Motherhood and small business: how will it work?

So the talk all this week has been on working mothers and it is probably safe to say that Pru Goward’s stance on celebrity mum Jackie O has met with some major criticism. Parenting blogs have been flooded with support for Jackie O. The first I had heard of it was when my sister-in-law told Pru to go jump on Facebook, (actually she said something far naughtier and she doesn’t even normally swear) and  this morning on The Today Show Lisa Wilkinson gave out Pru’s direct email address, so you can personally tell her what you think. As if working mums don’t have enough to beat themselves up about, I think Pru has single-handedly alienated 90% of the female population.

I was raised by a stay at home mum who took her job in the home very seriously. She treated it like a career, in which case she was the CEO of mothers. The majority of my friends are fortunate enough to also be stay at home mums. However, the reality is the majority of us, whether by choice or necessity, do return to work in this day and age and no one should make us feel guilty for doing so, or criticise how we do it.

 Recently I have had to think about what my role will be as a business owner once we have children and I am interested to hear how other female business owners manage this? My husband and I received the lovely news last week that after three years of trying to adopt a baby from Korea, our file has been sent overseas and we will be bringing home our baby in the next 12 months – hopefully sooner rather than later. In that split second, our lives changed and so did Red PR’s.

Personally I will return to work because I want to, not full-time, but at some point I will be back part-time and as a business owner you always do what you have to, whether it is on a Sunday, late at night or at 5am. It will be a challenge, but I am up for it and I am surrounded by an amazing team and family who I know will support me. I will always have two babies and you make that choice when you get into business for yourself. Just because you have a child unfortunately doesn’t mean you can walk away and have that lovely 12 months off. I am positive things will be different for me once a child arrives, but a year’s maternity leave isn’t a reality for most business owners – we don’t have that luxury and if I am honest many of us wouldn’t want it.

I know this will cause a lot of backlash because I don’t have children yet, but if you have run a demanding business (and I have for eight years), managing a baby will be time-consuming and it will be hard work and there will be days when it all seems far too much. But I hope it isn’t like the stress of running your own business where any given day you deal with the stress of a staff member who doesn’t perform, a client who is a royal pain in the backside, your server blows up and you lose half your business, you are going to court with a client who hasn’t paid a bill, you don’t know how you are going to pay your BAS and to top it all off Today Tonight won’t leave one of your clients alone. To me that is stress. I know motherhood will keep me super busy, especially as my baby could arrive at the age of one, but I am hoping it will allow me to have a very short break from the world of business and the stress that comes with it. Am I deluded that motherhood will be a break? ABSOLUTELY NO WAY. But it will be a different busy, so why do we compare?

I can’t stand it when a few of my lovely friends with children make the comment, “when you have a child you will know what hard work and stress is.” Hey, I don’t say to them, “when you have the ability to have your own business you will know what hard work and stress is”. That would be offensive, but it is totally fine to put down what I do every day, which pales in comparison to the importance of motherhood apparently. You may be getting up five times in the night, but I am laying there awake because I have to let someone go tomorrow and cashflow is tight. I just keep my mouth shut, because it isn’t a competition on whose role is more stressful. I may think it, but I don’t say it – no one can win as there will always be a debate amongst women on the choices we make and how we manage motherhood. So now I am going to the other side of the fence (or will be soon), someone please shoot me if I ever say anything as ignorant as the above comments when I become a mother.

Two of my beautiful friends have just gone on maternity leave and their employers made it so impossible for them over their last few months, obviously pushing for them to resign so they didn’t have to keep her job open. Umm did anyone say illegal? As I have gotten older, I made the decision to foster part-time work for our valued employees who wish to return to work after motherhood. I have trained them for years and love working with them – why would I want them to leave just because they have a baby? Presumably your brain still functions after you give birth! It baffles me how many employers do not make a child-friendly work environment. Of course I say this and right now, we don’t have anyone on maternity leave, or part-time ladies and unfortunately just like a PR agency isn’t 9 to 5, it also won’t really be part-time – let’s be realistic. But the offer is there and if they can juggle the demands of motherhood with a job in PR, I want them to stay and I want them to love it.

So stay tuned on how I manage to juggle it all and I’d love to hear any tips from other working mothers and working female business owners. I would also love to hear how you have made your business child-friendly in enticing your superstars back?

Good luck to all of us – hey we are going to need it!

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