I remember like it was yesterday, when I pulled my daughter from the water and hugged her. I was so over joyed that she was healthy and finally here. After a very rocky pregnancy, it was the greatest feeling after a very difficult 9 months. My entire world had flipped upside down and I wasn’t too certain how to go from Mummy of 3 to working full-time again, in a job that I had lost all comfort in.
I remember very vividly, being drained to the point where my eyes were sunk into a hole and black rings surrounded them. It was more than just lack of sleep for me, I was suffering from anxiety and depression. I couldn’t put her down, something just wouldn’t let me and no matter how painful it was without sleep; against all odds I needed to keep my eyes on her all day long. We had purchased a co-sleeper and I kid you not, she did not spend one night in there in the early days. It went from a rocky pregnancy to baby Ella struggling to spit up properly (it went through her nose instead), so like any mother would, I needed to be there at all times to make sure was ok.
It took an entire 3 months of that and by that point, I was falling into an even greater slump; I was stressed about going back to work. I took an entire year off, because I felt the stress building up within me, due to work related issues that I couldn’t even fathom was happening to me. I knew I would need some serious down time.
As if I was hit with a stroke of insanity, I decided to get my business running on a full-time basis, while juggling the school run and looking after a newborn, because hubby had to go back to work. I remember the first event I did very clearly; I was hammered and living off coffee, because I still had no idea what a nights sleep was like, but there was something in me that needed this. I needed to get out of my slump and the only thing I could think of was running an event. I know, who does this? Who throws themselves onto a panel, with complete strangers staring at them, while still exclusively breastfeeding? I had to break and feed and return to the panel like nothing happened. Just writing this now makes me realise just how much I needed it.
I came from that event feeling run down, motivated and hungry.
I realised that this crazy, run down, very distressed mother was fighting! I was fighting to get back into a space where I could be me again. I was fighting against the distress I felt at work, on maternity leave and the sleep I was yearning for. I told myself that if I could just do this, I could somehow push myself out of my slump, so that’s what I did. For months, I did one free networking event a month, with guests and a specific topic to keep sharing actionable tips.
This became my thing, although I am still working on my anxiety, I somehow managed to take something I have been working on for two years and added greater meaning to it. Was it a sink or swim mentality? Absolutely! I knew that if I didn’t do this, I would be in a very different place, I needed to do it for me.
Being a mother at home, pushing a business is never easy. I took the hard route, but it saved me from experiencing whatever was at the other side of this.
How did I cope you wonder?
I definitely needed to figure out a balance, because I was pushing out content and collaborating online as well as running a monthly event. Here a few of the things I did to get the ball rolling:
Work while breastfeeding
This was actually my favourite time to get work done. After the bigger kids were at school, I would take this opportunity to get my laptop, have some water and latch baby on. I would be writing a post, responding to or sending emails, or scheduling some tweets. Pretty much anything I could do on the laptop this was prime time. Baby Ella was happy and I was being productive.
Learn how to work as and when
You won’t have the same amount of time as you did before, but you can still be as productive if you take full advantage of the time you do have. Keep a notepad handy, so you can jot down a note of what you need to do when you get back to your laptop. This is essential, because baby brain will be in full swing. Train your mind to be as adaptable as possible, because you may have to spring up in the middle of an email.
Baby carriers are life savers
I purchased on of the cloth wraps as I found them more forgiving and much softer on babies skin. This is essential during conference calls, so you can walk around the house while on a call as baby rocks off to sleep. It’s even better to fix and eat a sandwich, so you don’t go hungry before it’s time to feed.
One will be more important
Business is important, but baby will always come first, so be prepared to intentionally put your laptop down and tend to baby then get back to work. The buzz of getting a task done might be great, but babies should be nourished, cuddled and loved. You won’t be able to spring back into full action, so accept it and work at a good pace that puts babies needs first, always. Let your baby dictate your work schedule.
Even though I was using work as my way of saving myself from dropping into a mental space of despair. Keeping my family first was key and actually drove me to make sure the balance was never lost. As mothers we are naturally maternal, so the need to cuddle and enjoy our newborns will always outweigh any job or task that disrupts the home Eco-system. I went with the groove and now baby Ella is 8 months old and super busy. She uses everything to pull herself up to practice her walking. It just reminds me of how fast the baby stage goes, as just a few months ago, I was refusing to put her down, now she’s a crawling superstar.
Did business save me? Yes, it did, but on my terms. I wasn’t forced to perform, I just took things one step at a time. It is one of the most unlikely things to nourish a mothers mind, but somehow it made me calmer. I needed to look after my well-being and if that meant trying something new and completely out of the ordinary, that’s what I had to do. I am still going by my rules and still coping with my anxiety, but I’ve realised that this is more of a marathon than a sprint and I’m fine with that.
Originally published at medium.com