• Shared Office, Working from Home

    Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

    Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex […]

  • Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? - Emma's Story

    Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? – Emma’s Story

    Before my maternity leave began, I was asked many times if I was going to go back to work. At the time I felt unsure but hoped I would make the right choice when the time approached. Now I am about to go back, I am still unsure. That’s because whatever I had chosen to […]

  • Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

    Au Pairs: The First Days in Your Home

    The first few days of having an au pair in your home can feel a bit strange – it’s not easy having someone new in your home. As a working mother you are leaving your children in the care of someone you hardly know, which is also hard. Luckily there are some simple things you […]

  • Top Tips for Working Mothers to Organise your Household and Save Time

    Top Tips for Working Mothers to Organise your Household and Save Time

    For some women running the household is pretty much a full time job in itself. Throw a couple of kids calendars, a husband and a full time job into the mix and it can get pretty overwhelming when you are a working mother. Now there are thousands of articles out there telling you what to […]

Shared Office, Working from Home

Working from Home or in a Shared Office?

Working from home is great. No commute, work anytime you like and wear anything you want. Then again, there are distractions, and it’s easy not to get anything done at home. So, when working from home, I have often wondered if it would be better to have a flex office somewhere or just a flex desk in a shared office space. Especially on those days where I have 2 meetings in the city and end up trying to get work done in a place like Starbucks, Costa or Eat in between.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to try it out last week when I was offered a day at a Regus shared office in London.

Morning commute

It got off to a good start. I dressed in office attire, and joined the commuters right after school drop-off. I felt really professional travelling in, reading my morning newspaper and being part of that world of work that I have said goodbye to when I started working from home many years ago. Nice to be back.

The building was only one tube stop from Waterloo, and it was only a matter of minutes before I had reached the Regus building. Great commute.

Settling into my Shared Office

Reception staff were kind and efficient and quickly showed me to my office, explaining all practicalities on the way. I installed myself in my cubicle, and got down to work.

I loved having everything there: the desk, the set of plugholes for my equipment and even an in tray and a pencil holder. It all looked and felt very professional and efficient, unlike the invariably cluttered desk I use when working from home.

There was nothing there to distract me, and I was surrounded by people who were all working too, so it should have helped me to get lots done quickly.  In reality though, it took me a while to get settled in. It’s like that first day in the office. All your colleagues look really busy and you are still wondering where on earth to start, how to get the coffee machine working and who best to ask where the loo is.

When I had just got my coffee, a working wifi, and everything I needed dug up from my bag my guest had already arrived.

Receiving Guests in a Shared Office

I chose a day on which I also had an external appointment, so I could receive them in a professional environment. It worked brilliantly. I offered them a choice of coffees, teas and water (all complimentary with the Regus booking) and we found some lovely comfy chairs with a view over London for our chat. When we were done I could even offer her a place in my room to finish some work, as guests are allowed to share the room with you.

Get Organised in a Shared Office

Now that I felt more settled the afternoon went by quickly and I did get lots of work done. That’s also when I learned that if I want to do this more often I need to get organised, as it turned out I didn’t have access to some key documents I needed.

It was great to have a private desk for work that required focus and concentration, and for listening to  a webinar (forgot my headphones). I love being part of the buzz in an office too though, so for the last hour I chose to work on the larger, shared desks, and that worked very well.

On the way home I reflected it had been a productive day in the office. Unfortunately that’s when the trains were delayed and I was late for school pick-up.  Ah yes, I had been too optimistic and forgot I used to allow some extra time when I still did commute and had to make it home in time for pick-up.

Working from Home – Is it Better?

I can definitely recommend working in a shared office, as a change from working from home. It’s ideal for receiving clients, a great place to work in-between appointments and there are no distractions.

Having a choice of meeting rooms, shared space, private offices and meeting booths offers all you need. If you only do it once, there’s not much benefit to it, but if you do it regularly you will get organised and it will be a valuable addition to your work-life.

I would definitely do it again. Thank you Regus.

 

Tips for working in a shared office, and on the go

  • Ensure you have access to all your mailboxes, ideally from all your mobile devices
  • Build a filing system in a shared place such as Dropbox
  • Bring a document with your passwords (e.g. saved in your dropbox (or similar) or on your mobile devices)
  • Ensure you have contact details of clients all stored, and with you
  • Remember to carry auxiliary items such as phone charger, headphones, and laptop cables
  • Allow for train delays

Where to find shared offices, or hub near you

  • Regus – Co-Working Space, Day Office, Meeting Rooms in London and throughout the UK at strategic locations
  • Hubworking – Pay as you go meeting rooms, London (Liverpool Street, Victoria, Monument)
  • Jelly UK – Brings homeworkers, free-lancers and entrepreneurs together in a co-working space, across the UK
  • The Thinking Bus, Farnham – affordable flexible workspaces and creche
  • The Third Door, London, Putney, SW18 – flexible workspaces, meeting rooms and on-site nursery
  • The Hub, London, Islington – office space for social entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups, with 30 co-working spaces
  • Near Desk – you become a member and have access to many co-working spaces in London, the South-West and Home Counties
  • Mozilla Space London, WC2N – Open work environments aimed at hackers and coders
  • Skyline offices, London – Concierge Service that helps you find suitable business space and then run it

 

 

Working Mothers - Pet Start Up Business

A Pet Business Start Up – Ideal for Working Mothers?

Working mothers are always looking for that ideal flexible option when thinking about returning to work. A pet business may be just the right thing for you. Steph Mylchreest from Pet Insurance explains why.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of pet businesses popping up all over the UK. The reason for this: people are all too often cash rich and time poor when it comes to their four legged friends. As the numbers of pet ownership has grown so have the hours and days people work leaving them little time to give their pets the TLC they need. And the reason why pet businesses make such good start ups? Because they can be taken on part time, need no initial capital and the rewards are not only financial but emotionally fulfilling too!

Dog Walking Start Up

A dog walking start up is ideal for those who already own a dog or just have a love of the canine variety. We’ve put together a list of reasons to help you decide if a dog walking business is right for you.

1. No need for childcare

This is the perfect venture for those with young children as they can be taken with them while walking and therefore there is no need for childcare or if you walk a dog anyway why not get paid for it?

2. Flexible work

This is flexible work also, although most likely to be needed during the day while their owners are at work, dog walking can be tailored to meet your schedule and you can even just do it for a few hours here and there without any real time commitments.

3. No initial capital needed

There is no big investment to start a dog walking business other than insurance which is a must if you are looking after other dogs and need to be protected should any accident or injury occur.

From Protectivity Insurance, a dog walking business policies start from £5.04 per month. You may decide to advertise locally (at your vet and in shop windows) and you could use your base of friends and family.

4. Rewarding

If you are a dog lover anyway then this one of the most rewarding jobs you can do. Seeing a happy doggy face at the end of a walk will make it all worthwhile.

5. Working Outside

This could be a benefit or a disadvantage for some people but you must be prepared to work outside in all weather conditions come rain, sun, snow, sleet or anything else the British weather can throw at you. It may pay to invest in some high quality boots and a nice warm coat!

Pet Sitting Start Up

Pet Sitting is a relatively new business area but is growing rapidly as those who own pets are no longer happy to leave them at home alone for long hours. This makes it a great start up venture with relatively low competition and incredibly easy to get started.

1. No initial capital needed

Like dog walking, there is no big investment needed to set up a pet sitting business. There will be a need for insurance and with policies from Protectivity Insurance starting at £5.05 per month this is a relatively small cost. It is also recommended to get a DBS check or more commonly known as a criminal record check which cost around £26. If you are entering someone else’s home this will make customers feel more at ease.

2. No overheads

Pet sitting can be done either at the pet owners home or your own meaning there is no need to buy or rent facilities. If you do it at your own home, it may be easy to combine with dog walking.

Owners will have everything their pet needs in their own homes so there is no need to buy additional equipment however if operating from your own home it might be a good idea to ensure your house is completely pet friendly!

3. Ability to add other services

When visiting others pet owners homes there is always the opportunity to offer other services such as dog walking, house sitting or gardening to really get the most financially from your time.

4. No need for qualifications

Although a love for pets is a necessity you do not need to be the next Dr. DoLittle. Although a qualification may look more impressive on your CV as long as owners and clients can see that you share a love for their four legged friends, you are reliable and have good references they will hire you.

We hope this has given you some inspiration to start your own pet business and help to decide whether this type of flexible working will fit you as a working mother. Whatever you do decide we wish you luck and hope your start up is as successful as possible!

Author: Steph Mylchreest. Steph is Marketing and Business Support Executive at Protectivity Insurance. Protectivity Insurance are a niche pet and sports and leisure business insurance specialists with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. They offer comprehensive insurance policies covering all pet business services. 

mumpreneur

How to Start an Importing Company as a Mumpreneur

2016 could be a great year for UK entrepreneurs importing goods from around the world, and that could be mumpreneurs importing too. With oil prices generally lower than they have been for several years, a strong economy with high consumer confidence and the emergence of several productivity and growth apps to help you scale your business from home, prospects seem bright.

Choose your niche or sector

Finding the perfect product for your business is one of the three P’s of starting a company (product, price and promotion), and perhaps most important. Try Google Trends to look at monthly search volumes for that product or service, to really validate whether or not there is a market. As a mumpreneur especially, you can also pitch your product to communities such as Mumsnet, mums networks / groups on Facebook, and at coffee networking sessions to gauge a reaction from peers who you may be selling to.

Love your product

Building products is hard. Building great products is even harder. Most long-lasting profitable businesses are because the founders love what they’re producing and selling, be that a good or a service. People buy what they love, and so, by adopting the philosophy of creating a ‘Minimum Lovable Product’ rather than a ‘Minimum Viable Product’, you may be more confident about creating something that people are convinced to buy.

Be agile

This bit’s mainly for people that will sell goods and services on the web – but if you are a mumpreneur, it’s probably relevant. There are 1000’s of inexpensive or free tools which help productivity. They’re called SAAS tools (Software As A Service) and can help you do things from automating Tweets (busy mumpreneurs may not get time to monitor the Twittosphere 24-7), build websites without coding knowledge and manage your leads and relationships with customers and partners. We’d actually recommend Crozdesk for searching and finding the latest productivity apps on the market – and it’s free to use!

If your product or service involves an App (e.g. you import custom made clothes and have an app for people to see themselves), you can ‘wire frame’ your app using internet tools to plan out what the App will look and feel like.

Get a plan in place… and stick to it!

Setting yourself up for success will often require vigour, hard work, and discipline. By setting up a plan for 2016, with ambitious but achievable targets, can help you manage your work life balance and achieve the growth you’ll need for the year ahead. Setting physical quantitative targets is the best: ‘get 10 contracts signed in the next 30 days’, or ‘increase traffic to your website by 20% from December to January’, rather than ‘improve my website’, or ‘order some test products from China’.

Furthermore, reflecting on where you are with your targets or ‘to do’ list once a week is good practise to keep you focused and not let things slip. If at any stage you think targets are either unrealistic or continually at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list, question the economic importance and potential return on investment of the task.

Get others to sell for you

Remember the power of networks, blogs and word of mouth. If you can offer financial (or non-financial) incentives for allowing other people to promote and talk about your products, then that’s one last job off your mind. Moneysupermarket.com doesn’t really sell any products, it helps people access information and make judgements on products that other people sell (e.g. car insurance). For mumpreneurs, the power of communities and a strong network can be the make or break for a goods business.

If your company is a service, it may be worth listing it on sites such as Yell or Addtoevent (for events / catering services).

Negotiate when importing

Often you will have spent a lot of time and money finding and sourcing the right product or products you want to sell. Once this has done, it’s time to negotiate a deal with your supplier. Often suppliers will markup their advertised costs, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them for a better offer, given the competitive manufacturing economy in places like Vietnam, China and Turkey.

2015 was a huge year for the construction and manufacturing, as well as importing/ exporting goods and services. The trajectory is set to continue into the start of 2016, so now could be a great time for a mumpreneur to start or grow an import/export business!

Sort out your Mumpreneur finances

For mumpreneurs, finding capital to start your importing business can be tricky. Often an initial capital boost from personal savings, family and friends may be necessary to get your first few orders in. But once you have buyers and customers, trade finance is often a good way to import goods. You can read the Trade Finance Global guide for first time importers, to find out more about this. Unlike bank funding – which requires you to have assets (e.g. your personal property or car) to guarantee repayment – trade finance allows the stock to act as the security.

Think outside the box

Sometimes it really does take Eureka moments to go from 0 to hero! Often creative marketing, out of the box thinking and hard work can bring your business to the next level. Practicing meditation, going for walks, and talking to others (join for instance a women’s network for entrepreneurs) can sometimes provide moments of new insights.

May 2016 be a year of growth, website traffic, and revenue!

mumpreneurAuthor: James Sinclair. James is an editor at Trade Finance Global. Trade Finance Global connects SMEs and businesses with trade and stock financiers, as well as providing useful information to help importers and exporters grow their businesses.

Flexible Careers for Anyone Who Wants to Work in Finance

Flexible Careers for Anyone Who Wants to Work in Finance

Financial skills are highly sought after, however jobs often require long office hours. But what are the options if you are returning to work or are looking for flexible or part-time work? Here are some great initial ideas for working mothers who like some flexibility for their family.

Project manager

At first glance a director of a large-scale project or task might not seem the perfect fit for a part time roles, but actually many of these roles can be completed from home – and the pay is usually excellent. Writing in Forbes – 10 high-paying flexible jobs, Jacquelyn Smith said that a senior manager can bring in almost $100k a year. Strong mathematics, communications and IT skills are essential, as is adaptability and a willingness to work strange hours.

Female accountant checking financial documentsAccounts assistant

An ideal part-time role, that will probably involve preparing and monitoring time sheets and making sure invoices are paid and distributed. You’ll need training in Sage or a similar package, and also considerable people skills. But there are numerous advantages to this role, and you can easily progress back to full-time employment if the opportunity arises

Finance manager

One of the next logical steps up from an assistant role, not least because you may have a strong say in the direction of the company where you are working. Proficiency in macro and micro financial perspectives will be key, and you’ll probably also be responsible for preparing a regular report on performance and forecasts for coming months or years.
An important part of the team then – and one that can be lucrative.

Marketing and e-commerce

A different type of financial role; one which requires a good grasp of the digital world and strong commercial acumen. You’ll be looking at how you can make your company market itself better, assessing budgets and perhaps even clicks and ad impressions, or you’ll be giving your skills to external companies on a consultative basis. Click here to find out more about BGL a consumer insurance group that offers flexible jobs.

Lawyers

Reverting from a full time role to working from home on a case-by-case basis, taking a role as a part-time criminal or civil lawyer, or as a consultant, can be a rewarding experience. Financial law is a big business and the punishments for making incorrect payments or tax arrangements can be devastating – hence the need for good people to regulate a company’s legal obligations. There are some smaller legal practices that have started over the past 10 years that offer flexible (from home and/or part-time) legal work.

Economics lecturer

A slightly more off-beat idea, but one that can reap dividends. Let’s say that you have a degree and extensive financial knowledge national (and maybe international) markets. You’ve worked in the office and have good business sense, but you’re also a keen student of economics both now and in the past. You’re articulate and you like talking to people about your passion, and you foresee a time when you might only be able to work part-time. With a year of study towards a PhD a lecturing role could be an option. Not easy – but it could be a very lucrative sideline in the evenings or on certain days, at colleges and universities.

 

Author: Jessica Foreman. Jessica is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling. She wrote this article on behalf of BGL Group – consumer insurance.

11 Things Anyone Interested in Becoming a Primary School Teacher Needs to Know

11 Things Anyone Interested in Becoming a Primary School Teacher Needs to Know

It’s undoubtedly a rewarding career choice, but becoming a primary school teacher can be a confusing process. The qualifications, the regulations, the many responsibilities of the job itself… it can be hard to know where to begin and as a new Mum returning to work, starting on a new career path is hard enough as it is.

Some areas of the role won’t start to become clear until the bell sounds on your first morning, such as how quickly you can eat lunch while monitoring the hallways, or which coffee goes down the best in the staff room. But in the meantime, here are 11 points to get you on the way to your new career:

1 How do you become a primary school teacher?

To become a teacher you will need to obtain a Qualified Teacher Status, this can be achieved by completing Initial Teacher Education Training (ITET). These qualifications can be obtained at most Universities in the country, if you already have a degree under your belt, and take around a year to achieve – usually starting in September and finishing in May.

Before you embark on the training process, you must ensure you have the recommended GCSEs, at grades A to C in English, Maths and one science. You’ll also need passes in the professional skills tests, as well as a current Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

To start with, you could try and obtain work experience in a local school once or twice a week to get a feel for the industry, ring round and see if any establishments in the area need any extra hands in the classroom to help with reading or outdoor sessions.

2 What qualifications do you need?

All of the following qualifications are required: ITET, a DBS certificate, GCSEs at grades A to C in at least English, Maths and one science, passes in the professional skills tests, some prior experience of working in schools or with young children, a degree, and the appropriate medical fitness.

With the ITET under your belt, you’ll need to teach successfully for three full terms before gaining your Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) status, during this time you will work in a school but have a mentor to guide you through the best teaching practices.

3 Is a University degree required?

An undergraduate degree from a UK higher education establishment – or a recognised equivalent – is a necessary requirement before you can be accepted onto a teacher training course.

4 What other training can I undertake?

The Department for Education operates the National College for Teaching and Leadership, which helps teachers to expand their skillsets.

Other teacher development programmes include:

  • School-Centred Initial Teacher Training, a one-year course to train those with a degree, in the subject they’d like to teach.
  • Teach First, a programme for those with at least a 2:1 degree. This programme places you in an underprivileged area where you train on the job. It’s aimed at recent graduates, however 22% of successful applicants have had a previous career.
  • UCAS Teacher Training, a one-year course that usually leads to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
  • Troops to Teachers, this programme is aimed at former service personnel looking to take up a career in teaching.

5 What would my responsibilities be?

You would be responsible for educational and social development of children in your care, as well as their emotional and pastoral needs. You will also:

  • Develop lesson plans and present them, making sure they adhere to Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum
  • Mark pupils’ work
  • Manage class behaviour
  • Organise school outings
  • Attend parents’ evenings
  • Stay abreast of changes to the National Curriculum

6 What are my average weekly working hours?

Around 37 hours per week, from around 8.30am to 4pm. You’ll be required to plan lessons and mark work outside of school hours. You’ll work 39 weeks out of 52 in the year, split over three terms. Especially the first 2-5 years you will be working after school hours and holidays to plan and prepare lessons. There are also many evening engagements and weekend engagements that you will be expected to attend such as parent evenings and school fairs. See more information on: Becoming a teacher, is it a viable option for returning to work

7 What is the average starting salary?

With your QTS successfully attained, you can expect a starting salary of approximately £22,000 to £27,500 per year, depending on where you work.

8 What age groups would I teach?

As a primary school teacher you’ll work with three age groups: three to five years (Foundation Stage), five to seven years (Key Stage 1), and seven to 11 years (Key Stage 2).

9 How do I choose which school to teach in?

Local Education Authorities and independent schools advertise through websites such as eteach.co.uk. Why not try compiling a list of local schools and then see what methods each uses to recruit?

10 How do I prepare for the interviews?

The Guardian has a very useful top 10 of teacher’s interview questions.

11 Are there any online resources to help me?

Start with the following:

www.gov.uk
www.prospects.ac.uk
www.ucas.com

Author: Patrick Vernon. Patrick is a freelance writer, specialising in business and finance related content. Patrick has gained experience writing for a variety of magazines and websites, researching the latest money saving tips and offering his advice to the public. This post is written by Patrick and sponsored by education equipment supplier Hope Education.

Fun, Flexible hours, and High Wages… Is Personal Training the career you’ve been dreaming of?

Fun, Flexible hours, and High Wages… Is Personal Training the career you’ve been dreaming of?

Being able to choose when you work is something many mums dream of. There are plenty of jobs for those who prefer to have more flexibility and control over their time. Personal Training is one of these jobs and one that can offer the perfect career for many mums.

If you are keen on health and fitness and you would enjoy working with a variety of different people, this job could be ideal for you. Personal trainers help their clients achieve their personal health and fitness goals.

4 Secrets to Success

• One of the big secrets to this job and this industry is the specialization that is becoming in high demand. For example, personal trainers who specialize in helping mums get back in shape after child birth or trainers who can help certain groups of people, e.g. diabetics, is massively in demand. This is a great opportunity to not only get involved in health and fitness but actually create a long-term career as a leader in one of these areas.

• Focus on what you enjoy – don’t try and please potential customers just because you think this will help grow your personal training business. If you want to train groups instead of 1-2-1 sessions make sure you build up your business to accommodate this. There are benefits and drawbacks to both and having a mix maybe the most sustainable method but the choice is yours. This is the nature of being your own boss. By focusing on what you enjoy, you will maintain that motivation and have a better chance at seeing success.

• Free taster sessions go a long way. One of the hardest things is gaining new clients. You’d be surprised at how clients really want to book up for more classes (so long as your sessions are designed well!) This means it’s very wise to spend time attracting new clients. You may want to begin locally, offering free sessions. This is help build relationships. Many personal trainers rely on referrals as being their main way to get new clients so having great relationships with your clients is very important. If you’re looking to expand, you may want to test out advertising on a small scale. Offering something like a free session is sure to get people’s attention and help you build that initial relationship.

• Grow Naturally – as you start out, you want to keep all expenses to a minimum. You need to balance the books carefully and make sure you have a steady and reliable client base before you think about expanding. There are plenty of opportunities to progress your career, but that’s not to say, it doesn’t involve hard-work. If you dedicate yourself to being an amazing trainer then you are certainly putting yourself on the right track for success but don’t forget about accounts, advertisement, pricing, discounts, time management, etc. These can’t be ignored and can be the difference between growing quickly and slower.

Relevant Skills The reason why mums are particularly good at being personal trainers is that all the relevant skills needed have already been developed and refined. To become a personal trainer, you will need to have:

• determination and enthusiasm

• good organisational skills

• good ‘people’ skills and an outgoing, friendly personality

• patience and the ability to motivate and inspire people

• a responsible attitude to health and safety

• knowledge of anatomy and physiology

• knowledge of nutrition and healthy diet

• tact and discretion

It’s also a job that offers a lot of career progression. Feeling ambitious? Perhaps you might want to set up your own health centre/gym. Feeling like you want to spend more time with the kids? Perhaps you might want to work part time. That’s the beauty of this career.

Get Started Freelance personal training doesn’t need too much investment either. Once you’re fully trained up and have a personal trainer kit list you’re proud of then you can simply go out and start training clients. You don’t need to try and be someone you’re not, it’s about working closely with clients and helping them achieve their goals.

If health and fitness isn’t your thing then you might still want to follow this style of career for another industry. The main thing to remember is that if you dream of flexible working, it is possible so make it happen!

Author: Robert Turp. Robert is a freelance writer who has written this article on behalf of YMCA Training and Fitness Drum

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? - Emma's Story

Going Back to Work Guilt-Free? – Emma’s Story

Before my maternity leave began, I was asked many times if I was going to go back to work. At the time I felt unsure but hoped I would make the right choice when the time approached.

Now I am about to go back, I am still unsure. That’s because whatever I had chosen to do, I’d still feel guilty.

Staying at Home – My Thoughts

If I stay home, I’m relying on my husband’s income which would put a strain on us. Then I’d have to ask him for money – he’d be paying for his own birthday and Christmas presents…

Then what would the rest of the family think? Am I a stay at home Mum or an unemployed person?

I’d also consider the lack of adult company. I could go along to toddler groups, but that involves conversations about babies. I wouldn’t mind that of course, but for how long? My job isn’t particularly challenging mentally, but I still need to do a bit of thinking. However, with baby brain, that makes me nervous.

Going Back to Work – My Thoughts

Then going back to work can have it’s down sides. Apart from the early morning stress of getting everyone up, washed dressed, fed and out of the house on time, there’s the worry of leaving my lovely bundle of joy all day long.

Will the childminder know all of her little quirks? When she’s tired will she just want Mummy? Then there’s the other children who could pick on her. She’s just a baby after all.

Okay, so it’s all about character building and not wrapping her up in cotton wool, but there’s no way I want to miss those milestones. I want to see her first steps.

Make the Most of Maternity Leave

The one thing I made sure I did was savour every day I had with my baby when I was off work. I did things I probably wouldn’t get the chance to do once I was back.

I did every baby group going from Yoga to Zumbini. I even did stuff around the house and garden I wouldn’t normally do.

It can be lonely with a small baby all day long, so I checked out what was going on at the local children centres.

What’s Best for You and Baby

I made the personal choice to return to work part time. That way I could still keep my job with a possibility of going back full time again one day.

As my daughter is getting older, she’s becoming more independent. There’s more to life than hanging out with Mum. She wants to go off and play and learn with the other children. In another year, she’ll be going to pre-school. Then what will I do?

At least going back gives me options. If it works then that’s great. I’ve got a little independence myself, a small amount of income and something else in my life to focus on. It’s all about adjusting and just trying to get the balance right.

If it doesn’t work, then it’s back to the drawing board. I just need to remember why I need a job and why my baby might actually appreciate that in the long run.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages

Making The Most of Maternity Leave

Making The Most of Maternity Leave

When you’re counting down to the start of your maternity leave, and more importantly D-Day, it’s very easy to feel down. As your bump is still expanding and you’re really feeling like you’re going to pop, you just feel tired, swollen and a little bit scared.

You may even feel panicked that things still need to be done, but try and take some deep breaths (good practice for what’s to come) and enjoy this exciting time.

Not only are you about to finish work for a while, you are also going to have a wonderful bundle of joy to keep you occupied. Babies change so fast, so prepare to savour every moment!

Getting ready for Baby

If you feel as though you’re not organised before baby’s arrival, write a list of what needs to be done. Then prioritise everything. Some things can wait.

What to put on your list:

  • Somewhere for baby to sleep (e.g. Moses basket), baby blankets, sheets
  • Bottles, sterilising unit, formula (even if you plan to breast feed. You may need an emergency back up)
  • Your hospital bag with nightdress, nursing bras, maternity pads, big knickers, toiletries
  • Baby’s hospital bag with first size sleep suits, nappies, cotton wool, hat, going home outfit
  • Pram, car seat, baby basics such as baby bath

Just remember that anything else for baby can be bought after your baby is born, or you can ask family and friends for certain things.

Housework and decorating can also wait. The baby can easily sleep in your room for the first three to six months, so even their nursery can be put on hold if need be.

Me Time

You may not get an awful lot of ‘me time’, but there will be times when you can make the most of those quiet moments.

Before the baby is born do lots of relaxing. This means having plenty of long baths, hanging out in your PJ’s, sleeping as much as you can and getting people to run around after you!

When baby is here and you’re at home being overwhelmed with visitors, take full advantage. Let them take the baby, change the baby’s nappy, feed them (if you are using formula or expressed breast milk) and if you have family staying over night, let them take care of baby while you sleep in.

Allow your partner to get involved and accept any help offered. Make sure you are fully prepared for when hubby is back at work and it’s just the two of you.

Baby is Growing Fast!

Each moment with your baby is special. You’ll be taking plenty of photo’s and seeing how quickly they are changing. Every few weeks they are growing out of outfits and you are noticing milestones.

You may be reading books or articles of what your baby ‘should’ be doing week by week. When they finally do things, such as smiling, rolling over, sitting up, you can enjoy these moments. You have this time off work to see what baby is up to.

You may look back and feel a bit sad that baby isn’t so teeny-tiny anymore, but buying new outfits can be exciting. Baby clothes can be bought on a shoe string too (have a look in supermarkets, or the sale racks) which is a positive when you’re not earning.

Crafty

If you’re handy with a knitting needle and wool, then making your own baby clothes will save you some money, as well as keeping you occupied when baby is asleep (unless you are sleeping too!).

In fact you can go all shabby chic by making new cushion covers or painting old furniture. When you’re at home every day, you might want to freshen things up. It’s cheaper than buying new.

If you do have the time and energy, now is also a good time to start up any old hobbies once again.

Sort Out Baby’s Social Life

Have a look online or information from your local children’s centres at what there is to do with baby. They’ll be plenty of baby groups to meet other Mum’s and chat with health visitor’s about any concerns you may have.

There might be alternative ideas, depending on your baby’s age and ability. Try music and singing groups or swimming clubs. Some groups are free, but others charge termly or an entrance fee.

You could also set up a group with the other Mum’s. Invite them round for coffee, then change location to someone else’s house or a baby-friendly coffee shop.

This is not just indulging. All of these contacts will come in handy once you have returned to work and you need some quick information about something baby-related. Besides, it’s good for your baby to learn to become flexible and get used to other people, locations and babies.

Get Some Pocket Money

Getting some extra cash always comes in handy, especially with a baby to buy for. Sell off your old stuff to make space in your home and make money. Use Facebook, Ebay or Gumtree to advertise your maternity clothes, pre-pregnancy clothes and baby clothes and toys.

If you did get handy with those crafts, there’s always Etsy to sell all things handmade.

Make Your Own Baby Food

When it comes to weaning, making your own baby food can be great fun. Get an ice cube tray to freeze batches of food and try out a number of flavours. You can try out the shop bought ones and re-create them at home. This way you are saving money, and making something you know baby likes!

Have a look on the internet or at baby recipe books for ideas.

Time To Go Back To Work?

Are you dreading the return to the grindstone? If the boring 9-5 you had isn’t filling you with excitement, then use this valuable time off to check out what else is available.

Get your CV and Linked In profile up to date and have a scout about at what is out there. If you need to brush up on a new skill, then see if you can do some research.

Of course, you can also get chatting to your new Mum friends and find out the companies they work for. There could be an opportunity for a fresh new start.

Author: Emma Harvey, Emma is a working mother with a 12 year old and a 9 month old. She works in the care sector and has just returned from maternity leave as a trainer. She writes and blogs in her spare time. Read more on Emma’s own blog: HubPages