After spending the better part of a decade as a freelance and remote worker in Australia, Ireland, and England, I returned to Canada with a newfound motivation to address the isolation I sometimes faced as a working expat and new parent.
Determined to maintain a sense of self while looking after my first son (2016) and preparing to give birth to my second son (2018), I often sought out networking and professional development opportunities but was surprised by a lack of inclusive spaces with baby change facilities and parent-friendly event times.
Some of the things I have brought my sons to, which are usually seen as traditionally adult-only events include:
💸 Pitching to investors, accelerator programs, advisors and potential business partners for feedback (while wearing a baby in a carrier/ breastfeeding/rocking them in my arms or feeding my toddler snacks/giving them toys to play with and using my diaper bag as a laptop bag to share my pitch deck in between diaper changes).
📈 Presenting to workshop participants, special guests and complete strangers (while doing all of the above with a newborn baby and/or toddler).
💼 Interviewing for a corporate mat leave contract alongside my at the time, 15-month-old son (which I’m proud to say I was offered, happily accepted and recently completed, while growing my second baby).
📅 Business workshops about cash flow, income tax, business models and legal structures (where I alternated wheeling my kiddos into the venue in a stroller, carried in a car seat or wore them in a baby carrier and proceeded to feed them breakfast, breastfeed and keep them occupied with toys during early morning sessions starting between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.).
🎨 Creative Mornings Ottawa events (again, baby carrier, stroller and all of the above to listen and be inspired) and the list goes on.
I was one of 35 founders (who also happen to be parents) who participated in a Google for Startups program in London, England after my first son was born in 2016.
When we started this 10-week program, my son was seven weeks old and over the course of the next few months, we got to meet other parents and their children who were also pursuing business ideas, networking and professional development alongside parenthood.
Before my son’s first birthday in 2017, we relocated to Ottawa and I participated in an online Parentpreneur Startup Accelerator program, where I set out to make more space for local primary caregivers who also wanted to invest in themselves alongside their children.
Babies, Business + Breakfast™ is the result, a pilot program for parent-friendly professional development, aiming to improve parental mental health and accessibility of professional spaces across the city.
Since mid-2018, I’ve been working on a pilot program to help other Ottawa-area parents invest in themselves alongside their children, because I believe everyone deserves to design and create a life that works for them and their family.
After starting a newsletter, participating in Ottawa’s Impact Academy, undertaking a bit of ‘parentpreneur’ activism and hosting a focus group in 2018, I am continuing to work toward a future in which parenthood and professional development don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
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