It’s true what they say – being a parent is the hardest job in the world. One minute you’re sitting in bed watching 7 episodes of The Waking Dead back to back planning your dream holiday to Orlando, the next you’re religiously rubbing oil into your ever expanding tummy in the hope you don’t end up with lines all over it, and the next you’re getting up 7 times a night pissing about with nipple cream and wondering why on earth a baby with a stomach the size of a dot needs to feed for an entire hour, every other hour.
“Why have I done this to myself? If I didn’t have the baby, I could just go back to sleep right now. I wish I didn’t have this baby.”
But once that initial earthquake to the system has passed, those first six months are an absolute dream. Imagine changing a nappy and the baby actually staying still! Imagine putting an outfit on without them having a meltdown because at 20 months old they don’t like your taste. Imagine putting them in a travel cot and enjoying a 2 minute shower knowing there’s nothing that can harm them.
Those were the days.
I was looking forward to toddlerhood so much. I remember thinking “when she can walk it will be so much easier because I won’t have to get the pram out all the time, she can just walk next to me.” LOL.
And “it will be so nice when she can just play with her toys and we can do colouring and crafts together”. Again, LOL.
But the stupidest one of all? “I can start a business and work from home around the baby.” TRIPLE LOL.
I’ve been running my business around Luna for over a year now, and I can honestly say that although it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve always admired anyone who takes the risk to start a business. But doing it with children? It’s a whole different ball game. (Dads included).
Guilt is a horrible feeling – when you know you’ve done something wrong and you genuinely feel guilty. But mum guilt (or dad guilt) is heart destroying, and it’s something I think we all feel several times a day. I feel guilty for having a bloody shower in the morning and allowing YouTube to babysit her for 2 minutes. I feel guilty for doing my hair and makeup when she wants to play, so I end up not doing my hair or makeup and looking a mess, then feeling down because i look a mess. I feel guilty for working three days a week and not seeing her when the entire point of starting to business was to work around her. I feel guilty for eating my dinner instead of trying to encourage her to eat hers first, so I end up not eating my dinner at all. I feel guilty for spending my hard earned money on something for myself instead of putting it in her savings account. It’s literally impossible to get through the day without being swamped with mum guilt and feeling like a failure.
So sometimes I decide to focus all my attention on Luna for the day. But then I feel guilty that I haven’t answered those emails. I feel guilty that I haven’s sent my invoices off so I’m going to be late being paid so I might not have money to put in the joint account on payday. I feel like a rubbish businesswoman because running a business is a 24/7 job and I’ve taken my eye off the ball. I feel upset that I can’t go to all the networking events that I want to or join in with certain events at the office. I find myself wishing Luna was in school so I could work on my business all the time. I say to myself “I’m doing all this for Luna”, but wishing she was away 6 hours a day isn’t why I started this business.
When my business is flying and I’ve had a good month, I feel like an awful mum, but when I spend all my time with Luna, I don’t grow my business. So what’s the solution?
In my last coaching session, we explored my goals for 2018 and talked about how much I wanted to turnover. Yes – in an ideal world I’d be aiming high and pushing for the £100k mark, but when I thought about the real reasons for starting the business, I settled on a more modest amount. It meant I was still earning way more than I did before, but it meant that I could work 3 days a week, when and where I wanted. It meant I wasn’t looking for rapid growth in 2018 so I could pick and choose which clients I wanted to work with and which projects I took on. It meant I could finally find a comfortable work/life balance.
Then at a networking breakfast, I was chatting to a man who was probably closer to the end of his career rather than the start and we got on to the topic of working around children. And he said “my eldest was born at 3 years old and my youngest was born at 2 years old”. What he meant was that he had barely any memories of them before that age because he was ‘working, working, working’ all the time, and he said it was his biggest regret. It confirmed it for me that I’ve only got a couple more years before Luna will be off to school and I’ll be wishing she was at home scribbling on my doors and throwing ripped up bread all over the floor and dripping raspberry lollies all over my carpet.
As long as I can pay the overheads, pay myself, pay the bills and have a bit left over, for now that’s enough. Oh – and if there is some left over for a cleaner, then the guilt of never having time to clean the house might go away as well!