The Top 3 Things I’ve Learnt
From Jumping The Corporate Ship With a Baby in Tow
In my pre-baby life, my past career involved a lot time working at desk, being ‘on call’ by email/phone or nervously checking emails late at night, lots water cooler chat with my colleagues in a very trendy office in central London. How and where I work now couldn’t be more different but there are a few things I’ve learnt since jumping the corporate ship, having a baby and working for myself:
1. Babies don’t ‘nap’ on schedule
Working for myself and trying to look after a baby was a big shock to me. The pre-baby me thought it would be a doddle, the baby would sleep at set times and I could work – simple. Ha, how wrong I was.
My son wasn’t a fan of napping on cue, which meant some embarrassing calls with clients where I’d have to jump off to soothe my sleep rejecting boy. I learnt pretty quickly that babies, well, mine at least, are unpredictable.
With un-predictable income, the first 6 months of starting my business meant formal childcare wasn’t an option, and to be honest, I wasn’t ready to put my little boy into childcare so soon but I was keen to grow my business at the same time. I felt such guilt if I wasn’t earning (but working) when he was in childcare. Motherhood – push me, pull me.
Eventually, after juggling the increasingly less frequent (and sporadic) naps combined with some ad hoc family help with childcare – I knew something had to change. I discovered a co-working space with a crèche without that minimum commitment that nurseries have, a space to breastfeed and the opportunity to work alongside other parents in the same situation, the chance to chat to someone over the kettle boiling and I’ve made some lovely new friends along the way.
My advice to anyone going through the same thing is to ditch the guilt, be present when you are with your children and go with what feels right for you and your family, not what society expects.
Goodbye to the 5 day weeks of 9-5 (more like 9pm…) and hello to the unknown schedule. The biggest thing I noticed, and feared the most, was that sense of freedom and the lack of predictability of my working weeks, the not knowing who my next client would be or when I’d get landed with my next research project.
The unpredictable nature of working for myself has taught me to enjoy and make the most of the time I have with my family when it comes along. At the same time, I’ve learnt the freedom to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t right for me and that in itself is liberating.
3. Making time for me
These days it’s so easy to be always in work mode, to reply to emails at any day, time and place or to keep working late into the evening. After a couple of months of doing this myself and saying ‘yes’ to everything, I found I was taking on too much, on top of trying to figure out my own motherhood journey, running a home and attempting to have some form of social life. I hit a wall.
With some gentle encouragement from my husband that I really couldn’t do it all, I took a step back, re-calibrated and gave myself a bit more structure, which meant have a clear day off for some much needed me and family time (also, cue freedom to say ‘no’). Sure, there’s still some nights I’ll be up trying to finish off a project but I try to keep to my work times and keep family days sacred.
Do I regret jumping the corporate ship? No. Do I miss it? Yes, but then I remind myself of the freedom I have and the pleasure I’ve had in growing my own business and having the freedom to do things my way and a flexible way of working and parenting.