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Is it possible to start a business whilst on maternity leave?

If you are currently in the run up to maternity leave, working in a job you – well, let’s just say – aren’t that keen on, I’m going to hazard a guess as to some of the thoughts that are currently running through your mind:

  • When should I return to work?
  • I’m dreading returning to work!
  • How am I going to leave my baby with a stranger/family/nursery?
  • How am I going to do a full time job when I’m dealing with sleepless nights/breastfeeding/chicken pox/fill-in-the-blank.
  • When am I ever going to get time to myself when I have to work 9-5, take the baby to a childminder, sit in commuter traffic, run errands?

Now I’m not here to tell you how to answer those questions or to scare you into what might be. You are resourceful because all women are resourceful, and you will figure it out because we all do. I know many successful women holding down full time jobs and caring for young children.

But what I am going to say is this:  I had all those thoughts running through my mind, and although I knew that I would cope with whatever life threw at me, having those questions on repeat every night told me that something else was wrong. It wasn’t the impending workload. It wasn’t the fear of being unable to cope. I knew I would manage it. It was simply that the idea of leaving my new little family to return to a job I didn’t enjoy filled me with sadness. It felt like such a soulless decision to make about such an important time in my life.

Sometimes life throws challenges at you which actually turn out to be gifts.

Whilst on maternity leave, I found out that my job role had changed, and not for the better. It was enough to tell me that I needed to walk away. At the same time, by pure chance, I had come up with an idea for a new gift website. So when I finally figured out how to get my daughter to nap somewhere other than in my arms (it took a loooong while), I opened up my laptop and started writing a business plan.

As soon as I started writing, I felt alive again. I had so many ideas swimming around my head. All that noise, all that worry; it vanished. It was replaced with a passion for something new. A passion for something that I felt, deep down, would bring about a positive change in my life.

So if you are planning maternity leave or you are in the early days of maternity leave and a little voice in your head is nagging you, start listening to it. Perhaps it’s not the logistics of the 9-5 that is bothering you. Perhaps it’s not the struggles of balancing work and family. Perhaps it’s just your soul telling you that there’s something else you should be doing with your life.

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