I’ve found recently that I’m finding it difficult to think about where my career is going in the future. I recently signed up to an introductory business coaching session where I wanted to talk briefly about what my goals are and how I’m going to achieve them. Unfortunately I missed it – gah – but the point is, since being pregnant I’m not sure what those goals are anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to become a mum and I can’t wait to discover how much joy our baby will bring to me and Rob, but it also means I’m finding it difficult to plan anything career-wise.
The point of maternity leave is to actually have a break from work and do something else for a while. A different kind of work, I suppose. Looking after your baby.
But it’s an alien concept. When else in your life do you take months or even a year off of work to do something else entirely – when all you’ve ever known is full time work five days a week?
It’s such a monumental concept and our lives are going to change so much, I can’t imagine how it’s going to be and how we’ll take to parenthood. I’m so excited but also scared about all the unknowns!
I’m lucky in a way that both Rob and I are self-employed and we both work from home so the aim is that we’ll eventually share childcare and working – both doing a little bit of each here and there. Which is great because it gives me the flexibility to do a bit of both and avoid the risk of going stir crazy from only having a baby for company all day – and equally I won’t need to work full time and miss out on all the lovely baby milestones. It also means Rob will be able to spend time with the baby and the pressure of being the main breadwinner is off of him a bit.
But it also means I don’t quite know how I can plan my work for the future – where I want to take it and where I’ll be able to take it. How much time and energy I’ll have to dedicate to work if I’m looking after a baby for much of the time too.
It means for the past month or so I’ve been reluctant to pitch too much work or over-commit projects. It’s been difficult as I’ve only just become fully freelance so I’ve wanted to throw my all into it, pitching to different people and trying new things but I’ve had to keep a lid on it. And really, I don’t feel like I will be able to put my all into it and see how it works out until I’m in a position where I’m working full time again. But I don’t know when that will be. When the baby starts school in four years’ time; or if we have another child, when that one starts school? Will I be working a set number of hours or days a week or the odd half an hour here and there when I can get it – and what can I realistically achieve with that time?
It’s a bit overwhelming, especially when I’m the kind of person who likes to organise and plan their time and this, really, is quite out of my hands. I won’t know what I can do until I get there and that’s quite frustrating!
I hope that it means I’ll achieve a good work-life balance, which is what we’re all inevitably striving for, but I wonder how I’ll develop any kind of structure with both aspects. Which also means it’ll be even more difficult to ensure I’m getting in enough money to pay the bills.
Is anyone else in this sort of situation – working for yourself but also looking after a baby? I’d love to hear how it worked for you, both in the early days as well as months or years down the line.