by Melanie Munir

 

When I was pregnant with my son, the hardest thing for me wasn’t the nausea. It wasn’t the hip pain, the bloody noses, the food cravings and aversions, the constant peeing, nor any other physical symptom, although I had many.

 

The hardest thing was wondering what would happen to my business after my baby was born.

 

I obsessed about it. Would I want to return to work postpartum? If so, when? And how much? And what would I do about childcare? Would I still want to work from home, or would I rather leave the house and get an office somewhere else? Would I have enough energy? Would I have enough time? Would my passion for my work still even be there? Or would I be consumed with motherhood and have nothing left to give to other areas?

 

I have since met so many brilliant mamapreneurs wrestling with the same kinds of questions, and I know when I was there, I couldn’t find anyone who was talking about this predicament. Everything about working moms was about “returning to the office,” not about running your own biz, which is a much different animal.

 

So let me see if I can shed some light on the subject from my own, humble experience. This particular post is directed at new moms (or women entrepreneurs contemplating motherhood), mostly because that’s where I am. But the lessons apply to moms of older kids as well!

 

Welcome to the Unknown!

 

First of all, get comfortable with the idea that there is just some stuff you won’t be able to figure out until after the baby arrives.

 

I HATED this part. I’m good at planning. You probably are too, which is why you have your own business. Like me, you probably wish you could plan out what your business will look like when you return to it (IF you return to it.) But having a baby will be unlike anything you have ever done before – I don’t care how much you babysat, or how many little cousins you have, or even if you used to teach preschool or be a nanny.

 

This. Is. Different.

 

And it can’t be planned for. Well, not all of it. You just can’t know what it will feel like to be a new mom until you are one, and until you see what kind of baby you get. So go ahead and daydream, fantasize, and envision all you want. Then let all of it go and be ready to show up for whatever comes your way.

 

I got a hard-core lesson in letting go of expectations right from the start as my planned home birth turned into an emergency C-section. In retrospect, I am grateful because it helped prepare me for the long line of things that were nothing like I thought they would be about parenthood.

 

So if you’re a business owner who is currently about to cross the threshold into motherhood (or contemplating it in the near future), the best thing you can do is let go of the need to know everything now.

 

And the next best thing you can do is connect to other women on similar journeys. Because you won’t really be able to plan anything until after baby arrives, and you’ll definitely want a strong community who understands you to support you at that point. And I don’t just mean family and friends, I mean other mamapreneurs.

 

How Working Can Look

 

My son is 15 months old now. I started easing back into work at a little over three months postpartum, although I started thinking about it and missing it even earlier. We found an amazing nanny on care.com who was also willing to help with housework, and we set up her part-time schedule.

 

It was so great to be able to work from home for my son’s entire first year of life! I changed my client schedule so I would never be occupied for more than 2 hours at a time. This enabled me to pop out and nurse my son throughout the day, and to never feel too far from him.

 

Here’s what was awesome about being a BREASTFEEDING entrepreneur mom:

(Disclaimer: I was not an exclusive nurser due to a low supply. My son also received formula as supplementation. So this is not a piece on how you should feed your baby. I believe fed is best!)

 

One, I got bursts of oxytocin all throughout the day.

 

Two, I could still feel close to my baby even though I was working.

 

Three, I didn’t have to spend time hooking myself up to the breast pump and then cleaning pump parts all day. Mad props to women who do that!!

 

And four, it made it pretty impossible to overwork. Before, I often got lost in what I was working on at my computer and I’d forget to eat, stretch, or just go out and see the sun. By the end of a day like that, I was low blood sugar, cranky, and depleted.

 

But nursing Rowan ensured that I stopped about every two hours. He was like my mindfulness bell.

 

Another super cool thing about being an entrepreneur and a mom that has carried over past breastfeeding (Rowan decided to wean himself at 11 months) is that I now have so little time to work. Which means I have no time to procrastinate!

 

Before, when I hit an obstacle or a challenging patch, I found a way to put off working for days or even weeks so I didn’t have to face it. (Hello Netflix!)

 

Now, every moment that Rowan is in childcare, I am aware that I am paying for it. And every moment that I have set aside for work is a moment I am not spending with my son. So I sit my ass down at my desk and I carry on, no matter how loud the fear voices are that day. Less time to work definitely doesn’t have to mean that less gets done.

 

What This Mama is Creating Now

 

Another thing I wondered when pregnant was, how do self-employed moms’ business models change after a baby? Are there certain services or programs that now no longer make sense, or could be done in a more baby-friendly way?

 

For example, before I became pregnant with Rowan, I had a very full schedule. My private coaching practice was maxed out at 20 clients, my year-long group program was full at 10 participants, and I was delivering 9 weekend retreats a year, plus several shorter workshops all over the Bay area. (I’m a women’s empowerment coach, by the way, for those who don’t know me. You can find out more about my work at Professional Wild Woman)

 

Phew!

 

I knew this would not be sustainable after entering motherhood. At least, it wasn’t the way that I wanted to do it. So I started asking myself the question, what would it be like to run my business in a way that still got my clients earth-shattering results, but also works for my life as a new mom?

 

The first thing that came to mind was that I absolutely must do only what I am most passionate about. I could no longer afford to spend time on working with clients or leading group programs that were outside of my full zone of genius.

 

What am I currently most passionate about? Being a mom and an entrepreneur! In fact, almost all of the private clients who have been drawn to working with me in this year since I’ve returned to my business have been moms. So I’ve had a chance to refine some of my tried-and-true old coaching techniques for this new sub-niche – and watch them get great results!

 

It’s been so fulfilling to watch mamapreneurs like Michelle learn how to re-organize her time into “buckets” rather than her pre-baby way of scheduling. She now gets so much more done on her  business and still has plenty of time to be with her son.

 

Or moms like Amber find time for personal work in between her very full physician’s practice and her wife and two children. Hello sanity! (You can read more success stories from other moms I’ve worked with on my website.)

 

So over the past few months I have been feeling called to create a space for these kind of women to gather and get the support they need on their businesses within a group of other mamapreneurs. Because we can get a lot done in private coaching, but the power of sisterhood cannot be underestimated – especially at this potentially lonely juncture of our lives!

 

So I have partnered with Luma to create the Mamapreneur Business Incubator!

It’s a committed group of brilliant women who are growing both humans and businesses, meeting weekly for 3 months to receive support from an experienced mamapreneur coach and enjoy sisterhood and group accountability as they nurture their creations to their fullest potential.

 

Want to find out more?

 

Attend the free info session on January 8th from 1:45-2:45. It’s free and includes free childcare, but registration is required:

 

Register for the info session here!

 

If you can’t make the info session but are interested in hearing more about the group, contact me directly at melanie@professionalwildwoman.com

 

And wherever you are in your mamapreneur journey, I encourage you to keep on keepin’ on! We moms have some of the most creative, visionary ideas about how to change our world, and we need to put our stakes in the ground and make space for those ideas to grow. I know it can be hard to find the time to grow a business while being a mom – believe me, I know – but it’s so much easier if we do it together.