Now several things you need to know about this blog…
- I like to talk but not normally about myself.
- Being a mum is hard.
- Being a business owner is hard.
- Doing both simultaneously is bloody challenging.
- I hope it will help others that are going through the same thing, whilst also making you laugh out loud (hopefully on a packed train.)
A business women is often perceived as a power house. A business women with children is seen as a mumpreneur, when in fact the reality is something really quite different.
Up at the crack of dawn…not because your child is but because you want to get ahead of your emails before they start pouring in. Having Paw Patrol (Series 5 episode 27 Apollo saves the day) at the ready on the iPad in case a potential client rings because you have learnt that if you don’t that they are likely to tell them that they have just done a poo – or more embarrassingly that I have. Or the sheer excitement and thrill of being able to work on a very quiet train without any ‘noise.’
We need to stop pretending we can do it all. I am a mother, businesswoman, wife and daughter. None of these make me superwoman.
Business is important to me. I have been in business for the past 10 years, but the last 2 have been my toughest yet. Which, funnily enough, coincides with the birth of my son Stanley. I run 8 well established networking groups in central London and also have my own networking site which is still in its earliest stages. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but balancing work with pregnancy and children has not been easy.
Why do we do what we do in business? Simon Sineks’ famous clip asking all business owners to dig deep and work out their three year plan, and ultimately their why. And, of course, you are meant to be doing it for “your children,” as if your hopes and dreams become enmeshed and intertwined with your kids the minute you give birth. But, the thing is I am more than just my child and identify as more than a mum. Being a business woman is an important part of my identity and I view my businesses (that’s plural) as my second child who similarly need my support and guidance. I do have a three year plan but the truth is, that well some days, I have no clue who I am, take your pick; a dinosaur catcher (stomp stomp), a chef or even Mrs Goggins.
Don’t get me wrong being a mother it’s rewarding amazing and a privilege, but quite enough is written about motherhood. In fact, the underbelly of being a self-employed mum is barely touched upon – empowered that you can choose your own hours.
The pregnancy itself was not easy. You think business throws you some dramas!
In fact for EastEnder followers you can just imagine the duffs at the end of the show.
Week 28 I was told the baby was coming and to prepare for the worst. Although I was more in shock that my large event the next day wouldn’t be covered (thankfully I was discharged 24 hours later.) At week 30 involved an impromptu visit to the fire station to have my jewellery cut off because I had grown so big. And of course in true filmatic style was rushed to hospital straight after my last event at week 35 after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
When they did finally deliver my baby boy by C-section (yes more drama) they didn’t realise I wasn’t completely under and told me the sex of the baby. To top things off, when we were eventually allowed to go home, just before discharge they noticed an abnormality which meant a trip and operation in London’s Royal hospital.
The sad thing is I barely remember the first three months of Stanley’s life, a combination of the blood pressure drugs, hormones and stress. In fact I took very little video and photographic footage because of it…much later I would be diagnosed with post-natal depression something my family nor GP were surprised about. PND is a misunderstood, ignored issue that no one really speaks about and yet it affects 10% of all mothers. Even now when I mention it…I receive embarrassed looks.
Stanley has always had walking difficulties (definitely more of a talker like his mum), and as he still wasn’t crawling by the age of two they were concerned that there was a serious underlining issue. Of course hubby was more confident than me that it would come in time. As a mum there is the constant guilt of working on my business when I feel I should be spending time with my son. Conversely, as a business owner I feel guilty about spending time with my son when I should be working on my business. The sad thing is there is a perception of business women as hard and infallible. A myth that is perpetuated at the very earliest stage – my son watches a TV programme where there’s a character called “business woman” and she’s always on her phone, seemingly impervious to the outside. As if in order to be more “business” and less “woman” we have to be harder, faster and stronger.
Thankfully, Stanley is now running around like a loon (sorry dinosaur) and in the clear, and I feel so much more at ease.
I am now getting into the stride of being a mum. But, here’s the truth and I go back to the beginning of this article. Being a business woman is hard, add a child into the mix and you reach new levels of difficulty. And it’s about time we all stopped pretending it’s any other way. We need to create a society where women can ask for help without feeling “weak” and be honest about their commitments to their children without fear of losing clients – most of whom, in my experience, are incredibly sensitive to the situation. We need to stop pretending we can do it all.
So key things I have learnt as a Business Mum…
- I have learnt that’s its OK to ask for everyone to muck in whilst mum bank recs (while simultaneously prints 4 documents, and cooks dinner of course)
- That life is going to be chaotic for a little while
- That I get just as excited about my cash flow forecast planning whilst on my sunbed as I do my sons birthday card being read out on CBeebies (yes I made the cut)
- Its OK to be angry that I don’t remember much of those first moments, but I have been here to witness his first steps.
- Getting my son to make my event badges is classed as ‘craft time’
- That I’m successful in business because of my amazing friends and family around me
- Sometimes when you have had a bad day sometimes you just need to ‘let it go’ – yup, seen frozen too many times.
- That my business will grow with my family, not my family grow with my business
- I could be mastermind champion if ‘Bing’ was my specialist subject…
Lizzie Phillips has over ten years of experience in marketing from working on large brands to start-up companies. In addition to running Women in Business Networking events at various London locations, she also runs her own marketing media company Cavara BS providing Marketing, PR, Event Management, Video and Photography.
What have you learnt since being a business mum? Feel free to comment and/or share your tips below!