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First baby - so worried about my career

(59 Posts)
cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:11:14

DH and I are both self-employed - him as a graphic designer and me as a freelance writer. We both work from home.

We’re due to have our first baby this summer, which we’re both very excited about. We’ve tried to plan our work loads and finances so he can take one month off after the birth and I can take two, but I’m starting to really freak out about our future.

What if the baby is so time-consuming (and I know they are!) that it jeopardizes our businesses so we can’t work and can no longer afford the mortgage? What if it means that I can no longer attend meetings (which I have to do fairly regularly) because I’m tied to the baby? What if my absence from work means I lose clients? How are we going to cope working from home with a newborn? We do have savings but not enough to cover a nanny or childminder or anything like that. Both our families live hours away.

All these questions are swirling around in my head and I’m wondering if we’ve done the right thing getting pregnant. We both really wanted to start a family and are so excited about it, but perhaps our work situation means we’re not in a position to do so and that a baby should only ever have been a pipe dream.

Does anyone have any advice?

Embracelife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:18:07

Either you cover for each other when you have meetings or work I.e one parent stays with the baby or you find a way to use a nursery or childminder on regular days and organize meetings on those days.

Look at coworking spaces so you can go to another location to work in peace?

PPopsicle Tue 14-Jan-20 23:18:44

Is there anyone you can employ, even if only for a few hours a week?
I ran a business with a newborn and found a sling a lifesaver as meant I could get on with things whilst having a content baby

BillHadersNewWife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:20:56

Can you afford childcare? Have you saved anything? I freelanced and still a parent. I remember rocking DD2 in her bouncer thing when she was days old as I wrote an article on a deadline.

When the editor got back to me complaining about the quality I was so devastated. It's HARD OP. Very hard.

My advice is this...look at the hours you're both currently working and tell your DH he has to take his share of baby care too...equally. So once your 2 months is up, that's it...50-50 baby care. BUT you'd be better with help...someone to come in and take the baby off your hands.

Take them to baby classes or for a walk for a set amount of time per day. You're going to be so tired...babies wake all night and then want to sit on you all day...they can scream for hours when you're trying to work and it's hard.

I don't want to frighten you but let you know that you need help and that your DH has to help too.

JoanieCash Tue 14-Jan-20 23:22:39

If your family are otherwise supportive perhaps you might consider also moving nearer to them so you can have some scope for emergency childcare etc?

cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:27:23

Employing someone else would be difficult, as we’re both very specialist in what we do. At first I thought we could muddle through, but the closer I get to my due date the more I’m starting to panic. I wish I could just enjoy my pregnancy and relax, but worrying about this is making it hard!

It sounds silly, but I also wanted to spend time during my pregnancy preparing myself for the birth, maybe doing a hypnobirthing course, reading books on parenting and sorting all the baby stuff I need. In reality I’ve not done any of that as work has been so full on.

cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:33:18

If your family are otherwise supportive perhaps you might consider also moving nearer to them so you can have some scope for emergency childcare etc?

That’s 100% not an option - we love where we live, it’s convenient for work and we don’t want to move to the other end of the country and have all the upheaval and stress that would entail!

@BillHadersNewWife we do have savings but childcare would burn through them very quickly. We’re going to really struggle aren’t we?

Embracelife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:33:56

Employ a childcarer or nanny a few hours a week or few mornings
If you need to focus you will need to hire in hell with baby
Also then that person might babysit or be there for emergencies
If you dont have family you need cover anyway ...paid help neighbour friend teenager

Embracelife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:34:22

Hire in help.

VimFuego101 Tue 14-Jan-20 23:37:41

You will not be able to work and take care of a baby. Can you pick your own hours? So one person could do a (say) 5am start, the other does a 12pm start and get in childcare for the 3 hours or so that you'll overlap? You really won't be able to get any solid work done once the baby gets a little bigger and is more awake and wriggly.

BillHadersNewWife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:42:32

I think people are suggesting you should employ a nanny OP...not someone to do your work for you.

Is your combined income enough to cover a certain amount of hours for a nanny?

cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:43:30

Can you pick your own hours?

Yes we can, so that’s something. DH seems to optimistically think it’ll all work out ok, but I don’t think he grasps the reality of just how all-consuming having a baby is going to be.

GrumpyHoonMain Tue 14-Jan-20 23:44:52

Is there any scope to do work from home / remotely for a period? If so it might be easier to arrange childcare as you’ll just need a babysitter rather than a nanny

Northernsoullover Tue 14-Jan-20 23:45:08

He needs to share the care. If you do this then you will both be fine.

minipie Tue 14-Jan-20 23:46:10

What about dropping to 3 days a week each
You work Mon Tues Fri
He works Weds Thurs Sat
You each take care of the baby (and do the previous night) on your non working days
Sunday is family day

Realistically though you should set aside some time after the birth with no work at all and ideally so should he. At least a few weeks.

It’s not realistic to expect to have a baby and carry on working just as much without childcare. Something’s got to give - either the amount of work has to reduce (one or both of you) or the money needs to go towards childcare. Or move somewhere cheaper or where family help is available.

cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:46:30

@BillHadersNewWife oh I see - apologies for misinterpreting! I think it might cover some hours from a nanny but only as a temporary measure - a regular nanny would burn through our income and savings very quickly.

BillHadersNewWife Tue 14-Jan-20 23:48:04

The reality of it OP is that you will be unlikely to manage more than a couple of hours a day whilst caring for a new baby.

It's up to you and DH how you split that.

If you want to write something and the baby is ill or fussy, it will be impossible.

HeddaGarbled Tue 14-Jan-20 23:49:59

This is interesting:

cheesefritters Tue 14-Jan-20 23:50:40

Thanks @minipie - that sounds like a workable arrangement! DH is very keen to share childcare evenly between us both. If we were to take that approach would it mean that I can’t EBF? I was hoping to but maybe it’s not doable if I’m working three days a week and DH is looking after the baby.

INeedNewShoes Tue 14-Jan-20 23:50:57

I’m self employed. I actually found it easier getting work done with a newborn baby than it is with a toddler around. DD would happily gurgle in her Moses basket while I worked in the early days and up to around the age of 1 I could get a couple of hours of work done a day without childcare, plus more in the evenings once she started sleeping properly at night (at 3 months).

For big projects with tight deadlines though you will have to budget for getting some childcare. I paid a friend’s teenage daughter to look after baby DD for a few hours here and there to cover specific project work then DD started going to regular childcare from 9 months just for 10 hours a week to give me a couple of chunks of time for more focused work.

There are schemes to help with childcare costs, like tax free childcare where the state pay 20% of the fees.

You’ll make it work.

Yoohoo16 Tue 14-Jan-20 23:54:41

It’s so tricky. I’m self employed and having a baby did change my business massively.
I think the best way would be for you and your dh to juggle your work to do opposite ‘shifts’. It will be really difficult, but it usually works out.

minipie Tue 14-Jan-20 23:59:10

It’s not really possible to EBF if someone else is looking after the baby 50% of the time, no.

It MIGHT be doable to express on your working days so DH bottle feeds breast milk to the baby. But expressing success is very varied from woman to woman and it’s a faff.

Once the baby is a few months old and you have BF sorted, feeds are pretty quick and not very frequent, so DH could bring the baby in to you for feeds if you’re working at home. BUT you’d have to put in a fair amount of time doing EBF to get to this point. AND that restricts both your abilities to be out of the house.

My suggestion sounds neat but please bear in mind it will be exhausting and will probably only work if you get a reasonably compliant baby.

cheesefritters Wed 15-Jan-20 00:02:07

@minipie thanks - I will have two months fully off work after the birth, which will hopefully give me some time to get BF established.

Floooopy Wed 15-Jan-20 00:02:47

The thing is, when people who aren't self-employed go back to work after maternity/paternity leave, they have to pay for childcare or give up work. The fact that you both work from home is not really any different - you need to factor in childcare costs unless you can both work completely opposite hours.

I'm on maternity leave and have an 'easy' baby, but I've also done a tiny bit of freelance work while off. And that's been a struggle. All babies are different but just to give a rough idea:

2-3 months, baby was sleeping 5 hrs straight at night (8pm-1am) at best then waking every 2 for a feed, so I was still trying to take a morning nap with him. Did a bit of freelance work- took me A LOT longer than usual and was a real chore to fit it in. Could do bits while bouncing baby in chair/ napping but could only really get into it at the weekends when DH took over for a few hours at a time - would have been a lot nicer to have time as a family with our lovely new baby.

4 month - sleep regression hit. Baby up every 30 mins/hourly over night. Daytime naps were 30mins max= me a zombie. Survived on coffee. Nothing got done.

We're now at 6 months. Baby is in a great routine, has just started sleeping through the night (I feel very lucky). Naps are 1 to 2 hours. Absolutely no chance of working while he's awake as he wants constant attention. Could get some work done during his naps but that's when I shower, put washing on, prepare food, clean.

The only way it could work with you both working from home is if you can take caring for the baby in shifts. Why don't you try it for a few days? (great chance to put your feet up with a magazine!) Have a rule where your not allowed to work at the same time and see how it goes?

Oh and I really hate to say it but if you choose to breastfeed then you may find it very difficult to leave for longer than a couple of hours. At 3 months my baby started to completely refuse the bottle- absolute screams and we could not get him to drink from it despite him being combi fed (mainly breast with some expressed bottles) from birth. Took us 4 weeks for him to start taking anything from a bottle again and about 2 months for him to take a full feed. Of course all babies are different and lots are totally fine with it, but my good friend is currently having the same issue and if you Google it (as I did desperately as I had to be away for a full day) it does seem quite common.

Very best of luck to you. I hope you find a way to make it work
- sling
- work opposite hrs to DP
- family help
- cut back commitments
But remember it's a wonderful but difficult time and even those who take a full year off work can struggle so please be kind to yourself.

Bluddyhateful Wed 15-Jan-20 00:06:31

I was in a very similar position to you, and also very worried. Here is what I have learnt, 7 years on:

1. You won’t lose your clients if you take some maternity leave. A few weeks or months are barely noticeable in the world of work but I know they can feel like a long time when you’re used to freelancing to meet everyone else’s demands. But honestly, my only regret is going back to work so early - my work wasn’t great quality and I missed that time with my baby. Imagine you were on sabbatical instead of on maternity leave.

2. You will become more efficient because you will have less time. You will make different choices. It’s ok if you take a sideways step for a few years. You will have a baby! The baby will be brilliant! One of the best pieces of advice anyone ever
gave me was that your career doesn’t always go in a straight line. It’s fine to coast for a while. It’s fine to take the money jobs for a little bit, and to leave the more creative/ heartfelt stuff till later.

3. Make sure you and your partner share childcare and earning responsibilities. All money is now family money. If he gets a well paid job you may have to help him make it work by doing more childcare, and vice versa.

4. Join support networks like mothers who make (for artist mothers). Sometimes just to talk to people in the same boat can be exactly what you need, and the practical support is helpful too.

5. People with salaried jobs/ grandparents on tap/ a private income don’t understand. Don’t bother trying to explain it to them. Yes it’s unfair. But don’t waste your energy worrying about it.

6. Having a child is really brilliant and will enrich your life in so many ways! It’s worth it.

7. Childcare only works in very conventional hours - eg 9 to 5. Whether you like it or not, you need to adapt to this working pattern now.

8. For the first 6 months your newborn baby is actually quite portable. He or she can come to meetings, travel etc.

9. In approx 7 years time (wink) you will realise you had nothing to worry about and your career is going just brilliantly. What’s more, you will also have a wonderful child to share your life with.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Their success doesn’t diminish your own prospects. Your time will come.

A couple freelancing with a child is hard. But my child sees my name published in books and I can truthfully say I love my work. Good luck, and try not to worry.

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