When I packed up my desk to take maternity leave from my well-paid government job I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would swap my suits for overalls and comfy shoes.
I loved my team, enjoyed my work and appreciated my generous leave entitlements (who doesn’t love a monthly day off?!).
Like most people, I thought I would probably spend a year at home covered in baby puke, then pick myself up and return to my desk, complete with hot coffee and ironed stain-free clothes.
How wrong I was.
When our son was born the idea of leaving him to return to mid-morning meetings and uninterrupted lunch breaks felt completely unappealing.
Initially, I thought this feeling would pass, putting it down to hormones and that warm, fuzzy new-love feeling.
But it didn’t pass. And when my mother’s group friends started to return to work the idea of heading back to the office got even more overwhelming.
Out of the blue, an old boss reached out to me to see if I could assist her on a project. I could work from home and simply charge her for my hours.
At first, I questioned my abilities and asked if I could instead help with some simple admin. Luckily, she believed in me and insisted that I utilise my skills.
I worked on the project during nap times and was happy to think beyond the feed, play, sleep routines.
I started working with other clients, helping them to develop and refine their business communications. Blessed with a baby who loved sleep, I soon realised I could replace my daily income in bub’s nap times.
I knew that if I could keep my income sustainable, I could build my business and eventually quit my job. If it didn’t work, I could always go back to work.
It was the perfect opportunity to try something new without risking anything. How often are you handed a year (or more) to try something new with the safety net of going back to your old job?
When my son was eight months old I was pregnant again and extended my maternity leave for another year.
I worked throughout my pregnancy and when baby number two was born I took another two years off (yes, I had incredible leave entitlements).
I actually had to return to work for a day to qualify for the second maternity leave period, but it just so happened that my day to return to work also happened to be the day of the office Christmas party. After a couple of lemonades, I was thankful to return to the sanctuary of home.
When my second son was born I took some time off then slowly returned to my client work.
By the end of my second maternity leave period, I was able to confidently quit my job, knowing I had established and sustained a profitable business.
My husband and I now work for ourselves from home with our two-year-old and three-year-old sons with us full time. We work together to carve out time to work and time to dedicate to our sons.
We truly share the responsibilities of raising our kids and we hope this sets a new ‘norm’ for our boys and future generations of our family.
While working for ourselves does present its challenges, nothing can beat the four of us sitting together to share meals three times a day and the amazing bond that we share.
Great money can’t buy that.
Karly Hocking is a content creator working from Bayside Melbourne. She is passionate about helping organisations and entrepreneurs create simple, effective content. Karly describes herself as a ‘corporate drop-out’, quitting her government job in favour of working flexible hours on projects that make a real difference within communities.