Last year (October 2015) my business was turned upside down when I brought my beautiful baby girl, April Eleanor Rose into the world. April was born 10 weeks early, so as you can imagine I’d not prepared for this. I was in the midst of organising the Penrith Winter Festival and a plethora of Christmas campaigns for clients. I had no option but to stop working when the doctors told me I was seriously ill.
I had to delegate delegate delegate! I am a very organised person and very committed to my business, so it was a massive shock to the system. One of the midwives could tell I was a bit stressed, so brought me some paper and a pen, so I could write lists and get everything out of my mind, so I could rest. My clients were all fantastic and I think everyone appreciated the situation. At the end of the day your health and welfare is more important than work!
2 weeks after I was admitted to hospital April was born and spent the next 8 weeks in NeoNatal and special care. During that time I checked emails and did bits and bobs of work just to ensure things were still ticking over. It was a good distraction and took my mind off how poorly April was, however she was my priority at that point.
However, running your own business means that I didn’t get maternity leave like other mums and come February had to start thinking about doing work again. I had changed my business model in 2015, so instead of working for many clients at once, I could concentrate on a handful of clients…this has proved to be a wise move.
Running a business and being a Mum to April is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done. I now have to rely on my Mam and Mother in Law to look after April while I work. However, I’ve gone from doing 50-60 hours a week to 15-20 hours a week. I also have to work more evenings and weekends. One of the core values of Acorn Marketing is that if I say I will do something I do it and do it well. I feel passionate about ensuring my clients are still happy with the work I do and try not to let having a baby affect the work I do for them.
1 year down the line, I’d say I’m still learning a lot about running a business with a baby. There are times I wanted to give it all up and become a neonatal nurse, or get a “proper” job, but Acorn Marketing was my first “baby”. I’ve worked so hard over the years to grow my business and wasn’t ready to let it go. I make my business work for me and it can be flexible to fit around time with April. I get the best of both worlds – being a stay at home mum, yet a working one. I think the term you would use is #Mumpreneur!
I’ve had to learn to entertain April whilst checking emails, keep her quiet whilst I make calls or live on very little sleep…without falling asleep at my desk! People used to say “you can work while she sleeps”, but it’s only now a year down the line that she will sleep in the day, so that never worked! And frankly if she did sleep I would want to sleep, crash in a corner in exhaustion or prepare tea, or clean the house!
Going forward I would like to build the business up again gradually, so once April goes to school I can put everything back into it and move things forward. At the end of the day, I love what I do and am passionate about the clients I have. I’m not going to retrain as a nurse and once you’ve been self employed it’s hard to think about going back to work in an office, for someone else.
So, although the past year has been tough; particularly dealing with having a premature baby, it has been another huge learning curve – one I’m sure will make me stronger and a better business woman!