In the last couple of months, we’ve had the chance to speak to some amazing mums that are doing what they do best. Being a full-time mum isn’t a piece of cake, so we can’t image what it means to be working full-time.
Just last year alone, the percentage of women returning to work after having children hit a record high. Amongst the women doing just this is the founder of community Do It Like A Mother, Keri Jarvis. After briefly speaking at a Mothers Meeting event, here’s what Keri has to say about motherhood and being a working mum in this day and age.
How do you juggle your time between work and family?
The juggle is real, and I’ve put a lot of energy into not obsessing over the accompanying sense of struggle. For a long time, I felt like I was stealing time from family life to achieve anything for work and was left feeling guilty and resentful about pretty much everything. The most significant decision I made was to do a childcare swap with a good friend of mine. We’ve looked after each other’s toddlers for up to 2 days each week for almost 2 years. I’d recommend it to anyone- it’s been absolutely life changing.
More recently, the support available to me has gone up a notch- my husband has left employment to run his own stuff, and so works from home a lot too. It’s a lot easier to juggle with 4 hands than 2!
Being the founder of your own company (Do It Like A Mother) and a full-time mum, is flexible and remote working a key part of your daily routine?
Yes! I have very few commitments that are immovable, and I like it that way. I probably do half of my work from my phone, and half from my laptop, with just occasional in person meetings. This means I’ve been able to work when we’ve gone to stay with my family in Yorkshire in the holidays, when we went to Tenerife in half term- probably only an hour or two a day. Of course there are pros and cons to that, but it suits me to be able to choose to say yes to clients, and not to need to take unpaid time off because we want to go somewhere.
Does this make it a challenge to switch off at times?
This is a HUGE challenge. My screen time report is mortifying, for a start. I am constantly flooded with ideas, and remembering out of the blue people I need to get back to just when I’ve started bath time etc. There’s always more I could be doing, but I try to assert that I’m worth more than a ticked off to do list. Yes I am. Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am...
I have noticed that I find it easier to switch off since I have more dedicated work time. In the early days I was in a constant limbo between working and mothering- not really committing fully to either in many moments, that feeling of snatching time... That felt exhausting.
Where do you do most of your work from?
I’m really lucky to have a (tiny!) office at home, and most of my winter work has been done there. I occasionally work from my studio, if it’s a waste of time to dash home after a session before pick up.
But. These last couple of weeks since Spring has sprung, I’ve treated myself to working from my phone at the beach (fully dressed, in my coat and scarf of course). Just an hour here and there but being outside is so soothing and brings me an enormous amount of peace and perspective.
Are you able to get some downtime given your busy lifestyle and what do you like to do when you do?
I’ve learnt that when I don’t create any space for myself, everything and everyone suffers. It’s taken me a reeeeaaaally long time to get that. Early Monday mornings my husband deals with the kids and I go for a long walk to the beach, listen to an audiobook or podcast, and just have a good old think. I almost always make my weekly yoga class, and I’ve started running recently- something I was convinced until last year that I could not do (thank you year 8 PE teacher for that 1500m in the sleet).
What advice can you give for working mums out there?
My strongest advice- accept all the help you are offered! And tell the people close to you what you would like from them. So often the women I work with are trapping themselves in metaphorical treacle that they wade through every day. We have these crazy expectations of ourselves, and often project them onto others. And of course, we teach people how to treat us- if we keep taking stuff on, people will keep bringing us more. It’s ok to say no- whether it’s work stuff, home, family, friends- it’s ok to put your wellbeing higher on the list.
And finally, what’s the best thing about being a mum?
This is a tough one. I’d say the best thing is also the hardest thing- knowing that you have this immense power to shape a person- their view of themselves and the world, that’s huge! I want my children to know that they can become anyone and anything they fancy, and to be a part of changing the world for the better. Their current sense of their own limitlessness, and their love for themselves is incredibly inspiring, and keeps me on my toes.
In the spirit of celebrating motherhood, here are some of our favourite gift ideas for all our savvy on the go mums out there.
For goal-setting mums
Fit Bit - it’s not always about counting your steps, it’s also about winding down. Stay sharp during the day by sticking to a sleep schedule on the Fitbit app.
For the quick and healthy meal prep mums
Sous Vide - the new, revamped version of the slow cooker, perfect for a hearty family meal. We’ve heard it doesn’t disappoint.
For mums on the go
New Apple Mini - the perfect size to slip in your bag when you’re running around between meeting.
For mums that have everything, but need nothing
Amazon Echo - it’s everything in one. Weather checker, planning, speakers and so much more.
Finally, for mums staying connected and online, an easy solution to help keep your eyes safe – Ocushield blue light screen protectors
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