Maternity may seem like the worst time to add the stress of a new business — but I would argue that it may be the perfect time. For many professional women, your first maternity leave may be the first time in your life that you have ever allowed yourself to slow down. It was for me. I went from being an overachiever in school, work, and grad school to suddenly sitting at home rocking a sleeping baby. I’d never allowed myself to truly be still before, and it was magical both for my family life and my creativity. When I allowed myself to simply be quiet, I realized that I wasn’t happy at work and needed a change.
In the moments between bonding and sleep, I started dreaming about what my business could look like.
Why This Is Your Time
The exhaustion that a new baby brings is actually a gift. You don’t have the energy to waste your time on things that don’t matter, so you will have a new level of clarity. Instead of spinning your wheels on mindless social media or what font color your website copy should be, you will become laser-focused on what’s important. You simply won’t have the luxury of wasting time, so you won’t.
If you’ve ever dealt with low motivation levels, you can now kiss those goodbye. Whether that means being able to stay home with your baby or growing her college fund, your reason for launching your business just got a lot more powerful.
You’re also using your brain in a new way to take care of this new baby. Even if this is not your first child, you’re probably encountering issues that you’ve never dealt with before, and you’re learning as you go. It’s the same with business, even though we often over-complicate it.
Wait Until You’re Ready
The newborn phase is pure magic. Yes, of course you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and a little sore, but you’re also soaking up every ounce of this new little person. I would never tell you to take any time away from your little one when all you want to do is sit in the rocking chair together.
If you do get to a point where you are ready to look at the outside world and feel a bit like yourself again, use that time to dream into and plan your new business.
When our son was in the NICU, I spent most of my time rocking him, crying, and sleeping. But then there were some moments I was ready for a distraction. It felt good to spend twenty minutes on my writing business while I sat with him. It reminded me of what it felt like to not be a NICU mom, always worried about the future. It felt good to accomplish something tangible. If I had put pressure on myself to always work, I would have hated it. However, because it served as a much-needed, occasional distraction, I looked forward to my business and cherished those moments of creativity.
Listen to Your Intuition
When you’re a new mom, your intuition is at an all-time high. Somehow you just know what to do with your baby, so let that intuition flow into the other areas of your life. Listen to your body and don’t force anything.
You will know when you’re feeling energized and want to work on your business. You’ll also know when your body needs rest and it’s time to just eat a quick meal and take a nap. Listen to what your body is asking for, and you’ll get there.
Focus on Connections
When it comes to raising this new little miracle baby, it takes a village, and the same goes for your business. Don’t try to go it alone. Ask for what you need in all areas of your life. When I was ready to transition from nurse to writer, I started by reaching out to any writer in my network. I sent LinkedIn messages and was shocked by how many responses I received.
Reach out to the people already doing what you want to do and learn as much as you can. One of those connections I made during maternity leave turned into a five-year writing project!
There will come a time when you want to work on your business more, but for now, focus on planting seeds. You never know what one of those connections could turn into, so take your time and focus on the relationship.
The Hustle Can Wait
While it may feel impossible, try to resist the temptation to look at all the businesses and social media accounts around you. Use this quiet time to get clear on what you want while adjusting to your new normal.
There are seasons in life; your maternity leave is not your hustle season. Every month, you will get more sleep and feel more like yourself. Don’t worry. The hustle will come, and it will be thrilling and scary and worth it. But for now, it’s reflection time.