Melody Meiners was loving her job writing blog posts and creating videos for the local website toastedrav.com when the site shut down last spring and laid off all the writers. Rather than trying to find another job, she decided she wanted to work for herself. She decided to begin freelancing full time, and four months into launching her new business, she was pregnant with her daughter.
What was your reaction to getting pregnant so soon after branching out on your own?
It was the perfect time. My husband and I had talked about having kids. I work with a lot of small businesses, and I do marketing for them. I really have control over what my hours are like. I have a lot more freedom, which equals more creativity for me.
It gave me the opportunity to have a baby and stay at home with her.
How long did you take off after Grace was born?
I only took two months off after she was born. I worked up until a week before I gave birth. Since I was working from home, I was really able to take care of myself, like going to the gym four days a week, taking naps when I was tired and eating healthy. I was working up to 45 hours a week before I had her.
What was it like getting back into the work routine after your maternity leave?
I ended up losing a client, and someone had warned me this would happen. One of the shops I worked with ended up going with a larger company because I had to take maternity leave. I e-mailed my other major client and said I was ready to get back in the game. We had a meeting, and he ended up giving me more work. It kind of worked out for the best.
How difficult was it to work while taking care of a newborn?
There's no such things as an agenda anymore. I can't get anything done during the day. I have to do all my work after she goes to bed. And, when she wasn't sleeping at night, I felt like I was sleepwalking through those days. Some people don't understand the whole moms working from home thing. I'm a work-from-home mom. You don't get quite as much support from people from traditional backgrounds. They think you should be able to cook, clean and care for your baby because you're working from home. It was so difficult trying to balance work and the baby. In the beginning, I thought about going to work for someone else. My husband really encouraged me to try to make it work at home.
Do you get a break from doing double duty during the week?
That's how we came up with "Daderday." My husband is very supportive of what I do, and he completely understands. He realized that although he's going to work during the day, he gets a break from parenting. He doesn't hear the baby crying all the time.
He offered to take over the baby reins on Saturdays. Those days he definitely gets a taste of what I go through. We just bought our first home, he's trying to do projects while taking care of the baby, and I get to say, "Nope, it's Daderday."
What do you do on Saturdays?
Sometimes I get to go out with my friends. But honestly, I catch up on work I didn't get to during the week. Or I'll surf on the Internet. I can read. He'll run out before the baby wakes up and get me breakfast. It's my day to stay in bed until 11 a.m., if I want to. I can do that because I never get to. And I get to blow dry my hair because that doesn't happen during the week either.
And how are Daderdays working out for him?
He'll get her when she gets up, usually around 7:30 or 8 a.m. Sometimes, around 3 p.m, he'll get flustered and say, 'I'm usually at home by now to help out,' and I'll say, 'No you're not ... I'll jump in at 5 p.m.'
He's still involved during the week, too. She's only up for a couple of hours after he gets home from work, so he wants to spend time with her. He gives her a bath and gives her that last bottle and puts her down. We take turns every other night with baths.
Do you have a nanny or any other help?
I had a nanny who came once a week for four hours a day. I needed that four-hour block of time to take client meetings or work on site. I had four hours a week I could count on. But, she moved on and got another job, so we're in the process of searching for another one. It's a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. My mother-in-law will come over and help out.
How has the search for help been harder than you expected?
I don't just want to go online and find someone. The last nanny came through a referral from a friend. I want someone who will come to my home. Those mama bear instincts are getting stronger, so it's getting harder to find someone I can trust with her.
It's about finding the right person.
And a lot of day cares don't offer care for just a few hours a week. The way child care is structured, it's really for moms who work outside the home.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Netflix and my DVR. As soon as Grace goes to bed, I can watch all the true crime shows and History Channel I want.