technology to support myself – however, I believe I need to get better at “switching off” and I hope to report back to you how I do manage that!