Finding a work-life balance with a baby

Back as promised! This week, as usual lately, has been manic and flown past so fast I’m not sure I stopped to eat more than a handful of month-old Starburst. But here I am; rocking Saturday night by blogging (and publishing on Sunday).

In my last post I let you know that I became a mum this year to baby Maddie. She was born in March and since then I don’t think I’ve ever been as busy, knackered or as happy. I’m now one of the walking clichés we call mammas who say things like ‘being a mum is the best job in the world!’. Except it’s not really, because it’s not a job. You get to leave your job at some point in the day, and unless you’re really unlucky, your boss doesn’t demand you get back to work at 3am by poking you in the eye and being sick. And anyway, I’m pretty sure travel writers have the best job in the world. I’m rambling. I’m just trying not to be another boring mum who forgets the rest of the world exists once they have a child. It is great though. Apart from the eye poking and sick.

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Follow me on Instagram @lauramsmith11

Before Maddie came along I kept getting asked about maternity leave and how it would work. The truth is, being self-employed, it doesn’t really exist. I qualified for a government paid maternity allowance, which feels like it’s about 5% of what I’d get if I worked for someone other than myself. OK, it’s not that bad, but it’s roughly about 25% of what my employed friends get. The good thing is though, I’m still allowed to work while I receive it, and this was particularly good in Maddie’s first months. She napped a lot when she was born so I was able to fit work in without much fuss. As she’s got older though she’s become less of an easy sleeper so it’s made it tough and there have been a few instances of settling down with my laptop to start work at midnight. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it though, and that’s one thing that tugged at me quite a lot. On the one hand, I had this helpless, tiny baby, totally dependent on me, who I loved more than anything, and on the other I had a business I’d worked hard at to get off the ground to a level I could live off full time, and I didn’t want to sacrifice it! So hence the juggling, but it’s working out OK and the extra money is definitely helpful. Plus, I’ve had some bloody ace clients this year that I’ve genuinely loved working for, so even if the work-life balance is a bit like sitting on both ends of a seesaw, it’s worth it.

For anyone self-employed and thinking about a family, maternity allowance gives you a basic income for nine months (the amount is dependent on the tax you’ve paid). You’re free to work while you receive it, but it’s enough to pay for basic bills if you can’t or prefer not to.

When I’m not working or doing one of the million daily tasks being a mum involves, I seem to be watching YouTube. As I mentioned in my last post, I took a break from Facebook and Twitter for a while because, as fine as it would be to scroll through while I was sat feeding Mads, I realised I was losing hours everyday this way. It can be hard to feel like you get any time to yourself with a baby, but breastfeeding means I’m pinned down for a good twenty minutes at a time about six times a day. Rather than melt my brain on Facebook I made myself pick up a book instead. I became a bit of a super reader, fitting in as much as I could every time Mads was feeding, and got through three books in as many weeks. But I hit a slump after that and turned to YouTube. I just found a channel by a family called The Michalaks. They’re a late twenties/early thirties couple with an adorable little boy and have this amazing lifestyle thanks to their vlogs. Their videos are all on their daily lives and are well worth a watch. They take the quality of their content really seriously and have some incredible editing going on. Check them out if you can.

They (and many others) made me consider focussing my blog around a weekly post, documenting each day and having a regular upload time and day of the week, but I might stick to unregulated and more varied posts. Let me know what you’d prefer, and I’ll see you again soon! X

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