Q I’m in a quandary. My first baby is now a few months old and I have very mixed feelings about returning to my full-time job. I do have a date set to return but as it gets closer I’m feeling more anxious and sad. On the one hand we do need the money and I did say that I’d go back to work afterwards. But on the other hand I feel guilty for leaving my baby with a child-minder. I don’t like my job anyway – and if I do have to work I’d much prefer to be doing something I actually enjoy putting my time and energy into like starting my own business.
I don’t want to let my partner down, or my baby, or myself for the future. It’s a big decision and I just keep going round and round with it. My partner says it’s my decision as long as I can contribute financially as before. What do you suggest?
A Clearly I can’t advise you what to do… it’s your life and your decision after all.
It’s hard to make firm decisions about what you’ll do (such as agreeing to go back to work) when you’ll then be in a future role (such as that of becoming a mother). Because you haven’t yet experienced the impact of that new role upon your life and your emotions.
I do know how draining it can be feeling stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy and which doesn’t ‘fit’ who you are – and that ‘you’ changes over time too.
Making do and settling just so that you have the money isn’t a good long-term strategy for your own emotional well-being (and that will be felt by your child too).
Some ideas have come to my mind which I hope might be helpful to you. They entail you writing down the stuff that keeps spinning around in your head. Externalising things helps with clarity, focus, choice and decision.
How much do you need to contribute financially to the household ‘pot’?
Can your household outgoings be reduced in any way?
Is there another form of income you might attract – such as taking in a lodger? Thereby allowing you to return to work only part-time.
What are the ‘pro’s and con’s’ of returning to your job? Include any childcare costs.
Do an internet search for more information about (for example) ‘baby and business’….’mum in business’ etc. (there’ll be LOTS of those).
Find out what ‘mums in business networking’ groups there are locally, as well as online, that you can get information and support from.
Do some research into the ‘market’…what product or service could you offer as a business owner?
What are people looking for help with? (See ‘Google Keyword Planner’)
How can YOU offer a unique solution for that?
Who exactly are your potential customers?
Where do they ‘hang out’ (e.g. which social media platform, or which in-person events)
How do they prefer to buy? Most people buy from people they know, like and trust…so think about the contacts you already have who might help you to spread your word.
How would you deliver your product or service? How would you take and monitor payment?
I’d also suggest that you get some basic information (available online from government departments) about being self-employed.
Don’t even think about any extra costs/expenses such as premises etc. Think of your business as starting from the kitchen table or spare room.
Then – when you’ve done your market research and decided what business service you feel energised and passionate about… then take some small steps each day to make it into your reality.
My own suggestion would be to have as much in place before you go back to work… and to think of going back to work as being a stepping stone to where you really want to be.
Whenever you take the plunge into self-employed business just be sure you have in place firm financial foundations first. (4 F’s!)
It’s a trade off…you’ll have to do more by yourself to get your business started the less money you have with which to pay someone else to do things for you.
It will be hard to juggle work, baby, relationship, household and a new business but if you only do an hour or two a day you’ll still get there – just more slowly than you would if you had the money to invest in it straight away.
Other women have done it – so remember that it can be done very successfully!
To help you to prepare for being in business it’s a good idea to get your head in the right place too. There will be specific challenges that being a business owner bring up for you.
(If you’re interested I have an online e-course/guide to help you with that. It’s called ‘How To Sort Out Your Business Brain – Without Coaching! It’s available here https://maxineharley.com/how-to-sort-out-your-business-brain-2/
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)