Late last year, my husband and I became parents to a spiffing little lady. The experience has been an unmitigated delight, with any speed-bumps encountered barely memorable when compared to her sunny, funny presence. After barely three months, I returned to work – and so our newly-minted family’s workweek rhythm began to find its groove. And while life is certainly more complex, it is all the richer for it. Like many new parents who are business owners, I wondered how my relationship to work would change courtesy of our new charge. Would my interest in work come second the baby? Would the demands on my time (and sleep?) make me less efficient?
Well. The results are in, and I’m happy to report that becoming a mother has empowered me to level up as an entrepreneur. Here’s why.
- Being a parent makes you hyper-efficient.
You’re likely to have changed working hours when you’ve got kids. As such, you’ve got less time (or different time if you’re a night-owl) in which to do your work and get sh*t done. This means less faffing around the water-cooler and intense focus when you’ve got the time allocated to work, making you an efficiency superhero. Less scrolling, more pwn-ing.
- Having kids forces you to become extremely selective about the kind of business you take on.
When you’ve gotta make the very most from that 7-ish hour work day, spending 30 minutes letting someone ‘pick your brain’ becomes a whole lot less appealing. So does working with clients who take up simply too much of your diary whilst complaining about invoices, or jumping through hoops to work with folks who don’t inherently share your values. When you want to invest in your family, you become greedier with your time because you have to. Being a parent means you develop a laser-beam focus on productivity, as you don’t have extra days in the week to burn.
- It amps up your feminism and focus on equality.
Good business is feminist, family-friendly and diversity friendly. When you have a baby, it is as though you’re introduced to a previously invisible world of childcare, playgrounds, breastpump apparatus and prams. Unfortunately, many workplaces and spaces are not parent-friendly (and I’m not just talking about parental leave pay), without consideration of parent’s rooms with appropriate privacy and facilities (breastpumps, fridge, microwave, sink). I think becoming a mother has enhanced my feminism and made me more keenly aware of structural inequities in the workspace/place. I am grateful that Ruby Assembly’s HQ at Hub Parliament has a dedicated parent’s room with all the bits and bobs I need to pump milk during my working day. It’s a relief to have the privacy and acknowledgement of such a space. I am increasingly of the opinion that not having a parent’s room in a workplace is a serious oversight. Many workplaces have media rooms as par for the course. But the reality is, we’re more likely to have colleagues with children than podcasts – amiright?
In the last month, we’ve had a couple of bouts of illness with our daughter. When your child is ill, they cannot go to childcare – and they get ill quite regularly as their immune system learns to defend itself. As the often-primary carer, a woman will begin to think differently about returning to work when they have a child. Caring for an ill baby is bad enough without having to contend with the guilt of having to stay home from work, potentially feeling as though you’re letting down one’s colleagues or clients. As a society, we need to accept that the vagaries and responsibilities of parenting are core to the health of our community. Parents should not feel guilty or worried about the inevitable days they’ll need to prioritise care of their child. It’s not just a shift within businesses that needs to take place; it’s a social worldview that values caregiving that must be adopted.
Whilst I’ve not yet had an employee who has had a baby, I like to think that when the time comes I will be able to provide flexible, friendly and feminist working conditions that honor their skill and their responsibilities at home and at work simultaneously. I am confident that when a person becomes a parent, they can become even more valuable to a business. They’re superheroes of efficiency, they make decisive business moves and their eyes are on the prize.
Courtesy of my daughter, I’m a better entrepreneur than ever. This mama’s gone next level.