Q&A with Chic and Discreet, CEO and mother, Chaneen Saliee on topics: breastfeeding, motherhood and running to businesses.

I’m just pulled back the covers to my bed, propped on pillow on top of the other and snuggled in. It is 8:22am and it is raining outside.

I love the sound of rain.

Yes, I’ve just got into bed at 8:22am. I woke up at 3am and got to work on my laptop, clicking, swiping, squinting, clicking, clicking, double clicking, and sighing. This isn’t a common occurrence, I value my sleep way too much, but occasionally I get these sudden floods of energy and I can just keep going for days. Keep going? Actually I can’t stop. I want to get so much done, and there’s so little time.

I thought I had little time before, but now that I have two children, who I am very passionate about connecting with and raising well, I have even less time. I try to keep all of my work out of their faces. Or at least I did, until this summer. And now it feels like I’ve been working non stop and telling them to, ‘hold on,’ because “I’ll be there in a sec,” as “I’m just finishing this up.”

It is either that or the server crash that has left my online store blank and basically void goes unchecked and I miss out on valuable opportunities to connect with my customers, who also mean the work to me.

I tell you all of this because, it isn’t an easy journey. But it is an inspiring one. It is a journey full of love, passion and compassion. I’ve been touched out, and I didn’t even know it, but not it’s time to touch back in!

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Are you ready?

What’s is it like being a CEO and a mother?

It feels like I’ve given birth twice in this 3D, physical world, but four times in other ways. Becoming a mother felt much more natural to me than starting a business. It is true what they say, having a business is like having children. All four of mine were unexpected and I think there is a part of me that is still processing just how much these four (my two daughter and my two businesses) have impacted my life.

How do you balance being a mother and CEO?

I have this unspoken rule that, ‘when it really matters’ my children always come first. I can always rebuild and restructure my business but they are who they are and I want to explore that with them and see what happens. It’s so juicy have front row seats to witness and support another person’s life.

So there’s that. The next step is deciding on what really matters. That’s the challenging part.

Before all of this though, I have to prioritise myself, my peace and my self-care. because it is the ONLY way to navigate through this effectively.

I love that your foundation is self-care? Why is it so important for mums to practice self-care?

Self-care is so important as the foundation of your life. Self-care is the being aware of all of your needs, your actual needs! The things that you need to eat in order to feel energised, the time you need to take away for yourself in order to feel refreshed, the things that you need to do in order to maintain organisation and structure. Because you know so if you do these things you feel well. And so you continue to do them because if you feel well, then you can perform well in every other area of your life.

However if you let them slip, and you don’t feel well as a result of not taking care of yourself. There’s no one to blame AND there’s not going to be enough energy in your ‘cup’ to do anything else. That’s a scary place to me – so I much rather do the work to look after myself.

I’d say it’s working out pretty well.

What advice would you give to breastfeeding mothers who are working or considering going back to work?

I would say do it! If that’s what you want to do then go ahead and do it. If however like me in the very early days you feel pressured to go back to work then perhaps like me you might want to take some time to work out your options and maybe even build something or your very own.

When you do so it my tips for breastfeeding are:

1. Prepare. Begin to pump you breastmilk as soon as you know you’ll be going to to work. This will build your stash and milk supply.

2. Practice. Practice using a bottle with your baby. It can take some babies a while to take to a bottle, and you definitely don’t want to be on your first day at work with your baby not feeding back at home. So practice practice practice.

3. Mum guilt is a real thing. It really sucks and hurts your heart and head. But it’s just your brains way of getting used to your new normal. Let the waves come and go and know that you and your little one will be okay.

You can check out Chaneen Saliee’s Book, Solidarity: poetry and prose for a much deeper, raw and honest glimpse into the life of a working, breastfeeding, black mother AND you will learn how she has used gratitude to build such a beautiful home and way of life for her family.

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