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Firstly, congratulations are in order! If it’s your first child you’ll know doubt have a mix of excitement and a ting of nervousness every so often – life is about to change, for the better! If this is not your first child, you know what to expect during the pregnancy and the mix with work, but you’ll no doubt be wondering how to make the room in your life (and purse!) for the addition to the family.

For many expectant mums, this is the time when thoughts and plans are laid for what happens when the baby arrives. How long will your maternity leave be? Will you go back to work full time, part time or not at all? Who will look after your baby once you go back to work etc. The list goes on.

One of the things of major concern is money. Maternity pay isn’t the greatest – even if your employer chooses to add on a few extra months of full or half pay, you will have to adjust to having an extra mouth to feed – whether you choose to breastfeed or not!
Whatever your option, there will still be bills to pay and a family to feed, so you will still need to earn money. So what are the options?

Option 1: No change to your working hours
For some mothers, working full-time or reducing hours at work is the only option they want to consider. It’s little wonder with the cost of living going up all the time. You may need to have that steady income hitting that bank account (although no job is for life these days!). If this is your plan, you’ll only need to make a few adjustments here and there to cover the costs of good childcare.

Option 2: Go freelance
If you want the freedom to take a day or week or months off at a time without being constrained to a permanent job, going freelance is worth considering. If you’ve built enough contacts in your industry to get you started, this is a fantastic way to break free from the chains of an inflexible employer, and the daily grind of juggling work and childcare.

In the months leading up to your maternity leave, get in touch with some recruitment agencies and find out what other organisations in your sector are likely to have available, the busiest times for recruitment and what rates you can expect to be paid. This will help you plan accordingly.

During your pregnancy, it’s good idea to start making contacts on websites like LinkedIn, so that by the time you’re ready to start working again after your baby’s been born, you don’t have to be under pressure to both make contacts and earn money – you’ll have a a good base to start from.

Good websites for creatives and other professionals to sell their services are Peopleperhour.com, Fiverr.com as starter. It’s a good idea to test them out and get established on them while you don’t have the financial pressure to make money, so that once you’re ready to work solidly, you’ll have a few reviews, so that you can start charging a bit more for your services.

Option 3: Start a business
I’ve lost count of the number of mums who start penning their business plans either during pregnancy or while on maternity leave. I was one of them. As soon as I found out that my second child was on the way, I started looking at businesses I could run from home that were child friendly. At the time, Motherswhowork.co.uk was in its third year and was making a steady income stream, but I wanted a traditional business to go alongside it. I started a nanny agency, which I ran starting about a month after my daughter was born, until I later sold it two years later.

If you like the sound of running a business but feel daunted by the prospect, read the inspirational stories from our Real Mums and you will see that lack of products and services can spawn some of the best and most lucrative business ideas.

Option 4: Join a business opportunity that you can run as your own
We all know an Avon lady, or someone selling some type of products for an established brand – also known as network marketing. But did you know that network marketing (or multi-level marketing, as it’s also known) is not actually about sales?

There is a recruitment side to it, too, and if you have a friends and family who are also looking for a way to earn an extra income, then you really should consider a network marketing business because it is one of the most flexible ways of working available. If you know you’re the sociable type who will frequent the other and baby groups, think about products that your social circle will need so that you can sell to them.

Working in network marketing is a great way to gain the skills and experience you may never gain in employment until you are at senior level. So, if you do not recruit people currently, you will get to do this. If you do not manage any financial responsibility, you will get to do this.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but you get the gist when it comes to the benefits of joining something like this. If you choose to apply for a more senior job further down the line, you’ll also have acquired some skills you can shout about on your CV.

The added benefit to this is the confidence boost. It’s not unknown that many mums lose a lot of confidence when they’ve spent a long time out of the workforce. In a few months, it can feel like the world of work has changed so much by the time you return. But, if you have something to put some energy into that doesn’t revolve around nappies and breastfeeding, you’ll have an easier time settling back in to work.

Option 5: Buy a franchise
If you like the idea of running your own business but don’t have a business idea of your own, you could consider buying a franchise. This is an established business which you just open in an agreed location. A good franchise will give you thorough training as well as marketing support of some kind. Visit Franchise Direct or Franchise UK to get an idea of what’s out there.

Franchises cover just about every sector available – from childcare to IT, so the options are many. Prices do very with the more established and well-known brands costing more than others. Just make sure you do your research into the business you are buying into and ensure that there is a good training and support package available for when you need it. Thanks to the internet, there will be reviews from other franchisees you can read to find out about other people’s experiences, which is always worth while.

Option 6: Be a full-time mum
Last, but not least, there is an option to be a stay-at-home mum who doesn’t work. If you can afford to do that, and want to embrace motherhood without the juggling of anything else then go for it!

That said, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Long gone are the days when just one income was enough – the economy is no longer what it used to be, and putting all your eggs in one basket (your douse or partner’s) is too risky. So, at the very least, it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground and your nose in a news article or two a week to stay abreast with what’s going on in your sector, so that if you need to go back to work you won’t be completely out of the loop.

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Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.