Opinion

How to run a business and a family at the same time

- May 29, 2019 4 MIN READ

Annabelle Davidson, CEO and founder of Social Playground

I’m the CEO and founder of social media and technology company Social Playground, as well as mum to two gorgeous boys; three-year-old Sawyer and one-year-old Brooks.

At Social Playground, we create innovative branded experiences at events like personalised GIF booths to enhance the experience of guests and help brands generate shareable content.

At home, I juggle bringing up my two gorgeous boys with running my company.

Like so many entrepreneurial m, I found this juggle especially difficult when my boys were newborns, but I learned a lot I’d love to share with other women considering having a baby while running a company.

My first baby was born in the midst of a turbulent time in the business Being a new mum is full of physical and emotional challenges, and when you add significant legal and business obstacles, it can be extra tough.

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When I was pregnant with Sawyer, it was a turbulent time, as my then-business partner exited from the business. This was a really challenging time to navigate the lead up to becoming a mother for the first time as well as keep up with the demands of the business. The first few weeks after Sawyer was born were filled with meetings and phone calls with accountants and solicitors as we finalised the sale.

Fortunately, Sawyer was an amazing sleeper so I got through it. I was also lucky my husband worked part-time for the first eight months after having Sawyer, allowing me to spend 2-3 days a week in the office.

After that, we employed a nanny a couple of days a week and then Sawyer attended daycare 3-4 days a week from about 14 months. Putting a team in place was key to decreasing stress when nursing my second newborn, however, it still came with its challenges.

With Brooks earlier this year, I had a dream pregnancy and worked right up until going into labour again. This time around, I was able to plan ahead and put the right people in place to keep the business running while I took about 3-4 months “off”, working from home.

My team is hardworking and incredibly self-sufficient, but there will always be a few scenarios or questions where my input is required. In the lead up to taking time off, I tried to create decision-making frameworks to help them make the right decisions on their own.

I also put in place a leadership team who were responsible for managing their direct reports and hitting some KPIs while I was away.

It’s important to have people who you trust and who are invested in seeing the business succeed.

However, as an entrepreneur you’re never going to entirely switch off; your mind is constantly ticking and thinking about ways to do more. This can create some frustration that initiatives can’t be completed as quickly when you’re not 100% working on the business.

 

Maternity leave is non-existent as a mumpreneur

I went about a week without looking at emails after Brooks was born, really letting myself enjoy the newborn bubble and not knowing what time it was.

When it’s your own business though, you never truly switch off. When the baby sleeps, you catch up on emails.

My role at the time was more of an overseeing role though, rather than governing the day-to-day. I found this to be pretty easy to manage with a newborn – despite him being a shocking sleeper!

I think I sacrificed sleep (or daytime naps at least!) but I know pretty well how much I can handle and when to just call it a night even if the to-do list is still very long. I learned you have to listen to your body post-birth and be in tune with how much it can take.

 

My top lesson as a mumpreneur: Don’t be so hard on yourself! 

With time out of the office or limited hours to get work done, it definitely takes longer to get through the to-do list. Over the past few months, I have learnt to have patience.

I have accepted I might not be able to achieve the growth I want to achieve in the timeframes I forecast. But that’s ok! Once I accepted that achieving any growth while raising two small children is great, I started feeling a lot better about what I was achieving each week.

There will always be compromises as a business owner and Mum. I’m so proud of the business I’ve created, but I definitely feel the conflicting pull of business and family. It’s a juggle and it can often feel like you’re giving less than 100% in all areas.

At times I daydream about how it must feel to get real maternity leave, but in the long run, I know that I will never have to ask a boss for time off for my kids. I can work from home and maintain a completely flexible schedule that works for me. This definitely outweighs the challenges for me. If you’re considering having a baby as a female business owner, you can do it!

There are so many encouraging communities and networking groups around now too so you don’t feel alone. It is definitely a challenge balancing a newborn with a business, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

  • Annabelle Davidson CEO and founder of Social Playground.

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