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BEING A MUM IN BUSINESS WITH JO COOKE-BEST

 

This blog was originally started to celebrate mothers day but of course, life got in the way, the the kid is at the tail end of a downward spiral with her autism and emotional needs and needed Mummy and predictably my health has taken a turn south. All factors proving that being an entrepreneur Mum or Mumpreneur isn't easy. My daughter has reached double figures to the lovely age of 10, in some ways she is fiercely independent, in other ways she physically and mentally needs me now more than ever.  

I do love being a mother and I do love being a woman in business. in some ways having the freedom of owning my own business makes up for the restraints of being a parent.

It wasn't always like that, though...

I went back to full time work when Phoebe was just 3 months old. The hours and days were long. I left at 6.30am and got home at 5/6pm, then had to try to pull time out of my arse to deal with washing, house work, gardening, my husband (then fiancé) and if I was lucky some time to see family and friends too. In one way none of us knew any difference, it was just what we did, we just got on with it, but we all suffered the loss of quality time together and Phoebe eventually craved more of both of us. 

In midst of all of this, September 2014 we got married, I was working full time and had started working part time at home making gluten free celebration cakes (Phoebe would have been about 18 months old here). I didn't intentionally set out to do this but my gf cakes got good recognition and I saw a gap in the market at the time. The business did well, my health is what concluded my ability to run this business. What they don't tell you is that you will have to survive sometimes on 2-3 hours sleep a night just to try and stay on top of all of it all. 

My customer never knew this but within the space of 7 in this September we brought a house, decorated it, moved out of our old house, moved into our new house, got married, I made our wedding cake (while sorting out a brand new wedding dress as mine got ruined at the dry cleaners) and I had a customers wedding cake to get out the door! Of course, everything got done on time but I was exhausted by the end of it. In another phase of my life when I was bed ridden for months after pelvic operations, I made handmade cards which I sold on Etsy to pass the time. My customers had absolutely no idea I was bed ridden and was working from a series of lap traps sat in bed. 

Now I look back on it all I just don't know how we survived it all. We really didn't see each other very much, we missed things like Phoebes first words and her first steps. But, Phoebe had the most wonderful childminder who taught her a lot of valuable skills and she bonded well with, she gave her friends to play with and a home away from home, we couldn't of asked for anyone better. 

I sustained this for about 3 years taking the odd week of unpaid parental leave to keep up with things until we realised that we had been missing out on too much time with Phoebe.

Over the years I Unfortunately have had to change self-employed directions a couple times, all due to various health reasons. As they say though, we wouldn't be where we are now if those things had not of happened.

I entirely love what I do now, I love that my daughter has been old enough to see the business flourish and watch me transition and she has learnt so resilience from me. I love so much that she too is a free bird, I certainly can't call her a wildling like me as she has too much of a straight and narrow head on her but, she 100% knows who she is and embraces every weird little moment of it!

   

So, if you have made it this far I suppose you are wondering why I have given you my whole life story? 

Well....

Being a Mum / Dad / Parent / Caregiver is no easy task. There are constant demands of your time, the ones you are aware of and the ones that crop up like a nasty little treat. There are consistent challenges when it comes to managing work and home life. Time to yourself is like finding a needle in haystack because everyone and everything else has to come first. Kids are not self sufficient and if you have any hope of your business succeeding then you need to also treat and nurture your business like a baby too. Both will need you and both will inequitably fight for your attention... and you will learn quickly that one can physically shout louder than the other!

Your partner will need a tough backbone as they will feel last in your queue and you will depend on them more than you know to bring you cups of tea at 1am when your struggling to finish that task, to pick up behind you, fix the dinner you just burnt again trying to do one too many jobs or to do the washing and cleaning because you are so burnt out. Being an entrepreneur doesn't just affect you, it affects the whole household. 

Being the 'house wife' is a 24 hour a day job, you are the waking alarm, you are Mum, you are the dinner chef, the core baby sitter, the household nurse, accountant, PA, advice help line and of course the comforter. Having a holiday will be a rare treat. Me time?! Well, if you are lucky you might get the occasional bath to yourself. Sound fun huh?! 

Being a parent is rewarding though. Yes it has its challenges, but of course everything does. If you are deciding to start out in business there will never be the 'right time' and be warned... it is no easy journey. Many of us suffer imposter syndrome, anxieties, lack of financial resources to help us do things quickly, self-doubt... the list goes on! Then there is the endless nagging in the back of your head telling you that your business is coming at the expense of your family and friends. 

Once in a blue moon you will be lucky enough to have a day off, you'll work every hour you can, the salary you receive is minimal in the first few years and yet still those around you will assume you do nothing all day. And don't let me forget the dreaded question of "oh how's your little hobby going?" from family and friends who have no understanding what it is you actually do. 

So I am here to say "I hear ya!". I fully empathise with you and I really do understand everything you are going through. 

It isn't all doom and gloom though. If you have a strong backbone and a will to succeed then get your head down and get focused. A well thought out business plan and 1001 to-do lists should just about keep you on the straight and narrow until you start to get wonderful reviews from happy customers and you can do a happy dance around the kitchen! 

You will teach your kids resilience, they will learn from you that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. At some point you will be able to afford a holiday with the family and everything will become worthwhile. You will be able to see and feel the financial benefits of what you have been doing and know that it was your blood, sweat and tears that have provided that for your family. 

Do I have any advice for you I hear you ask. Well, actually I do.  

MY TIPS:

  • POWER HOURS - Procrastination is something many of us possess. I tend to bypass some of this by having 'power hours'. I write a list of tasks that need completing (remember the lists of 101 jobs), put all my devices on 'do not disturb' (yes that means no social media and emails), put my headphones in and get to it. Take a short break, grab a cuppa and then repeat. You'll be surprised how much work you can get completed by working in a solid block rather than here or there.
  • SET YOUR BUSINESS HOURS - Time is valuable. Set your working hours and stick to it. I used to succumb to checking everything all the time and thinking that I needed to reply straight away but this only leads to unreasonable expectations by our clients. I have set my phone up so that it goes into night mode from 7pm until 8am, meaning no notifications or alerts come through. It takes a bit of discipline in the beginning but it does become a breath of fresh air very quickly.
  • MAKE SOME FRIENDS - Working from home can be lonely. Find a local networking group of businesswomen or Mums/Moms in business and get chatting (during your scheduled hours), being surrounded by likeminded individuals who you can use as a soundboard and whom have a full understanding of your journey will make like seem a lot less lonely. All being well you could make some lifelong friends too. 
  • NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS - The offset of specific hours (see above) is that you can have some structured work/home-life balance. You'll have time to be present in the moment with your family and friends, you will sleep better and your family will know that they have you uninterrupted. Make sure you carve out some time for your better half. This gives you couples time, time to talk, time to plan, share and just be. Until you don't have it, you won't really know the value of these small moments, they will mean everything. 
  • PUT YOUR BLOODY PHONE DOWN! - Yep. Work. Can. Wait. Your time is valuable, don't waste it on meatless scrolling on social media. I have set times for checking my phone during the day and don't respond to clients outside of my working hours. Believe me, I used to reply at 4am when I got a 'where's my order email', it serves no one any benefit and only creates stress. You'll be more present, you will wind down easier in the evenings and believe it or not, you will sleep better! 
  • MAKE SURE YOUR CHILDREN UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING - Inevitably working hard will eventually lead to more money, which will give you the ability to have experiences and make memories with your family. Explain to your children that you do not have a conventional job (for whatever reason) and the goals that you want to achieve. Your children lives will need to fit in around the hours that you work and they need 1-2-1 time with you. When you do get the opportunity to have a treat day or a holiday, let them know that working means you have been able to save for it - before you know it they will be fully on board and willing you to work more hours so they can plan the next holiday 😂. 
  • HOUSE CHORES CAN WAIT - Having an immaculate house should be the least of your worries. Block out time in the week or the weekend for housework and try to tidy/clean as you go. Eventually you will get into the groove of what works for you. 
  • SELF CARE - If you don't look after yourself you won't be in any mental or physical state to keep all of the cogs running! At the beginning of each week plan your daily or weekly self care and schedule it in. Mine - Morning meditation every day followed by a 10 minute yoga when I am feeling up to it. Being in nature is my biggest therapy, I am lucky to live in the forest and have a nature reserve across the road from where I live so I make the most of it. My biggest daily cleanse comes from walking outdoors in wildlife. 

Back with the intention of the initial idea behind this post. Mothers Day. For some you will be working, others you will be spending it with your little people, or if you are lucky enough to your own Mum.

Mother's Day can be difficult for many people and it can bring up a lot of unwanted emotions. For me. I just want to let you know that you are doing an amazing job and to tell you to celebrate the badass you have become. Be proud of who you are and who your little people are becoming. 

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