After having a baby, there are many adjustments to a parents’ life. One of them is getting back to work. It’s not as simple as just getting ready and heading to work, like it may have been before baby. Now you have to get another human ready and off to daycare before commuting to work. Not only does that add extra time to your routine, but it adds even more stress. Leaving your heart and soul in the care of someone else can be heart wrenching to say the least, but many of us don’t have an option.
In this day and age, depending on where you live, many times both parents need to work in order to bring in a livable income. Finding a job that pays well, has a flexible schedule so you can make appointments and stay home when your baby is sick, and one that you enjoy can be a job in itself. Moms around the world are learning, however, that there are more options in this day and age.
Jodi Gaylard from The Revery took some time out of her schedule to share her story with me. Jodi was faced with the same difficult decision when it was time for her to get back to work. She decided that working for herself would be the best option, and she has found great success so far.
When you had to get back to work after having your child, what was your greatest struggle?
My greatest struggle by far was having a tiny person who’s well-being was so dependent on me and the time I could give her and the cold reality that I needed to bring in an income.
Coming from an advertising agency background I had always had quite a hectic career, which I really enjoyed. After I had my daughter though, I felt incredibly torn because I’d built up a career in an industry that in most instances wasn’t very sympathetic to family.
In my particular case, after being on Maternity leave for 8 months (in Australia women’s jobs must be kept open for 12 months after having a child) the advertising agency asked if I could come back early. I wasn’t ready to leave my daughter but in my mind I was in a strong position to negotiate a 3 day week, which would mean maternity leave cut short but more time to spend with her in the years ahead. The agency agreed to 3 days, contracts were signed and back I went. It was almost on the day of her 1st birthday that the agency advised that I was to come back full time or I lose my job. I’d have to say it was one of the most stressful times in my life, feeling like I had to choose between my daughter’s well being and being able to pay the mortgage.
In the end a client of mine offered me a job in a big financial institution that was much more family focused, so I didn’t have to make that choice. It was actually the best thing to happen to me, the work was fulfilling and they were a lot more understanding of a working parents plight.
How did you first get the idea to work for yourself, instead of working for someone else?
When we had our second child my husband put up his hand to stay home with the kids. We juggled our living situation so we could afford to live on one income and I went back to work full time. This worked well for a few years and then my husband felt like he needed to return to the work force. My daughter was starting school and my son kindergarten so I wanted something a lot more flexible. At the same time a friend of mine, who was in a similar situation to me, got talking and we figured there was a chance we could make it on our own. Using the skills we had we set up a digital marketing agency, the Revery, and have never looked back.
Do you feel that this has made the transition back to work easier on you and your family?
Yes, definitely. After trying a few different combination of career and kids, working for yourself is by far the best way to be able to participate in your kids lives to the degree that makes you happy and to and also have a fulfilling career. It means you can pick and drop off kids from school, you can attend the last-minute parent request to help with art, when kids are sick you can be home with them. The business can be shaped around your family, meetings can be done during school time etc. It does mean however mean in busy times that work can carry on after bedtime and on weekends. Your own business is hard to shake from your mind. I rarely have that ‘Friday feeling’ anymore.
I think most moms feel like becoming self-employed is either too good to be true or unattainable for them, where did you find the motivation to start doing what you are doing?
Starting my own business pushed me way, way out of my comfort zone. The 7 month period between when I resigned from a job I actually loved to starting my own business were terrifying. Lots of self doubts about whether I could actually pull it off crept in. Worries about whether I would make enough money were constantly in my mind. What kept me walking down the path was my desire to give my kids a childhood that had a lot of parental presence. It was concern for their well being that made me brave enough to do it, I don’t know if I could have otherwise.
Once I was actually in a successful business, the business itself then starts to drive you. No ones else’s business is ever going to be as interesting as your own.
Most introverts like myself dread the thought of selling a product to people. Are there ways for women to be self-employed without joining a direct sales company?
In the digital age, it is actually very easy to run a business without having to do any face to face sales at all. So many businesses, like on-line businesses, can be run from behind a computer screen. Social Media and Digital Marketing can do all the heavy lifting for you in terms of sales.
And if you do have to sell its more about thinking less in terms of ‘selling’ and more in terms of being able to help people. Think about your product and service and what it gives to your potential customers, how does it enrich their lives or their businesses.
I realized about a year into my business that the winning combo for a sale for me were making people aware of what I did for a living, allowing them to like and trusted me and if they needed what I did they would call, there was never any need to go on and on about it. In fact, the best advice I’ve been given is to let potential customers do 80% of the talking.
What advice would you give moms who are feeling overwhelmed at the idea of going back to work after maternity leave?
Just start. The thought of going back to work or starting your own business is far scarier that when you are actually in it. For me, the big goals bring me undone. It’s creating little goals that lead up to your big goals that help achieve the bigger, scarier stuff. For example, the goal to have a multi-million dollar business scares the living daylights out of me, but having a weekly goal of writing 2 blogs and making 4 sales calls feels very do-able. It’s creating a process for yourself and then trusting the process.
Also, don’t underestimate the immense value you have to bring to a business. I found that I was a much better business person after having kids. Kids mature you and enable you to make often much more sensible and empathetic decisions. All our staff our now part time mothers that for the most part work from home. I found when I was looking for staff, there was a huge amount of talent out there wasted because they just needed some flexibility. Now lucky for us, I can scoop them all up!