It’s been one year with Lola and running a business at the same time… plus COVID. I thought it would be a good idea to finally talk about how it all has worked for us. The thoughts have been swirling in my mind about this for some time, and if I’m totally honest, I’ve held back on writing about our situation because I’m always worried that it may come off as me trying to shade anyone and how they have chosen to balance mom life, work life, entrepreneur life. It’s NEVER my intention to do that and I can only say what has worked for us. Roberto took parental leave instead of me taking a traditional “maternity” leave. Note: we are in Canada, and a family gets 12-months paid work leave (up to a certain % of their salary paid by the government) per child.
If I share my opinion on something, it does NOT mean I’m judging someone who does it a different way. So, that’s your fair warning that what I’m about to say might not resonate with you, but I hope you can hear my POV and understand my intention.
I believe that it’s become the society norm for women to step back from their career when it comes to caring for the children – I also believe that in most circumstances, you don’t have to and you can choose. Women often bend for their family… the reason for this? Perhaps we see it modeled wherever we look. It’s rarely shown the opposite, and if we do perhaps want to skip a mat leave, we feel guilt because it means we are choosing our career over our baby and it’s not seen as the norm. What I mean is that often women take a mat leave because they don’t want to ask their partner to take the leave instead, or maybe their partner feels that it will impact their own career – fair, but why does the woman need to take the year off, perhaps impacting her career? Maybe she wants to take the mat leave, but maybe it’s that she wants to because she has never believed there was an option? I remember sharing on Insta that I was the breadwinner and I got a DM from someone saying something like I was was emasculating my husband by saying so. It’s a huge stigma, and moms do judge other moms what look to be putting their career before their baby. Some of us don’t have a choice but to work, and my baby is loved and cared for so well, even if I did not take the maternity leave. I believe that child care impacts women in the workplace and it’s oftentimes why women don’t have executive roles – I feel really blessed to have a partner that is a very hands on dad (even saying that, wee’d NEVER say a mom is hands on mom, it’s already implied by the term ‘mom’) who supports my goals and we can work together to create our own path.
I had a call with my corporate accountant to go over my year end and she blew me away with what she had to say – she told me that through COVID, out of her 350 corporate clients, my business was the only one that didn’t decline in revenue. When she said it I paused, because I realized that I had also had a BABY during the fiscal year and somehow, maintained my business… can I just say that I felt so proud of myself?! Especially since I was so nervous about how a baby would change my bottom line. What we have done as a family is true teamwork, and we believe our roles are each important to our success as a unit, and it’s important that both of us feel like we’re contributing in the ways that work for our personalities and contentment. This balance and Roberto’s participation was a huge reason I can say that my accountant had that glowing report for me!
So, let’s step back to the beginning. I had a baby later in life. We all know the struggle with that and the ups and downs on that journey for us. I started my business in 2013 and I can’t understate the ups and the downs that have come with that. Building a marketing business, dealing with clients and personalities, and being the breadwinner while supporting my husbands professional growth, navigating purchasing a home, maintaining relationships, my mom being diagnosed with Alzheimers and Roberto’s mom going through a breast cancer diagnosis (and beating it!), plus, multiple miscarriages and fertility treatments including IVF, have all shaped me. One of my biggest fears about having a baby was always HOW it would work. I gave it so much thought – how would I have a baby and also maintain my business and support our family financially? Would I need to take a big break meaning that I would slide back on all of the growth I had seen in my business? It wasn’t lost on me that having a baby would come with a lot of emotional challenges and it would be a huge shift to our lifestyle. IRL, a baby doesn’t just slot into your to do list – it’s so much more than that.
After conversations with my husband, we decided that he would take the parental leave for a full year, and that I would continue to work. He was nervous to leave his job for the year, but was also excited to be with our baby. I took 6 weeks off to heal and bond, and then jumped back into my client work. I have always worked from home, and we don’t have a dedicated office space for me. With Roberto and Lola home and doing their thing, I was worried about the impact it would have for my work, logistically. It was a hard decision for me, because I always pictured taking the maternity leave with my baby and I did grieve the loss of that, but I also knew it was pretty amazing to have a husband who was so on board to stay home and take care of Lola. Truly for me, it was the ONLY way this could work. Now, it’s not to say this didn’t come with challenges – at times, I was envious that he got to spend so much time with her, especially going out for walks, but eventually I started realizing that it meant quiet time for me to work, and it meant I could send him with a grocery list so I didn’t have to go out myself! Being home with them, I would often do what I could to help out all day long, and if I couldn’t, I somehow would often feel guilt like I wasn’t “pitching in” to help him care for Lola. Truth is, I was working, and if I had left the house for work 9-5, I wouldn’t be able to do that, like many parents cannot.
It’s taken me years, but I have gotten to the point where I can spot clients that aren’t a fit for me, the ones who will drain my creativity, thus taking away my ability to serve other clients, challenge my personal time and reduce profitability… ultimately leading to burn out. It’s taken some hard lessons, but I have gotten a lot better at knowing where to put my energy – seeing my clients grow is the most important thing for me to see in my business and it no longer comes at the cost of my peace. Time is a precious resource, but I challenge that to say that my peace is even more important to me. When I feel at peace, it’s because I’ve taken on less, have less complication in life, and more abundance. It’s a choice every day for me to protect that, and to not overwhelm myself and take on to many to-dos. I get to use that extra bandwidth to pour into my family, and I love that!
We set up a way for all three of us to thrive, while making sure we were financially doing quite well, and here’s what we did that worked for us:
- We would rotate mornings so one of us could “sleep in” (if you consider 8am a sleep in)
- Roberto would always do the night shift so I could sleep since I had to work the next day (let’s be honest though, I was awake with them most nights on alert – couldn’t help it!)
- It was important to me that I was involved in her routine and we both had input to all decisions concerning her routine, life, food etc.
- Roberto likes to maintain his fitness, so I made sure to always give him that time all week to get in his 4:30pm gym class
- If I had extra time during the day, I would pitch in and also make sure to take her out for walks, work dependant
- Because my weeks were jam packed, and I always try to avoid burnout, Saturdays, I needed some time for myself, so I would so something for me like a manicure or facial, then maybe even take a nap and then spend some family time
- I kept a very clear family calendar with meetings/outside projects so he could see when I would absolutely not be around to fill in
- We had clear roles within the home – Roberto was Lola’s full-time caretaker, and he would also take care of cleaning and laundry, while I would do groceries, errands, cooking and all admin
There were many times when Roberto thanked me for giving him the gift of this year with Lola… it was pretty darn special for our family to all be together in the way that we were. Having a baby during COVID meant that we didn’t have that village around us that most new parents typically do… our friends were also all very overwhelmed with their own world, and I didn’t have a lot of support there. We really had to lean into each other! That’s not to say that we haven’t argued or had challenges – we have had many.
We have decided that having a second child isn’t in the cards for us, and we have been loving pouring all of our attention, plans and nurturing into Lola – perhaps I’ll go deeper into why and how we decided this for our family if you’re interested to hear it! Thanks for reading!