I’ve been reflecting on the word ‘hope’ and the power of it lately. It’s easy to think that hope is a weak emotion – a desperate clutching onto something we desire but are not sure will happen – it’s simply a wish. However, the definition states hope is; a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Still sound a bit flimsy? Well maybe but, without that very simple notion nothing will happen in life.
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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.
Today’s post is part of a clever little linky dreamed up by Maria of FeistyTapas.com. She is a very hard working lady, juggling an 18 month old and a fulltime work-from-home job as a translator, oh and blogging about it all. (I bow to her superior abilities!)
Her linky is all about working with children. The only real guidelines are that you should write about how you work around your kids – be it full or part-time working from home, running your own business, blogging or whatever you do – and what works/doesn’t work for you.
Maria’s idea is that as many people as possible link up with posts about how we work around our kids and once all the linking is done, we’ll have a database of advice for other Mum’s who may want to change, adapt or improve their working lifestyle.
So here is my (Ruth) two pennies worth of information about how working with a child has changed my work/life balance and how I manage working and family life…
I’m a teacher. When I went on maternity leave, I was a head of department in a ‘challenging’ London school and loved it. Once I had my daughter, I knew that if I went back to work in the role I had been in, I would not be able to commit 100% either to my daughter or my job and that bothered me enough to quit. I enjoyed being a stay at home mum and as we could survive on one wage, I didn’t even think about going back to work.
The way I kept my brain going during this time was to study (you may have read that in my previous post – sorry to keep repeating myself!). I studied with the OU on a part-time MEd course. I did my reading and wrote assignments in year one of my duaghter’s life, almost wholly in her nap times. Then as she got older, nap-time got shorter and I had to do more work in the evenings. At this time, however, her sleeping also got better, so I did have enough brain power to work in the evenings. With the odd weekend where my husband did ‘Daddy-daughter’ things so that I could have a larger block of time at key moments, this is how I managed my study – and I have passed, so it worked!
When Munchkin was 18months, I landed a job that doesn’t really exist in teaching. Essentially I now do curriculum development and staff training for an SEN school. It just happened rather than being planned, but the Head offered me 11 hours a week from home for a short term contract, which has since been extended. The hours are flexible – some weeks I work much more and some weeks much less. My Head doesn’t mind how things are completed, as long as they are completed to deadlines.
At the beginning I would do most of my hours from home and use email to keep in touch. I popped in for meetings with the Head about twice a month and she was happy for Munchkin to come too. As and when I needed more time in school, my mum would come to stay and then I’d head in for the day to blitz face-to-face things that needed to happen. Training was all after school, so I’d drop Munchkin into hubby’s classroom for the hour or so that I was working.
One thing that you will notice is that a flexible and understanding boss is paramount if you work for someone. It is also important that you have the understanding of colleagues. On the whole, mine are great, but I know of other Mum’s who find office bitching and jealousy makes working flexibly in a majority full-time environment very stressful. I think you need a thick skin to work flexibly with others. The key thing that I have found is to ensure that you do your job impeccably and are utterly professional, but are also honest and up-front about what you can and can’t do in the time given.
Now that Munchkin is almost 3, has given up her daytime naps (*sob*) and I have started blogging (and who knows what else we’ll develop through More than a Mum!) I have had to make a few changes. It was getting to the point where every hour was taken by being a Mum, working, blogging or studying. There was no time for me and there was no time for my OH. This was not a state of affairs I could stomach for long. I love my job and More Than a Mum, but not over my relationship and sanity, therefore I decided that at least some of my work hours had to become regular and I needed to consider childcare.
Munchkin had been going to a crèche for 1.5hours every Friday while I ran a peer support group for breastfeeding mothers for about a year and loved it, so I decided that a few more hours of childcare were a) not going to harm her b) going to help me!
I went to my Head and as she wanted me to do a bit more in school support anyway I proposed that I should come in one morning a week. It’s only 4.5 hours, but that means a good chunk of my hours is completed and I have a better ability to keep in touch with staff.
Again you may have read my post about why I wont be sending Munchkin to pre-school, but in spite of this, I do believe that she needs to socialise with her peers without me, therefore nursery seemed a good option. Munchkin was not impressed with me leaving her at nursery for a good few weeks and I did have several second thoughts as I peeled her off me and ran for the door with the screams echoing in my ears. 4 months down the line, however and even though she only goes once a week, she asked when she could go again this Christmas holiday. Phew!
Anyway, I have wittered on enough, I think that my top tips for making working with children work can be summed up as follows:
1) Be organised – I make lists, but do what works for you. I write down all the things I want to get done in the day (from work projects to washing up) and prioritise them, both for importance and time slots. Some things can be done while Munchkin plays, some can be done with Munchkin and some have to be done while she watches Cbeebies or once she’s asleep.
2) Be professional – people make value judgements about Mums, you need to prove them wrong, whatever sphere you are working in.
3) Be honest with yourself and others – my priority is my daughter. I wont neglect work, but I will much less neglect her. If a project is too big for 11 hours a week, I wont take it on or I will work out how parts can be delegated to make it manageable.
4) Be flexible – some weeks you’ll get loads done and find time in places you didn’t think there would be any, but some weeks you’ll slave away for hours and achieve very little. Don’t worry about this, it’s pretty normal.
Well we do hope you’ve all noticed our fancy new banner and logo…have you? We like it a lot! And it’s all thanks to a lovely and very talented lady called Rachael Jane (@rachinald). She’s a textile designer, photographer, graphic designer, vlogger, blogger, poet and overall creative thinker. Talk about an inspiring lady!!!
Yes, the title is correct, More Than a Mum has branched out and is now available to download via Amazon! This is a very exciting time for us, as we both draft on pen and paper and are keen on nice pens and stationery, but really we felt we ought to get ourselves into the technological era with a bit more panache! So, click here and you can be the proud owner (for the bargin price of 99p a month) of a Kindle edition of More Than a Mum Blog.
This is all thanks to MTJAM who posted a few blogs at the beginning of last month detailing just how she has gone about publishing her own blog on Kindle. It all seemed fairly simple (and it was) so we thought we’d have a go. Whether or not anyone will pay for the priviledge of being able to download our blog remains to be seen, but it amuses me that I can go onto Amazon, seach More Than A Mum and find our blog – so the majority of page hits will no doubt be me clicking and smiling to myself!
Anyway, if any of you lovely people who read our blog do own Kindles, or iPads/phones with Kindle apps, or get any of the above for Christmas, make Ruth and Loretta’s day and download our blog. 🙂 Thank you!
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.
So the BritMums blogging prompt this week is: In 100-200 words WHO are we? (Really got to cut the waffle for this one!)
We are More than a Mum. We want to support women in being brilliant Mums, AND help them to rediscover their own identity.
We are Loretta and Ruth, two Mums who love being parents, but don’t want to lose our own identities or stop thinking intellectually. We both work part-time, to varying degrees; we both love a good socio-political debate; we both love sharing the hints, tips and traumas of motherhood and that’s what our blog is about.
Our posts range from the trials and tribulations of our own motherhood, to discussion of news stories that have a family resonance. We are going to blog about recipes (just sorting out my Sloe Gin one now!), craft ideas, and kid-friendly activities as well as parental concerns, me-time ideas and our own experiences. We also want to create a forum for other Mums (and Dads) to discuss some of the big debates surrounding childhood and parenthood.
We fancy being the Marie Claire of Mummy Blogs…We like to aim high!
187 words – done it!
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!