The lesson I want my son to learn is: if you're not happy, change it. Take ownership of your decisions and be brave.
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.
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.
You might also like:
- 8 ways to have a peaceful return to work from maternity leave
- Sometimes what you need is a break—even from your own business
- The Myth of the Maternity Leave for the Entrepreneur