How to manage the school holidays…

…and still have a good time!

I don’t know about you but the forthcoming school holidays always fill me with joy and dread. Joy that I get to spend time with my gorgeous girl but dread because I still need to find time to work.

Mum and Daughter

Full disclosure – I take a financial hit during the holidays. I’m not truly working – instead I reduce my hours massively and take on new projects that start in September. I posted about how I save before the holidays in this post and I’m currently beavering away to try and set up work from September.

I do this because I never want to feel torn between choosing work over time with my daughter. I am really LUCKY that I can do this because of my freelance lifestyle. My work tends to be on a project by project basis. I’m not forgetting this and we all know the benefits AND the negatives of a freelance gig but it is a choice I am currently choosing to make.

So during the holidays I do:

Working on the move
  1. Check my email – everyday and I answer anything pressing from my phone.
  2. Work for an hour every morning and in the evening.
  3. Check in with clients – wish them a happy summer or just remind them that I’m ready to start in September
  4. Network through meeting with ex-colleagues for a drink or coffee when I’m child-free.
  5. Plan a day every fortnight when I am child-free and can binge on work stuff/admin
  6. Revise any plans/goals for the Autumn
  7. Assess my financials – where am I in invoicing/earnings.

I can thoroughly recommend that you have a look at the article here by Skills you need website.

How I Work: Jenna Bissell from That Mum Moment

That Mum Moment
Jenna designs amazing cards for parents

I am so pleased to be featuring Jenna from That Mum Moment on the blog today! The more time I spend on Instagram, the more I love it. I came across Jenna’s brilliant account during a scrolling session and was instantly hit by the colour, wit and okay, the leopard print of her designs.

She also must be super-human, launching That Mum Moment when her daughter was barely a year old and she has a regular job as well. I struggle to blog more than once a week whilst working on my business so kudos to Jenna. She also has great taste in podcasts. See below for Jenna’s How I Work!

  1. Name of Business?

I decided to name my brand after those times I really felt like a proper mum and “had That Mum Moment”. You know the times, you’re kicking off about someone else parking in a mother and baby space or you’re eating leftover fish fingers from a plastic plate. From those moments came my collection of brightly coloured cards, all inspired by the reality of parenting along with fashion and Instagram. Like me, they like to tell it how it is with a little humour and a *some* bad language thrown in, but please don’t tell my dad!

2. What do you do?

Mother Pukka’s Flex Appeal is an inspiration

Nowadays I’m striving to become a ‘Multi-Hyphen Mum’. I’m obsessed with Emma Gannon’s book,  ‘The Multi-Hyphen Method’ and I’m just about to read it for the second time around. Similarly to Mother Pukka’s Flex Appeal it taps into the idea that we can design a career that works for us rather than a standard 9-5 at a desk Monday to Friday.

I now work at home 4 days a week as a marketing manager, with some travel. Working at home is super flexible and I have the stability of a monthly income. I have one day with my daughter in the week and fit That Mum Moment and Etsy shop around her afternoon nap and some evenings.

3. Where do you work?

Jenna works from home in her spare room

The day I actually started the brand I was sat in a coffee shop overlooking the beach, listening to one of my favourite podcasts by Not Another Mummy’s Alison Perry. From there I went on to take over our dining room/playroom, until earlier this year when I discovered Marie Kondo and organised the hell out of our spare room. I now have a really inspiring space that ‘sparks joy’ and my cards are super organised and easy to pick and pack.

4. How did you get to this point in your career?

I studied journalism way, way back, before Facebook or Instagram existed. I vaguely remember the course helping me with my writing but more than anything I loved the design modules. Playing around with Macs was so alien to someone who had been brought up with PCs and floppy disks (man, I sound old). While my shorthand was fairly sh*t, I adored the combination of writing and design. From there I worked in marketing and freelance writing for nearly 15 years which has given me all the skills I needed to set up That Mum Moment.

I created That Mum Moment in 2018 after having my daughter a year earlier. Motherhood hit me like a tonne of bricks (hands up if you’re a control freak?!) and I was trying to navigate the ‘new’ me. The cards are inspired by those moments when you need someone to tell you you’re smashing it. While it’s a bit old school, nothing is better than receiving a card in the post, knowing how much effort your mate has gone to, to choose a card, buy a stamp and remember your address. I want the brand to empower parents (mainly frazzled mums), champion self-care and encourage others to pass on those good vibes.

5. The best part of my job is…?

A design from Jenn'a range of greetings cards
One of That Mum Moment cards

Imagining the smile on people’s faces when they receive one of my cards gives me all the feels. I’m a bit of a softie at heart and adore the thought that something as simple as a card will bring two friends closer together and make such a difference to someone’s day.

6. The worst part of my job is…?

I love working on That Mum Moment but it can be tough finding the motivation to carry on in the evenings or when my daughter has a nap. Sometimes I’d much rather sit on the sofa with a biscuit and cuppa or glass of wine. I combat that by committing to projects that put me in my discomfort zone but also excite me. Last year I designed, printed and sold a christmas card collection within two weeks. This never would have happened if I hadn’t said yes to a collaboration with Jane from The Mama Social.

7. Favourite time-saving trick?

The myth is true. Having a child makes you more productive. There’s less time for procrastination when you need to get sh*t done. I like to set myself time slots to complete work rather than wasting hours jumping in and out of tasks or getting distracted by an Instagram rabbit hole.

8. Best advice for anyone working 9 to 3?

Create boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no. If someone requests a meeting, unless you really need to go, set up a call. Something that can be discussed on the phone for 15 minutes could eat up half of your day if you organise a meeting. More recently I’ve started ‘no phone Friday’ with my husband. We put our phones in a different room from 7pm and it’s the ultimate in boundary setting for those who treat their phone like their third hand. While I realise it makes me sound like a massive w*nker who’s possibly addicted to social media, it works for me. It’s so good for my mental health and I love the feeling of detaching from the outside world once our little one goes to bed on a Friday.

9. Favourite social media accounts/blogs:

I hate watching Instagram stories with the sound on. I much prefer accounts like Hannah Gale who shares her witty account of motherhood, fashion, tasty food and TV recommendations via text. I also have a thing for podcasts, they’re an amazing way to get in some self-care when I’m driving alone. My current faves are Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon, The Emma Guns Show and How to Curate your Life.

Please go and see Jenna’s account here: www.instagram.com/thatmummoment

Her shop can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThatMumMoment

Why I wrote to Hi Mama

Hi Mama logo to their website

I was really nervous about writing this letter to Hi Mama (a brilliant blog/website where mother’s share their experiences) because it was very personal. I’m not sure if I want this blog to be that personal but it was a story that I wanted, needed to share.

As some of you may know, I was born without a right hand. No one really knows why and it was a complete surprise to my parents. It has never stopped me from doing anything – well except maybe learning to play the piano so when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was completely in the belief that I would be fine.

Which was all great until I started reading parenting books and looking at the photos of mothers washing their babies in the bath – with two hands. Cue complete meltdown on my part and this incessant voice inside my head that I couldn’t look after my baby. Which now, really seems idiotic but at the time it was very real. After having Amy, more meltdowns when I realised I couldn’t lift her head to put her vests on but thank goodness for my parents who swooped in with solutions. (It was these brilliant crossover clothes by JoJo Maman Bebe)

I was very low – always second guessing what everyone thought and deciding that they thought I couldn’t look after her. I stayed inside more often because I felt so self conscious. It wasn’t until she started getting bigger, or I was out with friends that I felt happier. The Health Visitors I discuss in my letter were not helpful and yet I have seen my friends have amazing relationships with their HV’s. I think I just got unlucky. The truth is, I didn’t need these women to question my mothering. I’m not perfect but I do work really hard to make sure she is looked after and loved. Which I think is the most important thing!

I wrote the letter because I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I did and feel alone. That is why I think Hi Mama is brilliant – it gives many voices an outlet to share their experiences with parents who are just starting out.

Have a look at my letter here.

Me and Amy during those early days.

My #10yearchallenge

Photos of me from 2009 and 2019
My #10yearchallenge

The #10yearchallenge has been doing the rounds on social media and instead of me thinking about how much I have changed (weirdly in the photos, I don’t look that much different except the extra lines around my eyes, I now have better eyebrows and can use a filter!), it has made me think about what I have achieved in those 10 years and what I would like to achieve in the next ten.

In 2009 I was 28, organising my wedding to Jonathan (we married in the August), tentatively dipping my toe into freelance life working 2 days a week for myself and I’d just bought my first house in the countryside. It was a time of implementing the plans that I had dreamt about through university and my first few years working. My ambition in my career lessened as I wanted to find a way to pay my mortgage but having a baby was on my horizon.

In 2019, I am still married to Jonathan (phew!) and we are looking forward to celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary this year, we have a 7 year old daughter and live in our dream house in the English countryside. I work from home, still freelancing with a business that is growing. The #10yearchallenge has made me realise that yes there have been many bumps along the way but what I have worked really hard for, is the life I am currently living and want to continue living.

However, I’m always wanting to move forward and I’m now wondering about the next 10 years. I would like to keep my constants – Jonathan, Amy, health etc…and I’ve been working on a vision board for 2019 but actually I want to look ahead and set goals for the next decade. Not many and they won’t be specific – more words then anything else.

To help me with this, I created a Word Cloud using www.wordclouds.com as it was easy to just write in words as they popped into my head. It is free and very simple to use. I imagine, those of you who are more creative than me will be able to create a beautiful image!

For me, the word that kept coming back was Adventure. I want to have adventures with my family, my husband and if its not too creepy, myself. That doesn’t mean expensive long haul holidays, but I think more getting out of the comfort of the life that I have created in the past ten years and experiencing more.

Here is my 10 year Word Cloud.

My ten year word cloud
I created this Word Cloud using https://www.wordclouds.com

Anyway, that’s my take on the #10yearchallenge. What’s yours?

Happy New Year!

I posted this on my Instagram account on New Years Day
I posted this on my Instagram account on New Years Day

Hello! Apologies for the non-posting but I decided to have a break from the blog and actually most social media over the school holidays. It has been a brilliant way to discover more about what I want to blog about this year but also my plans for the future.

When I started the blog, I was passionate about searching for solutions and inspirations for parents who want to work and be a hands on parent. I actually posted about this on my private Facebook page and was surprised at some of the negativity that I received. I think that I was a little naive! However, what it has taught me is the cliche that I really should follow my own path, not be concerned about what other people may think and to enjoy it. These past few weeks away from the laptop has shown me that I not only really love my job but I am also enjoying blogging and using Instagram.

Instagram post!

I have chosen not to get caught up with the numbers as well, or trying to be somebody or something that I’m not. What I am going to continue is to offer advice and solutions that have worked for me on this precarious juggling act of work and parenthood. I’ll also share my failures as well. No one gets it right everytime.

I’m really excited about the opportunities that have already started to open up with this blog and I have fantastic parents to feature that share the feat of a work/life balance. Here’s to a great 2019!