How my Kayaking Business prepared me for Motherhood
I have clear memories of my mother working from home and taking us to work, often doing more than one job at a time, as I was growing up. She was a hard worker and wanted to provide for her young family. I believe, if I have anyone to thank for my drive and determination in growing my business, its definitely my mum.
From a young age, I wanted to run my own business, but like most people going through school, I had no idea what it was that I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was 24 years old and working in a corporate office in Sydney, that I realised I had gone down the wrong path after leaving my studies. I was chasing money and enjoying a few too many wines on the weekend. This was not my happy place.
When I started my business, I had no idea how hard or life changing it would be. A bit like having a baby. There are many similarities to starting a business and having a baby, and in the long run, I think growing my kayaking business definitely helped prepare me for motherhood. Here are just a few similarities:
Getting up at crazy times in the night
Lets start with the obvious. My business is running Sunrise Kayak and Coffee tours on Sydney Harbour. I have to get up at crazy early times, like 4.15am, so I can get to Lavender Bay boat ramp, unload my kayak van and run my kayak tours. Do you know who else wakes up at 4.15am? My son.. and 2am and 6am.. and you get the picture. I managed the early mornings before bub, during pregnancy and now, so I do feel fully prepared for the early mornings.
Incredible amounts of daily washing
People said to me during pregnancy “you’ll be washing clothes EVERY DAY when the baby arrives!” They clearly don’t run a kayaking business. I change my outfit at least three times a day (this was before having a baby). This is mainly because I often run three kayak tours in a day, or I’m running around the park in 30+ degrees doing Personal Training. I also have a stack of kayaking towels and Kayak Netball bibs that seem to multiply in the laundry basket. Really, a few baby clothes get lost in my kayaking washing.
Being out in public with white marks on your clothes
This brings me to my next point of going out in public, only to find you’ve been a victim of silent baby vomit. Yes, this has happened to me a few times, but hey, I’m a kayaking mum. I turned up to my wedding venue viewing after a kayak tour and had salty water marks all down one arm from carrying the kayaks on my shoulder. The salt water had run down into my armpit, and I was wearing a black rashie. No baby puke has ever been more noticeable than my salty kayak water marks. Ever! (..and I’m pretty sure he’s tried!)
Bath and bedtime routine
Both my kayaks and my baby have a bath and bedtime routine, and nobody knows the routines better than mum. After every tour, I have a rigorous and exact routine on how I like to wash, dry and load my kayaks. Everything from making sure the foot pedals get an extra rinse and all sand is out of the kayaks, to how the kayaks are placed on the back step of the kayak van for optimal draining and drying. I really love it when people offer to help me as it does cut down my pack-up time, significantly. I do hear myself being quite pedantic about how it is done, though. Same goes for putting my son to bed. Everything from bath time, story time and lights, music and love. You can write it down and show someone else the ropes, but in both cases, it’ll never be the same as mum doing it. I’ve come to learn that that’s OK. As long as both babies are looked after with optimal love and care, in my rare absence, that’s all I can ask for.
Only wanting the best for your baby
Every single day that you run your own business, you become more and more invested in it. Not a single day goes by that you’re not thinking about how to improve it, how to maintain your 5 star reviews, how to keep your customers coffees hot, your seats dry and your paddlers happy. I dream about my work (and have nightmares about getting bad reviews). I eat, sleep and breath my kayaking business. It is and always will be my first baby. Like most younger brothers, our little Levi (our actual baby) loves to come down to the harbour to watch mummy and daddy on the water, waiting for the day he’s big enough and comfortable enough to join his big brother for a paddle.
Taking sick days or time off
When you run your own business, like having a baby, you can’t just take a sick day. People think you can because its your business, but really, its much harder than just calling your boss and saying “I’m sick, I’m not coming in”. I have to contact all of my clients individually and rebook them for another day or offer refunds and credits, which can create a lot of admin. I also have to try and stay on top of emails and correspondence. Being sick when you run your own business is hard. Just this week, I discovered that being sick and having a baby is equally as challenging, unfortunately. He still needs feeding, cuddling and playing with. I still have to be patient and present, responding to his needs, even though I just want to curl up on the couch with a bowl of chocolate ice-cream and Netflix. No sick days for mums, and no sick days for those of us growing a business.
Getting invites to nights out with friends
During my second year of business, it was evident to my friends that I was more often than not, in bed by 9pm. This was waaaay before having a baby. Getting up at 4.15am to be responsible for people on Sydney Harbour is a huge deal and requires me to be well rested and not hung over. The nature of my business means I work when everyone else doesn’t. Early mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays. Since having a baby, I think I have received even less social invites than before. I think people just assume I no longer have a life and will simply say no to everything. Luckily for me, I have an amazing husband, who can both kayak and feed our son, using a bottle. If I really wanted to socialise, I could. It doesn’t hurt to ask, people 😉 Hey, I might even sneak in a glass of wine!
Unconditional love and sheer pride
I am so proud of both of my babies. I look at what I have done and what I have created over the years. The long nights of brainstorming, breastfeeding, worrying about the weather, planning and executing different ideas (some that worked and some that didn’t), the various kayaks, vans, websites and booking systems I have had to You Tube in order to stay in the game. I’m now You Tubing “how to make baby food” and “how to get my baby to sleep through the night”
I have so much love and pride for my business (my husband) and my baby. I love them all so much! When I’m having a tough day in my business or a rough night with my son, I just think of the joy they all bring me and it melts my heart. Growing my business from scratch taught me a lot about commitment and determination. Couple that with everything my mother taught me, and the support I have from my husband, and I feel confident I’m on the road to happiness. I’m no longer chasing money and spending too much on wine. My life is filled with kayaking, adventure, love and gorgeous baby smiles. The stuff dreams are made of!
To all the mums and business owners out there, who are putting in the hard yards, you are amazing! Keep doing what you are doing because you are creating something truly incredible for yourself and your family.
Yours in health,
One very busy, yet content, new kayaking mum x x