Maternity leave… what do those words mean to you?
For so many women, I feel that it symbolizes this short, sacred amount of time before they are rushed back to their jobs and away from their precious newborns. So, frankly… the word is kind of associated with an impending sadness or anxiety.
We think things have to look a certain way, when truly it isn’t a set in stone kind of deal. Just like all of the other aspects of our lives, we can accept the fluidity of events and work with what feels right in the moment.
For me, I built a business that allowed me to step back initially, while still running a successful business. I then continued to watch both my newborn and business grow- and nothing could have been better!
I loved having the freedom to enjoy the simple moments snuggled with my son (cough… obsess over his “new baby smell”… cough) and still have the flexibility to take calls, work with clients and handle business.
But like anything in life… things change.
Right around the 3-month mark, I began to feel like I was supposed to be “ramping up my hours” as if the cloak had been lifted and there was the “maternity leave countdown clock”, waiting to go off at any moment.
With my daughter in daycare 2 days a week, in a pre-school co-op 3 days a week (for only 2.5 hours a day) and a sprinkle of help from my mother, of course, I heeded the urge to find help for my son and began the exhaustive search for a nanny.
BUT BOY… THAT WAS NO FUN!
With nothing “feeling right” or lining up correctly, I was left feeling mentally and physically drained. Part of me was frustrated at the experience, while the other half of me realized that this was an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation.
Of course, I was definitely ready to grow my business… and needed some hours freed up to do so… but did that mean I needed to do it the way “I should”… or the way I COULD!
I stepped back, thought outside of the box and decided to hire for my business- instead of for my home and kids. By adding to my team, I used my budget to find people who could do the jobs I needed to be done as well as- or even better than- I could, instead of paying for help for my baby.
For my launch last Fall, I brought on a Project Manager, copywriter, sales page designer and got to work delegating through naptimes and feedings.
Was it always easy? Ahem… no. But was it working? YES!
So what are my 3 biggest tips for stepping out of the box with childcare? Get creative with your own experience and…
1) Don’t Look At Your Time One Dimensionally
Your time doesn’t have to be split into these pre-determined boxes that say when and where.
Sometimes you will need more time for your kids or your home, and other times you will need it for your business. How you split it up or spend it will always change, so be comfortable knowing that it can be fluid… and yet, still successful!
2) Be Open to Change
I mean do things ever really not change in life after kids and business? One day they’re crawling and the next they’re walking. One week they can’t get enough pasta and the next they think it’s slimy and gross.
As for our businesses, we all know that one month could be slower, while the next you’re calling in for backup and daydreaming about waving that little white flag- but you won’t because you’ve got this!
As the kids get older and your business grows, welcome the changes that come with it. Learn to be adaptive and flexible in your personal and business spaces and embrace the fluidity of your life.
3) Consider How You’re Spending Your Time
Finally, look around and truly evaluate how- and where- you’re spending your time. Are you losing time by doing something? Is there anything you can streamline?
One of my favorite acronyms for this is Against All ODDS: Outsource, Delegate, Ditch & Streamline!
Think about it: could you bring someone onto your team to help free up time elsewhere? Or maybe there’s simply a task you dislike and prefer to hand off. These are valuable business decisions that can truly help move your business forward in the long run.
At the end of the day, I was able to look at my time in a different way and realized that it wasn’t one way over the other… just what worked in the NOW.
But if kids and businesses have anything in common, it’s that they are both ALWAYS changing, growing and you must be on your toes at all times!
By 6 months I decided to bring on a nanny for 1 day a week, but after dealing with the fiascos of finding a nanny that could work, then aligning our schedules, then constant call-outs leaving me hanging with work to do, I changed tracks… again… and by 10 months my little man is starting daycare 2 days a week.
And yes, the transition of putting my baby into daycare, acclimating him- and of course, the leaving him part- is all very emotional… but it’s what felt like the best decision for my family and my business right now.
Now, both of my kiddos are in daycare 2 days a week and then my mom takes them 2 afternoons a week. I’ve learned to go with the flow and trust my gut. But business and life keep changing, so I know that no decision is forever… and it’s perfectly OK to adapt!
I encourage you to take a step back and look at your own personal situation.
Do you have the time you want with your own kids? Are there things that could be delegated or handed off to save you time for something else? As you can see, what’s right in the moment… may not be the right answer down the road or even tomorrow.
This is your official permission slip mama to step outside the box, create a schedule that works for you, your family and your business and the go-ahead to change it when necessary- it’s your journey after all!
Want more resources about planning childcare? Check out Chapter 3 of The Expecting Entrepreneur.
Jaclyn Mellone is a mindset and marketing mentor, speaker and co-hostess of the All Up In Your Lady Business podcast. She helps passionate, creative entrepreneurs channel their zone of genius, tackle their inner mean girls, and build Know, Love and Trust with themselves and their tribe.
When she’s not helping entrepreneurs create their own version of success, from the inside out, you can find Jaclyn spending time with her husband Chris, their 2 adorable children, Eleanor and Marshall or being lounged on by their fur-child, Louie… most likely in a sea of naked Barbies and dismantled Lego sets. Jaclyn loves to connect on Instagram (@knowloveandtrust), her Facebook group (The Know Love and Trust Tribe) or at www.jaclynmellone.com …usually with her favorite Black Toasted Almond cuppa joe from Dunkin’ Donuts in hand!