Since opening up on myInstagram (@truevibesunleashed) about taking my newborn to work with me, I have received an outpouring of love and support from the Groomer-Mom community! I usually post very cute pictures and videos of my son and I at the salon figuring out how to keep him happy, calm, sleep, and entertained while I finish pups for the day. Other mothers began in-boxing me saying I make it look fun and easy. The honest truth is: it's not easy at all!
I am a first-time mom and only child who did not grow up around babies or children much younger than me. I knew nothing about babies before Anansi was born. The moment he was born my life changed. I went from being a career-driven woman who only had to care for herself and her business to this little human's main source of survival and comfort alongside my partner, Craig.
I had a hard time adjusting to motherhood. I had opened my business when I was 3 months pregnant, and I worried myself almost every day of my maternity leave about how I was going to care for a newborn and a new business at the same time. It seemed like Anansi cried all the time and we couldn't figure out why, so I couldn't imagine I'd get any work done or continue all the projects I had put on hold. I had worked hard for 7 years to open my salon doors and I was determined to make it work. Unfortunately, this determination meant most of the time his cries were met with my frustration and worry about the future.
One day Craig sat with me and said he can tell I'm having a hard time adjusting. I was allowing my job to get in the way of just being Anansi's mom. He matter-of-factly pointed out that if anything happens that causes me to close my doors, I'm still going to be his mom. There's nothing that can take me away from being his mother.
That conversation changed my entire outlook. My business is something I want to share with Anansi - not overshadow him. I had no idea how taking him to work was going to go, but I promised myself I wouldn't worry about it for the rest of my maternity leave. Instead, I focused on learning about what makes him happy and comfortable because I wanted to take care of him regardless of where we are or what's going on. Just that shift in my intention made a world of difference and I began to develop my motherly instinct.
By the time we returned to work I knew what his different cries meant, his feeding schedule, and how to get him to go to sleep. I only took 2-3 dogs a day 3-4 days a week. This was easy to do because my business was still new with little advertisement. I didn't schedule more than 2 days in a row just in case they were hard days, and we needed a break. At the time, Craig worked from home and the nature of his job wouldn't allow him to care for Anansi during the day. My clients were extremely understanding and told me to take all the time I needed. To my surprise, most days were great. He would sleep most of the day, wake up to eat, burp, and go back to sleep all within 20 minutes. The vacuum and dryer noises in the salon lulled him to sleep.
Just when I became confident, we began having harder and harder days because he had trouble sleeping at work and home, which meant Craig and I weren't sleeping either. There was a day that it was taking over 6 hours to groom a family of three small dogs that would usually take me 3 hours. I was struggling mentally and battling anxiety because I hadn't slept in 3 days, and I couldn't soothe Anansi. Just then, my mother called, heard it all in my voice, and came to pick him up. It must have been her own mother's intuition. I broke down, wiped my tears, and finished my dogs. My mom encouraged me to take the time to sleep but I couldn't. I just wanted my baby.
Things began getting better the more I reached out for help and made adjustments around his care. Craig quit his soul-sucking job with my encouragement and went full-time with his videography business that he had been working on for over two years. That gave us great flexibility in Anansi's care. My mom took a better job close to where we work and live so she can help more. She hangs out with him all day on Saturdays.
The most helpful piece to the puzzle was hiring an assistant. It was something I had planned to do anyway, but it happened much sooner than I anticipated. I had worried during my maternity leave about how I was going to find help when our industry is struggling to find good bathers and groomers. Brittany seemed to just fall out of the sky. She messaged me while I was still out telling me that she had been following me for a while and wanted to know where she could learn to groom. I told her I'd be willing to teach her if she took a job as my assistant. We met each other and she was a perfect fit. She quit her job almost immediately to dive into the world of grooming by working with me and attending the same grooming school I did in 2013: Animal Behavior College. It's the best of both worlds - caring for Anansi forces me to use my voice to guide her actions, therefore she's getting lots of hands-on time and is learning fast. She takes initiative to care for him if needed.
Anansi is now five months old and is starting to move a lot more! I learned a lot of tips and tricks from the Facebook group Dog Grooming with Kids. The main tip groomer-moms shared was to keep rotating them between what they are sitting in and what they are doing. During the day, I rotate him between his carrier, car seat, stroller, and walker. I try to keep a toy or book near him that he can touch. He's in this stage where he wants me to hold him a lot, so the carrier is a lifesaver! He loves to be able to watch what I'm doing, and all the movement ends up rocking him to sleep. I always have his safety in mind when I'm choosing where to put him and when. Even though I have much more knowledge than I did in the beginning, he is still growing and changing every day, so I have to stay fluid.
We still have hard days and I'm very sure there are more to come. So why do I keep taking him to work?
Because I enjoy:
-Seeing his eyes following me and his lips parting in awe as he watches me open and close my shears.
-The way he leans in and smiles at clients who have supported and known me for years.
-Watching him learn how to move his little legs under the walker in my lobby.
-Listening to him babble as though he's telling me an epic story.
-Noticing that he's listening as I tell him all about the dog on my table.
-The five minutes I get to just breathe as I take him for a naptime stroll around the block or slowly winding around my lobby.
These little moments far outweigh any bad day we've had so far. There will come a day that he will go to daycare and play with friends, but for now I'm enjoying all the extra bonding time
Déja Pearson is a dog groomer, yoga teacher, and reiki practitioner. She owns True Vibes Unleashed, a holistic dog grooming salon that supports the emotional and mental well-being of dogs and their owners. Follow her on Instagram @TrueVibesUnleashed.
Check out Déja’s YouTube Video, “Are You A Dog Grooming Mom Too?” - This video tells the story of her first two months bringing my newborn to her grooming salon. She has learned that many groomer moms take their kids to work with them too! Can you relate to this video?