How to Be a Mom and Run a Business – My Case Study
How Do I Manage All That?
First of all I want to highlight that everything I wrote in this article is based on my own experience and within my context. Your life may be different, you may have different needs, values and priorities and that’s ok.
I often hear sentences full of admiration saying that I manage to do so much and on top I have a small baby. How do I manage all that? Well, if you’re here to learn how to manage a business, work, home, baby etc. how to be a super perfect mom, super businesswoman, super at work, fit and healthy, have a beautiful tidy home, how to be effective and productive, – this article is not for you. Because although it may seem on Instagram that I manage to do a lot and that everything goes as planned – that’s not the case. Rather than having all under control I deliberately practice letting go, every single day. I practice accepting a mess at home, accepting that I haven’t checked the box on any task from my to do list for two, three, five or fourteen days in a raw etc. Letting go is so liberating and energizing and it do help me move forward. Sometimes it’s one step forward and five steps backwards and that’s ok for me.
Life with a baby is almost always uncontrollable unless you have a perfect baby (do perfect babies exist?). And the more I wanted to control the more frustrated I was. Little by little I was learning to prioritize and to focus on what’s important for me in the moment. Sometimes the only thing that mattered was to hold my baby in my arms for hours, days… singing, hugging, kissing and doing my best to south her. Sometimes it was to survive with the very little energy I had after multiple sleepless nights until my husband got back from work. There were days (many days) that it was a challenge to eat anything other than a fist of nuts or a banana or to brush my teeth – you mommas know all that.
I entered maternity leave with a belief that it will be an amazing and magical time with my baby and that I’ll have lots of free time to read, to paint, to grow my business – love, peace, harmony and relax. This belief messed up a bit as it created unrealistic expectations and introduced moments of frustration. I was quickly to learn that during maternity leave I’ll have less time than ever. I share a real case study of how it looked like with me and how I managed having a baby and running a business.
First few weeks were truly magical and it only reconfirmed me in this crazy and false belief. Vega was such a little, beautiful angel and our hearts were exploding with love and joy. She slept alone in her crib and lied down peacefully by herself even when awake. I only took her in my arms for feeding, she was that happy and calm by herself. She slept at least 6h at night, uninterrupted. I was in a huge love bubble, full of the most wonderful and fulfilling emotions. I also had plenty of free time as she slept a lot during the day. I was staring at her for hours and hours and I thought it will last forever.
3 Weeks Old
At three weeks old she started having belly pains, later she was teething, and first infections started with runny nose, problems to breath and eat … I was holding and cuddling her in my arms for hours for the next 4 months. During the day, she slept on my chest and at night I was nursing her even 10-15 times as she needed southing. There were days I was exhausted but there were also days that we spent a better night and I had more energy. Depending on how I felt I sometimes used the moments when Vega was sleeping on my chest to do a bit of thinking, reading, taking notes and learning – truly choosing what nourished me and what felt naturally exciting and energizing for me. I was little by little (sometimes 5 minutes a day or just 15 minutes in a week) gathering inspirations to get back to the studio and re-start my art business (that was put on hold since September 2018).
8 Weeks Old
Up until Vega was 8 weeks old I was with her all the time, although physically she was a separate human being I felt as we were one. I instinctively knew what she needed and how to south her, I felt what she felt as if I was her. We were taking care of her together with my husband but I had to be there for her at any time, even when it was my husband who was cuddling her. Sometimes I was even wild when protecting her whenever I felt something was not right for her.
At 8 weeks old the invisible bound between us started to loosen a bit and I felt comfortable to leave Vega alone for one hour with her dad. For the first time in two months I had an undivided attention for myself and it felt amazing. I sat in the café, ordered a rooibos tea and I started filling in the coaching diary with pages on appreciation, my objectives, positive affirmations on what I wanted and dreamed about in my life. This was so nourishing and inspiring. Since then I tried to have at least one hour for myself a day. It was not only a physical rest but also an emotional and mental rest from a constant alert mode that I’m on when I’m with Vega.
3 Months Old
The invisible bond loosened even more and I felt comfortable to leave Vega for longer, it was usually 1,5h up to 2h as Vega still needed feeding very often. As she was getting older my mother in law was taking care of Vega for longer.
At that time I slowly started to re-introduce myself to a bit of work, the working hours were very unpredictable and I allowed myself to be fully flexible on that. When my mother in law with Vega I juggled between preparing lunch for myself, tiding the house, going for a walk and gather the thoughts, sleeping, reading, learning or working… depending on what I wanted and needed for myself to feel good.
4-10 Months Old
As weeks and months were passing I started coming to the studio, first just to look around, feel the space and the energy. Initially it was on the weekends only when visiting my mother in law (I have a studio in her house).
With time and as the bound with Vega was getting looser, I was re-connecting to myself and my desire to paint and to express was increasing. I tried to be in the studio as often as I could – usually 1-2 days a week. Sometimes Vega cried so much in the car that I didn’t dare to go with her by myself to the studio for few weeks. Every day was a surprise and I spontaneously responded to the circumstances always choosing the highest good for Vega and for myself.
I had no expectations whatsoever to how much I want or could work, it all happened naturally and in harmony with the flow of mothering. Sometimes I had one very productive day, or just few minutes. There were many days I didn’t work at all.
It’s incredible how having no expectations frees the soul and mind. I didn’t have any lists and plans but I did somehow manage to: sell and ship over 30 paintings (this was work, they didn’t sell by themselves – I’m not at this stage yet), I created over 15 art t-shirts, released 2 small collections of paintings I did while pregnant, painted over 40 small abstractions inspired by motherhood and another 10-15 painting for a new collection that will be released at the beginning of 2020.
Don’t ask me how… it just happened, naturally and slowly. Very, very slowly.
Is it a lot? For me yes, I’m proud and satisfied.
Did I use any techniques to be more productive? No.
I have a particular opinion on productivity. I don’t like it. Productive for me sounds like you need to do a lot and I’m far from that. I truly believe in letting go and doing less. Doing less often means more, at least for me. That’s what serves me. You may think differently and that’s ok. Do what works for you :).
11 Months Old
Vega just turned 11 months. Now our life seems a bit more structured and organized. In the morning Vega goes to the nursery for 2,5 hours. I usually take 10-30 min for myself to have breakfast and do a bit of thinking, reading and taking notes of my ideas and then I work for 1.5-2 hours. At this stage I already have a plan and to do lists. I work from home and I need to have super, super, super strong will to actually sit and work instead of tidying up our house. I hate to work when everything around is a total mess. But… Either I do the work or I clean the house: D and that’s ok, that’s my reality and I accept it. In the afternoon either I go to the studio or my mother in law comes and takes Vega for a walk. If I stay at home I usually don’t work in the afternoon. The days that I go to the studio I have another couple of hours to work as my mother in law takes care of Vega and I only breastfeed her when she needs it.
The context is the most important part to see it all objectively. As we all have different life circumstances. Those are mine and I create my world around that. I always aim to choose what works the best within our context for our family and for myself.
1. We have a cleaning lady. I don’t clean the house. I don’t tidy the house at all. If it’s a mess it’s a mess, if it’s dirty, it’s dirty. I do the laundry but if my husband doesn’t fold it or doesn’t clean the dishes it often stays that way for days and days (those are his tasks).
2. My mother in law helps me EVERY DAY! In July, she left on vacation for three weeks and I almost died! I was hungry, with dirty teeth, in my pyjamas, uncombed – dry shampoo helps a lot :D, no make-up – this means huge dark circles under my eyes etc. I was exhausted and only focused to survive day after day.
3. My husband leaves the house at 6 am and often returns at 7-8 pm, sometimes earlier (5.30-6pm). If my mother in law can’t help me with Vega I’m truly crossing my own boundaries to survive and there’s no possible way I could do any work.
4. I had 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. During that time, my primary focus was Vega.
5. I decided to let go physical activity – I can’t realistically fit it into my calendar at the moment.
6. I don’t watch TV nor series – there are other things that relax and energize me better like reading and learning and I choose that over TV.
I’m sharing this because I don’t want people to have a false image based on few seconds of Instagram stories and consequently be hard on themselves cause their lives look like a total chaos. Mine is a chaos most of the time.
If I could possibly inspire you with anything (I’m saying this to all moms) – I’d love it to be to let go, to abandon things that don’t matter to you with no regrets (sometimes the only thing that matters is to survive or to cuddle your baby in the arms the whole day or two or three or for a month), to let go everything that drains, overwhelms or frustrates you (any tasks or goals that sit there for weeks and months and get you angry and hard on yourself), to do less and not more, to take care of yourself, to give yourself love, to see what energizes you and do more of that. And most of all to let go any expectation.
How does it look with you? What’s the most challanging for you in being a working mom or being a mom and running a business?