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“People always say having kids is going to slow your career down, but I found the opposite.”

I loved the job I was in before I had my first child. I was deputy editor at a magazine. I had a great boss, I got to interview really interesting people, and there was a lot of cake in the office. I was planning to take maybe six months’ maternity leave, then put my baby into childcare and pick up right where I left off.

Only it didn’t quite happen that way. I had the kind of baby who wanted to be held all the time, and who would breastfeed for hours every day. When she was six months old, she didn’t seem ready for childcare. To be honest, I wasn’t ready for childcare either. So I quit my job.

But I had no plans to give up working. I knew what part of my job I loved the most – writing – and I decided to go freelance.

"I decided to go freelance." Image via iStock.

Freelancing can be stressful. There are times that you worry that you’ll never get enough work, and times you worry you’ve taken on too much. But it was the best choice for me, because I could write from home and fit it in around my baby.

I can see why a lot of women become self-employed once they have kids. Even though there can be a lot of work involved, you’re in control of your hours and can be with your kids when you need to be.

I learnt to use my time well. When my little girl was asleep or breastfeeding, I would focus totally on my writing. When I was bogged down in all the boring bits of parenthood – cleaning up endless amounts of poo and vomit – my mind would drift to whatever articles I was working on, thinking up angles and headlines.

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Not having a regular job was good for my career, in some ways. I had to do more than turn up for work each day. I had to make new contacts and pitch ideas. Every time I got an article published somewhere different, it improved my future work options.

But the main way that motherhood boosted my career was giving me something different to write about. Suddenly, I was full of ideas for stories about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and more.

"Suddenly, I was full of ideas for stories." Image via iStock.

A whole new area of writing opened up to me. I started a blog and all my thoughts began pouring out. I found it so easy to write about parenting, because it was all there in my head. I wanted to share what it was like to be vomited on and how much I loved having my kids snuggle in bed with me and why I hated Dora the Explorer.

Before long, my blog led to regular work writing for a parenting website where I had to do more than just writing. I had to up skill and learn new digital systems and processes, like Search Engine Optimisation (if you don’t know what that means don’t worry, I knew nothing about it beforehand either). But that was great, because it helped my change in career path and ultimately made me more employable.

Having a baby doesn’t have to slow your career down. It can open up new opportunities, if you’re open to them. You can still go places in your career. You might just end up taking a different route.

How did your career change after having a baby?

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