How I Nested to Become Self-Employed

Nesting
2014 Maternity Pic by Deanna Spivey Photography

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.

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