Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Building a Community for Support

Support that thing you think you have until you need. People think you don’t need support because they see that you are getting on and getting the job done! Such a vicious cycle.

One thing my partner said when we found out we were pregnant was that it was going to be super hard as we did not have much family close by. There was my brother who was fabulous in the early days but that was all. At the time my stubborn self went ‘we can do it. It is just a baby’. In reality I should have taken his words and looked for my support community.

I did find some support in a women business network I was part of in Ballarat, but it was short lived. I have also found good support in a national networking group for mums. These have accepted I am a mum and allowed me to bring my daughter if needed. But they didn’t help when the pressure cooker was on and I needed hands on help with baby or home. That I have had to either work through or pay someone.

Recently I was ill and we couldn’t find a babysitter and we missed out on a business opportunity. I let people down and it didn’t sit well with me – in fact I was angry. What I realised was that I had to create a ‘community’ that I could call on to help me out when needed, and that I could help them also. I put a call out on social media and yes I got an amazing response…I had my community. People I was not afraid to ask for help from.

It is interesting that in Western society’s we believe we have to do it all alone, to be super parent, super business person, domestic god – no support, no asking for help. Yet in Eastern societies children are brought up by a village. Interesting thought…..

I am not a person to ask for help. And I usually wait until I crash and burn prior to seeking help. Each time I have crashed and burned since the business met the baby, I have reached out and asked for help or more specifically I have paid someone. At first it was staff to try and pick up my workload, then it was a babysitter to enable me to have dedicated time to work, then childcare, then a cleaner, then it was reducing my workload altogether and defining and focusing on core business.

Focusing on core business – and defining what it was that I wanted to achieve for me was the key to gaining clarity for both myself and the business. To start thinking in the way that if I was giving my time away to someone, especially if they did not appreciate that time, and it was not core business, that I would rather give that time to my family. To be clear about what I wanted to achieve in the business. When it came to meeting commitments in the business that were about achieving the goals then I needed to call on my support community.

While my support community 4 years ago would have been very different to the one that I have created today, I still would have reached out and asked for help or at least accepted the help when people offered it. I read in the books that if you were to visit a new mother/family then the best thing you could do was help with the housework, washing, cooking or not stay for too long. And it is so true. The best visitors I had after Sophie was born was one who brought 4 meals worth of soup, packed individually and ready to freeze and one who put her family on a time limit of 20 minutes.
I also realised that just because I to 4 months to catch up with someone – was probably the next best thing I could do other than cooking a meal or 2 for them!

If you don’t have a reliable support network around you then you need to create one. If you are to continue to run a business and meet the needs of that, then there will be times that circumstances fall out of your control and you need the extra little bit of support.

How do you get support? Or do you not reach out and ask for it?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Getting a break

When I used to tell people that my business partner was also my life partner I was met with ‘wow I could never work with my partner’ I didn’t really think that much about it – we have a set of skills that are very complimentary to each other and we are also both able to switch off after work. Pre-baby we both also had ‘interests’ outside of our business and relationship.

We have never really been ‘child-free’ either. With Craig I acquired a 10 year old step-son who was week on and off rotation between his mum and dad prior to living with us full-time for 3 years. Circumstances saw him leave us when I was about 3 months pregnant. From this I knew what sort of father Craig was and also to some degree the type of ‘parent’ I could be. I had certainly learn’t that when I opened my mouth to discipline that it was most likely my mother’s voice coming out – so I have already dealt with that shock!

So when baby comes along I am in a very fortunate position that my ‘life and business’ partner understands the pressure on both a domestic and a business level – he is also living in that pressure. Our biggest ‘arguments’ we have ever had have come from within that pressure.

‘They’ tell you to take time for yourself and also your partner. Our time together was spent juggling a baby so that work commitments could be met, ensuring the domestic world happened and then catching up on sleep – as interrupted as it always has been.

I had and still have separation issues with my daughter – she has been caught wailing at the back door because I have gone to the office (30sec walk away); screamed when I left the house for the first time to get a massage (45mins); she will only be sorted overnight by me. It has only been this year when she was 4 that I have been allowed out at night for work or to socialise. We are yet to spend a full night apart.

For me I got a break from Sophie when she was with a babysitter or at childcare so I could work. I soon updated this to allow myself time to get my hair or nails done or to have a massage – which are all treats to myself. I am also known to use ‘work-time’ to catch up on cleaning, washing or cooking. Because I am self-employed and I am able to do that.

Craig and I have also been known to have a ‘working lunch’ together or sneak to the movies while she is at childcare to get some ‘us’ time. When you lack free babysitting this is what you do.
When you live together – work together – business and home are the same place – and you are parenting together – time is so precious that it is hard to spend time with each other and also yourself to nurture those loves.

In the last month Craig has gone back to full time work – this has meant big changes for both of us – and less time we actually see each other. He rings every lunchtime for an update.

The important thing to do is to try and pre-empt any issues and make changes to the routines so that you can spend time together.

How have you managed to get a break? Your tips from escaping domestic duty, 'wife/husband, mum/dad, business duties?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Plugging Back Into The Real World

There will come a time after you have introduced a baby into your life where you will HAVE to plug back into the ‘real world’ beyond other parents. Impossible as this thought is when you are in the state of feeding, changing nappies, surviving and giving the best start your precious bundle. You will be bombarded with appointments with maternal health nurses, joined up to a ‘mothers group’ and supported/compared/charted like you have never been in this new judgmental world of being a mother.

There will be a time when you will welcome the change of focus to business, where the centre of every conversation is not your baby, its feeding and pooing habits or your post birth recovery!
But it won’t be easy – it will be hard to stay focused on conversations, your foggy-sleep deprived head won’t be able to take too much, you will be constantly thinking of your cherub and if you are still feeding then your boobs are going to be crying out for release!

There may be times when you can take your bundle with you – and you will find that you will start being attracted to the networking and people who are accepting of you having a ‘baby attachment’ and those who are not supportive won’t be in your life for very long (unless they are paying you $$).
While this sounds easy to have your bundle with you – it has its own challenges……
The biggest is that you can not control the mood they will be in and therefore how easy they will be. Other people will either hate that you have a baby/child with you, tolerate it or totally steal them (I had it happen in a board meeting, it was awesome!)

As they move through age brackets it gets both easier and harder. You learn to take paper and pencils, colouring in books and off course tablets!

As your bundle of joy gets older you will start to look for caregivers – grandparents (if you are lucky), baby sitters, family day care or child care centres. Yet there is always the things that you just can’t plan for like last minute changes of plans in your business, illness and public holidays to name a few.

As your child/ren get older you also need to work around school holidays, pupil free days, 3.30(ish) pick-ups plus being involved in their school – attending assemblies, sports days and so on. The juggle doesn’t stop. Yet at some point it has to get easier.

At this time, like no other in history, women are encouraged to plug back into work and their community. Infact the pressure to do so is probably also the greatest that it has ever been. Women are leaving the traditional workforce in droves after they have children and creating micro and small business – some that are growing into International exporters – right from their lounge room! They are creating social business that aim to make a difference in their area of expertise. Women are driving the boom of small business.

The flipside of this is that we are seeing less women taking on board positions or senior management roles but more women are starting small home based businesses.

It is an incredible time for women at the moment, they are seeking empowerment to make decisions and to put their families first – and if the traditional workplace is not allowing for that they are creating an environment that is supportive of that.

My wants and desires for both myself and my business totally changed after the birth of my daughter – shame it has taken me almost 4 years to totally understand and recreate that phenomenon.

What about you - what is your story about returning to the real world? Any tips? 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Growing Your Business With Baby

Anyone in business will tell you that without business development you will not have business growth – this means that you are less likely to meet budget, have a profit or survive. It is a scary thought.

Visionary is my first born – I have now seen it through acquisitions, mergers, expansion, restriction, addition of services and subtraction of services. It still remains what I always wanted – to provide me with enough work so I do not have to be ‘employed’ and to fund a lifestyle that I want.

It used to take all my time – I would work at least 14 hours a day – stopping for dinner and then picking up my laptop. No stress. I had nothing or no-one to stop me. Well had no-one…..

A baby kind of demands your time – you need to provide everything for it – it certainly gets easier as they talk, walk and become more independent – but that takes years. A child is something you do for the long haul – much like a business really.

I had to find the balance between providing for both my baby and my business. I also had to find the balance that would also not cause me to take additional pressure at a time where my hormones were all over the place and I was sleep deprived.

Changes that I have made in the last 4.5 years, mainly reducing services and focusing the business, probably doesn’t look like I have been developing the business – and yet in reality it is now poised more than ever to be flexible enough not to consume so much of my precious time.

I have learnt that if I am going to ‘giveaway’ my time to people then I am going to give it to my family – unless there is something in it for me.  Sounds selfish but taking time from your family to give to someone else is selfish.

What I missed along this path was to make quick decisions that are true to me – what I lacked was a true understanding of me and what my new identity was. I am certainly not the first person to ever have a baby while I am running a business and I won’t be the last. My learnings are not ground breaking – many of you will be nodding your head in agreeance – however we don’t talk about it – no-one told me to do this I learn’t along my business and baby development cycle!

Sadly there are times when due to work commitments and the need to develop your business and
deliver for clients that you miss the firsts. I missed her first solo ‘step’ – her aunt saw that. I also missed her first snowfall. I was sitting working in the office when we noticed it starting to snow (I was actually on the phone to a colleague at the time who was in Qld) I had this urge to go to Sophie’s childcare and to be there with her while it snowed. When I did pick her up later in the day there were pictures and great stories of dancing in the snow – but I missed that. I have shared many firsts with her though and for that I am blessed – corporate world would have prevented me from sharing those.

What are your tips to managing business growth and being there for the milestones? Please share below

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Juggling Domestic Harmony and Business Growth

Life is a juggle. The older you get, the more responsibilities you acquire, the more you need to juggle.

At highschool it was juggling friendships and school work. At Uni it was juggling uni work, paid work and if you were not lucky enough to live with your parents (I was) then you also had to juggle looking after your own place or be part of a share house (and all the joys that go with that). Then there was real grown work and climbing the career ladder, possibly a boy/girl-friend, maybe further study, sport and creating a life balance. Some travel (or a decent amount in my case), followed by a mortgage, starting a business, wedding (or not), babies – and then you really truly understand the juggle – you get why the previous 35 years you thought you were busy and challenged, but this was the biggest challenge yet – creating and maintaining domestic harmony and business growth!

Domestic harmony – being a domestic goddess – basically having a clean house, food on the table, full cupboards and the washing done –sounds simple hey….cough, splutter. Add to that children – or in my case 1 active, spirited, somewhat needy girl. As you tidy you look behind you and she is tearing the house apart. You clean one room only to walk into another and find a cleverly constructed creative project out of ripped up tissues and boxes. Or the latest artwork on the wall or carpet, made from that forgotten sharpie texta that she has discovered! The stories go on. That witching hour that gets better as they get older, but usually starts around the time you should be cooking dinner. The washing basket that seems to magically fill itself up only minutes after you thought you were on top of the washing. The endless folding and putting away. The effort to get to the supermarket and do it with child/ren in tow. Add into that mix the ‘business growth’ bit and you have the perfect recipe for a pressure cooker explosion!

That is unless you do a bit of planning and a bit of outsourcing. There are so many tips about how you can do all of this and you need to see what works for you. What I have learnt that has worked for me is the following:

Clean House
·       Don’t let the mess get on top of you – everything should have its place and everything in its place
·       Tidy like a ninja! Get a washing basket and a plastic bag. Go to a room, do not leave that room until it is tidy. Things go away, or in the basket if they belong in a different room or in the rubbish bag. Simple. I saw this on Pinterest and it works for me. I start in the lounge (where most of the mess congregates) and work around the house leaving my daughters room until last (where most of the things in the basket end up).
·       Clean a room/section of your house a day. I have a fairly small house (in todays terms) and I have divided it into 5 equal parts and I tackle a section a day. I tody the night before and then clean in the morning. I leave the big sections to the days that I am not rushing to kinder/work. Oh and I use beautiful toxin free cleaning products from Natures Direct!
·       Hire a cleaner – it could be the best $50 you spend.
·       Make it smell nice – I use Scentsy.

Food on the table
·       Cook multiple meals at once – I have 2 cooking days a week and cook at least 2 meals
·       Double the quantities – that is simple enough – then you freeze a batch for another meal or eat for lunch the next day
·       Create an ‘anything goes’ night. Ours is Friday. All the rules go out the door. We eat in the lounge. We eat whatever (usually snacky time food from the freezer). Have dessert first. No set bedtime (she is usually crawling in about 8pm anyway) and no set bedtime routine. It is rule free, relaxed and we all look forward to chilling out after a big week.

Full Cupboards
·       Use online shopping – really why are you not doing this? I shop with Woolworths and do a bulk shop with Grocery Run every 6-8 weeks. No dragging kids to the supermarket.
·       Buy fresh – we enjoy attending farmers markets and have also found a local fruit & vegie shop that is great (aka cheap) prices. You have to hand pick their goods, but it is worth it to save $.
·       Buy in bulk – where you can buy bulk. There are bulk places that you can visit to stock up on canned goods and other dry goods. Plus markets and other online shops will sell in bulk other goods. Big W also sells bulk for cheap on things you will use every day like toilet paper.

·       Buy a bigger washing machine – for every child you have upgrade to the next size. The more you can fit in a load the happier you will be.
·       Buy a bigger basket – or one that divides lights and darks. I have only recently done this and love it – the washing basked doesn’t look like it is growing clothes.
·       Don’t iron – really – my nan used to iron everything from sheets to nickers. My mum ironed a little less – I iron nothing! My partner has clothes that need ironing, he does that.
·       Move clothes quickly through the cycle. This will help with the above point. If clothes come out of the washing machine and are hung out to dry and then folded (not piled up) it will keep them in better condition.
·       Have a space for indoor drying (I have hung racks on my laundry wall because I hate my house looking like a Chinese laundry) and buy a clothes line that has a cover on it – this will stop UV damage in summer and will enable you to air dry clothes in winter and they won’t end up wetter than when you put them out.
·       Look on Pinterest/Google/blogs for tip son setting up your laundry and washing systems if you have many people in your house.
·       If all else fails buy more clothes.

The last tip to becoming a domestic goddess is create a ‘control centre’ – look it up on Pinterest – this is essentially where all the comings and goings of your house go. I use mine to plan meals, create shopping lists, the family calendar, store the house money, vouchers, craft ideas and all the bits of paper that would normally go on a fridge! You can add whatever you need to this area, and it helps keep everyone in control and informed of what is happening.

So if you have your house in control, and with a little bit of planning there is no reason that you shouldn’t, then you can get down to the business of growing and developing your business, working around all the family commitments that you have.

What are your tips for keeping domestic harmony? Share below

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Finding the new you

Something shifts in you the moment you fall pregnant. You start to think of this little life you dream of the possibilities, how they will grow and develop. The exciting adventures they will have. You shift from always thinking about yourself (well I did) to putting another person first – always!

It is natural, the mothering instinct, there is probably chemical changes in your brain that make it that way. It is hard to prioritise anything else – unless you are given the space.

As part of this new role as mother (and for me it was not an anticipated role) you are trying to find this new part for you to play – your new identity. Of being a nurturing, role model and yet still driving your business forward. Often the 2 worlds will clash. Often you will feel under pressure with the combination of the Western Worlds ‘we are doing it all and need no help’ statement with the pressure you put on yourself to ‘keep up appearance’.

In amongst this you start to question what it is that is your life purpose. Is it to be mum? Is it to go back to work? Is it to do what you have always been doing? Or are you going to find something new?
Does a planned and anticipated pregnancy mean that you have already thought all of this out, and is reality the same as the plan?

I felt so much shift in my world – stuff that was important pre-child no longer was important, infact it just added to the pressure. So what was I really looking for to fulfill myself, earn an income and be the best mother I could be.

I had to first let go of any control on life I thought I had. To plan what I could and accept what I couldn’t. To live for this moment in time only. To develop systems in both my house and more importantly in my business that allowed me to what I felt was my purpose and to make money.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and trying out things. I am getting closer to the realisation of what I am working towards.

The older I am getting and the more I am growing with my girl, the more I understand about myself, what I want and what I don’t want. I just need to keep focused on creating an income from doing the things I enjoy and not doing the things I dislike. 

What does your new identity look like? How have your priorities changed (if at all)? Share with us in the comments

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Pressure Cooker Effect

When I fell pregnant there was nothing anyone could have told me to prepare for the change that having a baby would do to me and also my life. For all the times I have felt pressure and stress – nothing could compare to the constant pressure felt with a new baby – juggling everything.

That feeling that you believe you can’t breath; that you are moving through the motions in a daze of feeding, changing, cuddling, attempting to get them to sleep – all the time thinking of all the things that you should be doing – getting on top of emails, doing the washing, cleaning (ok tidying!) the house – not to mention that little thing ‘they’ say about sleeping when bubs does (laughable!). Not to mention continuing to develop the business, grow events, appease everyone, manage staff, meet budget, get some sleep, rest, tale time for yourself. Be The Best Mother. Keep the maternal health nurse happy, work towards the next baby milestone, go to mother’s club, tell everyone how great you are doing. Smile. Cope. Get the baby to sleep without screaming. Do the books, update the website, answer e-mails, get some sleep.

You get it – around and around – and every day you survive.

Then I put this saying on my kitchen wall:
“Do not dwell on the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
I believe Sophie would have been about 6 months. I realised that I was always striving for the next development goal. I was focused on her getting to the next age – where things might be a bit better. I was focusing on how stressful and painful it was for her to go to sleep (at 4.5 she still bugs me some nights). I realised that I needed to enjoy this very moment with my little girl – something I still do today. Enjoy the smiles, laughs, hugs of today – tomorrow they will not be there. I learn’t that it was OK to have her sleep in my arms if that was where she wanted to be – it wouldn’t be long until she wouldn’t sleep during the day – that she would be too busy playing and living life to want to cuddle for long periods. Enjoy that moment.

I finally got my head around being a relaxed mother – well in truth it probably took until she was 18 months old when I threw out day sleeps and she started to just go to sleep at night – albeit with me in her room – holding her, lying in her bed! That still hasn’t changed.

With my new identity as ‘relaxed mother’ starting to work for me, I turned my focus to the business – it was at this time that I made big decisions that affected so many people – but it took me out of that pressure cooker, and it is that pressure cooker that could have been my downfall if I had let it continue.

There was at no point that I ever felt depressed at this time – I have had depression – there were times I was sad, sometimes angry, and my poor dead mother seemed to wear the brunt of that. But I was never ‘depressed’ I never wanted to stay in bed, not face the world. I never felt sad and dark as you can when you are depressed.

I felt totally and undeniably out of control and unsupported. I would have liked to have planned the business better for that post-birth stage. I would have liked to have planned the house better for that post-birth stage.

Today I think ahead to the next stage – at the moment we are planning for primary school. I think about what routines need to be changed, and where possible start making small changes ready for the end outcome. I have learn’t more about how both my daughter and I and my partner responds to change and how we work together (or against sometimes). This has helped immensely.

All babies are different, and you never know how you are going to respond until you are in that place and position. Until you learn the ‘way’ of your new baby and how everyone around you will react and help it is difficult to plan – and as you would now all good plans can get dissolved very quickly with a baby.

When I was pregnant I planned ahead with all of my events and projects – I was probably about 2 months ahead of myself on all of the events I was working on. However, I was sick after I had Sophie, I didn’t bargain on having a c-section and I certainly didn’t plan to be back in hospital 2 weeks after having her. I really truly believed that I could just continue on, maintaining how far ahead in my planning I was and to run an expo 2 months after she was born and then another 5 months after that and then another 3 months after that…..and the cycle continued. I believed that if I just employed people that I could manage it all. I kept adding to the workload and not stopping to breath.

If I turned the hands back now I would decrease the events when I discovered I was pregnant, but I was in a time of growth for that part of the business – we had expanded our hire services, we were running more expos and being approached to do so. When your business is growing – and your mindset has always been to grow – why stop just because of a baby.

Before I fell pregnant I was starting to look for a new challenge – and I got it!

What did you do to plan for your baby? What did you find didn't go to plan and how did you cope with it?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

What they don't tell you

As soon as you start announcing you are pregnant there seems to be stages of excitement and levels of information people start to talk to you about. It starts with excitement – then general tips – then birth stories. Everyone seems to be the expert on pregnancy, birth and babies. There are millions of books, websites and blogs. And then there are hospitals, doctors and midwifes. Information is conflicting and it is not about you and your individual situation.

My gorgeous doula!
The best advice I received was to not read books. So I didn’t. I was told to engage a doula. So I did – and it was the best thing I ever did. I started my pregnancy journey talking to an expert on shifting blockages I had around birth-developed with the thanks of all of those horror birth stories, including my own. I read a book on hypno-birthing and was ready. Armed with this base and my doula, I was able to focus on the impending birth. And buying stuff!

In saying I didn’t read books I did read a couple of others – mostly around sleep and settling – cause that was the issue I was having – which really didn’t need to be an issue – I needed to learn to stop trying to controlling the situation and worry about what everyone else would think. They didn’t understand the pressure cooker I was in and that as long as bubs and me had some level of sleep then how that happened was no issue. The books tried to get me to the ‘ideal’ which wasn’t ideal for my situation and my baby. But it took me many tears to understand that.

What they really, truly, failed to tell me along this journey was that once this little bundle was put in my arms I would fall instantly in love. I could lose hours just watching her, enjoying cuddles, bonding together. I will never forget the first day in hospital where I swayed between absolute love for this little person and freaking out that I was now a ‘mother’ and was suddenly in no man’s land – I didn’t even know how to change a nappy!

But I soon became an expert at parenting – particularly when I surrendered and allowed myself to parent from the heart. Well maybe not an expert, because I am always learning.

What this new found love did for me was tear me between wanting to be a great business owner, expand my business in terms of size and location to wanting to create an income that would allow me to spend time with her as she grew and to celebrate her firsts with her and be part of her life – not an absent/convenient parent.

I understand now that this is not new – in fact that thing everyone would say about the pain of labour and birth disappeared once you held them in your arms – true.

I wish I understood this in order to plan my business more for when it met baby – yet I think it is one of those things that you need to experience first hand and in the moment if someone had tried to tell me I would have ignored them and not got it.

So if I could take the knowledge I have now and turn back the time, what would I have planned differently in my business so that I could truly spend time in the moment with my little girl.

I would give myself permission to live in the moment.  I do know, but it was such a slow process- I would have given myself permission to speed it up. I would have learnt mindfulness techniques long before she was born and integrated that into my life. I would not have been so stubborn and made the changes to my business that I needed to sooner. I would have built my support community sooner-reached out and asked friends for help sooner. I would have prepared my business to meet a baby – not just a few weeks after she was born but for all the stages of her development.

Nothing can prepare you for loving your child it is so strong an emotion you cannot explain, even today I get excited at the end of the day when I pick her up from childcare. There is nothing more exciting than a little girls description of what happened in her day and the constant chatter all the way home! The unconditional love, the cuddles nothing compares to that!

What did you find out that no-one could have told you?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My Story

This is my story and my reason why I have started When Baby Meets Business.

Life was going along in a very hectic manner – personally I was at the gym at least 3 times a week, feeling energised. I was building a great event management company and sometimes marketing business. We were running amazing events and getting asked to do more. I was building a network in Geelong as one of our plans was to relocate their after my step-son finished school. I was out of the house from 7ish in the morning and walking back in the door around 6pm, dinner and then back onto the laptop – big days and that was OK.

We then had an amazing crazy week – 3 events on – 2 days in Geelong. We went to a dinner we were sponsoring and I had some champagne, I remember going to the toilet and feeling the room spin and a very weird feeling inside me. It passed, we finished the dinner and went home to resume our week.
Only, it didn’t resume the same for me. I slowly started to loose energy. I felt sick. I stopped drinking wine. Then coffee. I was running on empty. I made an appointment at my dr’s, I thought I was dying. Then I was told by 2 people who knew me well and could see things were not right that I was pregnant. I laughed. I was on the pill. But my head started ticking over. I bought a pregnancy test. Yep we were going to have a baby.

My morning sickness finally passed and my energy came back – my 2nd trimester and start of the 3rd trimester were amazing productive times for me. I focused on the birth of my baby and buying things. People told me that babies slept, fed, pooped and that she would easily be slotted underneath my desk so I can carry on as usual. Some laughed at this notion. But I carried on blindly.
I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had the knowledge I have today. That is why I have created ‘when baby meets business’ – so you can learn and understand too.

You see my cherub slept – in my arms, for 40 minutes to the dot after screaming for 20 minutes. She fed – all day if I would let her (she still grazes to this day) and pooped oh did she poop! So they were right.

Yet there was so much they didn’t tell me – like how much more washing there would be. The sleep deprivation – oh my! The hours and hours of sitting on the couch, feeding, holding a sleeping baby, trying to keep on top of emails and work. How my friendships would change. That I would suffer grief all over again by appreciating how much my mum gave to me and missing having someone I could have an honest and open chat with about ‘baby stuff’. That at this time like no other in my life I would feel like I was always living in a pressure cooker.

It wasn’t all negative – I also wasn’t prepared for the amazing love I would have for this little person. How she would completely and totally change the way I thought about life and business. That I would go on this amazing life journey of change and upheaval constantly looking for balance and true purpose – 4 ½ years on I am still seeking these but I have made significant changes and decisions in order to get closer to living the life I want.

Over the last 4 ½ years I have spent time looking for balance in our domestic life, putting into place systems to make the running of the house easier. When our washing machine blew up I bought a bigger one – highly recommend that. Recently I bought a new bigger washing basket. So suddenly the washing seems under control – well the basket doesn’t overflow. I created a ‘control centre’ for the house and a joint family electronic calendar. I plan meals, shop regularly, purchase fresh goods and try and bake. Next year when my daughter starts school and needs to take lunches I hope these habits are going to pay off!

I tried a cleaner, and tried another and another. My great cleaner left us. I now clean a room a day – our house isn’t too big it is working at the moment. And it is cleaned to my standard. I am actually finding that the house is also staying tidier-win, win.

We have never had family support for regular babysitting/childcare so we have always had to pay for
this. Our first babysitter joined us when my daughter was about 5 months she came in 2 half days a week. This gave me time to be focused and do some work. Sophie started childcare when she was 10 months old for 2 days a week and we had a babysitter 1 day a week. My partner looked after her for 1 day and I the other. Then Craig started full time in the business again and our babysitter went to 2 days a week. For the last 18 months she has been at childcare for 4 days a week – off course this year it is kinder also. She is about to drop to 3 days a week, more on this later.

Visionary, my business, has always felt like my first born child. I started it way back in 2004, simply to enable event companies to contract me as needed and when they got busy. Sadly this coincided with the same time that my mum died, so I also dealt with grief and depression. But through the cloud I picked up some work with a local event company. Fast forward 12 months and I helped them secure a massive contract, which saw me going fulltime with that company and shelfing Visionary. 3 years
later and I saw an opportunity for a part time job that would give me some breathing space while I worked out if I still wanted to do events and marketing. Then people started knocking on my door asking me to run their events – Visionary was relaunched and took off so easily. That was 2008. So another 3 years down the track, I had merged with my partners business. We were doing events, weddings (I had also acquired a event/wedding hire business) marketing and ebusiness. We had stuff going on everywhere. We were running wedding expos and had been approached to run a baby expo. I had a pool of casual staff and also a wedding co-ordinator employed. We were in Ballarat and increasingly expanding into Geelong. It was crazy busy and I was loving it. Then along came baby Sophie.

After 2 years of operating in a pressure cooker. Of trying to delegate work to people, but finding the time managing and supporting them was just as much as actually doing the work myself I run our last wedding expo and pulled the expo/event arm from our business. I just could not keep coping on no sleep. It meant the loss of a job for 3 staff, but I had to do it for myself. I also wound down our wedding hire business and put it ‘on the market’. Within a year that business was no longer operating and most of the stock had been sold off.

I turned my focus to marketing – digital marketing specifically and also set about creating a range of automated products that could be purchased and accessed. I then secured a part-time role in the digital marketing space on a 12 month contract. Again many of the aspects of Visionary that I was working on were shelved – I had a credit card debt I needed to get in control.

Fast forward 9 months, Craig has now headed out to work full time. Visionary will be maintained and expanded on the areas in the business that are already successful. However we have other plans and it seems a good time to explore those – but that is another book!

If I had known what I do now back then, I am positive I would have made the hard decisions sooner and more proactively, rather than being reactionary. Yet I needed this life journey in order to get closer to doing what it is that I believe I should be doing – what that is I am not certain off. Right now I have to be the best mum I can be to my little girl and I have to generate income streams for today and tomorrow, in order to give my daughter the best start in life and leave her a legacy.

That is my story. That is how I have changed myself and my business since it met a baby. What about you? How have you changed? What are your realisations in life since having children? How has your business changed? How do you overcome issues?