How are you going to do it?

I get asked this question at least three times a day.


I am five months pregnant and just starting out with my new project (and baby) Onboardly. There is no such thing as mat leave, especially for us small business ladies. I won’t be taking 12 months off and enjoying every single second of my childs first year. I won’t be there for every step, every word, every cry and every laugh. I realize this, and you know what? I am ok with it.

There’s a baby in here!

I hate being judged and questioned on how I am going to raise my child with both parents being busy entrepreneurs. We’ll figure it out.

No sleep. No time for a shower. No personal time. Sounds like running a business to me. I get it, a baby is life changing. If I didn’t know this, I wouldn’t have had this happen to me.  We are prepared. We are excited. And, yes, we are scared sh*tless. Bring it.

Here is what I have done to prepare for the blessed arrival of our child:

  1. Smile and be thankful for such a gift
  2. Shop for maternity clothes
  3. Ask mom how she did it
  4. Hire a nanny for three days a week
  5. Organize a kick-ass home office
  6. Organize a kick-asser out-of-home office
  7. Read up on tips and tricks for newbie parents
  8. Hire a babysitter
  9. Laugh. Learn
  10. Breath

If you are a woman who has successfully had children and ran a business at the same time – HIGH FIVE!  Oh, and PLEASE leave some tips below.

  • Emily Nelson
    Posted at 21:28h, 12 April

    First off, I applaud you for knowing what you want before AND after baby!

    All of the steps you mention above are valid, but I couldn’t help but notice the comparison between having a child and running a business.

    While YOU run a business, the child will run your life no matter how much preparation is in place – colicky, feedings, vomiting, doctor visits, etc. There are times when a child will force a choice over business and it will be tough, but it will always be the better choice.

    Speaking from experience, all of the planning possible will never prepare you for the amount of time and energy that will be required. Yes, even more time than growing a business from the ground up!

    And as you both watch your lil bundle grow, change, and smile at you for the first time, you’ll realize that spending that precious first year with your child may leave you feeling more fulfilled than any start up ever could. 🙂

    Just know that you’re not alone in this, and I’ll always be available if you ever want to talk.

  • Mags
    Posted at 03:25h, 13 April

    The judging gets worse when you have kids, believe me! I don’t run my own business but I consider myself to have a successful career. I raised more than a few eyebrows when I didn’t take a year maternity leave. My advice and a couple of warnings:

    1) don’t let the haters get you down. There are lots of people out there ready to give their two (maybe even five) cents on your parenting model. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone! Sounds cliche to say do what’s right for you and your family but it really is true.

    2) don’t be afraid to ask for help. This was my biggest mistake. I wanted to show the world I could do it all and it led to a serious case of burn-out. Help is good, even something as small as someone bringing over a meal when you are home with a newborn and three conference calls on the go. Take advantage when it is offered.

    3) people are going to ask you about your boobs and what you are doing with them. A lot.

    4) people will say “oh, you work mainly from home. How great you get to spend all that time with your child!” HA.

    Cherish every moment you do have with your babe, drink lots of coffee, and breath yes breath! You are going to be great 🙂

    Posted at 04:52h, 13 April

    I’m proud of you. Good on ya’ for writing this. I’m very happy & inspired by you. I have no doubt AT ALL you’ll handle everything with grace & beauty. Miss your face & smile.

    AND, you look gorgeous with that lil’ belly!

  • Dad
    Posted at 21:35h, 13 April

    Hi – Ok, I’m a dad and so maybe not eligible to post a comment, but I did run my business when my first child was born (and the second now that I think of it!) and I tried really hard to do half the work for the first year. I took 2 months off right after the birth while we learned how to do stuff and got some initial routines figured out. I’ve also succeeded in not working a “real” job for most of the 25 years since college. And one of my best friends had her baby and started her business in the same year and loved it. 🙂

    First, no criticism should be read into what I’m putting here – I think there are LOTS of ways to parent that can work well for the parents and kids involved. It sounds like you’re being pretty realistic about how much outside help you’re going to need – that’s _great_. Here’s a bunch of advise you should, of course, feel completely free to ignore and even mock if you like 🙂

    1) read about and understand postpartum depression – the post-birth hormone dump can hit you hard and knowing that this is possible and that you just have to wait it out and not let yourself get into mental cycles seems powerfully useful.

    2) allow yourself to change your mind about this. There’s something about having a kid that can sometimes change one’s perspective and I don’t think there’s any way to understand that until it happens (like falling in love or something). What I mean is, once you have your child in your arms for a month and feel what it’s like, if for some reason you find that you’re maybe not so sure about your choice then in advance agree to give yourself the freedom to change your mind and WHO CARES what anyone else says or thinks!

    3) Stress – you didn’t mention anything about how you were going to release your stress. Starting and running your own business can involve a lot of stress and you don’t want that coming out at your family in general, and even more so at point where your family is dealing with the stress of a new child (you didn’t mention if there’s another parent involve to help you; I hope there is because that can help a lot – teamwork is a great thing! If not, then it’s time to find/make a friend who is also going through this, if at all possible). Back to stress – exercise can be really good for this, or meditation, etc. Whatever works for you, find a way to make it a “required” item in your daily schedule instead of one of the things that goes on the list of things you’ll sacrifice to make it all work.

    4) Finances – this can be a large stress on a family even when you aren’t just starting a business. My suggestion here is to figure out some decision points *in advance* of having financial stress. What I mean is, figure out what the thresholds are for decisions now when you’re not in the middle of freaking out about running out of money and trying to make decisions like “should I go get a ‘real’ job now or keep pushing forward on this startup?”. The idea is to make the decisions in a rational state of mind and not when emotions of freak-out are clouding one’s ability to think rationality. The idea is that you don’t have to worry about or think about these things because you’ve already decided that “what the savings account balance gets down to $X then I have to do Y” where Y might be “cut back to half time on my startup and work 20 hours a week doing consulting (or whatever) to make enough to keep us going.” And there might be multiple of these with more extreme actions taken at each lower bank balance (“Go get a full-time ‘real’ job and shutter the business for now”). I had to shutter my tech business that I’d gotten through the dot-com disaster successfully because I needed big company medical insurance for my daughter. Hurt like heck to voluntarily shutter it when I’d *survived* a period when so many businesses died. But I did it and got over it and once I was able to I returned and revived it and got it going again.

    5) Sleep – don’t sacrifice this; lack of sleep makes one less able to cope with all of the above. You’ll do better at your startup, better at parenting, and be a better person to be around if you are getting enough sleep (whatever that is for you – the number of hours of sleep should be the amount you can function well at for months if you get that much each night, not some smaller amount that you can survive one or a few days getting but then crash for 11 hours to recover from; a sustainable consistent sleep routine (as much as the little one will allow) is a great investment in your business, your family and your life).

    6) If there’s any way you can take the first two months off (until the little one can sleep longer because they have grown enough), I’d highly recommend it. This initial bonding time is really powerful and it’s hard to get good sleep during this time (though our first kid had reflux which made things much worse). I worked insanely hard for three months before my son was born and then took a month before and 2 months after his birth off. Then worked 20 hrs/wk for the rest of that year. Totally worth it.

    7) Don’t sacrifice more time with the kid than you are ok with. Stop and re-evaluate your “ok-ness” from time to time. They change very fast and sometime around middle school or high school too many kids don’t want to spend time with their parents anymore… I’m blessed that my 15 year old still thinks I’m cool and wants to spend time with me, but we lost our daughter before 4 years of age to a very very rare cancer and so as parents we just never know.

    I hope you have the healthiest and happiest kid in the whole world and that your business works so well that you can hire people to help you with it and you end up being able to work 20hrs/wk making plenty of money before your kid is even one!

    To that end, this post by CDBaby founder Derek Sivers might also be useful to read:

    I wish you the best of fortune.


    P.S. oh, and cabbage leaves really *do* help with engorgement. 😛

    PPS – feel free to just read this comment and not post it on your blog.

  • Dad
    Posted at 21:40h, 13 April

    ooops! ok now I went and read your “About” page and I’m embarrassed 😛 I should have done that *before* putting in small biz advice. You’re clearly already an ace at this biz stuff and my advice on those things superfluous; sorry. :-/

  • Jord
    Posted at 05:12h, 14 April

    Hey Renee,

    I’m so excited for you! Let me tell you I never thought being a mom could be so fun!

    I couldn’t agree with Emily more- Being a stay at home mom is in my mind far more challenging and rewarding. Like I have heard sooo many moms say “baby rules”. Just when you think you have a rhythm the song changes and you have to go with it…imagine you are out dancing and the DJ is spinning a shitload short random songs….the dancing is fun but the music is unpredictable and you are exhausted!

    I feel so lucky that I am able to take the full 12 months off of work to look after Carson and watch him grow- music class, mom and baby yoga, meet ups with other moms (I have met so many amazing women in my hood-, playtime in the park, baby food making….diaper changing…breast feeding. I can’t say that I have not dipped into a handful of projects in the last few months (luckily you can earn $$ while on parental leave in Canada) but I’m glad that I am able to make my little guy my number one priority for now.

    If I can say anything, no amount of preparation can really “prepare” you for mommyhood, it is chaos at its best and when I say best I mean crazy and amazing! One of the biggest things that I have learned is that you need to be flexible, just when you think you’ve figured one thing out along comes another.

    Stay healthy, happy and open minded.


  • Barbora
    Posted at 12:41h, 15 April

    Hi Renee, I have a one year old and I run a business together with my husband. My situation is a bit easier than yours as my husband was able to take over some of my responsibilities and I could work from home for 7 months. Now I go to the office two days a week and I work from home whenever possible the other days.
    For me the most important thing is planning – I try to be at home when my son is sleeping, so that I could use this time for work. I never take a nap myself during the day even if I got up ten times in a night. I focus on doing the most important things and I had to accept that some other stuff just won’t be perfect. I divide most of my time between my son and my work, I don’t exercise as I used to, because I’d rather be with my son than in a gym full of strangers.
    Sometimes it’s challenging, but I love it and wouldn’t change anything. I’m sure you’ll be fine and I wish you good luck!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 12:18h, 26 May

    I am so excited for you and Dan:) I am confident that you with find a way to juggle all of the responsibilities. That’s the advantage of being an entrepreneur, is that you will have the drive to push through the hard times and do what needs to be done.

    I’m an entrepreneur and a single parent of 2 boys. They were 9 and 4 when we started the company 6 years ago. It is a juggling act for sure at times and I do struggle with balance in my life (Dan knows that’s one of my challenges). As we have watched our company triple revenue for the past two years and see it continue to grow, I have no regrets for my decision to grow a business alongside being a single parent.

    It’s going to be tougher to juggle it all with a newborn but they grow, change so fast and I think you’ll have a great family support. You’ve got a good plan in place already from the looks of it. I have found at different stages, sacrifices needed to be made (housework often the first to go, or exercise – I don’t recommend giving this up if you can help it). You and Dan will have each other and you’ll be able to tag team taking care of the baby so you each have time to catchup on things/sleep, whatever needs doing.

    Finally and I’m confident you and Dan are already very aware of this, just as with any growing company, be ready to delegate when you can. I have learned the hard hard way the risk of being buried in too many of the operational details of the company and not delegating enough to others so that I can focus on strategic planning and achieving balance with my own personal life. When most of the operational details fall on you, time can be sucked up immensely and suddenly you’re working 80 hr weeks and trying to get up at 6:30 am to get your kids ready for school, feeling like a zombie. Not good. So delegate/hire etc:)

    I really hope you blog about your experience juggling being an entrepreneur and a new mother. Even though I’m six years in, I’m sure I could learn and take support from you as well:)


  • Leigh Mitchell
    Posted at 17:38h, 23 September

    So happy for you! Congrats! Can’t wait to hear more. Life as a entrepreneur with children is a crazy ride but I do believe that it still is a better balance then working for some body else. I love it and I feel like I can be there for my kids and still grow my business at the same time. Best of luck. Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Sarah Evans
    Posted at 04:13h, 02 June

    I started to get my business off the ground when my twin sons were less than a year old (online store went live when they were 2). My partner was also working from home with no job security. My business has now been running 6 months, I have 4 stockists, getting good exposure, our twins are 2.5 years, my partner is happy in a great job (building up a small practice). It was VERY hard and still is but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    If you aim for the stars you might just land on the clouds.

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