From sleepless nights to constant interruptions, looking after a baby can be challenging at the best of times. But trying to juggle a newborn whilst running your own business brings new dimensions of difficulties. Charlotte Nichols of Harvey & Hugo shares her advice on running a business with a baby.
My life changed for the best in January this year when I gave birth to my wonderful daughter. As well as all the new love that flowed into my life, I was relieved to discover that contrary to everyone telling me otherwise, my business ambitions still remained and that it is possible to run a business while having a baby. Here’s how I did it / do it:
Get a strong team in place
My aim was to work myself out of a job and there was a deadline! Thankfully my sickness throughout the entire length of my pregnancy helped bring on my delegation skills.
Assemble your home team
Whether it be family, friends a nanny or nursery, build a support network to allow you time to respond to any urgent matters that arise, or even allow you some quality time to check in on emails.
It’s never too early to start handover plans
Fact: babies don’t pay any attention to due dates! I started planning handovers from month 6 of pregnancy. I’d delegated who would be doing what and started cc’ing relevant team members into all correspondence and bringing them along to meetings.
Systems and procedures
Have procedures in place so that you can minimise interruptions while you’re changing nappies.
Baby & Business
Priorities in order
Unless you become nocturnal, there’s just not the hours in the day to fit in what you used to, so you need clear priorities and to be as efficient as possible. I plan a list of top priorities for the next day each evening, so when I get up, I’m focused.
Work when the baby sleeps
On my days off I do not want to miss one cute gurgle, toddle or giggle so I’m fully focused on my baby. As soon as she sleeps, it’s laptop out or a quick check on emails from my phone. Whether I’m at work or not, my typical day involves starting at 5am sometimes earlier if I’m up to feed anyway. I’ll then work until she wakes and then at the end of the day when she goes to bed! This plan is all well and good but if you have a terrible sleeper like I do, it can be really hard.
Download as many useful apps and timesaving tools as possible. For example, I downloaded various office tools, business apps and banking applications so I could work on the go or if my baby drifted off to sleep on me and my laptop was out of reach. As they say, you should never wake a sleeping baby – even if you have emails to check!
Interruptions will become a part of everyday working life, for example, while writing this, I’ve done a feed and played peek-a-boo! Accept that they will happen and do your best to fit in work around them.
Ask someone to check your work
Any useful information you used to store in your brain is replaced with nursery rhymes. This combined with sleep deprivation and the endless number of things you now need to remember for the new small person in your life means your attention to detail may not be at your finest.
Allow plenty of time
Everyday things take loads longer such as getting ready to go to work. Often childcare arrangements need to be fitted in, their bags need to be packed and always be prepared for that unexpected nappy change!
Don’t lose your bottle
The easy option when returning to work earlier than most is to formula feed, but it is still possible to breastfeed which is what I’m doing. I’d recommend starting to express milk early on to build up a bank of your milk so there’s enough for when you’re not around. Also try and introduce a bottle for some feeds so the baby is used to it.
When back at work, you don’t want to lose your milk supply, so you’ll need to express! You’ll need to communicate with who’s looking after your baby so you can pump the equivalent to what the baby’s drinking, so you continue to meet demand. Along with the sleep deprivation, I’ve found this the hardest as pumping is time consuming, uncomfortable and can be difficult to find a convenient place to do it.
My life is pretty hectic right now and I barely get a moment for myself, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m pleased to say that both baby and business are thriving.
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