Getting Back to Podcasting & Coaching After Maternity Leave
Becoming a mother for the first time is like riding a motorbike to the edge of a cliff and then jumping fully in. Even if you hesitate or don’t want to go there… you have to. There is no way back.
The edge of the cliff is your birth and the jump is your maternity leave. All of your support systems are your parachute. And if your parachute is not strong enough, you’ll be going down fast and hitting the ground hard.
When you work for yourself, the ride and the jump are quite different and your parachute is quite unstable simply because there are no guarantees. Business is business. Your business is like any other business — it has to bring profit and you gotta survive. And you start developing a little bit of envy towards those women who actually have a secure full-time job after 6–9 months maternity leave. But then you remember why you’ve decided to work for yourself and why it’s all worth it…
But as soon as you jump off that cliff and have that baby, you’re probably not sure what freedom is anymore. Bad news is that you’ll never have the freedom you used to have. Good news is that you’ll develop, another sense of freedom, plus discover quite a few other skills and qualities you don’t know you had.
And so you have to jump.
You don’t know how long or deep your jump’s going to be and whether you’ll be climbing any mountains again. But like all great journeys in life, you’re taking the risk because deep down inside you know it’s all worth it. You just have to go through it.
All you know and see is the terrain in front of you. Those 40 weeks ahead. The closer you get to your due date, the more exciting and scary it is. The greatest thing of all is that you’ve got all this time and all these kilometers ahead of you before your jump so you can prepare and organize your life.
I found out I was pregnant six months into my podcasting journey with Girlskill and two months into my feminine embodiment certification. I had built a solid following and I was at the end of my first group program with six amazing women. I have announced my pregnancy to my clients on our last group session — a perfect end to the “Rediscovering Your Success.” It was clear I had worked very hard on my own womanhood and femininity while delivering the course.
It was all very exciting, overwhelming and nauseating… The first trimester has hit me like a train and I wasn’t sure my motorbike could survive. But after a couple of steep twists and turns, I smoothly transitioned into the second trimester and this is when shit got real.
We had a conversation with my partner in crime (in pregnancy and business) whether to continue the podcast and coaching or to give it all up. The unpredictability of it all was quite daunting.
But I wasn’t ready to give up. I knew deep down inside that Girlskill and coaching is what my hearts yearn to do.
So I had shifted gears.
Pregnancy gave me an edge and because I was on limited time, I really didn’t give a f*ck anymore. At the end of the second trimester, things really took off. I started being bold with my message and beliefs about femininity and feminism, my podcast numbers grew and I enrolled three clients into my coaching program.
I have also recruited my first sponsor for the podcast (one of my podcast guests!) but had to postpone the sponsorship until after maternity leave (best decision ever.)
Next, I had to figure out this maternity leave thing. Because I am working for myself it’s not as easy as taking time off and coming back in six to nine months time. Sometimes I was jealous of women having a full time job. But then I remembered why I’m working for myself. I also realized that when women have to go back to work and give their babies to childcare, I’m still going to have the flexibility to take care of my baby whenever I decide to. Ultimately, it’s up to me how I organize myself and that’s why I work for myself.
Some business women I’ve asked about maternity leave told me that they have pretty much continued working right after having the baby. Some did it from their hospital bed on the day of giving birth. Some have given themselves more space and time to figure this motherhood thing out and enjoy what they could.
I wanted to give myself the time and space to go through this experience fully. Birth is a huge event in any woman’s life so I feel that honoring this event by giving it the necessary time and space is essential. Especially, since you don’t know how that cliff’s going to look like for you.
I have timed my work with clients in a way where my coaching would end about two weeks before my due date. That was still a bit risky but my clients would have understood if my waters broke during one of our last coaching sessions ;-) I have even managed to get a deposit from one of my clients for the next round of coaching after I come back from maternity leave.
I gave myself two months after birth as a timeline to decide whether I wanted to go back to coaching and podcasting. Again, the decision I had the opportunity and space to make. This was very tricky and unique to me because I was at a point where my business was just starting to grow so if I wanted to pull the plug, I could do it easily after having the baby. But even if I had a steady business going, I would still try to give myself at least three months to breathe and “survive” this post-partum time.
I believe in having a feminine business where as a woman, I don’t have to constantly think of survival, providing and taking care of the family. The ideal scenario of having a feminine business is doing something you love and getting paid for it without feeling the financial burden. When I became a mother, it has become even more evident. I don’t want my family’s survival and financial health to depend on me being the center of the business. That is my husband's responsibility.
If I can remove myself at any time from running the business — that’s the model I would be going for. Unfortunately (or fortunately,) I am the face and the central figure of my podcast and my coaching business so this model presumes that I am there 100% of the time. This could be, of course, outsourced in the future but that’s a long future from now.
So now that coaching was on pause, the biggest challenge I had is deciding what to do with my podcast content while on maternity leave. I had recorded about three months worth of content in advance after I go on maternity leave. I had a hard time deciding whether I should just continue releasing weekly episodes (which meant that I had to still work 2–3 hours every week,) slow it down to a biweekly episode or completely pause until I’m back.
I decided to just keep going weekly. There was no sophisticated reason behind it besides the fact that we wanted to keep the podcast going and see what happens.
My numbers grew like crazy and I’ve had the two highest download months ever just before I came back. I’m not exactly sure why this happened but a big part of it is just continuing to release good quality episodes with great guests and just moving forward.
During maternity leave, I was getting email signups daily to my “Life of Female Success” webinar. I’ve had potential clients emailing me asking for free discovery calls. I was also approached by another sponsor which I ended up enrolling as well.
The first month after giving birth was totally crazy. I didn’t know who I was, who is this baby and what’s going on. I was in a total haze, everything was kind of blurry and coaching and podcasting was the last thing I could think about. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get back to it and when. I had to spend two hours every week releasing episodes but that was about the maximum I could handle.
After two months of breastfeeding every three hours, changing nappies, and taking care of this amazing child, I had finally managed to get a full night sleep and feel like I know what the hell I’m doing. And I was ready to coach and podcast again. I just felt it. Once my body, mind, and soul have reconnected and regained their clarity, I knew deep down that I’m still fully into it and I still love this work. I also needed time off baby. I needed to get back to doing what I love so I can come back to her and my man fulfilled and excited.
I wanted to get a nanny right away for two days a week so I can focus on work. But that would be quite an “investment” so I decided to enroll clients first during the time I had available when the baby’s sleeping and when daddy can take care of her.
Every day I get up between 6-6.30 AM every day after feeding the baby and putting her to sleep. I get my coffee ready and manage to write and work for about two hours. We have agreed with Estring that I’ll have every Tuesday and Wednesday night, as well as every Friday and Saturday morning to do my discovery and coaching calls as well as podcast recordings.
Here is how my calendar looks like for next week:
It’s a bit crazy, I know. Funny enough, now I think about my pre-baby life and think: what did I do with all that free time?! #perspective
Two weeks into my “back to work” time and I already have two new clients and two sponsors for the Girlskill Podcast. I’m quite pleased with this outcome and I realized that pregnancy and birth where actually the biggest kicks I needed to get my coaching business and podcasting going.
I decided to wait until I really feel like I need more free time and then hire a nanny. That could be next month or next year.
“Let’s see what happens” has become my one constant. I know things might never be the same tomorrow and I’m okay with that. I am ready to constantly change and evolve, work around scheduled and sleeping times. I am ready to morph and take any shape that is needed for me to be the best mother I can be, run my business and my podcast and still enjoy life.
I have less time but the time I have is so much more valuable. I have softened up, became less rigid and more flexible, constantly finding creative ways to parent, cook dinners, put on makeup, shop and clean the house. I became much more efficient. And, of course, my capacity to love expanded tenfold. My awareness of being part of a community as well as my sense of social responsibility grew.
Becoming a mother has actually improved my business and entrepreneurship skills. Made me grow and expand from a caterpillar into a butterfly and taught me to be fast and efficient with my time as well as prioritize like crazy.
I’m still exploring and discovering this new identity mix of “entrepreneur + mother + wife” but so far I’m enjoying what I have and I know it’s going to be difficult for the first year or two but I’m determined to make it all work.
It’s a tough journey but it’s a journey that’s absolutely worth it. I’m still flying and relying on my amazing parachute of friends, family members and local community who are there when I need them and who make it all possible for me.
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