If you’re among the growing numbers of mums setting up (or already running) your own business, then chances are you’ll know the power of MUMARADERIE (aka. camaraderie... but for mums).
Mumaraderie is that feeling of mutual support and motivaton that abounds when women who live and breathe ‘the juggle’ get together. It can be a foundation for business growth, but equally importantly, it can fill some of the interpersonal voids that exist when navigating the often lonely terrains of self employment and motherhood.
This culture of support between ‘Fempreneurs’ is one that stands each individual in the best stead to create and grow businesses that fulfil their professional, as well as personal, needs. This, in turn, boosts contentment and self esteem, and so continues the ‘pay it toward’ cycle...
This Mother’s Day, we spoke to five mums about their experience of running businesses alongside being a default parent, charting the highs and lows of what it means to juggle being mum, ‘me’ and MD!
Kim Sprague, Coach and Yoga/Meditation Teacher
‘When women and clients who’ve not yet had children ask me about motherhood, I say that every experience is so unique but, for me, it really has been the caterpillar to butterfly journey. I had no idea before having our daughter of the discomfort, pain and (full disclosure!) ugliness I would face in myself as my identity evolved. I felt I was outgrowing myself, whilst still clinging onto that chrysalis, grieving some of my old life and afraid of what lay ahead.
Yet here I stand today, proud of the woman, mum and business owner I am...yet couldn’t have imagined I’d be.
I’ve made unconventional life choices and taken big risks, like leaving a secure well paid corporate PR job to balance doing work I love, for myself, whilst being a present mum in these precious early years of parenthood. When I have to turn down work opportunities, miss out on social things or feel ‘the odd one out’ amongst friends without kids or those having gone back to work and planning their second, I remember that how I live my life shows my daughter how to as well.
I hope I’m teaching her, and my Flamingo Life Coaching Clients, that with enough passion, focus, self love and resilience, we really can create the life we want.
I advise other mums to be kind to themselves, not be afraid to ask for help and to find their tribe so that they’re growing alongside others who support and inspire them.
Lisa Rogers, Photographer and Blogger
‘For me being a mother, a family photographer and blogger go hand in hand. I like that I can make mistakes on my own terms. I can adapt, change paths and develop ideas as and when I like to. The sense of achievement and happiness I get from having created a profitable and meaningful business from scratch and being a positive role model for my kids is an amazing. Yes, it’s challenging and there are long and odd hours, but it's pretty similar to motherhood in a lot of ways.
It’s easy to get lost in it all though, concentrating on your children’s needs and then switching straight over into business mode when they go to bed. It’s full on and at some point you need to look after yourself and realise that you matter too. 'and then she clicked’ is called exactly this because one day it literally did just click for me. I found my why, family. My passion, photography and writing. And my talent, to always see the beauty in everyone and everything.
I put them all together and it’s like an explosion went off. My self confidence is twice that than when I was in a corporate environment in my 20’s. Every photograph I make, especially for other mothers with their children, I positively add to their family legacy. I help them connect, relax and celebrate themselves as a mother, and this in itself is wonderfully rewarding for me.’
Lizzie Parsons, Image and Style Consultant
I actually trained as an Image Consultant whilst pregnant with my first son in the summer of 2014. I qualified in the August, set up my business in the September to start trading that month, and gave birth in the October. I ran my image and personal styling business around my baby. Working mothers are trail blazers; the way we operate now juggling motherhood, 'proper' jobs and the households has not really been done on a large scale by prior generations. I am immensely proud of running my business whilst also being a mother. It is extremely tough at times, and for me the children always come first. I am lucky that I can fit my work schedule around my children's needs. For those times when work and children duties collide I have a family support system that I can call on for help.
The statistics show that the economy needs more women running businesses, and to do that we all need a community around us that can support us in every way including affordable and great quality child care, flexible education and business courses, networking opportunities with other mums and the wider business community, places to hot desk where there is a creche, so that mums can work and the children can be looked after. My grandfather was known to call me 'idealistic' but I believe these factors are so important for mums.
Well being for mothers, particularly mothers with young children, should be a priority in local communities. A mother's mental health affects her children's mental health, her job prospects and her confidence. When a mother is severely sleep deprived her community is a huge help.
My eldest son is now 4 and my youngest son is almost 3. My business has grown most years, the only year that took a severe hit financially was 2016 when my second son was born. He was a 'velcro' baby and as such didn't want to be away from my arms. Totally normal and I went with it. I concentrated on working in the evenings that year and he would come with me to events where I was presenting of styling and shopping.
When you become a mother, you can feel as if you have lost yourself, particularly if your career is important to you. I found a way to blend both but it did take a lot of courage and support.
Caroline Matthews, Editor of Mums Magazine
For me, motherhood has been one of those ‘moments of impact’, having had significant ripple effects on everything from my personality, to my lifestyle (part and parcel I know!) and also my business. These are changes that I would never have predicted, often wasn’t wholly prepared for, but in the majority of cases... have been hugely positive.
When my first child was only tiny, and still napping for significant chunks of the day, I mistakenly believed that nothing would need to change with my business. ‘This is easy!’ I thought. Oh, how wrong I was. As the naps dwindled, something had to give, so I started the process of streamlining my workload. In hindsight, before children, I probably had too many fingers in way too many pies! I was spreading all my time and efforts across 6 ‘projects’ and had created what would transpire to be an unrealistic endeavour with a young child now in the mix.
Making the cull of 4 magazine titles that I had been working tirelessly on wasn’t easy. It was a mixture of emotions, from failure, to disappointment, right through to panic as I began to think ‘was this the beginnning of the end?’
My biggest worry was that ten years of hard work was unravelling before my very eyes, and since I had hinged a lot of my identity on this job role, it was almost as thought this was unravelling too (a feeling that was definitely compounded by the physical changes of having had a baby). Altogether, the last three years have amounted to a huge period of change. My entire mindset and attitude to work has shifted dramatically. Before children, I craved silence and isolation to concentrate and focus. Frustration would set in at the slightest disruption, and my productivity would plummet if my sleep was broken, for example. Fast forward to 2019, and I find I can work just as well with the racket of a noisy, happy family in the next room, as I can with having had a few broken hours sleep. Motherhood has imparted flexibility, tolerance, and patience... Three qualities that I definitely would never had gained had it not been for something (my now two wonderful children) forcing me out of the comfort zone that I had become stuck in with my work.
Getting to this point, there have been many, many times where the juggle has felt too much. The frustration at having so many business ideas and to dos in my head, but not being able to action them immediately (as I would have once been able to) has nearly broken the camel’s back, so to speak, on many occasions.
That said, these moments are as fleeting as they are many. Ultimately, no matter how challenging the balancing act is, it satisfies what is utimately my only goal, and that is to spend time with my children and watch them grow. No other job would give me this opportunity, and ultimately I see this period when they are so young as a ‘ticking over’ period with my work. A time when the priority is just keeping the cogs turning until such point in the future that I can return to a more structured work schedule, and perhaps even a bit of the ‘old me’ routine of going to the gym, getting my hair done etc. Whether the ‘old me’ returns with the routine remains to be seen, although in some regards, I hope not.
Lily Grant, Blogger at The Marlow Mum
You are often told as a mum that you “can’t have it all.” The job, the children, the balance. In my experience, I can say that this isn’t true, and with a fantastic support group, it is possible to make it work.
I have been extremely lucky to have the opportunities to develop a career that not only fits in around my two young children, but one I feel extremely passionate about and 'live and breathe'. A lot of this is down to my husband, who is the modern father and is very hands on with the children, along with some fabulous mum friends who I couldn’t manage the juggle without.
Having said that, it has not all be plain sailing. With running an 8 bedroom guesthouse in Marlow and my yoga retreat business “Escape to Retreats,” I do have days that it is a constant juggle. The phone always tends to ring around 3.30pm, when I know that this is precious after school time.
The children have been very good at adjusting, and I think it’s important for them to see that you can run a business and have a family.