banner
alive logo
FoodFamilyLifestyleBeautySustainabilityHealthImmunity

A New Age for Maternity Leave

Rachelle Girardin shares her thoughts about motherhood and entrepreneurship

Share

Since we first spoke to private chef and nutritionist Rachelle Girardin in 2021, she and her business, Beyond Nourished, have undergone some big and exciting changes. Now, we’re catching up with Girardin and learning how she’s balancing being an entrepreneur with becoming a mother in some creative and inspiring ways.

Advertisement

New adventures, new accomplishments

“It has been a very interesting couple of years!” laughs Girardin.

In November 2022, Girardin celebrated the opening day of her company’s brick-and-mortar location on Fraser Street in Vancouver. There, Girardin and her hard-working team (“We’re a complete team of 10 now!”) have a physical space for both components of the Beyond Nourished business: its holistic chef certification program and its personal chef services.

In her personal life, Girardin also has big changes to celebrate: she married her husband and gave birth to her son. Throughout this adventure, she’s learning how to reinvent motherhood and maternity leave to make it work for her, her family, and her business.

Advertisement

Motherhood, reimagined

For many of us, it may seem that maternity leave entails a singular focus and an obvious set of rules. However, this traditional approach doesn’t always work for business owners like Girardin.

“I didn’t have a clear picture of how I wanted maternity leave to look for me,” admits Girardin. She knew, though, that she wanted to find a way to balance being a mother with being an entrepreneur. “As an entrepreneur, you’re always asking yourself, ‘What is mom time? What is work time?’” says Girardin.

A month before her baby’s birth, Girardin’s mother arrived to support Girardin, helping prepare the home for the baby’s arrival and also helping Girardin transition out of work.

Once the baby arrived, Girardin’s mother helped with childcare, grocery shopping, and making deliveries for the business. After her mother’s departure, Girardin sought help from a nanny for a few hours each day for self-care and work. “It saved my sanity,” she says.

Girardin feels that as new moms, we can sometimes be reluctant to let people in, but fostering relationships with others can be beautiful and meaningful—for the mother and the baby. “Support is everything!” she explains. “You still have that tight bond with your baby but can get some time to feel like a person too.”

And because she also used her business’s own personal chef services, Girardin discovered first-hand how big of an impact this can truly make for families. “With only a few hours to spend together every day as a family, having meals ready is life changing—and relationship changing!” Girardin laughs.

Advertisement

Lessons learned

Still, Girardin, like all of us, had moments when she felt she’d bitten off more than she could chew. “There are still parts of me trying to ‘do it all,’” admits Girardin. “As all first-time moms experience, you never really know what lies on the other side once the baby comes.”

“When I was booking jobs while still pregnant, booking something two months after the baby was born seemed doable. I never considered that my baby might arrive two weeks past my original due date …”

For example, she had to hand off several commitments to another chef. “Giving up work … is so hard, especially when you are not just making money for yourself but helping support a small business,” says Girardin. “It makes saying no that much harder.”

For Girardin, maternity leave has been a lesson in stepping away and trusting that you have the right people in place. “It was a big growth piece for me,” says Girardin.

One of Girardin’s biggest challenges, but one of her proudest achievements, was catering a 60-person event when her son was six weeks old. Girardin was able to follow through with her commitment to cater the event with her baby in tow, thanks to a great recovery after childbirth and great support.

“My mom was there to support me; this helped me realize how capable we can all be when we are held by others,” she says. “While doing an event of this calibre six weeks postpartum might seem crazy for some, it actually felt really revitalizing and rejuvenating for me. The baby and I were hardly ever apart.”

Advertisement

A word to new mothers

“Maternity leave doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” says Girardin. “We need to let go of the [idea] that it needs to look a certain way. The truth is that it will be different for everyone.”

Wondering what it should look like for you? Girardin suggests asking yourself what you need for your family and business (for example, asking for support), keeping in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” way.

“Sometimes we don’t want to admit when we need help as women or as business owners, but we all do,” she explains. “We don’t need to prove our independence or abilities. We all operate our best when we can have rest and balance.”

Advertisement

Supporting new moms

There are many ways that a partner, family member, or friend can help welcome a new baby! Here are some tips.

Bring food, or arrange a food delivery service

Preparing meals can be overwhelming with a baby, especially when recovering physically or caring for other children.

Think long term 

“Everyone wants to see the baby or [offer] support in the first month,” says Rachelle Girardin, “but two months later or three months later, people can forget.”

Find ways to support, as a partner

This could include, for example, “giving the mom two hands so she can do whatever it is she needs to do,” Girardin suggests.

Consider outsourcing 

Hiring someone such as a housecleaner or postpartum doula can free up much-needed time and energy.

Ask for support

Partners can and often do struggle mentally and emotionally in the postpartum period. It’s important to reach out for help if you need it.

Advertisement

The future of Beyond Nourished

Even with so many goals accomplished, Rachelle Girardin is brimming with ideas and aspirations for her business. According to Girardin, the holistic chef certification side of her business is still in its infancy and has a lot of potential for growth. She’s also interested in helping people grow their own businesses.

When it comes to personal chef services, it’s all about refinement. Girardin now offers different tiers of service, since different clients have different needs. She’s also constantly looking for ways to further improve the client experience, from increasing efficiency to finding ways to be economical with grocery spending.

Learn more about Beyond Nourished programs and services at beyondnourished.com.

Advertisement

Time off for Dad

Parental leave isn’t just for moms. Research tells us that when fathers take time off to care for their new baby, the whole family can benefit.

Advertisement

More working moms

The percentage of Canadian women with young children who work outside of the home has risen considerably over the years, from an estimated 33.5 percent in 1976 to 77.1 percent in 2022. Speak to your HR representative to learn about your parental leave options at your place of employment.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of alive magazine.

Advertisement
Advertisement

READ THIS NEXT

No Proof
Food

No Proof

Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD