Having written last week about being a Mum and working flexibly around your family, I have been thinking about the term “Mumpreneur”. I know that the term made it into the OED at the end of last year and that this caused a bit of a debate to arise. There are many who seem to find the term derogatory, and yet since becoming a Mum and considering my options with regard to working around my family, I have also seen the term used positively by many individuals, communities and companies.
So, what’s the debate all about?
The first post I read, the one that made me think about this at all in fact, was a post by Lynn Harris. Her perspective is that the term Mompreneur (she is writing for the American audience, hence “Mom”) is often used to patronise and belittle the achievements of women in business. “let’s face it: when we are not among other mothers who are prepared to salute and support us, the word “mom” has a different — and diminutive — connotation.” I’ll be honest; I hadn’t really considered this. I am in awe of women who successfully have a family and run a business. I find the idea of working for myself and doing it around my commitments to my family a really beguiling one. But then I am one of the “other mothers who are prepared to salute and support”. I hadn’t thought about those who might not. Those who might use the term to suggest that you were somehow not as serious about your job as a proper entrepreneur, after all you don’t hear of many men being called Dadpreneurs; men are entrepreneurs with a family.
So I searched about a bit and it seems that there are many people who subscribe to the same thoughts as Lynn Harris. Jen Walshaw of Mum in the Madhouse says that the term suggests that “not only do we often run a home, but in between it all we manage to do a little work” Rebecca Jones of Business in Red Shoes says that she has “asked men and women in business what they think and the majority worry that it implies they are a mum first and business comes second”, suggesting that the term may be “hindering their business appeal for those who worry their role as a mum will interfere with their abilities as a business woman.” If this is the perception, then how come so many women in business do use and associate with the term?
I emailed Erica Douglas of littlemummy.com. She is one half of Become a Mumpreneur, so I assumed that she must be able to tell me something positive about the term! I saw Erica and her partner Antonia Chitty speak at the Business and Baby Show 2011 and have taken e-courses both via littlemummy and BAM, they are certainly using the term Mumpreneur to connect with their target market and seem to be encouraging women to embrace the term and use it to move themselves forward as both Mums and business women.
Erica’s response was very interesting. She said that “a Mumpreneur is someone who has gone into business because they are a mum.” She also highlighted the sense of community that there can be with the term Mumpreneur “I think there are many mums in business who do identify with the term, and for them it gives them a group or ‘tribe’ to feel a part of and gain support from.” Interestingly, Erica says that she feels that the term Mumpreneur only describes one stage of business and that there comes a time when your business and lifestyle move past this title; where children become less dependent. This ties in with Rebecca Jones’ point. Perhaps women who identify with the term are women who do put their family first and their business second? I personally would see this as a strength in many ways, although I can see Rebecca’s point that as a client I may be less forgiving.
I suppose overall the key thing is that the term Mumpreneur can be useful if you identify with it, if your clientele identify with it in a positive manner and if it says the right things about you and your business. It is not a useful term if it is applied to you in a pejorative way as a means of suggesting that you are not as good at your job as others who are not ‘distracted’ by family. For me, one sentence stood out in Erica Douglas’ email and it was this “If I decide I’m going to do something then no terminology in the world will stop me aspiring to that.”
So, women who work for yourselves and have a family, keep aspiring to be the best you possibly can; refer to yourselves in whatever way you wish and do not be limited by language.
One of our aims and commitments as More than a Mum is to not only help you to be a brilliant mum but to help you rediscover your identity as a woman too. We want our posts to be practical as well as informative, constructive as well as inspiring.
I’m conscious we could easily neglect the identity issue as it is incredibly easy for us to become absorbed, and dare I say, all consumed in being parents. Sometimes without even realising it. But who are you without your child? Do you sometimes wonder what to talk about or even what to do with your hands when you don’t have your child with you? People lose their identity for all sorts of reasons; a dominating partner, a demanding career, a busy parent. However, it’s worth remembering we are only in danger of losing who we are if our identity is wrapped up ‘only’ in what we do.
As parents we long for our children’s successes to surpass our own, for them to have the opportunities we never had and we do everything in our power to help them along the way. However, as we’ve said time and time again in our posts ‘a happy and fulfilled parent equals a happy and fulfilled child’. The best thing we can do for our children is to lead by example. To live what we want to teach them – not just talk about it. Not only do we owe it to our children though, but we owe it to ourselves to reignite our passion for our dreams, to dig them up from the depths where we, or life’s pressures, have buried them and to start to construct a plan towards achieving them.
Maybe it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten your dream. Maybe you think you don’t have one anymore. I’m confident with the right kind of digging you can uncover it and be on your way to rediscovering your identity as a woman in the process.
The following steps are just for you. You don’t have to share them with anyone yet but I do encourage you to write them down to make it more real.
Step 1: What did you want to be as a little girl/boy? (Try to remember the self-belief and abandonment you had as a child – that the world was your oyster and you could do or be anything you wanted to be.)
Step 2: What would you do if you were guaranteed you wouldn’t fail?
Step 3: What do you wish you could be doing this time next year? (Your short-term goal)
Step 4: What do you wish you could be doing in 5 years time? (Your mid term goal)
Step 5: Where would you like to be and what would you want to be doing in ten years time? (Your long-term goal)
Step 6: What is something you would quite like to do that you know you can do you just haven’t got round to doing it or made time to do it?
Step 7: What would you love to do but it seems like too much hard work/effort/time?
Step 8: What’s your crazy dream you secretly would love to do but struggle to believe it’s even possible?
Step 9: Look back over all your answers so far.
– What small step could you do tomorrow towards any of these things?
– What medium step could you commit to do in the next two weeks towards any of these things?
– What big step could you take by Christmas towards any of these things?
Step 10: The important thing is to just get on and do it. Stop talking yourself out of it or looking at the obstacles or difficulties in the way – Just get started.
Wake up tomorrow and take that first tiny step.
It is with slight apprehension that I begin to write a blog post on Stay at home mums V working Mums. Mainly because, like most things in life, I don’t believe there is a firm black or white, right or wrong answer. However, today I saw the Myleene Klass Yahoo channel ‘Bumps, Babies & Beyond’ programme and it was discussing the common debate – Can mums really have it all? – so I thought I’d dive in.
Until fairly recently, Ruth and I (who run this blog together) represented both of these worlds with Ruth staying at home to bring up Munchkin and me working (albeit part time) with Bear Cub in nursery 2 days a week and 1 day with Aunty. So this is a discussion we’ve had many a time and we both see the pros and cons of each choice. I say ‘choice’ when actually many mum’s are unable to afford to stay at home and not work and it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. But from first-hand experience I’d also argue it’s an equal financial struggle to afford the astronomical childcare costs these days if you decide to go back to work!
The controversial bit: Personally I don’t really see the point in having kids if they are in nursery from 8am-6pm 5 days a week. It seems a bit like when people have a dog and then keep it outside in the kennel all the time – I just don’t get it. Having said that, I don’t think I could not work at all a) for my own sanity and b) for financial reasons. So I opted for working part time. Bear cub gets a lot out of nursery and enjoys it but, there is just no denying if he had the choice he’d want to be with mummy full time.
One of the mums in the Myleene Klass video spoke of how upset she was that she missed her child’s first steps and this was what prompted her to become a SAHM. However, the other guest described how working actually enabled her to be a happier and more fulfilled woman and therefore a better mum. Both are incredibly strong arguments.
So in the interests of sparking some feedback and discussion let’s really go there with the good, bad and ugly of both options.
STAY AT HOME MUM:
Good – Won’t miss out on any key ‘first’ moments, give a secure start to your little one, form a close bond, educate them yourself, influence according to your family rules and preferences
Bad – Can sometimes be boring, may miss engaging your brain beyond child level activities, may miss adult company/interaction, may get frustrated with little person due to so much time with them, tiring.
Ugly – Lose your sense of being a woman in the role of being a mum, only talk about poo, Cbeebies and the latest soft play area, live in jeans and joggies
Good – Having something for you can raise your self-esteem, by having time away from your little ones you may have more energy, patience and quality time when you are with them, makes you put make up on and do your hair, you can go to the toilet in peace and on your own!
Bad – May miss special/key events and first moments, bad habits can be learned at nursery/childcare, your child may have increased separation anxiety, nursery/childcare may teach different values/lessons to your preference, missing out in general as they grow up so quickly, tiring.
Ugly – You may have to learn how to walk in heels again (depending on your job) you have to work extra hard to keep all the plates spinning.
I’m sure you can think of many more to add (and I hope you will in the comments below). One thing that really struck me is, whichever category we fall in, there is one accessory we all seem to wear as mum’s – altogether now – GUILT!!!!
Let’s give ourselves a break ladies and do what we feel is best for our family.
As we’ve often said on More than a Mum, we firmly believe it’s possible to be a great mum AND a fulfilled woman.
So it was with a mixture of emotions that we embarked on our first Mumpreneur seminar at the weekend at the business and baby show hosted by MumsClub: Excitement at having a day out without Bear & Munchkin in tow, apprehension at what to expect and confusion at what we were even doing there!
The first thing we saw as we queued for our all-important goody bags was a mum in approximately 4 inch heels feeding her young baby while walking around casually. We didn’t know whether to shrink back in intimidation or shake her hand at her fabulous awesomeness but, it did bring a smile to our faces.
As we negotiated the seminar list, having to toss to choose as there were so many great topics with equally fantastic speakers, we gingerly approached the first stall. Fifteen minutes later we’d been encouraged, given some great advice and swapped stories with a talented mum and her gorgeous products. This scenario played out again and again at almost every stall. We’d expected to get our main inspiration from the seminars (which incidentally were fantastically informative, enthusing and practical especially Antonia Chitty and Erica Douglas). However, we found ourselves hugely motivated by the dedication, passion, creativity and sheer hard work of the many Mumpreneurs exhibiting at the show. If they could do it, we could do it! There was no competition, in a negative sense, and every mum we encountered genuinely seemed to want us to succeed in our quest. As for our quest; it was honed by the end of the day just by being asked so many times what our business was which meant we were able to helpfully clarify it for ourselves.
Not only did we come away feeling that our aim to, ‘inspire, equip and encourage mums to rediscover their identity while still being a brilliant mum’ was clearer than ever, we also realised from the feedback we received that it is spot on and much needed by many mums.
Mums are amazing people!