Tip for the day: If bottle feeding (expressed milk or formula), try to give it at room temp from day one. It’ll save you carting around a thermos like I had to for Jennifer’s first nine months.
I realise it’s a little early in Rosie’s life to be talking about this, but working and motherhood is a subject close to my heart. Most families in this day and age require two decent salaries (or one massive one, but who’s that lucky..?) just to get by.
To work or not to work
A lot of families are in the wonderful position of one parent being able to stay at home with the children while the other works. Also, given the ridiculous economy in which we live, often it ends up being more affordable for one parent to stay at home.
I love looking after my girls but I need to be doing something to earn a bit of cash – not least because Graham and I are both early on in our chosen careers and fun money isn’t readily available. However it’s mainly because I get horribly down if I don’t have other things to focus on outside of motherhood.
Going back to work
When Jenny hit 8 months and the time came for me to return to work, I didn’t get on with it one bit. In fact, I loathed it. At the time I was teaching English to foreign students and while I loved the environment and my colleagues, I hated the fact that I was leaving my baby at home. I re-joined the school at a point where a lot of monolingual classes were arriving. I was used to teaching classes with mixed nationalities and I found it very challenging to say the least.
Qualifying for more maternity pay
One of the main reasons I went back to work was so that I could clock up some time in employment in order to qualify for maternity allowance when the time came to have a second baby. However, I realised that if I became self-employed, I could accrue the same amount of working time but fit it more comfortably around family life. And it didn’t matter whether the business was a roaring success or just ticked along for a few months, I was still working so I would still qualify.
So I decided to set up a copywriting company. My father has been a writer for as long as I’ve been around (and a bit longer) and it’s an understatement to say I look up to him. He’s extremely talented at what he does so while I knew I possessed the basic skills to follow in his footsteps, I was nervous about whether I’d be up to the task.
I’ve always loved writing and it made a lot of sense to make some money out of doing what came naturally. Copywriting involves being very clever with words and extremely clever with how people think. It’s not easy.
So at perhaps an ill-advised point in our family’s development, I quit my job, Graham started to train for a new career and I went about starting my own business. It was a frantic but very exciting time.
I was surprised and thrilled with how quickly the business started to gain momentum. It was a hard slog at first (I started by writing general interest articles for a content provider for $5 each) but slowly I began to gain some regular customers. I even got signed up with a retail copywriting agency and had the opportunity to write for some huge brands. I had to put in an awful lot of work in the beginning but persistence really paid off.
It was so exciting to be in control of my own employment. I could take on as much work as I thought I could handle. At times, a big job would land in my lap at which point I’d arrange for Jenny to visit relatives for a couple of days so that I could really get stuck in.
Edited to add a shameless plug for my business: Celia Anderson Copywriting. This page is getting a tonne of hits so it’d be bad business not to exploit that. Wink.
Time for another baby
I wound the company up when Rosie arrived but when my maternity leave ends I will be reinstating it. It’ll take a lot of hard work again to get it back up and running but I can’t wait. The thrill of working for myself (and being able to fit the work around looking after my children) is one I miss. I don’t have the time now but things will be more manageable when Rosie is sleeping better and Jenny is a little bit older.
I will also consider putting Rosie into nursery (when she’s turned one) with Jenny if the business takes off again, thereby freeing up the odd afternoon for work. The great thing about my business is that I love to write, so it doesn’t seem like a chore once I get started.
Which type of worker are you?
Many mothers enjoy going back to work and I have friends who absolutely crave the office environment for a bit of adult company. And I totally understand that: happy as I am, I still sometimes miss the interaction. And the parties! My office parties leave a LOT to be desired.
If you have a skill that you think you could make a business of, I heartily encourage you to just go for it. Running your own business may seem like a gargantuan task but like most things (motherhood being a prime example), it’s a lot scarier from that side of the fence. I have a friend who started a hair accessories business and made a huge success of it. Another friend designs and makes jewellery to sell at craft fairs.
If you’re the type who can work for yourself, I promise you’ll find it extremely rewarding. You might not make a fortune but knowing that you’ve made it happen is one of the most satisfying feelings there is. And having a bit of cash in your pocket gives you a thrilling sense of self sufficiency.
Anyway, that’s quite enough shop talk. Back to the babies…
This is one of the posts that didn’t make it into my book. If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at Two under Two – coping with a baby and a toddler. Read, enjoy and review if you can!