Disclaimer: It is possible that this article has been filled with exaggerations for effect… it is a satirical piece, so if you’re not there yet, but might be soon, don’t worry, it’s not actually impossible! If you want some ideas for things that really DO work, look out for our post next week for tips from some amazing businesswomen; real mothers with real babies working really hard building their businesses.
Before you start on the adventure that is trying to run a business while looking after a baby, you may think it’s going to be a whole lot easier than it actually is. I reckon this is in part due to the unrealistic stock imagery of ‘working mothers,’ who somehow manage to juggle it all with perfectly manicured nails too. Last year I had a go at taking some video footage of me at my desk for a little brand video, and it included the baby pooping and Zach coming in with no trousers and pants on; but hey, it gave me photos for this post, so not all is lost.
I think we all HOPE it will be a bit easier than we realistically know it will be.
So I thought I would clear up just a few of these myths that seem to exist.
Ooo, look how much fake typing I'm doing!
1. The ‘Baby Sits on your Lap Quietly While You Type Emails’ Myth
You know the one I’m talking about. Any kind of advertisement that shows mothers working with a baby. I don’t want to put up a photo as that wouldn’t be fair, but just give ‘working mums’ a google and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, there are some more realistic ones, but largely, those moments are few and far between or downright ridiculously unrealistic. The mother sitting in front of her computer or laptop, with tidy hair and a full face of makeup, dressed in clean clothes and a sweet baby sitting on her lap staring softly into the distance or playing with a toy quietly, and not an eye bag in sight. Oh and she can type with both hands.
Hah, let me straighten that one out.
Said mother will most likely have not put on any makeup, because, well, she is at home, and the baby doesn’t care. Potentially a brush has been run through the hair but a ponytail is equally as likely. There will be a whole lot of eye bags. Said baby, who is sitting up on Mum’s lap, so is also likely to be at the ‘reaching for anything they can get their hands on stage,’ is not sitting quietly, but instead trying to wrestle the mouse from your hands, and you end up wondering how a 5-month-old can have such a death grip. Typing may well be happening, but this is a one handed affair, that ends up taking twice as long as it should have, and is interspersed with moments of sheer panic when you think your baby has sent an email of gobbledegook to someone important. You get to the end of this tortuous five minutes which feels like five hours before giving up and deciding babies on laps while working on laptops is not the answer.
2. The ‘Baby Plays Quietly On The Floor’ Myth
The other stock photo misrepresentation of working with kids shows neat piles of toys with a small child playing happily without any need for adult attention. The room in the background is tidy, naturally, as with all the new found free time, this is at the forefront of your mind, and if you’re working from home, well, of course, the baby appreciates that you like a tidy house. These toys are all wooden because wooden toys look nice and retro in photos (I do love wooden toys though.)
Well OK, you might get away with this one till they’re about, say, 5 or 6 months, but once they can move, and it doesn’t have to be much, a bit of rolling will do it, that idea is out the window. You can bet your boxes of work supplies are much more interesting than the toys put there for the purpose of independent play. A snapshot of real life in your office or by your desk with a baby is more likely to look like this:
That’s right, the baby did that! I have a dedicated box of kids toys and mini desk and I still end up with half the contents of my office on the floor.
3. The ‘Oh, You’ll Have So Much Time For Your Business’ Myth
Let's be clear, the 'you’ll have so much time for your business’ nonsense needs to go. Similar lines that also need to be binned include ‘It must be so nice to choose your own hours’ and ‘you can just work when you like’ and ‘it must be so nice to not have to work if you don’t feel like it.’ and my personal fave 'you must have so much free time..' Whether from a well-meaning colleague at work or perhaps even your family, these are sure to be greeted with a response made through gritted teeth.
I get it newborns sleep something like 18 hours...
...but two points here. 1, they don’t sleep 18 hours straight you know, they sleep in delightful little chunks of a couple of hours at a time, making a good night sleep a distant memory, and uninterrupted work time impossible. Point 2, they won’t always be newborns. As soon as these little balls of fun work out how to roll over, that’s it, you have to watch them like a hawk. Sure, you can throw in a bouncy chair, a walker or a sling and at nap time you might get a good couple of hours, but more time at home does not equal more work time.
This is me realising that if Zach isn't wearing pants it must mean he's had an accident in his room.
TO sum it up, it's all fun and games until you have to smell one person's bum and ask another why they've got no pants on.
What are the things people say to you that drive you crazy?