Motherhood and Career - A Personal Journey

We use our personal experience to support our clients as they progress on their own journeys. Here’s one of our coaches, Lucy James, sharing her own experiences of balancing motherhood and career.

A Personal Journey

In the spring of 2017, I found out that I was pregnant and there started my own completely overwhelming, exhausting and joyful experience of motherhood! As an older mum (‘geriatric’ according to the NHS!) I had spoken at length with friends and clients about parenthood, particularly around the balancing act of being a new parent and having a successful, fulfilling career.  I knew, especially running my own business, that it was likely to be a challenge at times. Here are some of my personal experiences and thoughts for how to handle this life change.

1.    Pregnancy – Early Stages

Before pregnancy, I knew that if I was facilitating a big workshop or had a very full day of coaching clients, if I did all the sensible stuff  - prepared well, got enough sleep the night before, ate and stayed hydrated during the day, I would have enough energy to be present and perform at my best. 

Once pregnant, it felt a bit like Russian Roulette; how I would feel each day?  Full of beans or absolutely wretched?  It ended up being some days one way, some the other.  Occasionally I would flit between the two extremes throughout the day.  It was even harder in those early few months when colleagues and clients didn’t know I was pregnant. 

My anxiety was reduced by acknowledging that I couldn’t control everything and I focused on getting comfortable with this concept! Being kind to myself became of paramount importance and remembering that my body was busy growing a human being and that sometimes being ‘good enough’ was OK helped me. 

2.    Pregnancy – Late Stages

I felt mentally able to focus on my work up until a few weeks before giving birth, but for me the logistics became harder – remembering to factor additional time into journeys because I would need the loo at least twice when travelling across London; wearing really sensible shoes; trying to fit my cumbersome green maternity notes folder in my handbag! Also at this point anxiety started to creep in about my business and I would be asking myself lots of big questions: What will I be coming back to? Will my clients forget about me? How often will I want to work? What will we do about childcare?

I hear my clients ask themselves similar questions at about this point in their pregnancy.  It was useful for me to explore which of these questions I could realistically think through and try and answer immediately, which questions I wouldn’t know the answer to until after the baby came and which questions were fuelled by fear and didn’t necessarily need to be answered at all. Categorising the questions helped to keep me calm and work out where to spend my energy when thinking about my career after the baby’s arrival.  

3.    A working mum

After my daughter was born, the first three months felt like a bit of a blur really and I hardly gave work a thought, as I was so focused on keeping a very small person happy and well.  But after approximately 6 months I was offered some really tempting coaching work, which I could do on a part time basis and I decided to say yes. Along with the excitement at the prospect of adult conversation and not having to sing nursery rhymes all day, came lots of questions too: 

  • Guilt - How can I leave my baby?

  • Doubt – have I forgotten how to do my job?

  • Negotiation – how many hours am I willing to work? 

  • Renegotiation – who would do what around the house in terms of boring domestic chores now that we were both back at work?

  • Clothes crisis – I’m nowhere near losing the baby weight, none of my work wardrobe fits anymore! 

Some of these questions were quick to solve (eg. I bought some clothes that fit and actually made me feel good again).  Others took longer to work through, requiring trial, error and compromise.  

Now I also try hard to find little pockets of time for myself to just be – when I’m not focusing on being a mother, a daughter, a wife or a coach. I hadn’t realised just how important that would be for my own health and happiness, but it really makes a huge difference.