Guest Blog: How I avoided going back to my desk job after maternity leave
My story isn’t unique.
I’m one of countless women who didn’t want to go back to their job after maternity leave. It’s not that I didn’t like my job either. I just loved being a mum more. When my daughter came along almost 5 years ago, I was in medical advertising. It was an exciting and fast paced career but the hours were long and I wouldn’t be able to see much of my daughter.
In that job working part-time in any meaningful way wasn’t really possible either. I saw other mums try and struggle. Going back to my busy job after maternity leave just didn’t feel right.
I wanted it all: stay at home while also working flexibly
I realised the only way I was going to do this was to have 3 specific things in my life:
1. A partner that could provide some financial flexibility
2. A skill or service people would pay for
3. Flexible childcare
I turned a previous career into a new one
Fortunately, with my husband’s job we didn’t need two full-time incomes to pay the bills. I could work part-time and still live comfortably.
But I still needed to find a way to make money!
Quite a few years ago I took a career break and trained as a professional photographer. Luckily, I still had my photography equipment several years later!
A fellow photographer friend, Richard Seymour suggested that I take professional photos of children and families since I was surrounded by so many of them.
So I photographed my NCT group to build my portfolio and then worked on creating a stable client base. I used social media and networked with local mums and groups. I started when my daughter was about 9 months old and it took me about a year working part time to warrant not returning to my old job.
Advice for mums starting out on this journey
Here are my top 3 bits of advice for any mother thinking about starting a self-employed business and not returning to work after their maternity leave:
1. Figure out what you love doing.
Then figure out if you can realistically make money from it.
Do as much research online as you can. Also consider going freelance with your current job.
2. Have a business plan.
It doesn’t need to be detailed but you should have one in place to give
you guidance and focus.
3. Get professional help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Outsource technical things like
creating a website and branding your business will save you a lot of headache. Be picky with who you choose.
Why I like Mumming Co-working Sessions
I work when my daughter is at school. When I’m not on a photo shoot, I work at home. Once a week I like to work outside of home, so I’ve been going to Mumming co-working sessions which means that I don’t feel lonely during the day. It really helps me to connect with other work-at-home mums since it makes me feel less isolated. It’s also a wonderful way to network.
About the author
Andisheh Thomson is a family and corporate photographer based in Twickenham, South West London. Her work has been published in major newspapers. She says working with families with young children is the best part of her job. You can see her work on her website.
You can also watch a video summary of the lovely Andisheh herself: