Before I started my maternity leave, I worried it would mean a pause in my career, time off from using my brain, a year of mushy thoughts and nursery rhymes, but I quickly learnt this doesn’t have to be the case. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with taking some time away from your job – I’m doing just that now of course and busier than ever in my new job as a mummy. However there is also nothing wrong with trying something new and a little bit different during your maternity leave. Ultimately there is nothing wrong with wanting a new challenge alongside the challenge of parenting.
Many women use their maternity leave as a time to reevaluate, to step back from the daily drum beat of their career and work out whether their job is really what they want. Some may decide it is spot on, whilst others may well realise they have other hidden talents or skills that they have let sit idle for too long and want to try something new.
One such person is my lovely friend Anna. Anna and I met on a mums app called Mush (a kind of Tinder for mums looking for other likeminded mum friends) and we quickly realised we had a friend (and many interests) in common, so instantly hit it off. Anna worked in publishing before her mat leave and is still set to go back to that role, however during her maternity leave she has decided she wants to try something new and live out a dream she has had for a while. This dream consisted of Anna creating her own Etsy shop and making decorative accessories featuring Liberty prints. Nancy’s Little Nest was born just as her very own little Nancy was born in July 2017 and from there on in Anna became a whole lot busier.
Not only was Anna caring for a new born baby (and a premature one at that), but she was also starting to build up her little decorative accessories empire, doing everything from the creation and design of the products, to doing her own marketing and branding. Within months Anna had saleable products, an online Etsy presence, logos and even a decent following on social media.
Since then Nancy’s Little Nest seems to be going from strength to strength and Anna is now getting some fabulous reviews from her customers both in the UK and globally. I am one such customer and recently purchased these wonderful letters from her. They are incredibly well crafted and look so sweet in Amelia’s nursery.
When I asked Anna about her new business she confided in me that this was always something she had wanted to do, but had never got round to doing anything about. She explained that maternity leave and having her daughter gave her the push she needed to get going. At this moment in time, Anna doesn’t intend to make the business her full time ‘career’ as such, but it is something that keeps her mind working, her creativity buzzing and her bank account healthy.
Like many working parents, Anna grappled with some #mumguilt. Should she really be doing something like this during her baby’s early days? Would she miss vital moments of Nancy’s development? However working from home when her daughter is sleeping means she can develop her business whilst never missing precious time with Nancy. Anna also quickly realised that doing something like this meant that she is a happier mummy, and it is my belief that a happy mummy ultimately means a happy baby.
And Anna is not alone. I have met numerous parents who have used their maternity leave to reinvent themselves and follow a long held dream. Some have gone down a new career path, others have started their own business. Many have even taken advantage of gaps in the market due to their experiences as a parent (childminders, fitness instructors, bloggers and so forth). Not to mention those mums and dads who have decided that going back to work is not for them or doesn’t make financial sense, those that want to do something else with their time that is more meaningful (carers, charity work or full time parenting etc).
So I ask you, do you have a dream business idea or new venture that has always sat idle? Well maybe maternity leave is the time to do something about it. Use this time to think, to consider what you really want to do, to do something you love, because it may well be something entirely different from what you are currently doing and it could change your life forever.
Go on… Challenge yourself and experience that lightbulb moment.
Oh and for those of you who like the look of Nancy’s Little Nest, Anna has been kind enough to offer us all a 10% discount on her beautiful products until 28th February. Take a look at her Etsy store here and use your discount code MUMBLOG10.