Thank you to Jo at My Organized Chaos for sharing her experience as a working momma!
First, tell me about your family and why you started to blog (if you’re a blogger)?
I started blogging when my son was 16mths old (2007) as a way to keep in touch with friends and family back home, Facebook didn’t exist as we know it now so blogging was a good way to keep a record of what we were up to and have my family being able to see what we were doing. I live in Japan but most of my family are back in the UK.
If you can discuss your job, what do you do and what was your career path that led to your job?
My job as it is now all stemmed from the blog. I discovered Montessori when my son was born, did some training and then shared what we were doing on the blog. There were very few Montessori homeschool bloggers back then so I got quite big following, totally organic and had many questions from readers. I was also designing and making things to sell on Etsy mainly as a hobby because I love creating things.
After the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami disaster, my sales on Etsy stopped, literally overnight so I had to re-think how I was making money. I turned all my patterns into digital ones and then set up an online course to help mamas who were struggling to do fun activities with their kids. After speaking to many moms I realized that disorganization was a big issue and so My Organized Chaos was born. An online program to help busy mamas organize their kids, their home and themselves so they have time to do the fun stuff. Over time this has evolved into The Inspired Mama Revolution because I love helping mamas find themselves again, fall back in love with learning and creativity.
I also partnered up with Deb Chitwood recently and we put together the Montessori Crash Course for those new to Montessori and wanting to get started but feeling overwhelmed. Before my son was born I was teaching ESL but didn’t want to go back to that, running online courses means I still get to teach but I’m doing it on my terms. As much as I love teaching I don’t love being told what to do, so working for a company really isn’t a good fit for me.
How old was your baby when you returned to work?
I have always worked from home since I had him. Childcare it notoriously difficult in Japan and not flexible at all. We don’t have family nearby and babysitting just isn’t in the culture so it was a matter of working around the baby! When he was little I would teach private lessons, sew items and sell on Etsy and design sewing patterns but it was always with him around.
This meant working when he napped or after he had gone to bed at night. My husband often gets back very later so those few hours between baby going to sleep and husband getting home would be my “power hours”. I’d make a list of what needed doing and just plough through. It wasn’t ideal because I’m very much a morning person and my brain doesn’t work so well at night but I knew it was for the short-term, so it was bearable.
Who looks after your baby while you are at work?
Me! until he went to kindergarten at 4 years old he was with me 24/7. Which was hard at times, sometimes you just need a break from each other but I’m glad I did it that way.
What did you hate about returning to work?
I think the hardest is not having adult conversation. I work from home so it can be very isolating but because I’m the boss I can take time off when I like and take myself out to lunch if I feel like it. Also being a one-woman enterprise, if I get sick or my boy does or something happens, I need to be sure that there are systems in place so the business will keep ticking over without me.
And what benefits have you seen as a result of returning to work?
I joined Marie Forleo’s B-school in 2012 and that has made a huge difference for me. I have found “my” people, other people who work in the same way, have the same passions and they are all over the world. So although I am often physically on my own at home, I know I can hop online and chat to someone easily.
I think it’s great that my son sees me working too and that not everyone has to go to an office and work, that there are different jobs out there and you can make money doing the things you love. For me this is really important, being in Japan and everyone being expected to conform to the “norm” I want my child to know that there are other options out there.
Using my brain, always learning something new and pushing myself each day, things that wouldn’t happen so much if I wasn’t working.
What would you say to new moms who are feeling guilty about returning to work?
The way society is these days, someone, somewhere is going to try and make you feel guilty for whatever you do. Whether it’s returning to the workforce, breastfeeding or not, letting them watch TV…
Don’t let them get to you. Some people are cut out to stay at home, some people need to work, it’s nobody’s business but your own. If your child sees that you are a happy and fulfilled mama then your child is getting the best role model ever and whatever other people think, doesn’t matter.
Finally, what do you think about my (controversial) idea… Maternity pay reflecting your working wage. So we scrap the standard £539 per month and you get paid your working wage for a year. It could be £200 it could be £1200, but it would encourage people to be secure before having children and would stop people getting paid in benefits to have children! It’s a dream world idea but it makes sense to me!
I must admit, I don’t know a great deal about maternity pay, I didn’t renew my contract so I wasn’t entitled to it. It seems like a sensible idea, not sure how it would go down with companies who have to pay higher end salaries!
You can check out more from Jo by following her on these networks!