For a while now I have wanted to cover off the subject of “mumpreneur” and I feel now is as good as time as any for two reasons…
- The media, social and blogging worlds are bubbling with lava(esque) news stories regarding the lack of flexible working hours and high childcare costs. It’s not easy for working mamas – fact! Pressure is somewhat building and we have great thanks to the likes of Anna Whitehouse of Mother Pukka with her Flex Appeal campaign.
- Henry is 10.5 months old, and it is around about now when I was originally planning on heading back up to the big smoke to my Monday-Friday full time job.
Point 2, for me, becomes redundant (redundant being the suited descriptive word) because I’ve not gone back after my “maternity leave”. The choice was taken out of my own hands, as some of you will know I was made redundant at 37 weeks pregnant, which is NOT the subject of this post – I’m simply stating fact for all things “context”.
I’d pretty much been married to my last job for a long time, a chunky one third of my 33 years. I LOVED it and will always cherish the good times. I feel very fortunate to have worked for the renowned brands (see my Instagram profile for a brief snippet) and the perks that came with it along the way – countless film premiere and red carpet events, rubbing shoulders and meeting many a celebrity, eating in the best dining spots in London and occasionally spoilt in the “freebie culture” that is presented in the mail rooms of many magazine editorial (and even commercial) teams (that’s not the staff’s fault, but purely bad and lazy planning by the brand/PR teams sending out all that wasted product not being reviewed for editorial purposes but are purely enjoyed by recipients and “dished out” amongst peers – without a second thought. Let’s face it, if you don’t advertise you may not get the editorial exposure you crave! Or does an Instastory from a blogger now count as “editorial exposure”??)
At the time my redundancy came about, I was devastated to be leaving close colleagues, saying goodbye to a position that had taken up a third of my life. I was sad the brand I loved once upon a time was having to make tough business decisions and a number of talent sacrifices.
For those of you who have been through a similar ordeal will understand the flow of emotions – the shock, the confidence knock and the feeling of not being wanted. But once those emotions and feelings began to wain, the realisation kicked in that I was about to become a (first time) mother. Nature’s instinct reminded me that I was about to endure THE most important job in the world. I was days away from entering motherhood and I therefore had to stay focused on my upcoming labour, then learning to care for my baby and to nurture and provide for him 24 hours a day.
The penny dropped?
I panicked. My mind submerged in to a crazy overdrive system (my pregnancy hormones quite possibly contributing!). I was trying to plan how and when I was going to update my CV, apply for jobs, prepare presentations, attend interviews – all for once the baby had arrived.
Then, I was trying to make plans in my head about what I was meant to do with the baby whilst I was interviewing. Who could I palm the baby off with for countless dashes to London in my desperate need to get a new job? And then, well and truly in to hormone overdrive by this point, I was thinking about pumping enough breastmilk for a babysitter to be able to feed in my absence!!
Was my baby bump going to become a career bump?
Was I even going to give myself any maternity leave?
Was I going to allow myself some time to solely be a mummy?
Of course I was, and I have, but initially I had every intention of being attached to LinkedIn, my emails and my phone for those first few weeks of motherhood trying to work out a job plan.
No, entering motherhood without a secured job to go back to was not the original plan. I pay bills, I have a mortgage, I have a life and I now had a baby – I needed a job.
It certainly proved to be one of life’s challenging thoughts to process – as you can tell by the way I had succumbed to even thinking about pumping breastmilk so I could attend job interviews – but there really are worse things happening in the world and to other people, and for that, I was going to not let this special time become stressful or remotely overshadowed by either finances or my career (or the absence of).
Within moments of becoming Henry’s mother, I was instantly in a new job, and the most amazing and rewarding job I’ve ever been blessed with. As soon as he was born, it’s incredible how certain things no longer mattered. LIFE mattered.
By this point, my husband and I had agreed that our new little bundle deserved all our time and love. There was no time to think about my career, even if I wanted to. This was the time to savour. Now was the time to enjoy being parents, and to just “get by” and if at a later date we needed to dip in to our savings, then so be it. #biggerthings
As you will have (hopefully!) read and seen my motherhood story so far here on Flamingo Monroe and on my Instagram – I love it. Yes it’s hard at times, beyond knackering most days (especially now Henry is very active) but I wouldn’t change a thing…genuinely.
The timing of this post feels relevant as it was in fact a year ago I took redundancy and I just can’t believe the difference a year can make! How much has changed! I’ve got a bouncing 10-month old son and we’ve moved house to the seaside where I’m originally from.
I admire those that return to their full time jobs, I really think they’re superwomen. Wow, to be out of the house for around 12 hours a day when there is a small person the background somewhere is remarkable. It’s not (just) about missing your little ones whilst at work, but I admire anyone who can be up, ready, get their babies ready, take them to nursery/childcare, get on a train/commute and be at your post by 9am. AND do a full day’s work. AND come home and continue all things “parenting” in to the evenings – cooking, washing, getting ready for the next day etc. We’re talking superpowers here!! And probably gallons of coffee and Red Bull.
I’m not sure I would have gone back after all.
Perhaps I would have seen this unemployment opportunity as a time for change?
A friend of mine had a valid point. Perhaps I feel in awe of new parents in full time work because I haven’t thought or needed to get myself prepared for a return to a full time desk job?
Perhaps I WOULD feel ready and mentally prepared if I still had my last job and if I was going back to it? Perhaps some things do happen for a reason and maybe I was destined for change.
This post is about the world of “Mumpreneur”. No it’s not (another) opportunity to bore you about how I’ve set up shop alone, how I’m now self employed, doing bit of this and that.
I look around at my friends, my family and fellow bloggers and “content creaters” and I feel proud and warm towards so many of them who have ventured off at it alone. I see so many parents (with babies and toddlers) around me starting their own businesses.
Is it because of the lack of flexible working and part time opportunities in their previous companies?
Is it due to the lack of flexibility and negotiation for parents returning to work after maternity leave?
Is it because parents are desperate to pick their kids up from school and attend sports days without having a boss saying no or dictating when an employee can and can’t be a parent?
Is it, like me, you’re made redundant during late stages of pregnancy or whilst on maternity leave?
Or is it because sometimes the time is right for a change, a new direction, a new challenge?
Did having a baby give you a change of heart and priority about your own career and purpose?
That doesn’t necessarily apply to just motherhood here. Sometimes a life event needs to happen – good or bad – to make us realise what makes us happy, what do we need in life to make us happy, and we ask ourselves what do we want. We also have to ask ourselves, what do we need to do – for our sanity, for our identity and for our bank accounts!
I have friends working for direct selling companies, such as Usborne Books. I have friends selling baby clothes online. I have made friends in the blogging world making a living from simply documenting their parenting lives and product recommendations. I have friends who run soft play groups, messy play groups or have left their city jobs to become a Baby Sensory leader. I have friends who enjoy huge earnings working from home providing admin support to local businesses. All of which are worked around their childcare availabilities (i.e. grandparents, free childcare hours from the goverment, when the baby is in bed, or when the partner is home to take over parenting duties).
All my mummy friends have their own reasons and views for starting their own business ventures – whether it is to be able to pick kids up from school, or if it’s be able to work evenings and weekends when their partner can look after the little ones (when childcare is so damned expensive) or becoming a mother has change their perspective and purpose enough and allows them to enjoy a career change.
I don’t like the word “entrepreneur”. It sounds arrogant when used inappropriately. (I’ll let it go if it’s in context to an invention – i.e. if you’ve invented a product or successful service.)
The word “mumpreneuer” however, I LOVE.
It provides confidence to mothers and carers who need an emotional boost when it comes to starting a business whilst having babies and running a family household. It provides definition to someone who works for themselves AND takes their little ones to baby groups. It allows mothers to earn pocket money doing a hobby they love through to earning a full blown salary slogging their butts off at home during all hours when the babies are preoccupied or sleeping.
It’s not everyone’s preferred way to earn a crust, but it’s becoming more and more apparent and popular. Some mothers don’t have a choice. Some mothers have to work in a full time job with a stable income. Some mothers can’t work full time for their own reasons – perhaps childcare costs are a key factor?
For those companies refusing to get with the times and become more flexible with mothers returning to work, then frankly it is their loss. They will lose immensely talented individuals, either to another company who is more accommodating, or to the growing and inspirational world of Mumpreneurs.
Mummy bloggers, blogging Mumpreneurs (i think there’s a difference?!?) and parent/home based businesses I follow and admire include Honest Mum (a blogger but now also an author), Mama’s Scrapbook (her new mindfulness Blöm Cards are amazing), Fred & Noah children’s clothing, This is Mothership and Selfish Mother (who doesn’t love the infamous MOTHER and WINGING IT jumpers and tees – and all for charity. GENIUS!)
I like to call myself a little bit of a Mumpreneur, if I may be so bold to say and in a non-egotistical way please? A “Delboy” of “Instamums” some might say, doing bit of this and a bit of that to earn a few pennies here and there. I’m loving the work I’ve got from my blog, I have a few clients I provide a marketing service for, I’ve won a few event organising projects and I’m enjoying my Neal’s Yard Remedies venture, doing pamper parties and selling products at craft fairs. A range of activities, but all a lot of fun, stimulating and slowly becoming more rewarding.
Yes I currently miss those casual £XXX ASOS orders I’d drop without a second thought, and paying off a package holiday takes longer than before, but since I went self employed three months ago, feeling incredibly anxious at the “leap”, I now appreciate and enjoy the feeling that every (new) pound coin brings.
The Mumpreneur landscape isn’t so scary after all. You’re surrounded by a vast network of likeminded individuals who are all in this together. It is a club, but it’s open to all. There’s no strict criteria for any kind of vacancy or membership. All you need is an ounce of bravery, passion and strength.
The Mumpreneur eagle has officially landed!