One of the biggest challenges I’ve struggled with since having Leo is trying to balance it all: raising Leo full-time, staying on top of regular tasks (cleaning the house, laundry, grocery shopping, taking care of the dog, etc.) and still running my online boutique business.
The biggest key in making the transition from solo entrepreneur to baby mama/entrepreneur is preparation. So many aspects of your life will change after having a baby that are inevitable, but the more you prepare for what is to come, the better it will be for both your business and mental state.
The best time to start taking these steps is while you are pregnant. The earlier you start preparing, the better. If you’ve already had your baby, however, no worries! You can still implement the steps below for your current business or a future business you’re planning to start.
Here are my tips on how to run your business after having a baby:
- Get Help. Whether you hire an extra person to help you in the weeks leading up to giving birth, or beg your sister or best friend to help with your business in the weeks after having your baby, make sure that you have at least one person that can assist in running your business during this time. After giving birth there are so many other things that will occupy both your mind and your time — most obvious, the new life that you brought into the world, the adjustment of becoming a new mom (or mom of 2, 3, etc.), taking care of yourself after a physically taxing and exhausting labor and delivery, the build-up of household chores, the visitors meeting the new baby, and the list goes on. Having someone to answer emails, fulfill orders, handle social media – whatever it may be depending on your type of business – will be beyond helpful and stress-relieving. It’s an amazing gift to put your business on the back burner for a couple weeks after having a baby to focus on the newest little family member and bond with your new baby, as well as with your ‘new’ family as a whole.
- Prepare as much as you can beforehand. The good news about having a baby is that, for the most part, you know when it is happening. Luckily (or not so luckily), the good Lord gives us 9 months to mentally prepare. While much of that preparation can be not-so-comfortable, it does allow us time to prepare for what’s to come. If you own a business, that can mean the following: ordering inventory ahead of time, preparing various email templates in advance so that you can just hit ‘send,’ creating a content calendar and scheduling social media posts, writing several blog posts that can go live at a later date, putting a plan in place for how you will handle orders in the weeks following the baby’s arrival, and so on. Although you can’t predict everything that will occur with either the baby’s birth or your business during that time, there’s much that can be done in order to prepare. The best thing to do in advance for my boutique business was creating ads that run on social media, as I knew I would not be very active on social media in the weeks following Leo’s birth. That way, your business is still reaching people, gaining new customers even though you are somewhat inactive, and staying relevant.
- Inform your customers that you’ll be taking a ‘vacation’ or on maternity leave. If you run a business, it’s likely that you have a website or social media that is often updated. Depending on the type of business that you run, it is more than acceptable to inform your customers or clients that you will be taking a long vacation or will be on maternity leave. If you have loyal customers or personal relationships with your clients, they may even find it exciting that you will be welcoming a child soon! Don’t be afraid to share this personal aspect of your life within your ‘business side’ of life – it will make customers more understanding about delays and will leave you feeling less stressed about not being totally on top of everything.
- If necessary, prepare to do the little tasks while in the hospital and after. While it’s not the ideal scenario, you may have to take care of a few of the smaller items in the days following delivering your baby, and that’s okay. Set up emails on your phone so that you can easily respond, if necessary. Another great thing to do in advance is to prepare an automated email response that will let your clients or customers know that you are unable to respond at the moment, but you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Even providing a specific date when you will answer their emails will not only give them a known timeframe to expect your response, but will also give you a sense of relief in knowing that you don’t have to get back to everyone immediately. And if you have your emails set up on your phone, you can always scroll through and respond to any urgent messages earlier than expected.
- Set realistic expectations. As much as you probably wish you could continue being as productive post-baby as you were pre-baby, unfortunately that just isn’t feasible. It’s best to prepare yourself mentally for such changes to happen prior to having the baby than being totally discouraged after the fact when you can’t get nearly as much done in an hour timeframe as you once could. Even though I had mentally prepared myself for decreased productivity, it was still a bit of a shock. If you are staying home with the baby for any amount of time, whether that be 6 weeks, 12 weeks, or indefinitely, you will realize just how helpless a baby is and how much they need you – especially in those first couple months. While it’s easy to get discouraged, or even frustrated, with how little you are able to accomplish some days, remind yourself that it is temporary. Although your baby will continue to need love and attention on a very regular basis, the older they get, the more they are able to entertain themselves. While Leo has never been the best sleeper (which certainly doesn’t help!), I’ve heard that most newborns also sleep the majority of the day, which would certainly be helpful if you have a ‘typical’ newborn. 😉
- Prioritize. As time goes on, your to-do list will only grow bigger and bigger. With a new baby, it will become harder to get everything done in the amount of time that you are used to. What I found most helpful when I hit this obstacle was prioritizing what items were most important. As I made a list of ‘most important’ items to get done, down to ‘least important,’ I felt a sense of both relief and accomplishment when I would check one of the items off the top of my list – and the items near the bottom of the list would start to seem less significant. You will realize that although it would be ideal to complete all of the items on your to-do list, your business will not implode if the items near the bottom of the list go unfinished. If you think about it – none of your customers or clients have seen your to-do list, so they don’t even know what you are skipping over! Just keeping your business afloat and relevant during this time should be your top priority and eventually, you will start to check off more and more items on those to-do lists.
- Envision what you want your business to look like in 3-6 months. What do you see your business looking like in the first 6 months after having your baby? Are you planning any major changes, launches, updates? Will things look mostly the same? Determine what is most important for your business in the upcoming months, as well as how you want to live your new life as a mama. If you have a set vision, figure out the best actions to take to make that vision come to life. For example, I knew I would want to spend a lot of time with my baby, but also continue to grow my business. I knew that I would not be able to spend as much time on the computer working on my online boutique after having a baby. But, I figured I could still achieve my overall ‘vision’ by selecting specific times where I focused solely on my business, and leave my child in the care of others. So I applied for several large events in which I could be a vendor for 3-5 days depending on the event, and focus solely on my business during those days. That way, I could still put 100% into my business at those specific times in order to grow, make money, and provide myself with a sense of accomplishment, yet still spend the majority of my time post-birth focusing on my baby and the transition into motherhood.
- Don’t overstress. The reality is, there is only so much you can do. And most likely, it won’t be the end of the world if everything isn’t prepared ahead of time, if orders get pushed back and don’t ship out as quickly as you’d like, or if emails go unanswered for a few days. If sh*t will really hit the fan if one of the above happens, then it’s likely that you already have employees that will help while you are absent, or you are hiring help. But the most important fact remains: you are having a precious little baby. The time you spend with that child, especially in the first few weeks, is so important and is time that you will never get back. Those memories will be some of the most memorable in your lifetime, so put the business further down on the priority list and focus on what’s really important. The business will still be there when you return! In my personal experience, my business has actually been more successful in ways post-baby than prior to having Leo. One aspect of planning I really focused on was applying for large pop-up events starting a few months after Leo was born. I knew that realistically my online sales would drop in the months after Leo’s birth, so I figured I would be able to make up the financial loss by doing more pop-up events than I had previously. So far it has really worked to my benefit and I gained an abundance of new customers – plus a new sense of self-confidence that I can really do both – run my own business while also being a full-time mama (at least for now!).