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Returning to work after maternity leave inspired me to start my own business

The lesson I want my son to learn is: if you're not happy, change it. Take ownership of your decisions and be brave.

Returning to work after maternity leave inspired me to start my own business

We've all heard the expression, "There's never a right time to start a business." I'll throw my hat in the ring and say I disagree. For me, motherhood was absolutely the right time.

Let me tell you why:

1. The stakes are higher.

Before motherhood, my reasons for wanting to set up my own business were fairly murky. It seemed like an exciting thing to do. I didn't love the idea of working my way up the ladder, waiting to get to the next step each time. I had a feeling I could do more.

It wasn't enough to make me do it. The dissatisfaction in my current life and working environment simply wasn't high enough. There's a certain ease that comes with a 9 to 5 job: clear working hours, a level of sameness, a regular paycheck.

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Fast-forward to returning to work after maternity leave and a new reality sunk in: Those clear working hours meant time lost with my son. That level of sameness made me reflect on how different things could be. That regular paycheck just didn't seem worth it. After all, I was using it to pay someone else to spend time with my son.

I wanted a career, but I wanted to have balance and flexibility too. With primary school looming a couple of years down the line, the thought of dropping my son off at breakfast club, and picking him up at 6 P.M. following after-school club broke my heart.

This gave me the push I needed to move forward on my dream. It wasn't just my life on the line here. I had something to prove.

As mothers, we can sometimes feel like we lose our identity. We become 'mummy' or 'mom.' Our hobbies are reduced, our 'me' time all but disappears and we choose to go to the park over exercising or having dinner with friends.

But I wasn't just proving to myself and to others that I am more than this 'mummy' character. I was doing it for my son.

As you go through life, you pick up life lessons—the ones that stick with you and you think, "This is really something I want my children to learn." One of those life lessons for me is that you don't have to follow the status quo. You don't have to work 9 to 5, you don't have to accept the gender pay gap, you don't have to invest your time in anything that doesn't go towards the aim of making this the happiest life you could possibly lead.

That sounds a little idealistic doesn't it? But really, the lesson I want my son to learn is: if you're not happy, change it. Take ownership of your decisions and be brave.

So how can I teach my son this lesson if I wasn't leading by example? If I keep saying (for over 10 years) that I want to set up my own business but not actually do it? Motherhood gave me the kick I needed to live by my values and to teach through my actions.

2. Time is our most valuable asset.

This one might seem contradictory. After all, as a mother, my time is definitely limited. What I've found is that even when I'm sleep-deprived, I've become a master at multitasking. What used to take me two hours, I can get done in a kid's TV show. And here's where the good bit comes in—moms are the master of getting stuff done. We've trained for this.

So when I started my business, on top of working a full-time demanding job and having a toddler and teenage stepdaughter, there was not a moment lost. I drilled my brain to focus on the most important task. I didn't spend time researching which website provider to use, I went on trusted recommendations. I got the bare minimum done to get myself off the ground, using every resource available to me.

Would I have had this discipline before having a baby? Definitely not.

3. My priorities changed.

My choice of career wasn't just for me anymore. My choice of career now determined how much I saw my son and played a mighty big role in the lessons I was teaching him.

Now, I am so proud that I can say to my son, "I made the decision to start my own business, not for you, but for me. I did it because spending time with you is the most important thing in the world to me. I did it because I can do anything I put my mind to, and you can too."

And mama, so can you.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

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    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

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    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

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    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

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    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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    Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

    Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

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