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.
Check out Zoe on Insta See Zoe here