When I gave birth to my daughter, five years ago, I was working full-time as a copywriter. Sadly, the company I was working for at the time was unsupportive of women taking maternity leave and ended my contract when I gave birth. This was upsetting at the time, but it meant that as I entered motherhood, I was forced to re-think my career.
A year later, I launched a parenting and lifestyle platform called The Early Hour, publishing articles daily at 5am for early-risers. The initial plan was to generate huge sums in sponsored content but after a while, I realized I was building a community of parents (the content was reaching 100k+ parents a month) and decided to nurture that, and to continue creating really good content, rather than focus on generating income. Instead, I freelanced on the side for the Guardian, BabyCentre, Stylist Magazine.
The following year, I gave birth to my son. Now trying to balance a toddler, a newborn baby, freelancing and running The Early Hour, I felt out of my depths. After a few months of high anxiety and not enough sleep, I reduced the content I was publishing and the pressure dropped. I scheduled less social media. This felt like a failure but it wasn’t; burning out entirely would have been worse.
Not long after that, I was offered a book deal to write The Freelance Mum: A career guide for better work-life balance. By this point, I was working enough to cover bills with a bit left over, and had some childcare help. I felt equipped to offer some advice. And with the huge surge in women going freelance after having a baby, the book started selling well. It was needed; a guide to working for yourself while looking after a baby and/or young kids.
One of the chapters people liked best was on doing your own PR, so I decided to create an online course around this subject. I realized the passive income could be useful, as I was now pregnant with my third baby. To my delight, it sold out in two days. I created another, on Becoming your own Boss. That sold out too. Soon, I was earning £10,000 a month from these courses. I launched a third: ‘How to launch a successful online course’ – this has, understandably, been the most popular.
Alongside the courses, I created a private Facebook group that people are given access to after buying a course. I set weekly challenges, do Facebook Lives and offer tips and advice. But the women in the group also support each other and collaborate. I love this part of the business – again, it’s back to creating a supportive community of people with shared interests (this time, it’s freelancing and business, though there’s some parenting chat too, amongst those who have kids).
I now work around my newborn baby, writing and editing while he sleeps and checking in on the courses while breastfeeding. My daughter’s at school and my son’s at nursery three days a week so I spend Fridays with the two boys and my husband looks after the middle one on Monday. Working from home has made the transition to becoming a mother-of-three so much easier. I don’t have to wave goodbye early in the morning and wait until bedtime to see them again. It does bring a certain amount of stress, as I can’t always work when I want to, but I’ve learned to go with it rather than try and fight it.
When I think back to the stress of losing my job at the end of my first pregnancy, I feel proud of all that I’ve since achieved. As a first-time parent, it seemed devastating, but it helped me take a leap. Motherhood has given me more strength, resilience and productivity than I ever would have imagined. Employers who think that women lose their drive or intelligence when they give birth are so very wrong. It is possible to have kids and create a successful freelance career or business, while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It’s just about constantly checking in on all areas of your life (you, kids, relationship, friends, career) and making sure there’s enough of each. And if there isn’t, change it.
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