MOTHERHOOD + CAREER - CAN YOU/DO YOU WANT TO REALLY ‘HAVE IT ALL’?

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We’ve seen enough TV shows with sassy New Yorkers, chilled out Cali girls and well-to-do Londoners to feel like society is telling modern mums they need to have ‘it all’ - the coffee morning, heels, the perfect hair, the designer bag, the supportive partner and the thriving career.

Can the modern mother have it all? Do she want it all? What is this ‘all’ she is supposed to be striving for?

We asked over 20 mothers how (if!) they manage to juggle parenting, their career (which is now often multi-hyphenated), making money, having time to have a (still hot?) coffee and find five minutes to themselves for the odd manicure or to read a book.

Have a read and let us know if you can see yourself in one, ten or more of these mums. How do you manage to keep all the plates spinning?

RESHMI BENNETT – FOUNDER OF ANGES DE SUCRE

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Everyone talks about lack of sleep but no one actually advised on how to cope with it other than “sleep when the baby sleeps” which isn’t always realistic. “Delegate where possible” is probably more applicable as you really can’t wear too many hats with a new born and hoping to be able to do so is a recipe for crashing expectations and harsh reality!   

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Sleep training. I heard a lot of it and I know it works for many but it didn’t for us and I’ve quickly learnt that babies are very different and what works for one may not work for another. 

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Running our own business while having a young family has been amazing - it’s afforded us the lifestyle we want where we get to spend so much time with our baby and the flexibility of when and how we work is brilliant. Of course, we have the same worries any small business owner has - business fluctuations, managing a small team etc but on the whole, it is very positive.  I wouldn’t, however, recommend launching a new business with a newborn as it’s all consuming - I don’t believe you can devote the attention both deserve and require simultaneously. The newborn stage goes by so quick so it’s best to wait until you have more time to dedicate to a new project. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

That balancing act is still very much a work in progress. Our little guy is changing so much so quickly that our key to balance is adapting! I’m fortunate in the sense that I work from home directing the business with my husband so when one is with baby the other catches up, and we have a brilliant team in the bakery. I also found ourselves falling into a loose routine of baby classes, a yoga class for myself, and working around that has gotten easier with time. Saying that, when the little guy is teething or going through a dreaded sleep regression any form of balancing act is futile and we resort to a duvet day of cuddles hah!

DR JESSAMY HIBBERD - FOUNDER OF NOODLE APP

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Trust your instincts and do what’s right for you - don’t worry about what other people are doing. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

I remember reading lots of parenting books before my first and I imagined you could just turn the lights off and the baby would go to sleep (so funny now to think I could have believed this). Each of my three children have been different and knowing that there’s no one size fits all has worked much better for me!

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Turn off updates on your phone and just check at times that work for you, rather than trying to stay up to date all of the time.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I feel like I get the best of both worlds working part-time - to make it work I try to keep my work and family time split. I use every part of my three days for work, but then get to switch off and switch to family time Thursday – Sunday. I think having my clinic in London really helps with the balance as it keeps the two more separate.

CHELSEA CAHAN – BLOGGER, STYLED + DISTURBED

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I wish people would have told me that everyone is going to judge your choices. It seems that everyone always has an opinion when it comes to how they think someone else should parent. I have even caught myself doing it as well. But I wish someone would have told me to listen, take what you will from the advice, then move on. Don't take their advice/judgement to heart and always listen to your gut. They're your kids and you know what's best.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

I wish I would've ignored any advice that had to do with breastfeeding. When I say that, I mean any advice not coming from a trained professional.  I received a lot of unsolicited advice from parents, friends, people on the street, etc. in regards to what I shouldn't do or not do when it came to feeding my baby. It caused so much more stress in my life and I wished I could've just tuned it out and, again, listened to my gut when it came to the delicate art of breastfeeding.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Just do it. Don't wait for your kids to be in school, for soccer season to be over, or whatever the reason you use to not start your business today. Even if it's just checking one small thing off your to-do list to launch your business, do it today... or better yet, do it now. There will always be excuses as to why you're too busy, but just like when you were deciding whether or not to have kids, there will never be a good time to start. Just do it now!

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Do I? Well if I do, I don't feel it. The only advice I would give to achieve balance would be - always create a space for self-care and that looks different for different people. For me, it means time with my girlfriends, the occasional massage, and most importantly time for my businesses. Even if you have that #momguilt when creating a space for balance, you just have to ignore it and remember the old mom adage: If I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of anyone else.

VICKI PSARIAS – AUTHOR/BLOGGER/ VLOGGER/ FILMMAKER + FOUNDER OF HONEST MUM

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

To trust my instinct. I had the common first parent fears and wish I had been more relaxed. Mama (and Papa) know best.  

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

There were too many I wish I'd ignored. Essentially to not worry about following the crowd really. To not get caught up in what everyone else was doing: how much their baby slept, ate, spoke etc in comparison to my own. To understand that every baby is unique and to just go with the flow.  

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Led passion lead you. Work on confidence. We all suffer from the imposter syndrome but practising self-belief and carving out time to do what you love and keep sharing it with the world will lead to success. Make sure you LIVE too and don't become obsessed with work. Find balance and don't put yourself last on the priority list.  

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I say no a lot so I can spend as much time as possible with my kids and I focus on doing what nourishes me: writing, filming and working with brands I respect and admire.  

NATALIE – BLOGGER, STYLE ME SUNDAY

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Enjoy the moment, don't wish the time away, it happens all too quickly anyway. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Your baby will become too clingy if you pick them up too much. What a load of rubbish - babies are meant to be close to a human, most of the time. That phase will pass and it won't turn them into needy cry babies. 

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Launching new businesses has never been easier than in this digital age. However, it's still extremely difficult to become successful. I would try to do something that is unique and don't just follow what everyone else is doing like logo t-shirts for example. Think long and hard about whether this is the direction you want to go in because it has to be a passion otherwise it won't last. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Is there such a thing as balance??? Life happens and depending on what opportunities come depends on where the scale tilts. Having said that I'm much better at saying no now. If it's not something I'm too bothered about I'll happily say thank you, but no thank you. And I always try to reserve my weekends for family time. Unless it's a big event I won't let work infringe on our weekends together. 

CIARA ATTWELL – AUTHOR, MY FUSSY EATER

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

As parents in this day and age we have so much information available to us, sometimes so much it can be overwhelming. I wish someone had told me to just trust my own instinct above all the advice and tips out there.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

That I needed a nappy bin. That was the biggest waste ever! I think I used it for about 48 hours!

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Just go for it. There's only so much research, courses and seminars that you can use to help but there really is no experience like just getting started. Mistakes are inevitable but you'll learn so much more on the job. Also be prepared to work harder than you ever have before in your life!

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I make all my time as flexible as possible. So if the kids are sick during the week or need to be taken to an appointment, I can drop work to look after them. Similarly, my evenings and weekends with them are flexible. If I have an urgent deadline then I don't feel bad leaving them to play with their Dad for a couple of hours to get some work done.

JEN WALSHAW – BLOGGER, MUM IN THE MADHOUSE

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I really wish I had gone into parenthood with a more realistic expectation of what the first weeks would be like. We did an NCT weekend and it gave me really skewed expectations.  I didn't know anyone with a baby and had absolutely no idea! It was doubly difficult as Maxi had colic and cried all the time for 16 weeks! We were so lucky as we were recommended a fabulous cranial osteopath and an independent midwife who did one to one baby massage classes with us and answered all my questions.   

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

There hasn't been one really.  I think that I am a pretty strong minded person and after the first 16 weeks with Maxi and all the advice we were given about colic and nothing working I decided that all parents were just winging it!  I think it also helped that by this point my antenatal group had bonded and we were all more honest about stuff and the competitive parenting that went on in the early days stopped and we started supporting each other.

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

I think that guilt is the strongest emotion around and mum guilt is certainly something I have suffered with, especially with two children so close in age (14 months apart).  it has taken me a long time to realise that guilt is a totally empty and wasteful emotion and it doesn't do me or my family any good, so I try and not worry about the things I can not change. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I don't!  In fact, I am not sure that any parent does.  I am one of those people that would like to give everything 100%, so something always has to give.  I am extremely lucky that I have a supportive husband who helps around the house and has always been a co-parent.  I used to think that the kids would need us less as they got older and I would find more balance, but if anything, they need us more.  So I work when they are at school and then when they have gone to bed occasionally.  I also gave myself the gift of a cleaner twice a month and someone to do the ironing and it is the best money I have ever spent. 

DONNA WISHART – BLOGGER, WHAT THE READHEAD SAID

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I had so much advice from well-meaning people - family, friends, colleagues and even people in the street but the one thing none of them said was to just trust your instincts. I wish someone had actually sat me down and told me to listen to everyone's advice, take it on board and then work out what works for me and our new family. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

I wish I had ignored all the people that said 'you'll make a rod for your own back' when it came to pretty much everything parenting related. They said it about rocking the babies to sleep, feeding them to sleep, letting them co-sleep, having a baby-led routine - where there wasn't much of a routine at all. Now, nearly six years after becoming a parent I realise that you just do whatever works for you - the children are now five and four and fall asleep by themselves, in their own beds and have a really lovely routine. 

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

I think it's natural for everyone to judge their own decisions, compare themselves to other people and worry that they're just not doing things right. Instead of having those thoughts and feelings and then letting go of them many people turn them into guilt. So Mum guilt is very real and something a lot of women experience but I don't think it's something I suffer from - I tend to make a decision and then move on from it rather than dwelling on it. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Up until the end of last year, I had a part time job, my blog and a family to look after. But, I'm now fully self-employed with my blog work and it means our work/life balance is so much better. I take the children to school, pick them up and switch off to spend time with them in the afternoons. We go out so much at the weekends, and as a family when my Husband isn't working, and I make sure I have regular time out too - an evening with friends of a day at a spa to unwind. I think having me-time is just so important as a parent. 

JANEL CASE – BLOGGER, A MOM’S TAKE

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Trust your instincts! There is so much “advice” out there and it’s hard to shift through it all. You’ll know what’s best for your family and child.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Feeling like my kids had to be in a ton of extra-curricular activities or they wouldn’t be well rounded. I much prefer spending slow afternoons with the kids then running them to-and-fro to a handful of activities and not getting to spend that one-on-one time with them.

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

There is so much pressure and lots of expectations placed upon us – whether from others or that we place upon ourselves – that it is easy to fall prey to feeling guilty as a mother. That being said, give yourself a break! You’re learning how to parent every single day as your child grows, changes, and faces new challenges.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I squeeze in work wherever I can – I work a lot of naptimes and evening hours. I also do as much offline as I can to involve the kids, like taking pictures, trying recipes and products, and brainstorming ideas while they work on homework.

CHRISTABEL SAUL - FOUNDER + CURATOR, THE MOTHER MAKER

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Make time for yourself and for your other half. Being a parent takes its toll on your relationship, your mental state, your body, your happiness etc. Take the help when it comes and if it doesn’t, always ask for it. I believe every parent should go through some sort of therapy too. It makes so much more sense to understand yourself before you can be a good parent..and be prepared for no sleep.

I didn’t realise how dire it can really get when you have 3 kids under 5 who don’t sleep, and the effect of no sleep can have on your mental wellbeing. Okay technically that's a bit more than the one piece of advice, but these are definitely stand out parts of parenting for me. I have to say, I am really enjoying reading the Danish Way of Parenting. Its such a fantastic book with so many key elements I have recently drawn from. Shameless plug but its now available on themothermaker.com.

Jessica and Iben have written the book for the American market but they have done a lot of research on the way that society in Denmark works and why they are the happiest country in the world. Iben is a mum of two and psychotherapist and has worked in the Danish school system for over 10 years, and Jessica is a cultural researcher, parenting expert and journalist. Their advice on everything is spot on. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

To sleep when they sleep. I tried so hard in the early days to sleep when the kids slept. I am far too busy to sleep. I am just a busy person by nature. My mind is far too busy too, and my thoughts would race around about all the things I had to do. When I finally did manage to fall asleep the baby would wake up and then I would feel so guilty for trying so hard to sleep and worry that I wasted all that precious time when I could have unloaded the dishwasher, got through my emails, had a shower and maybe even painted my nails.  For me, an hour of alone time is far more precious than sleep. If it's been a rough night I just go to bed when they do at 7 pm.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

I am not sure I am the best person to give advice, I am only just learning myself. But to any parent looking to launch a new business, I say: Go for it! and have faith in yourself. Remember to always be original and think of ways to stand out. Also, research your competitors. Because more often than not someone would have already thought of it before, and network, network, network! Social media can be the most effective tool for reaching your customers. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Haha, I don’t. Just this weekend was a prime example of me not balancing anything. I had one child sick in bed with me and the other two at the park with their dad and I tried so hard to use the time productively, but it didn't go to plan with my son needing far more attention than I thought. Those kinda things just happen when you are a parent, and when they need you, they need you.

But what I lack in the ability to balance everything, I make up for the ability to separate the time that I am working and the time that I am with my family.  I am very firm about it. The time I spend with my family is sacred, and when I am working, I work like a maniac and hardly stop for lunch or toilet breaks. That being said, I spend a lot of evenings on my laptop which despite me trying to not get into the habit of it, at the moment I can’t help it. I am working on my own so I am having to do everything in the business so it definitely can take its toll on me. I have also resorted to having to work Saturdays until my youngest can start doing more hours at nursery. I know my husband isn’t pleased about it, but I know he understands how important this business is to me. 

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ALICE JUDGE-TALBOT – BLOGGER AT MORE THAN TOAST

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

That you don't have to buy ALL THE THINGS! Instagram and the wider internet can lead us to believe we need to purchase the entirety of Mothercare if we are to have happy babies but that really isn't true. I really enjoyed this post recently from The Frugality on the baby things they couldn't live without - it pretty much sums it up

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Most of them. Everyone will have an opinion when you're a new parent, but few of them are relevant or helpful. Go with your gut (or, my preference, Google!). What's that famous saying? "Opinions are like arseholes... everybody's got one" ;)

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Be confident in your mission and your audience; know who they are and why your brand will add value to their life. Chat to them! Social Media is a conversation, not a broadcast. And enjoy it... though now an integral and important part of all businesses, Social Media should be fun, too.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I'm not quite sure I'm quite winning at the work/life balance thing yet (or even if it exists!) but I try to put myself first wherever possible. When you run your own business it's easy to flog away at it 24/7 without a break, but I find taking time out to do things that make me happy allow me to be more productive in the office. I prioritise the gym and spending time with my kids as a way to relax and come back to work feeling refreshed.

MAXINE KERLEY - DIGITAL MARKETING EXPERT AT DIGITAL BON BONS

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I think just don't worry about the small stuff. Like if it takes you two hours to leave the house, it's fine, you're on your own clock and that's what matters - well actually you're on your newborn's clock, and that's okay. Just be kind to yourself and if you get out the house at all in one piece, with a fed baby, the changing bag, pram and looking reasonably alive you are onto a winner. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

I don't know actually, because all the ones we were given we tried if they worked great, if they didn't we didn't beat ourselves up over it, it just wasn't going to work with our baby and what she needed etc. 

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Plan it out because having a plan will save you oodles and oodles of time that balancing a family and a business you just don't have, every second is precious. I would say start at the beginning, plan out your business, your audience, your ideal buyer - think right down to who they are, where they live, their age, what income they have, what their values are because then you can be clear on your business messaging from the start. 

Think and look into website platforms carefully. I know websites can seem like a huge investment but assess which platform will be right for you and also whether you have the time to physically get it created and up and running - I know paying out can be hard when you are starting out but it's a time saver and you have someone who knows what they are doing on board. 

Think about your website content too, plan out your pages, your customer journey and finally build your strategy and plan of action. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Oooooh it's such a fun one isn't it? The elusive balance we all crave. I think since being full time on my business I am now starting to get the balance or tilt the balance board how I would like it to be. It's a work in progress but when I can do it I feel so much better. I have recently started having Friday's off with my daughter again which is lovely, and soon it'll be another day too, which will make my working week shorter but I am hoping more productive as I will need to be to deliver. 

When I'm not in the office I can often be found at the cinema (HUGE film fan) or out and about with my family. I also love seeing my friends and having that time for me, which I think is really important. 

CANDICE BRATHWAITE – AUTHOR, BLOGGER, CO-FOUNDER MAKE MOTHERHOOD DIVERSE

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I’ll try to be as eloquent as possible in explaining this but I wish people encouraged me to really learn about myself more. Naturally, there is so much emphasis on the upcoming baby and becoming a parent that people seem to forget before becoming parents we are ourselves first and foremost. I had to learn a lot about myself whilst learning about my baby with my firstborn and it was quite a mixed bag of emotions. Of course, parenthood should reveal hidden qualities and encourage us to learn new things but at a base level I didn’t even really know what I wanted to do with the next five years of my life or even what kind of sartorial style I was better suited to. So put simply my advice would be - learn as much as you can about yourself before the baby comes!

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

All of it! Don’t get me wrong there were useful bits here and there but even those pockets of good advice had to be tweaked to suit my own parenting style. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by info coming from people who do genuinely mean well in the early days but in the long run I’ve learned what works best is figuring out what is easiest for the kids and I.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Don’t give up your day job! I’m joking (kinda) but don’t just pack everything in. Have a real plan about how you’re going to keep yourself financially afloat whilst growing your lifestyle brand/business. Even with social media nothing is overnight (even if it seems to be that way) and making your first £1,000 pounds could take a year or two so you have to be committed to more than just the dollars because those may not be coming in for a while. Also, parenting/lifestyle is such a saturated market that it’s not so much about what you’re bringing to the table but what angle are your offerings from? Even if you feel like there are 1,000 people doing your thing, there is no one that does it like you and you need to find what can make you unique in the market.

Lastly don’t get caught up in social media numbers. There are people with small followings (myself included) who have been able to cut through and begin to use the internet to make money. Whilst a larger following looks great, it isn’t the be all and end all to being a great business.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Admittedly, I’m not the best at balance. So my family and management are pretty good at stepping in and telling me when I need to strip back or pull something off of the table and I’ve had to learn to listen to them. It sounds terribly cliché but I really love my job. I love the communication aspect, meeting new people, the travel, EVERYTHING so it feels as if the play element is built in if I’m honest.

Last year I was lucky enough for Papa B (my other half) to gift me with a solo holiday to Barbados. It was such a revelation. Being alone as a woman to really think things through without the interruption of kids, husband or work was brilliant. When I returned home it’s as if my entire world changed for the better. Financially I know a weeks holiday isn’t feasible for most but where I can, I try to sneak in pockets of time by myself.

DIANA BARDEGA – FOUNDER, THE MAMAHOOD

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I wish someone had told me...that there is no perfection. No 10/10. No top grade. No absolute answer. That this parenting lark is all about trial and error, figuring it out, getting it wrong and getting it right. Its messy.. But the only thing you need to do is believe in yourself. You have all the answers you need. You are good enough.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Every single one. I needed to find my own way with my own children. Obviously, there were practical things that people shared, things I tried on the back of suggestions from others. But in the end, I always did it my own way for my little family.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Find a tribe. People who will support you on the journey. Because it isn't always easy. In fact, starting a business can be fairly easy - there are very few barriers to starting small businesses these days, but keeping them going is the hard part. It can be lonely - so you need people to bounce ideas, seek advice, share and support. I hope this is exactly what The Mamahood means to our members!

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I'm going to be honest - I really don't think I get this right. But at the times that I feel I do, I am always ensuring I am making time for myself. A day off to see a gallery or go to the cinema. Perhaps regular time to exercise. Carving out time just for me. When I do it I always get rewarded for it in renewed energy and a fresh perspective.

KATE MILNER – BLOGGER, LONDON WITH A TODDLER

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Not to fret too much about the centiles and what everyone else's baby is doing - they all pick their own way through babyhood eventually! 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

"You're making a rod for your own back by cuddling that baby too much." 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I'm extremely lucky in that I have a City job that fits around school hours - so I drop the kids off, commute in from zone 4, work for 4 hours then go to pick them up. It's the perfect combination for us at the moment but other things have worked in the past - freelancing when my second child was small as we couldn't afford childcare, working three full days when the first one was small so that I could have days off with him. It's all about adapting to the stage you're in and what works for your family. I love my job and being in an adult environment, even if it's only for a few hours a day!

Rest and play are much easier now the children aren't tiny babies any more but there's still a lot of family admin to do, household to run, work 5 days and various extra curriculars - the blog, a choir I run, English Classes I teach - so truly restful evenings are a bit few and far between!

DONNA – BLOGGER, THE LONDON MUM

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I suppose I didn’t really want advice, but just some honest home truths.  When you’re pregnant it’s such a joyous occasion that when the baby arrives the weight of responsibility and sleepless nights absolutely smacks you in the face.  While of course, it’s an exciting time in anyone’s life, some reality checks would have been grateful so that when I felt really bewildered and lost in those first few months I would have known that what I was experiencing was completely normal.  

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Anything to do with routines.  I’m a believer that the easiest way to form a routine is to follow the baby’s lead. 

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

To persevere.  Take your time, find what works for you and just trust in your ability.  

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Honestly? CBeebies plays a big part in giving me some time catch-up on web based work.  But I will, of course, make sure that the needs of my children come first.  If it’s a day where they both need to be out then we’ll just head out and enjoy ourselves.  I’ll happily switch off when required. 

For me, I guess my work is also ‘my time.’  It’s the only form of adult interaction I get some days so I half use it for work and half use it for my own social needs!

REBECCA – OWNER, BONBON BALLOONS

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Everyone is winging it and actually, nobody really knows what they are doing. A useful tip would have been to know the terrible twos are just a rehearsal for the threes

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Reading parenting books as every child is completely different. Trusting your own instincts is the best way, have faith in them.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

We are in a world and time when people over share every part of their lives and it’s ok to hold back. I don’t ever put my children on social media as it makes me feel uncomfortable and I believe you can launch and grow a business that can take on its own persona. It’s your business and you can make the rules up as you go along.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

7 years on and I am still learning how to do this. I really value family time, it’s always my first priority even if I work all night once they are asleep. I make sure my work is always something that fulfils me and will make them proud one day.

LEAH + TAMU – CO-FOUNDERS, MOTHERHOOD RECONSTRUCTED

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent? 

Talk to each about the things that are important to you when it comes to parenting. Try to decide before having children how you will handle those situations as things like discipline, schooling, religion etc.. form major parts of a child’s development and parents need to be on the same page or at least in agreeance. Even simple things like haircuts and the kinds of toys they’re allowed to have should be discussed. Are guns a “no”? Barbie was a definite “no” for me.

Also, this is gonna sound bad, but think about all the most annoying things about your partner your child could end up with those traits because genetics are STRONG so make your peace with them.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored? 

I ignored so many, including the need to breastfeed. I did for a while but it didn’t work for us and I didn’t feel guilty when I stopped, as I knew my daughter would be better with formula, but I know there’s so much pressure to persevere. 

The other thing I’m grateful for ignoring was advice about co-sleeping. My daughter slept with me as and when she wanted to, slept through the night from 3 months old and has done ever since, whether in her bed or mine. Resulting in us both being well rested and less cranky.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Be honest. If you are honest it filters through and who is for you/ what you stand for will connect. Don’t fall into growth games they are a trap but do engage with people. Social media is communication. It works in two ways.

Only share what you want to, not what you feel you should; don’t jump on bandwagons. Honour your truth.  If you share your children on social media be mindful of the social media footprint (legacy) you are creating for them.

Be clear about your brand message but be human.  If you are a parent running a business from your kitchen table that is fine and has value. Don’t try to act like a big corporate, you can work your way up to that.  It’s important to give yourself room to grow and develop.

Remember you control social media, it doesn’t control you.  Put this somewhere you’ll see it often so when comparison rears its head you can tell it where to go.  Lastly, read actual books, reading is amazing for putting digital into context.

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I don’t think there is a balance but I do think you can find harmony. You need to have just said clear boundaries so you work when you are working, play when you are playing etc.  Sometimes it’s a mix of work and play, however, I need clear boundaries because it is easy for me to ram play into work which takes the fun away.  Fun is a crucial element of wellbeing, I take it very seriously!

I am trying to prioritise rest just as much as work or play.  Without being rested I cannot work or play effectively.  Even when there are times that work requires everything (let's be real) I take time to wind down at the end of the day and connect with myself when I wake up. This helps keep me grounded.

HARRIET SHEARSMITH – BLOGGER AT TOBY + ROO

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I wish I’d been told not to be so hard on myself and to try not to let every little thing worry me so much - I really do worry too much and I often suffer from feeling dreadful that I haven’t done enough or that I did something wrong!

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Ohhh the advice around co-sleeping, cry it out and the rest of that. When I had Edie I was heavily involved in lots of parenting groups for the blog and the women in them just tear each other apart. I ended up convinced that I could never let my baby cry, that I was terrible for not giving in to her every whim… yeah, epic fail. Ultimately every mother is different, every child is different, do what works FOR YOU. Screw the sanctimommies.

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

Both. I am very hard on myself and I get this feeling of mum guilt all the time, however, I also think that as a society we create unrealistic ideals for women which amplifies the feelings of guilt. How can you not feel guilty when you have such high standards set upon you, both by yourself and your desire to be the best for your child and by society?

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Ha - badly. I work a lot more than I would like really. One thing I’ve started doing is trying to switch off by 9/10pm (never happens) and then spend an hour or so winding down. I try to balance the weekend as mine, away from the computer, but I inevitably end up spending hours on my phone anyway! I’ll let you know when I figure it out!

NICOLA WASHINGTON – BLOGGER AT TOO MUCH MOTHERING INFORMATION, CO-FOUNDER OF MAKE MOTHERHOOD DIVERSE

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What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I always find this a really difficult question to answer as regardless of what anyone had said to me I don't think I would have listened! I honestly feel like there is nothing you can do to prepare for the relentless nature of parenthood. The identity crisis, the strain on our relationships, and the feelings of being needed so much that you don't feel you can breathe are things I can only understand fully now that I've worked my way through them. 

I suppose the one thing I do tend to say to new mums though is to try and ignore anyone who tells you there is only one way of doing things. Anyone who claims to have THE answer to feeding, sleep, crying etc is not to be trusted! Every baby really is different, every mum is different and what works for someone else might not work for you. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Ha! Am I only allowed one?!... I think we have an unhealthy obsession with sleep in modern motherhood. I was a slave to books that promised me the elusive full night's sleep and to be fair my daughter first slept through the night at 9 weeks old (it didn't last btw and she still climbs into our bed during the early hours of the morning five years later). But the anxiety the strict routine caused me (not Gina Ford btw - I wasn't that hardcore) didn't do my already fragile mental state any good at all. Two years later, when we were still cuddling our youngest on the sofa at 10pm when he was 10 weeks old, I wondered what on earth I had been thinking in the early days of my daughter's life. I do have regrets and wish I'd ignored all the sleep chat, but I also try not to be too hard on myself - I thought I was doing the right thing at the time and there is nothing to be gained by beating myself up about it.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Be prepared to work really really hard. Being self-employed/ running your own business is more flexible than most traditional workplaces, but the work still has to be done! I probably work as many evenings and weekends as I did when I was a teacher. My stress levels however are lower, and I am able to be the parent I want to be, but working for yourself is certainly not a walk down Easy Street. 

And when it comes to promoting your business on social media, what you need is CUSTOMERS not followers, so don't get too caught up in comparing the size of your following to other businesses. You have no idea how many of those people are actually converting to sales so its a waste of your energy to focus on it. Focus on what you are doing, offer people a reason to spend time with you on your social media channels by offering content that adds value to their lives, and if you can get them to buy into you and your story, they will hopefully become paying customers. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

I don't think I do! The hierarchy of priorities in our household is kids first, followed by the Mr's work (as he earns more), followed by my work, and lagging way behind are the mythical beasts that are rest and play. And I'm not saying that to glorify busy as it's something we need to change, it's just that I hate the idea of giving a false impression that I have everything sorted! 

It does help that I enjoy my work so there are times when I combine play and work, but I'm also trying a "sometimes" strategy. Basically, I sometimes play - I go out for drinks, see friends and go on day trips with the kids - but then I'll follow it up with a period of resting when it's early nights and lazy weekends all the way. It's not rocket science but it does mean I don't feel the pressure to always get the balance right - that in itself adds to my stress levels!

One small thing I am also doing to build small pockets of me-time into my day is to read more books. I've bought an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning and I leave my phone on charge downstairs overnight.  I then spend a few minutes every night reading before I go to sleep and not only do I feel like I'm getting a bit of the "old me" back, I also think I'm sleeping better. Now I just need to convince the Mr to do the same! 

LIAT HUGHES JOSHI – AUTHOR

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Definitely 'this too shall pass'! When you're having a bad day with a colicky baby, pacing the streets with the pram because it's the only thing that calms him down, it's just a reassuring reminder that it won't be forever. There will be the odd bad day but my goodness it's so worth it, and you just have to hold on and get through. 

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

I honestly can't think of any. If we make this about whether I have any regrets - it's not major but I think there's a lot of pressure to take very young children to lots of classes to supposedly enhance their development. We did a few when my son was little because it was 'the done thing' but looking back, most of them we didn't enjoy so I wish I'd had the perspective to just stop and do our own thing. 

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

Oh undoubtedly real! It can come at you from all sides... from the in-laws making snipey comments of the 'oh, going back to work already?' type to random strangers at the supermarket checkout. 

How do you balance work, rest and play?

My son is older now (he just started senior school), so it's less of a problem but I do firmly believe that when children are very young, parents need to create time for themselves to have a break as best they can, without feeling guilty about that. There are no prizes for being completely exhausted and having no time for yourself ever. To be a better parent, sometimes you need to take a couple of hours out a week for yourself.  

SCARLETT BRADY – EDITOR, GURGLE MAGAZINE

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

Life’s big one: trust your instincts. Having heard (several times) about the unfortunate labour my lovely mum had endured birthing me I had a vague suspicion that the tale might come back to haunt me one (crucial) day. I'd toyed with the idea of hiring somebody to support me emotionally during my son's birth (not really my husband's USP) and well let's just say, on reflection that would have been a nice touch.

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

Cut his hair...

Mum guilt - a real thing or something we've made up?

Oh definitely real, and essential too. It's part of every mother's be-a-better-parent arsenal. The sanity-saving trick is to use it sparingly and learn from situations that trigger it so you don't have to keep going back there. Certainly, it's not a stick to beat yourself up with or for wallowing in. If you are prone to that ask your GP where to seek a bit of support.  

How do you balance work, rest and play?

By being good at maths. I imagine like a lot of working mums I work harder and play less nowadays which means finding more time in the day for ourselves. When I launched Gurgle one of the definite perks was the reverse commute. The office is five miles outside of London so door to door it takes me 20 minutes - and in my head that justifies a very restful pedicure or a blow dry once a week. 

ALY – BOGGER AT ALL MUMS TALK

What’s the one piece of advice you wish you had before you became a parent?

I wish I treasured sleep more! Because after Lucas was born I reached new levels of tiredness like all new parents do really 💚

What’s the one parenting tip you wish you’d just ignored?

The extended breastfeeding debate. After Lucas turned 1 I was told so many times that I should just stop because it’s becoming either pointless or he’s too old for that. I wish I listened my gut more and didn’t get emotional about all the chats I had with them.

Work + Social Media - what advice would you give to parents who want to launch their own lifestyle business?

Honesty is always the key. When I started my blog I tried to find subjects I thought people would like to read. I forgot it was about my own journey as a parent. So whatever you decide to write about, make sure it comes from your most honest thoughts, that’s what makes you interesting :)

How do you balance work, rest and play?

Some days I nail it, some days I fail it...It’s hard to call it balance when there are so many things to do and so little time for yourself as a new mum. But I guess that if once in a while you remember to take a little break and recharge your batteries, then that balance thing starts to get shape again :)


In conclusion, modern motherhood is messy, demanding and hard and add trying to earn a living (freelancing, blogging, a full/part time job) into the mix, things get even more complicated. The internet has opened the floodgates to all sorts of online possibilities which allows some parents the freedom to not have to go back to the 9 to 5.

But switching the 9 to 5 for the 5 to 9 (coz let's be honest, it's hard to get much work done when the kids are awake) doesn't make the work any less valid or the juggle any less real.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to parenting and earning money to keep the lights on in your home.

Let's go back to the 'it takes a village’ approach - leave your tips and tricks on juggling parenting and work in the comments and let's take all the 'sisterhood' and 'girl power' vernacular and put it into something actionable.