The Mum Juggle: In my former life BB (before blogging) I was a PR person. I promoted hats, clothing, home furnishings, nursery products and motors for a decade until I gave birth to my daughter. When she came along I wanted to work from home so I created a small business to do other people’s admin, marketing and telephone answering. I used my PR skills to get it off the ground and bring in my early clients. This was when my mum juggle started – working from home around a baby, bringing in work, giving my baby her attention, my clients their attention, my husband his attention and myself no attention.
I didn’t intend to put myself at the back of the queue, but I’d given up a well-paid job with a company car so I could ‘indulge’ my dreams of being with my baby. I didn’t feel like I had a right to have any rest- I’d just severed our household income by half, so I put my needs last and got on with keeping everything afloat. For me, leaving the job was necessary – I know I had a choice but to me there was no choice. I couldn’t be out of the house for 10 hours a day letting someone else see her first smile, hear her first words, watch her take her first steps – those were my privileges. So I quit.
There’s a saying – take the leap and build your wings on the way down. This is what I did.
I had no safety net – no savings. I started The Dream PA with only £50 of working capital and a rough plan, but as any small business owner will tell you – actually getting out there and bringing the business in isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work, time and effort. I couldn’t do it all alone so I asked my family for help. One grandma had my daughter for 3 days at first and the other grandma had her for 1. This gave me some time to concentrate on getting work in and doing that work!
I started to build a business. I’d get a few clients then one would leave, a project would end, they’d decide they didn’t need a PA after all. I went back out and hustled again – bringing in some more clients. The cycle was never ending, and exhausting. I’d be approached constantly by other VA’s who wanted to do what I’d done – but how? They wanted advice, and I wanted to help but my reality was that I’d got enough to do keeping my own business going, there wasn’t the time to answer every email and I was answering the same questions over and over – repeating myself. So I decided to write a book about it – this was my best decision!
I answered all the questions I’d been asked within that book, did the work once and it has helped people over and over as well as earning me an income. The book became a best-seller on Amazon and at the time it was the only ‘how to’ book about becoming a Virtual Assistant that was aimed at the UK market. The market has moved on since I wrote the book and I’m no longer active as a virtual assistant, so I’d advise anyone interested in becoming a VA now to get lots of up to date advice, but The Virtual Assistant Handbook nevertheless contains some evergreen content related to marketing your small business and organising your time that small business owners would find useful and it is exactly my story of the time.
In the middle of all this we had our son. Now I had two under 5, a business and a home to run. My weight was creeping up and I had no time to myself, and I also had no creative outlet. I couldn’t express myself. My love of fashion had gone downhill – nothing fitted me. I had relied on help for a few days a week from my mum and mother-in-law for a few years but I was losing passion for the business I’d once put heart and soul into and with a newborn at home again I just wanted to be with my son. See his first smile, hear his first words, watch him take his first steps…
There’s something about a baby that turns your whole life on its head and inside out, decisions are made on gut with no thought out reason, but hard though these decisions may be when you are living them, I find they are the best ones. My babies brought me to blogging.
After my son was born I became a stay at home mum with a scaled down version of my business – one that I could manage around my kids. No more going out to meetings, everything was done by email (preferably) or over the phone (where I’d try to time calls at nap-time then have a mild panic if the baby wasn’t settling). Business mums will understand, you place the kids in front of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in one room and bribe them with something they want for after your call whilst you try to conduct your business in the next room, hoping that your child won’t come in crying or chaos erupt for the 5 minutes that call will take. It’s a juggle.
I needed a creative outlet after being at home with a baby all day, and I needed to feel like ‘me’ again, so I started blogging. I created a piece of the internet that was all mine, I could make it as pretty as I wanted and I knew that everything would still be where I left it on the blog when I went back into it… unlike my living room! I loved to write on my blog, to take photos and have somewhere to display them and over time I found my voice again.
My children grew and so did my blog. My youngest started nursery, giving me a few hours a day to myself so I went to the gym, learned how to cook and lost 4 stones. I find weight a constant struggle, I’ve put two of those stones back on but I’m back on that particular horse and will shift it again. What blogging has given me is a lovely network of new friends, like-minded women who I can talk to about anything related to digital publishing. My day-to-day friends are a lot of fun but we don’t share this interest, so now I have online and offline friends – my world has grown!
Being at home with a baby can make your world shrink somewhat – blogging blasts through those doors again… No wonder there are so many parent bloggers out there, creating their virtual worlds and making new connections.
My blog is 6 years old and I’m so proud of what it has become and the opportunities that blogging has created. I’m grateful that I am part of this new and exciting digital world and love the variety it brings. Through this blog I’m working with some incredible national and international brands reaching readers all over the world and continuing to learn new skills.
I started my mum juggle when I had my first baby and over the years I have become pretty good at that juggle, even though I constantly have to work to maintain a balance. It never comes easy, but you get better at it! I’m sharing this story because tomorrow I will have an exciting announcement to make… It is about the next stage of my blogging career and how my work has evolved. I started my blog for a creative outlet, now it is my career. I hope that any parents out there at home with a young family and a desire to work around them will be inspired to see that it can be done. See you tomorrow…