Choosing to become a mum is a big decision. It often means putting our other dreams on hold while we put our babies’ needs first.
Yet it doesn’t always have to be this way. Indeed, some mums are choosing not to put their career aspirations on hold – and that’s okay!
For many new mums, it’s easy to press pause on our lives and focus on our babies. If motherhood has taught me anything it’s that our babies grow up so incredibly fast. Our careers, our businesses, our goals of world domination can wait because nothing matters more than spending time with our babies.
But sometimes it’s incredibly hard to walk away from a career, a position or a business empire that you’ve worked hard to build. This is especially the case if you own the business. Yes, your baby is your baby — but in many cases, your business is also your baby.
This is why mum-of-two Jess Morgan, 32, made the decision to return to work just three weeks after giving birth.
Instead of taking maternity leave, her husband, Dave took parental leave from his job as a forensic technician and became the full-time caregiver to their son, Murphy. Three years and another baby boy later, Dave continues to be on full-time kid duty while Jess works.
Balancing baby and business
For them, this set up works incredibly well. Jess runs her own design agency from her home. She is a freelancer and has a steady stream of clients. If she decided to take time off, it could be the end of her business.
“If I took six months off, none of my clients would wait around for me,” Jess explains. “I couldn’t risk losing everything I’d worked so hard for.”
Let Dad do it
Even though society still expects mum to take the lead when it comes to raising babies, dads can be just as good at it. Sure, mums have the boobs, but dads are capable too. Often it’s simply about giving them a chance to try.
Dave did all the nappy changing, preparing all the food when weaning started, and the baby classes. We were both good at it but the idea of being a stay-at-home mum had always filled me with terror.”
Jess admits that Dave is a lot more patient with the boys and thrives in his parental leave role, while she enjoys being able to balance her clients with her family.
Being a mother is overwhelming – you often feel like you’re ‘winging it’. I knew what I was doing with work.”
Making it work
One of the biggest challenges for Jess and Dave was getting others to accept their roles. Jess admits that they are often met with raised eyebrows, unhelpful comments and snide remarks, especially at the start.
“It really put a cloud over this supposedly magical time,” she says. “Dave even threw a family member out of the house once for being judgmental and making me cry.”
According to recent ABS figures, only 20% of Aussie dads take parental leave. Like Dave, many dads do find that it’s hard to take on the role as the main caregiver due to the judgment they receive.
“So many people said, ‘You won’t be able to do it, you won’t cope, it’s so hard,’” Dave admits. “That almost made me second-guess myself. But that’s a ridiculous thing to say to a person, male or female.”
Despite the challenges, the couple makes it work. Three years and two children later, the couple continues to subvert the ‘traditional’ roles of husband and wife. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
The mother/work load
Of course, every family is different. For Jess and Dave, being a business owner and being able to work from home definitely swayed the decision.
But many mums choose to return to work outside the home after just a few weeks with bub. In fact, most mums are forced to. After all, we only get 18 weeks of paid parental leave. This goes for both mum or dad, whoever the main caregiver is.
Regardless of what role you decide to take, whether you stay-at-home, return to work, do a bit of both, it’s always tricky to juggle parenthood with other responsibilities. So be kind to yourself and to your partner. Chances are you’re both a bit overwhelmed with the new change of pace.
For more tips on finding that happy medium when welcoming a baby, have a read of 10 Fights To Expect With Your Partner When You Have a New Baby.