Treating Maternity Leave as a Sabbatical by Erica Douglas

Last year I was invited on BBC Radio Scotland to talk about maternity leave.  I was the one who’d taken extended leave (almost five years in total!), a decision I don’t regret at all.

The discussion began relatively balanced before becoming more pro work at the end.  Callers were predominantly promoting a quick return to work, citing the usual reasons from financial need to social reasons.

On reflection of the debate I began to think that the benefits of taking a period out from work weren’t promoted enough.  We seem to have the same debate over and over again about whether it’s right to return to work as soon as possible or become a stay at home mum.  One aspect that is overlooked is that maternity leave can be an opportunity to take stock, reassess your life and take it in a different direction.  Maternity leave brings a chance to study, retrain and even start your own business, mums who do this have become known as ‘mumpreneurs’.

It’s all to easy for us as women and mothers to complain about glass ceilings and inequality in the workplace.  I’m not for a second saying that these don’t exist (it’s clear they do) or indeed that it’s right (it’s not) but I don’t see why we don’t focus more on what we are given – a decent period of time out where we can change our paths and opt out of the unfairness and inequality.

Most mums take at least six months out these days and although that period can be physically and emotionally tiresome I personally still felt that mentally I had space for other things – so much so I ended up starting my blog and doing some part time study.  As my daughter has grown up I’ve managed to gain an HNC (now working towards a degree) and even start, fail and succeed in business.

It’s been a long and often disappointing and exasperating road but a lot more fulfilling than some of the alternatives.  I’d encourage more women to embrace maternity leave and use it to their advantage.  We don’t have to settle for the low-paid, part-time, temporary and often dull work that society offers us.  If you count up how much you’d earn from a job like that and take off your expenses you may find that starting even the smallest venture could be more lucrative and a hundred times more fulfilling.

Over the five years I’ve been a stay at home mum (albeit with a few part-time jobs) I’ve learned that if you really want to make it happen and you’re willing to sacrifice and put the hard work in that anything is possible and the pay off at the end is huge!

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Erica Douglas is mum to Erin, 5, and lives outside Edinburgh. She runs the blog and is the author of The Complete Mum Blogger eBook and the Mum Blogger e-Course. Erica won the 2010 ‘Best Start Up’ award at the Business Mums Awards. She is someone I follow closely as 1) she makes a lot of sense, knows what she’s talking about and gives great business advice, and 2) because she has a wicked sense of humour! Not one to miss, so read on and don’t forget that you can also find Erica on Twitter.

Nicki x

Make money from your hobbies: 5 tips to get you started!

Today’s fantastic guest-post is from Helen Lindop who blogs at BusinessPlusBaby and is the writer of the Earn What You Deserve as Mumpreneur e-course*. Her Facebook page is here and do look her up on Twitter. The formal bit aside, Helen has been a fantastic support and great listener whilst I have been rehashing and writing my plan for world domination so I can recommend her a sound person to follow! Right, less of the slushy stuff and onto a great post!

Nicki x


Make money from your hobbies: five tips to get you started

Many mums are looking for ways to earn a flexible income around their families. Some just want a bit of extra cash every month and others are working on building a full-on business.  So if you fancy earning an income from your hobby, here are five top tips to get you started.

  1. Will your hobby still be fun if you’re doing it as a job?

It sounds great to get paid for doing something you enjoy doing. But if you turned your hobby into a job, would it still be fun? And would you end up losing your hobby?

Let’s say you enjoy making jewellery. If you do it as a hobby, you can take as long as you like experimenting with different materials and designs. Once it becomes a business, you’ll have to be much more disciplined about getting items made in a certain time. Would that turn a fun activity into a chore?

  1. Check you can actually make money from your hobby

To give you a really rough, back-of-an-envelope idea of whether it’s worth turning your hobby into a business, try this. Add up the cost of your raw materials and your time (if you’re stuck for an hourly rate, the national minimum wage is £5.93 so you probably don’t want to go below this) and then double it to account for your admin and marketing time and any other costs you might have forgotten about (tax, national insurance, flyers, business cards…) Then divide that by the number of items you can make in that time.

That should give you an idea of whether you can sell what you’ve made at a price people are prepared to pay and still make some money from it.

  1. Check out your competition

If you enjoy your hobby, the chances are that lots of other people will do too. So there could be plenty of competition plus people doing it for fun may be selling their stuff at a much lower price than you.

Don’t despair, though. You could tweak your hobby so instead of (say) selling jewellery, you teach people to make it.Or set up a website selling jewellery made by other mums. Getting creative about how you make a profit from your hobby could really pay off.

  1. Think about how you’re going to sell

Making your products is only one part of making money. You also need to think about how you’re going to reach your customers. The good news is there are lots of low-cost options from craft fairs to setting up your own website and even hosting parties.

  1. Don’t forget to register as self-employed

If you’re earning an income or planning to, you need to register as self-employed or you could risk a fine. It’s quick and easy to do it online here

*Please note that I am an affiliate for the EWYD e-course and the link above is my affiliate link. See my disclosure page for more details.