I have no clue... and that is okay
I remember writing my ‘Prep for Maternity Leave’ blog back in 2019 like it was yesterday. I thought I had it all figured out! Little did I know. One week after a blissful maternity leave (spent at the hospital), I was meeting with my team and building a plan to move 23W online.
Fast forward to today, where we have officially passed 200 days in lockdown and are showing little signs of re-emerging and re-opening anytime soon. This has got me wondering, exactly how should I be ‘planning’ my second maternity leave?
As a business owner there are more decisions than just finding a suitable replacement and handing over the keys. Even still, how do you hire for a position that at the moment is redundant?
I realised today that I literally have no clue and that is okay! This mindset shift could not be further from the over-planning, over-prepared Ange of pre-2020 who needed to have everything in order to sleep at night.
So this time around, I am continuing to remind myself that it is okay to have multiple balls in the air and direct my attention to the important stuff I can control, like my health, the health and wellbeing of my staff, my changing role in 23W and my passion and purpose.
If you are a small business owner, no doubt you have also developed your own personal coping strategies over the last 18 months. But today I thought I would share some elements that have helped me.
Clear Communication And Clear Boundaries
Motherhood throws a complex set of challenges around managing time working in and on your business. Coming out of lockdown back in October-December last year was MADNESS. I used the time over the new year break to redefine my face-to-face work days in the studio and days with Sky and change my employee’s contracts. This is not to say I don’t work or pick up my phone on my Sky days, but it has given me permission to lean into my work days wholeheartedly and be comfortable telling members that I am not available on other days for training.
In lockdown, I have tried to keep to this schedule while being more mindful of my husband’s work time. No access to child care at the moment will continue to throw my regular work time into chaos but clear communication with my staff and community will help me make good use of the time I have available during his lunchtime sleep and evenings without burning out.
I also really conscious not to be checking emails or my phone when I am with Sky, instead, if I have work to do I navigate this time with my hubby and diligently focus on it in our study space.
2. Self Care and Personal Time
Second pregnancy around and heading into my thirst trimester, my energy levels are all over the place (as is my sleep). Self care has never been more important than during a lockdown. It is a huge blow to my ego, not being able to take more online classes with our community, but I have realised that this is not possible for me at the moment.
I am staying focused on my habits and routines that normally keep me grounded; exercise, walking, cooking delicious and wholesome meals, connecting with friends and family and some alone time. It is not selfish to have some time alone, especially if you have a busy household. I need this time to re-charge so that I am a nicer, more generous person to actually be around.
Lastly, I have all notifications turned off on my phone, except my slack beeps from my team and my phone usually lives on ‘silent mode’. This has helped me so much in minimising unnecessary screen time that usually causes anxiety.
3. Defined Roles And A Changing Business
Lastly, I trust my team and business whole-heartedly and made sure their employment contracts reflected this. They have defined roles, which has then actually helped me re-define my own roles as the director. Without the support and investment of my team, there is simply no way 23W would have been able to continue to grow and adapt. When I consider 23W now, it is complex, diverse, digital, flexible and resilient.
The health and wellbeing of my team is also always at the forefront of my mind. We meet regularly online, even just to touch base and laugh. I am conscious of the pressures and challenges they face in needing to coach online and work from home. This means flexible work schedules and setting a culture to collaborate and share openly and honestly.
4. Reflect on Passion And Purpose
Lockdowns present a new opportunity to do things differently, to make rapid changes and do things that you ordinarily would not have time to do. I am proud that my team and I have continued to push the envelope to learn new skills and step outsider our comfort zone. Personally I am using this time to develop more prenatal exercise content, ongoing education and putting together a comprehensive ‘Safe return to exercise guide for new mums’.
So with 12 weeks to go until our baby girl arrives, I am taking each day as it comes. Hopefully with vaccination numbers on the way up, we can soon be saying goodbye to this current lockdown and navigating a new world in living with COVID.
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Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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