Not the same, but still mine: learning to love my post-baby business

Blog_PostBabyBusiness

There’s something intimidating about starting a new blog, and yet here I am, starting a new blog. Who says I’m not a sucker for punishment?

First off, if you’re reading this – hi, welcome to the website, and thanks for checking in. Hopefully this will be the first of many blogposts you read from me – for now, though, let’s just content ourselves with this one. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad to be writing this.

Oh, so you liked your life, did you?

The last couple of years have been a funny old pair. Since having a baby (who’s no longer a baby – when did that happen?!), I’ve had to rearrange my life completely. It’s been a hell of a job, but I feel like I’m finally back on track.

I went from being a busy self-employed copywriter and editor with plenty of time for reading, thinking, wandering and exploring new things, to being a frazzled mother-slash-woman-slash-heap-of-hormones with no time to daydream, no focus and a rising sense of panic.

Thinking about all the lovely industrial copy I used to write...

Who am I now? Am I a bad mother because I want her to go to sleep so I can zone out in front of Netflix? And what am I supposed to do with my business now I’m responsible for a tiny demanding human? Sitting down and spending hours fine-tuning a beautiful piece of copy was suddenly no longer an option, and it felt like the wonderful business that I’d built for myself and been so proud had crashed and burned.

You win some (stuff), you lose some (other stuff)

Having a baby is hard. I don’t know, maybe some women find it easy – and good for them, genuinely – but for me, gaining a wonderful new family member has coincided with losing a lot of things I really, really loved:

  • Time to read books and watch arty foreign series
  • Meals I can eat 1) hot and 2) without a small, sticky hand in them
  • Long, hot showers where I practise my best pithy come-backs
  • Uninterrupted creative writing sessions
  • The ability to leave the house without masses of luggage
  • My business!

The number of times I heard things like “Cherish the time off!” and “Just relax!”, and ended up wondering what was wrong with me!

I love spending time with my daughter – I even love taking her to things like soft play (aka. The Foam-Filled Purgatory Of New Mothers) because I enjoy watching her romp around, excited because she can play with anything she wants.

But what I’ve finally worked out that I don’t love is being without my business. I miss it. I miss working. I miss who I am when I’m working. I went from having a business, clients, colleagues, social media connections and a podcast audience to having a gorgeous but very demanding baby girl, a whole load of chores I never had before, and an unlimited intake of children’s TV. Culture shock doesn’t cover it.

motherhood

Looking in all the wrong places

I’ve spent the last couple of years thinking, “OK, if I don’t have the time and energy to run a business, maybe I’ll try other things. Fulfilling things. Meaningful things.”

It’s been a disaster. Over the last two years, I’ve quit:

  • Yoga
  • Painting lessons
  • A low calorie diet
  • Jogging
  • Singing lessons
  • A bucket list Two bucket lists
  • Knitting (I managed one earthworm with a loop at the end)
  • The 5:2 diet
  • Swimming (I got sea-sick and had to sit in the car for an hour)

I’ve ended up chasing my tail, full of guilt and almost overwhelmed by a sense of failure because none of these things – all things that are supposed to Make You Happy – have made me happy.

No comment required.

I missed my business.

It’s not the same, but it’s still mine

Things will never be the same as they were before. That’s life, whether you’ve had a baby or not. We all go through changes – life is cyclical, and just when you think you’ve got a good grasp on it, something shifts. You’re left wondering what to do next and, if you’re like me, mourning the way some things were.

There’s no way I can run the same copywriting and editing business I did before. I don’t have unlimited hours to devote to it any more, and I don’t want to devote unlimited hours to it any more. My life is different, and so am I.

So what’s the solution? Move with the times. Choose what’s important. Re-focus.

I took a close look at all the things I’d been trying since my daughter was born, searching for the common factors – the things that attracted me to each of them. It didn’t take long.

Creativity. Discovery. New challenges. Health. Positivity. Balance. 

Literally me, literally right now.

I asked myself how I could fit those things into my business, how I could use my skills and experience to create something new out of something old. And what you see on this website is the result.

Coaching and mentoring for creative professionals

As a freelance writer, blogger and podcaster, I’ve spent a lot of time supporting other self-employed writers and creatives with their businesses.

Pre-baby, I’d always be on the phone, on Skype, in an email thread, on Twitter, offering advice on the challenges that we freelancers and sole traders face in our careers. And not just our careers, either, but our lives. Too often, we work so hard – and try so hard to prove we can be successful – that we forget to take care of number one.

Time away from your desk starts to feel like a guilty pleasure, then just guilt. Training and personal development gets re-framed as self-indulgence. Meal-times get skipped, late nights get worked and – and this always happens! – productivity and creativity plummet as a result.

It’s a vicious circle that most creative professionals have found themselves in. Many of us have spent months chasing our tails in there, and – take it from me – it’s no fun at all.

I love supporting people as they work towards their dreams. I always have. I’m just a little bit bossy by nature, and I get excited for people when I hear their plans. Then I get IDEAS – good ones that make sense.

I am, in short, a born wing-man wing-woman.

Stay tuned…

Creative coaching is something I’ve done in an unofficial capacity for years. I’ve done it, and I’ve done it well because I’ve been there. I left salaried employment to set up my own business, and I made a success of it. I’m a creative professional, with extensive experience in copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media. I know the challenges that come with being self-employed, and I love empowering people to find solutions.

I’m excited about this new venture. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to get excited about something that’s mine. I’m back in business, and that business is helping other people build their creative businesses – from the content up.

My business might have changed, but it’s still mine.

I hope you’ll stick with me along the way. I’ll be sharing tips on freelancing, content, creativity, and achieving that work-life balance here on the blog, so there’ll be plenty to look forward to. I’ll also be updating you on my progress as I venture into this kind-of-new territory, so do come and say hello if you get a chance. I’m on Twitter @LorrieHartshorn and Facebook as Creative Content Coach, and I’m always up for a chinwag.

So come on – let’s do this together. We might make a few messes along the way, but we’ll have fun doing it.

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Lorrie

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6 Comments

  • Completely agree with you, having a child is THE most difficult thing I have ever done. As you’ve said, culture shock doesn’t even come close to what it feels like. I’m excited for your new venture, you seem very knowledgable about starting your own business and creating content. Will be reading your blog for ideas and advice! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy!

    • Thanks so much, Meagan – sounds like we’re on the same page with our parenting experiences! I think a lot of us are in the same boat, actually, but it’s not something you’re supposed to admit. If more of us felt able to be honest about the things we miss, the things we find difficult, I reckon we’d have clearer expectations and, perhaps, an easier ride of it along the way.

      So glad to have found #stayclassy – fab idea, and a great way to connect with other mums. Mum friends have been the single biggest lifeline since I had my girl, so I’m looking forward to linking up with more of them on the hashtag and on your blog x

    • Thanks so much, Sarah – #StayClassy is a great idea; I’m a big believer in women sticking together and helping each other out!

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