CONTRIBUTOR, JESS THOMAS: A Melbourne-based self-confessed 'non-conventional' thinker on all things life related, she is the brains behind Health Lab, and #BabesWithBalls. Welcoming a beautiful baby daughter into the world a few months ago has seen her juggling the responsibilities of both roles, and we caught up with Jess to pick her brain on business, babies, and that little thing called 'balance'.
I would by lying if I said that having a 7 month old and running a business was a breeze. The thing business and babies have in common, is that no one can quite prepare you for the incredible and challenging journey that lies ahead.
Before having beautiful Gigi, life was already pretty jam-packed. I had started my own health business Health Lab and it wasn’t even 2 yet. So we were really in the midst of a rapid growth phase in every aspect of the business. Health Lab had really started to take off and it was an exciting, yet demanding time, so when I fell pregnant I knew I wasn’t ready to take a back seat. Plus there is also the reality of having your own business, and for me, there was no such thing as maternity leave. And whilst this would seem one of the most important times to practice self-care, it also turned out to be one of the hardest.
Fast forward several months and I was blessed to welcome a beautiful little girl into the world. But as challenging as running and growing a business had been, I was totally unprepared for just how challenging motherhood could be. It was a lot of highs and lows; throw in emotions (hello hormones!), sleep deprivation (hello caffeine!) and the speed humps of a start-up business, and you have yourself the makings of a perfect storm!
Gigi was not a sleeper, at all. After 5 exhausting and long months, we landed ourselves in Masada sleep school. Absolutely heaven and the best thing I’ve ever done. I think as new Mums we underestimate the gross impact of sleep deprivation. And although I was functioning, it was a dangerous combo when it came to the business and decision-making.
Motherhood has forced me to embrace the ‘oxygen mask’ analogy - you need to adjust your own oxygen mask before you can assist others! If mum or the leader of a business is thriving, she can better support everyone else around her. You need to be the best version of yourself because it means you are a better mother, business owner, friend and partner.
One thing that had definitely gone by the wayside for me was exercise. I literally only have twenty minutes each morning to work out, so I make sure my session counts. Exercise is the best pick-me-up and productivity driver. When I’m feeling flat and there’s a voice in the back of my head telling me to skip it, I remind myself that these are the days I need it most. For me right now, the most important element of self-kindness is managing my internal dialogue and mindset. So whenever mother-guilt, self-doubt or business challenges arise, I work hard to keep my thoughts positive and kind.
When it comes to deciding when to return to work after having a child it’s all about personal preference and your unique circumstance. I don’t think women (and especially mums) should feel afraid or guilty to ask for help. As a first time mum you’re in a vulnerable position, and asking for help can be quite empowering. I’m so thankful for my support network. I’m very close with my Mum, and I have a great husband who is extremely active with Gigi. We’ve also employed a nanny, which is a solution that works really well in our household and means that both my husband and I are getting what we need in terms of career achievement, rather than one parent missing out. But again, every family is unique so it’s important to find what works best for you.
I love running a business and for me the saying is so true; if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m lucky enough that the product and brand I’ve created is something that helps other women keep happy and healthy, which motivates me to head back into the office day after day. I’m also really passionate about being a positive role model for my daughter, Gigi. Hopefully, she will grow up with big dreams and the confidence that anything is possible!