10 (ish) years ago (2008) I was a university student with a fairly rosy view of the life that was ahead of me. I was on track to finish with a 1st class honours degree in English Literature, and I thought I was going to be a hugely successful something (I hadn’t decided what). My family were, at best, working class, and I was the first (and only, so far) to go to uni. My own Mum suffered with serious PND after she had me, and I had zero plans to become a parent anytime soon. I just wanted to make all the money.
My business wasn’t my baby anymore…
In 2013, I was still working for the company I’d part-timed with during uni. I’d worked my way up the ranks to business manager with them, and earned a great salary. I was the most successful business manager in my area, and good at what I did. I was also pregnant with my first child. Surprisingly, she was very much planned, and a little miracle having suffered 4 miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy, and the removal of a fallopian tube in the space of less than 8 months.
I was adamant that I was going back to work full time after I had her, and I did. The idea of handing my business over to someone else, even just in the interim during my maternity leave, made me feel a bit sick.
But in 2015 I walked away from my career and business altogether. I’d managed 6 months back at work before the reality of it all had taken it’s toll. My business wasn’t my baby anymore, because there was an actual baby at home.
I didn’t love it enough anymore, and it showed in my performance. I felt such overwhelming guilt that my daughter was being passed from pillar to post (even though she was happy as Larry and ultimately grew into a very confident and independent little girl because of this). I felt as though there was so much I should be doing that I just wasn’t. Even on my days off I was too shattered to do anything that I felt was meaningful, and I just didn’t feel like I was being the best Mum I could be.
It only took me 12 weeks to realise I couldn’t stay at home with nothing to do (other than be with my daughter, obvs). I needed something outside of home, and in fact I felt like a worse Mum being at home full time than I had being at work all the time. This time, I tried to go for a happy part time medium and got myself a part time position along with a place for Amelia in a nursery. I eventually re-trained as an Early Years Practitioner with them. I also started this blog.
What if I’d left it all too late and ruined her chances of developing into anything other than a half-wit?
I spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn’t getting this mama thing right. I saw things that other Mums at nursery were doing with their children, and panicked a lot that these things hadn’t even occurred to me. Should Amelia be learning French or sign language? Should she be in a gymnastics group by now? We should definitely have more extra-curricular activities planned (that didn’t involve Disney or popcorn) on our days off. What if I’d left it all too late and ruined her chances of developing into anything other than a half-wit? It was exhausting, but I was determined to be the best damn mama I could be.
And then there were 2…
In 2016 I had baby number 2, and dreaded the thought of going back to work. In all honesty if it hadn’t been such a fabulous nursery for Amelia and William, I probably wouldn’t have returned.
In 2017 we moved 100 miles West to Wiltshire, and it seemed as good a time as any to give it a go working on the blog full time. We could easily survive without my teeny tiny wage, and I really wanted to make a massive push with this blogging thing. It would also mean that I’d effectively be a full time Mum at home again, but I knew this time would be different with blogging to fill my ‘spare’ time…
Meet My Friends…
Sarah is a full time stay at home Mum of 2. She never planned on giving up her career, but the spiralling cost of childcare made it a no-brainer. She used to make more than her husband in her job in the city, and secretly misses the satisfaction that gave her. She feels like she’s lost her identity and is trying to be the Mum everyone thinks she should be. She’s convinced she and her children should be polished and engaged in meaningful activity all the time. She feels like she never stops, but has to justify what she’s been doing all day. Sarah finds herself getting short with her kids when she just needs a bit of space, and then feels guilty for it. She’s a stay at home Mum, so surely she has to accept that she’ll have a child hanging off her every second of the day? Sarah desperately wants to use her brain for something other than nursery rhymes, but feels guilty for wanting that.
I’m helping Sarah let go of the pressure she feels to conform to some crazy idea of the perfect Mum.
Holly has given up on the idea of the perfect Mum (with a little bit of help from yours truly). She’s not the polished Insta-mum she hoped she might be, but she also knows that’s okay. She is the best Mum for her kids, even if that sometimes means taking time away from them to be herself. She still feels the niggles of Mum guilt prodding at her brain, but she’s get better at knowing when to flick it away. As she has relaxed into her mamahood groove, Holly has started to think a lot more about work. Her family don’t need more money desperately, but it would be nice. She desperately misses the feeling of spending her own money, and she knows that she was damn good at her job before she had her kids. She’s struggling to think of a way to get back into meaningful work that will engage her brain and also fit around childcare. She knows she won’t be happy in a job that doesn’t let her be creative and use her business skills, but she also doesn’t want to go back to the rat race and never seeing her kids. She racks her brain every day to work out what the middle ground is.
I’m helping her make the absolute most of the money she already has, and showing her she can have the amazing lifestyle, even on a budget. I’m also helping her to develop an idea of how she can create her dream job.
Abigail is on maternity leave with her second child (the eyes on that boy, though!) and has just set up a blog. Unlike after having her first, she’s damn sure she’s not going back to work this time if she can help it. She has a kind of idea of her blog angle, but isn’t sure what she’ll actually do with it. She hasn’t told anyone yet, because she thinks people will perceive her as a bored Mum wasting her time with a pointless hobby, even though she knows she could monetize it and make it a worthwhile business one day. She’s willing to put in the time (although, believe me, she doesn’t yet fully grasp just how much time that will be) to make it work. She’s never started a website before, and has no technical knowledge, but she loves to learn and is eager to soak up all the information out there. Abigail isn’t a total technophobe, but running a website is very much new to her. She has no idea just how much the business knowledge she has from her previous career is going to serve her in blogging, and told me her biggest hurdle is going to be embracing social media more. Her absolute dream is to make enough money to be comfortable doing something she knows she already loves.
I’m helping her navigate the minefield of setting up her blog and getting it to run the way she wants so she can turn it into a successful business.