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How to have a happy baby—and run a thriving business

Working with a baby: A survival guide.

How to have a happy baby—and run a thriving business

After both of my pregnancies and the arrivals of all of my babies (now six, two, and two years old respectively), I found myself at a bit of a loss when trying to discuss my “maternity leave” with the world at large.


I mean, I didn’t really have one.

Not in the traditional sense anyway.

“How long are you taking?” folks would ask.

Um, I probably won’t answer any work-related emails while I am still actually at the hospital.

Probably.

Or they would be sure to share helpful advice like, “Sleep when the baby is sleeping!”

Do you mean race to squeeze in that important call while there’s no screaming in the background? Good plan!

When you own your own business, these are the realities of the 4th trimester, those first months after your new baby arrives, but while you still need to ensure that your business baby is being nurtured as well.

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There is no official leave.

You may be away from your place of work (unless you work from home), and hopefully you’ve been able to help those around you—clients, colleagues, and employees—develop reasonable expectations of you in those initial weeks post-delivery, but you almost certainly aren’t able to step away from your job (the one that doesn’t involve keeping an infant alive) in the same way other new moms do.

Work will happen in chunks.

Be smart about this.

I’ve learned NOT to press send on that email I drafted on my phone while breastfeeding at 3am.

I’ve learned to be honest about my limitations, though, and not to lose sight of the general perimeters of reality (which can be tricky when you’re sleep deprived and reality is frankly pretty fuzzy-ish).

My friend, Suzanne Price, owner of the Sprout children’s boutiques in New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area, told me:

“Before I had my first child, pretty much every minute of my day was dedicated to Sprout. I mistakenly believed that my life could continue that way with a newborn, and that I’d just have to take short breaks to feed her once in a while.”

Most of the entrepreneurial moms I know initially imagined we might be able to multi-task in this way.

Suzanne, says she learned quickly you can’t do it all -at least not at all at the same time.

“When I had my second child,” she explained, “I still never took a maternity leave, but I had learned how to better segment my time. When I needed to work I got the help I needed to really step away and work. And even now, when I am with my girls, I do my best to leave my phone on the other side of the room and really focus on them.”

Also, recognize that just as no two babies are exactly alike, neither are any two businesses.

What works for someone else may not work for you. Just as innovation and the ability to pivot when necessary are vital to running a business, mothering as an entrepreneur requires one to set aside something that simply isn’t working for their family or their business, and to try something else instead.

As Tiffany Han—a business coach with twin girls and a podcast I adore, Raise Your Hand, Say Yes—told me, “We see a lot of social media photos of mamas working while wearing their babies in a carrier, and, um, that only sort of worked for me.

I got to the point where I really had to say—this is either baby care time or work time, but not both.”

I too remember precisely one (one!) conference call I was able to manage successfully while wearing one of my sons in a sling.

I loved the image I had in my head of idyllic baby-wearing productivity—and it seemed to work so well for others—but the reality for me was somewhat different, and I needed to adjust my expectations and my game plan.

As with most things in life, there are trade-offs.

The big one for entrepreneurial new parents is that although they never get an official leave, there’s also no boss expecting you back at work after a certain magical number of weeks.

You are that boss, and you can manage your time and the transition between work and baby as you see fit. Let’s face it, that’s pretty amazing.

Given that, maybe the most important thing you can do when planning for your non-traditional maternity leave is to let go of any guilt or judgment about what a maternity leave should be.

I can’t imagine that we all haven’t already figured this out by now, but there are as many ways for a family to thrive as there are mothers to obsess over whether or not they are mothering in the right way.

Let your worry about that go.

Embrace the positive ways that having so much control over your work flow and schedule can help you through your baby’s first few months (and all the years that lie ahead) and don’t waste valuable energy judging yourself for not being able to disconnect from work entirely.

Just don’t.

Go snuggle your newest little associate instead.

Genevieve is founding director of Tutu School franchises.

In This Article

    Nuna

    New mama life is often fraught with decision fatigue. From choosing a pediatrician to choosing a baby monitor, it can be difficult to know which solutions are made to last. Fortunately, Nuna just made one very important decision a lot easier. That's because their new MIXX Next Stroller has everything a new parent needs to get out, get around and get everything done.

    An upgraded version of their popular MIXX stroller, the MIXX Next features a more compact fold (shaving 6.5 inches off the folded size, down to 27.5 inches long and 23.6 inches wide) thanks to a compact fold-away axle where the rear wheels tuck under the frame when it folds. Plus, the new model also stays standing when folded—meaning no more back-straining as you bend to pick up your folded stroller and heave it into the trunk. Instead, the MIXX Next can be tucked more easily into storage whenever your ride comes to an end.


    Nuna Mixx Next Stroller


    Speaking of the ride, your little one will love the new rear-wheel Free Flex suspension™ and front-wheel progression suspension technology that absorbs more shock as you roll over uneven terrain. The wheels have also been updated to tough, rubber foam-filled tires for a smoother, more durable ride and the no re-thread harness makes it easy to clip your baby in securely and quickly. And when all those gentle bumps lull your baby to sleep? The seat features a five-position recline that adjusts quickly with one-hand—all the way down to a true-flat sleeper recline—just don't forget to move them to their crib when you arrive home. (Don't forget to extend the water repellent, UPF 50+ canopy to keep those sleepy eyes shaded.) Even better, the all-season seat keeps baby cozy in winter and unsnaps to mesh for a cooler ride in the summer.

    Perhaps most importantly, though, this stroller is made to last. (After all, what's the point of solving a mama dilemma if it creates another one a few months down the road?) The MIXX Next pairs perfectly with all Nuna PIPA™ series infant car seats using the included car seat ring adapter, and then adapts to a child seat that can face toward you (for a little face time) or forward for when your little one is ready to take on the world. All in all, this stroller gets you where you need to go with a child up to 50 pounds, meaning it's the only one you'll ever need.

    The MIXX Next is available in three colors and retails for $749.95.

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

    Our Partners

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

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    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

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    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

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    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

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    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

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    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

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    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

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    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

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    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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