Life of a Mum

Guest Blog- Zoe Virtual assistant extraordinaire

I met Kelly, aka IVF Ninja through a local child friendly business networking group (which I now coordinate in Market Harbourough) on behalf of Mums in Businness International. I was inspired by her social media content and wanted to learn more about her huge instagram following. Kelly attends my networking events and I attend her Insta Mums Meet Ups. She has also been a speaker for our group on numerous occasions, always encouraging new members to our meetings and events.

Motherhood didn’t necessarily come to me as planned, I never expect anything I do to be by the book, so why should this be any different… 12 years in a relationship that progressed no further than living together in a one bed flat in London. I ended it by having an affair/cheating (whatever you want to call it, it was my fault). Then I ran off to Africa to sort my head out for a couple of months. This was followed by temporarily living back at home with my parents at 30 due to being flat broke! I eventually settled down into a relationship with my now partner in crime and we wasted no time in trying to start a family.

I found out I was pregnant two days after running the Brighton marathon. 6 months previous, I had decided to temporarily forget about becoming a mum and focus on my shiny new job as a travel business development manager and marathon training, especially after the doctor had wanted to do the investigative dye thing to check that my tubes were intact.

Having said that, despite a bit of a surprise and terrible guilt for putting my little baby through a marathon, I was ready to become a mum, I had travelled, I had partied. I was delighted! I set about learning everything I could about pregnancy and the impending birth. Now don’t hate me, but I was very fortunate to have a very easy going baby, she started to sleep through from very early, she fed, she rarely gave me any cause for worry or concern. As I write this, she is five, has started school, made new friends, been homeschooled and generally taken everything thrown at her in her stride. I am very proud, and lucky!

One thing I didn’t expect to struggle with after becoming a mummy was my identity. I’ve always felt it important that I have my own funds so my partner (the one who I had the affair with and my childs father) and I have always gone halves, and I’ve always had my own savings and worked or earnt in one form or another. When it came to returning to work I’d had to rethink my travel career, so I looked at the aspects of the tasks I enjoyed and I set about applying for part-time admin focussed ‘mum jobs’. I quickly found, that despite 10 plus years in an office environment, my skills weren’t necessarily considered transferable, nor were they worth more than £8.50 per hour. I also had an inkling that I didn’t just want to work for one company or person and I really didn’t fancy squabbling over early finishes and the term time holidays.

It also eventually became clear that if I wanted to fit any kind of career progression around my little girl, I would need to pay for full time childcare and miss so much of her growing. I didn’t want that either!! So I decided I would work from home a couple of days a week on a self employed basis. So how does one go about achieving this? Quite simply I started going to networking meetings in my area, I met other women/mums that did what I wanted to do but better. I was inspired, I learned so much from from them, I went on courses. I didn’t even know what to introduce myself as but I turned up as a work in progress.

I evolved my business the more I learnt. Networking has been key to everything I have achieved and it has helped me build the career and the kind of work-life balance that I’ve always dreamed of, yet felt it was unreasonable to request.

As mums we give away so much, we often put our own self development and career aside in favour of our home life, better hours, less childcare fees. I just wanted to write this to say that you can rebuild your career back from scratch, you can be confident about your identity again, reinvent yourself and create a life on your own terms with balance and earn well. You will always be a work in progress, constantly learning and evolving.

However don’t believe all the hype you see on social media, you will need to work harder than you’ve ever worked, you probably wont be swanning about in a white Range Rover straight away, or ever… You wont be a polished entrepreneur, you’ll fail at somethings, be ready to fail, be accepting of failure, share failure. It makes you real and authentic. I’m not hugely confident, I am often full of self doubt. BUT I am proof that you can do it, you just need to take a leap, network, show up and put yourself out there.

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Nicky Masson – A global force to be reckoned with (guest blog)

Interview and words by @chameleoninhighheels

When you speak to Nicky Masson, a friendly smile and inviting enthusiasm in her voice make you feel at ease immediately.  But there is also an air of calm collectednessabout her, a sense of empowering confidence that is infectious and inspiring. Nicky Masson is a business coach and mentor at Nicky Masson Global, helping individuals and businessesachieve their goals, get results and focus on a positive mindset.

I first met Nicky over four years ago at a local baby massage group where my little one had chosen to scream for the entirety of the course. We bonded over a shared determination to breast feed our babies and Nicky was giving supportive advice as a mum of two which I, as a first time mother was incredibly grateful for. 

We recently reconnected as part of Nicky’s exclusive Make It Happen membership program, which offers advice and coaching to new and existing entrepreneurs. I met her for coffee and flapjack to chat about her journey over the last 4 years, her business and life as a full time entrepreneur and mother.

When I ask Nicky how and why she embarked on her career as a business coach, I am taken aback by her candid honesty.  Nicky describes 2016 a key transitional stage in her life.  She got made redundant from a job role she had known for many years.  In response to this, she set up her own network marketing business but failed to make significant progress.  “My fear and anxiety stopped me”, she smiles shyly. “I had so many ideas but I just couldn’t apply myself.” A chance meeting at a webinar introduced her to her mentor and has been working with him ever since.  “It was a catalyst toacknowledge that I had to work on myself and change.  Theway we act and behave is a mirror to what’s happening on the inside. I realised that, if I can achieve it, then I can help others to do the same.

Does she think being made redundant has shaped the way she approaches her own business?  Nicky is thoughtful with her response and I can tell this delves into some difficult memories.  “I left a good job to be a mother and returned to find it had been taken from me.  Instead I had to do menial tasks that gave me the feeling of being neither wanted nor skilled enough, all because I’d had two babies and worked part-time.”  Recalling my own experiences of returning to work after maternity leave, I can empathise with Nicky’s recollection. She also sums up the emotional side of employment as a new mum perfectly: “As a mother you are vulnerable and dealing with so many emotions.  Being given the feeling you are not good enough anymore makes you question everything.  In the end I just felt numb and went through the motions.” She laughs, but it doesn’t come from the heart. “Ironically, by treating me this way, my employer didn’t get the best out of me anymore either.” Nicky suffered from postnatal depression and anxiety, something she struggled to comprehend and combat.  “I didn’t understand what it was, why I felt the way I did.  It wasn’t a good time.”

Has this insight into darkness helped her in her own development and that of her clients?  Nicky nods passionately.  “Through my mentor and the coaching process I got answers to who I was.  I believe that personal development is incredibly important in any business, yet most people don’t get trained and furthered that way. Most companies only focus on knowledge and skills.  However, 85% of how you work is about your attitude. If you focus on the positives and embrace change, you will thrive.”

I am interested in how Nicky combines running her own successful and growing business with being a mother to two young children.  I mention that a recent study conducted by the universities of Manchester and Exeter showed that full-time working mothers with two children experiences significant stress levels that could, in the long term, be harmful to their health (Barr, 2019, The Independent). Does she have any tips for other mums? “The biggest thing is managing and separating your time.  It’s all about focus: If you focus on your work you will get things done and, in return, you will spend less time doing it.  Likewise, once you are with your family, that’s where your focus should be.”  
Does she ever experience mum guilt, I ask.  “Yes, of course.  It happens to all of us.  When we work we think of our kidsand during family time we may want to check emails.” Her words resonate as I recall my own guilt since the day I dropped my babies at nursery.  How does she cope with her own mum guilt these days?  “I am getting better”, Nicky smiles serenely.  “I have created a better environment for myself with my business and I can help others achieve the same”. 

I feel it’s time for my million-dollar question: Does she believe that women can have it all? Nicky’s response is immediate, firm and delivered with such conviction I want to close my notebook and sign up for whatever course she wants me to sign up in the future.  “Yes, without a doubt”, followed by a pause, and I am not quite sure if I need her to elaborate.  However, she has an explanation up her sleeve.  “Women in general deserve so much more credit in modern society.  We are the ones who do all the juggling and wear the different hats. We do it all.  The important thing, however, is that we have to believe that we can have it all – if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen.” I wonder if Nicky still has moments of doubt or if she has figured it all out.  She laughs. “I constantly work on myself.  There are still things that hold me back and,as with everyone’s road to success, it’s work in progress.”  

We leave the café over an hour after our official interview has finished, reminiscing and ponder over where we are now. Nicky’s achievements and proven strategies have intrigued me to interview and write about her, something our past selves would probably not have predicted. What I can predict, however, is that there is a lot I have already learnt from Nicky, and can’t wait to implement her strategies.

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