Anyone who has had a baby knows about nesting. It’s a biological urge or instinct that most women get right before baby is born to fix up or clean your home. In fact, if you’ve had a baby, that last surge of energy to get things done around your home is probably a sign that labor is imminent.
As a first-time mom, it was my experience that there was a tangible drive to make sure things are in order for the coming change. It can be ritualistic. It can manifest itself by cleaning, decorating a nursery, stockpiling items you’ll need or just even converting your mindset to the terms of your new life. However nesting appears in your life, it is preparation for something new.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Always. But I also knew my path to motherhood included the traditional first steps of college, getting a job, getting married, becoming a professional doing what I liked to develop a fulfilling career. After studying marketing, I entered corporate America by working in sales. Society modeled to me that you continue to grind and hustle in order to keep advancing in your career.
I wasn’t sure how to add motherhood to the mix, and the challenge was, when I saw other women on this path, deciding to become moms, it seemed the only option after pregnancy and delivery was to go on a finite maternity leave then after 6-12 weeks go back to work while relying on a daycare center for 40ish hours a week. And what was not discussed but was oh so obvious was the stalled pace in which her career progressed. Ready for Baby #2? Well, rinse and repeat. Having subsequent children only further cemented this reality of the work and daycare grind. How was this motherhood bliss?
The work structure I saw before me was not going to allow me to become my best professional self; the cards were stacked against me years before I was even close to trying to get pregnant. So this was enough of a glimpse into my future to decide I needed to make a change.
I’m a person who works hard to have options because options are empowering. I knew I wanted the option to be a mom AND a professional full-time or part-time in some capacity. So that’s when MY nesting instinct kicked in. I decided to make preparations that would allow me in the not-too-distant future to work on my terms and to be a mom; and to have the option of how much or how little time to put into my mom-self and my professional-self depending on the season of motherhood/phase of my life.
I did not grow up around entrepreneurs. I barely knew what “self-employment” even meant. Without a formal mentor or a predictable, modeled path laid out by society to follow, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Through reading, observing and experimenting (which was TOTALLY uncomfortable to me), I was able to find a few examples of what “work+life integration” looked like for professional women with children through contracted client work. And that’s where I began.
I began building my nest, by adding small bits of social media marketing work. I experimented; I worked to define and prove my skills were valuable to businesses. I defined those services, expanding my next and I created case studies, to refine my business. I built relationships with clients. My circle expanded when I assembled a team of women – all mothers – who helped and inspired me. I saw their nests; I saw the possibility. In essence, I was nesting in preparation for motherhood by starting this business.
I was self-employed working full-time at Hay There Social Media for about 4 years before having my first child. During pregnancy, I did some traditional nesting activity – getting the baby gear and taking the labor classes (decorating a nursery was never in my skillset). But I was primarily at peace knowing that while it wouldn’t be easy, my work would work for me once my baby was born.
It’s through my self-reflection today that I see my WHY for building this business was certainly hinged on delivering marketing value to clients. It is satisfying to build a client’s social media presence and it continues to be DRIVEN by my desire to create a structure that allows me to work and be a mom on my terms. THAT was – and continues to be – my No. 1 motivator.
I have often felt like the RIGHT answer is to say my top priority is helping businesses and that the flexibility is a nice by-product. But now, as more and more families transition into a work-at-home environment, I am shouting it from the rooftops. And I am owning the priority I put on motherhood. When this pandemic hit, my team and I were already positioned to hit the ground running. We had already built our nests.
This reflection on nesting – on making preparations for change – makes it so clear to me why empowering other women run their own social media marketing businesses is part of my life’s work. I want every woman who wants the option to have it to ramp up her professional self and mom self on her terms. Work+life integration isn’t just for women who want to be moms or who may be new moms, it’s 100% open to women in any and every phase of life.
Has a global pandemic led you to reassessing your priorities? Are you feeling the instinct kick in to make preparations for a new structure to your work+life balance? I’d love to hear.