MumBoss, Parenting

Managing work when your child isn’t sleeping

My son is going through a bit of a tricky phase at the moment. Whether it’s the cough he’s had for the last few weeks, the fact that my working routine has changed and I’m not around quite so much, or because he’s worried about our upcoming house move, he’s not been himself of late. He’s being difficult at mealtimes, acting up when we’re out of the house, refusing to go to bed and calling out for us several times in the night. While I’m not worried, and know that this phase will pass like so many other difficult phases before, the immediate impact on our day-to-day lives is an issue. For me, I’m tired, sluggish and feeling run down. But, as a working mum, I still have a job to go to and work to get done.

So here are some coping strategies I’ve learned in the past few weeks. Hopefully they will help you too if you’re ever in the same position. (PS this is all about getting YOU through your working day, and not about getting your child back on track. That’s a whole other blog post and requires a better parent than me to write it (guest post anyone..?)!)

  1. Cut yourself some slack. As I sit here writing this, I was supposed to be out for a run. But I’m tired. Yes, maybe my jeans will feel a bit tighter next week as depleted energy levels have resulting in my eating more and exercising less. But that’s ok. It has to be ok. I’ve reminded myself several times over the last few weeks that the size of my bum is not the most important thing right now…
  2. Focus on your to-do list. Now, more than ever, you need to prioritise. Ditch Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, Slack (seriously, how do we ever get any work done??) and just concentrate on the task in hand. Focus on the three things you need to do in a given day, and don’t let yourself be distracted by anything else until you have those things done. You could try setting a timer, e.g. 20 minutes, to get your head down on a single task without distraction, and then 5 mins to have a little walk (and a PEEK at Instagram) and then back to 20 mins of concentrated work again.
  3. Ask for help. Now is the time to post that melodramatic Facebook status you would normally mock. An example: “FML. Srsly not coping. Need help.” Then reply to everyone who comments: “Will PM you babes”. The offers will come flooding in (…OK, a few people might unfriend you, but you don’t have time for all of those friends anyway).
  4. Tag team with your other half. When your little one is going through a difficult phase, it can trigger a massive working mum guilt attack. But the world doesn’t stop because your child isn’t sleeping, and you still have work to do. If you have a partner, remember that your child is his/her responsibility too, and you need to hand over the reins from time to time, for your own sanity. If they’re not being helpful, then please do feel free to use their credit card to…
  5. Throw money at the situation. Order your grocery shopping online and pay for same day delivery so you don’t have to go to the shops. Order takeout when you haven’t got the energy to cook. Get a taxi to work so you can have a few more minutes in bed. Do what it takes and allow yourself to spend that money. Just ask yourself ‘What would fellow down-to-earth working mum Beyoncé do?’ And do that.
  6. Eat sensibly. When you’re tired, the temptation is to eat lots of sugary foods and drink coffee by the bucketful. However, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your diet, and avoid getting caught in the sugar crash cycle (she says through a mouthful of Malteasers… will try harder tomorrow).
  7. Prioritise rest. If you’re behind on work, it is so tempting to stay up late to catch up, but this will only make you more tired the next day, which will make you fall further behind. Give yourself a bedtime, and stick to it religiously. And, in order to get a good night’s sleep…
  8. Say no to the vino. That’s you, not me, btw.
  9. Throw out the rulebook. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. When you’re tired and just need a break, consider letting your child do things you wouldn’t normally let them do, such as have breakfast in front of Cbeebies if it gives you time to fire off a couple of emails. Give them the iPad in bed in the morning if means you can snooze a bit longer. It’s all about survival ladies! Principles can wait until you’ve had a bit more sleep.
  10. Take time off work. If the situation gets really bad, and you’re exhausted, take a day off work to catch up on some rest. No working mum I know ever wants to take a day off for anything child-related in fear of being judged, but, reality check, you ARE a mum, and there’s no getting away from it. If you really don’t want to admit that you’re struggling at home, fake a colonic and no-one will ask questions.

I would love to hear any other tips you might have that could help poor exhausted working mums like me! Please share them in the comments below x

Home office for self-employment

Why I ditched the freelancer life

On a sunny Monday morning, just a few weeks ago, I crammed onto a tube platform at Highbury & Islington to head to my first day at a brand new job. After more than a decade of freelancing, I had signed an employment contract, packed up my shared office space and joined the throngs of commuters making their way to and from central London every day.

With self-employment often held up as a holy grail for parents who want the flexibility to work around their family commitments, why did I decide to leap the other way? And what are the advantages, as a mum, of having a 9-5 job?

  • I am working the same number of hours as before but spending MORE time with my family. Gone are the weekends and evenings spent tapping away at my computer, snatching glances at my phone while my son plays or hurrying him into bed so I can finish off an urgent piece of work. I get all of my work done in the allocated hours and then I can be 100% present when I’m with him.
  • I have ‘me time’! As I work four days, and my son goes to playgroup for five days, I have one magical day that’s just for me. I have big plans for that day… I can also enjoy work-free naptimes and hang out with my hubby after our son is in bed.
  • Flexibility can exist in a 9-5 job. As we don’t live super close to family, we have sometimes needed the flexibility of self-employment to cover ad hoc childcare needs, such as INSET days or illnesses. However, as I discovered when I had a family emergency this week, employers can be really understanding and are often willing to make sure you get the time you need when you need it. I can also work from home, and they have taken my needs as a mum into account at every stage. This was totally unexpected, and has made me realise that there is no reason whatsoever that this shouldn’t be the norm.
  • Teamwork is great. While I always had shared office space as a freelancer, so I never felt isolated, I’ve rarely worked alongside people in the same industry, let alone on the same projects. The internet is a wonderful thing, with tools like Trello and Slack making it so easy to work within remote teams, but it’s also nice to share a physical space with coworkers from time to time to bounce ideas around and learn from one another in real time.
  • Fixed working hours can be a good thing! I’ve written before about how difficult it can be to fit in a full working day when you’re also trying to do school runs, chores and life admin. The advantage to having fixed working hours is that you just sit at your desk and get on with it.
  • I have an excuse to buy new clothes and wear make-up! It’s a bit of a myth (as far as I know) that freelancers spend their days at home in their jim-jams, but I have lived in jeans and scruffy trainers for a long time now, and have rarely worn make-up. It’s actually a treat making (a bit of) an effort in the morning and wearing clothes that don’t have toddler snot on them.
  • And finally, an unexpected bonus: I don’t miss my son as much as when I was self-employed. It might sound crazy but the knowledge that I have no choice but to be at work, rather than feeling like I always had the option of not working at any given moment, has quietened the previously ever-present mum guilt. My new office environment is so different to my old relaxed studio space, and I can’t just pop home, or decide to leave early because I want to hang out with my son, so I can finally switch off that nagging voice for the day.

The most important lesson for me here is that #workthatworks for mums doesn’t just mean one thing. It’s important to investigate different set-ups to find the one that works the best for your family. Flexible working doesn’t only come through self-employment, and there are plenty of employers out there who are willing to provide parents with the flexibility they need if that’s the route you want to go down. Otherwise, self-employment has lots of advantages too and, who knows, that might be the best option for us again in the future (Anyone else feel a pros & cons post coming on..?)


The reality of flexible working for mums

I had a meeting in the city this morning, and another one late afternoon in Soho. There wasn’t much point going home in the middle, so I decided to walk the distance between the two appointments, have some lunch somewhere, maybe pop into the Tate Modern on the way… I’m self-employed after all and having a quiet week. I can take a couple of hours to myself and make up the time somewhere else. Or not. Whatever.

However, as I started walking, anxiety gripped my heart. I can’t take this time to myself. I should be working or spending time with my son. Should I jump in a cab home and pick him up for a couple of hours?? Should I just find a café and work? If I spend time on my own now, without working, then I’ll have to work another time when I could be spending time with my son… And just like that, freelancing mummy guilt smacked me in the chops. While there are definite advantages to being self-employed when you have a family, the reality is that it’s also a bloody hard, exhausting and guilt-ridden juggle at times too.

Dream: You’ll do school/nursery drop off and pick up every day and enjoy the uninterrupted time in between to get loads of work done. Once the kids go to bed, you’ll pull your computer back out again and tap away happily for a couple of hours before hitting the hay yourself.

Reality: There are only a limited number of hours in the day. You’re forever playing catch up and feeling like you’re about to be busted for having forgotten to do something crucial. The kids never go to bed on time and your stress levels rise with every minute that passes. Your other half complains that you never spend any time together after the kids are in bed, and you rarely get enough sleep because you always stay up working much later than you should.

Dream: You’ll be able to work full-time hours but at times that suit you (and why doesn’t everyone do this by the way..??!)

Reality: Trying to fit in a 40-hour week around school runs, supermarket shopping, housework, and actually spending time with your family is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. Think about it. The kids are probably only in school or nursery for 6 hours or so, and you have to factor in travel time too. This means that, even if you use up every second of the time they’re not there, you probably only have 25 hours per week. And that doesn’t take into account the fact that you have to eat, and go to the loo, and deal with life admin, like booking doctors’ appointments, buying food, getting hair cuts, etc. Then, even on the rare weeks you manage to work for every minute of those 25 hours, the remaining 15 are pretty hard to find without working every single evening and at least a full day at the weekend too, when you’ll beat yourself up for spending time away from your family.

Dream: You’ll enjoy off-peak gym time or exercise classes and meet friends for coffee during the day.

Reality: Every time you even think about doing something that isn’t for the kids or work, you feel a stab of guilt and panic. Everything has to have a purpose as your time is so stretched that you simply can’t afford to squander it. Sometimes, you can convince yourself that exercise is ok if you do something productive at the same time, like listen to a podcast, and coffee dates with friends are just about allowed if you’re discussing work.

Dream: School holidays will be a breeze because you don’t have to book time off. You can just work while the kids play. Simples.

Reality: I’m guessing I don’t really have to spell this one out… If your kids happily play together or on their own without requiring constant input/validation from you, then more power to you! My son does not do this, and his ongoing complaints of being bored and wanting someone to play with tug at my heartstrings and make it impossible for me to concentrate and actually produce any quality work, so it swiftly becomes a pointless exercise.

BLOG stock coffee.jpeg
The freelancer fantasy

Dream: And speaking of holidays, you’ll be able to take loads more of them because you don’t have a limited number of vacation days and, in fact, you can work from anywhere so you will just take your laptop with you and keep working!

Reality: You quickly realise that holidays are twice as expensive when you’re self-employed because you don’t get paid when you’re not at work. As you’ve already discovered that you can’t work while your kids are there, taking your laptop with you is a futile exercise, and when you do manage to steal an hour or so to get some work done, you quickly resent the fact that you’re at your computer while the rest of the family unwinds and enjoys their holiday.

Dream: You will be able to go to every school play and football match, chaperone school trips and be there for your kids when they’re unwell.

Reality: Even though you’re self-employed, people still depend on you to get your work done, so you can’t just drop everything when something comes up. And then you feel MORE guilty than mums with ‘normal’ jobs when you miss an important event, because you always feel as though you could have taken the time off (and you’re pretty sure everyone else is thinking the same thing too).

Sound familiar? Leave me a comment and let me know! And yes, today I stopped in a café to have some lunch and allowed myself to watch the world go by. For about 10 minutes before pulling out my laptop. And then I wrote this post. I didn’t make it to the Tate…

Parenting, Relationship

We don’t need a date night, thank you very much

Since our son was born three years ago, I can count on one hand the number of times I have been out in the evening with my other half. Are you shocked? I probably would have been, if someone had told me this when I was pregnant and telling everyone who would listen that our lives weren’t going to change one bit when the tiny human came into our lives. I even booked gig tickets for the two of us for a few weeks after my due date, thinking blithely that I would be able to find someone to look after the baby so we could pop out for a few hours. I hadn’t counted on the non-stop breastfeeding, the sleep-deprivation and the feeling of panic if I hadn’t clapped eyes on my newborn for a while. Needless to say, we didn’t go to the gig. In the months, and then years, that followed, we didn’t ever go to another gig, and we rarely asked anyone to look after our son in the evening so we could go out together.

As parents, it can be tough to find time to yourselves. This is especially true in a two-freelancer relationship, where evenings and weekends are often given over to work. Friends, and social media, tell us that we need a ‘date night’. That we should take the evening off from parenting, get dressed up, let our hair down, find a bar, and get really really drunk.

While that sounds like great fun, the reality is that we had already stopped doing that before having a child. We had replaced nights out with evenings in, and while we still packed away our fair share of booze, we didn’t feel the need to do it while being squeezed into the latest trendy bar. We also did other things together, like go on long walks, play squash and watch Coronation Street! As we were both self-employed, we could theoretically spend time together whenever we wanted to, and so we never felt the need to organise elaborate date nights.

At the very beginning… (yes, that’s a glow stick on my wrist)
However, the truth of the matter – because what’s the point if I’m not being honest? – is that I didn’t always prioritise time with him because I was so busy running a business. I was addicted to work and sat in front of my computer well into the evening and usually over the weekend too. I made time to see my friends from time to time, but my other half often dropped to the bottom of the to-do list.

Now we’re parents, things are different. Even though I’m once again running a business, and I have a child to look after too, I really want to make time for my partner in parenthood. And so I do. We meet for brunch or lunch during playgroup hours, and sometimes even linger longer than we should. He sometimes walks me to the tube if I have a meeting in town. We still watch TV together in the evenings (although it’s no longer Coronation Street), drink wine and sit side by side. We chat on the phone during the day when we’re both out at work, and it’s not always about childcare logistics! We have started to make time for each other, and appreciate every opportunity, no matter how small. Sometimes the 10-minute ‘micro-date’, downing scalding hot tea before playgroup pickup, is the best one.

More recently, we’ve been planning a wedding. As a result, we’ve needed to scope out venues, sort out endless details, have meetings with wedding coordinators and ring designers and go shopping for outfits and supplies. As none of those things are particularly child-friendly, we’ve been calling upon friends and family to help out while we do our ‘wedmin’ or we’ve been meeting up to get things done while our son is at playgroup. And it’s been great! The highlight was our tasting session in which we got to cosy up in a beautiful pub in the countryside, drink wine, eat amazing food and just talk.

In our former life, the pre-child one, we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and so we didn’t make the effort. We weren’t quite so happy, and we certainly didn’t decide to get married. Since our child came along, we have found something that is better, bigger and deeper. We have battled through a long and messy childbirth, through sleepless nights and exhaustion, where accusations fly and tears are hot and angry, through neverending nappy changes, illnesses, and dinner time battles. We have come out the other side with a newfound respect and appreciation for one another, and a desire to make time for one another in our busy lives.

Before, we didn’t go on date nights because we felt like we could make time for each other whenever we wanted. Now, we don’t need date nights because we do make time for each other on a regular basis. We’re making the effort, finding new ways of spending time together, embracing the micro-date, and spending much more time together than we did before becoming parents. And we’re in a pretty good place in our relationship as a result.

This post has been written in collaboration with bubble babysitting app, as part of their #datelikeaparent campaign. I would love it if you could take 5 minutes to comment below, or head on over to Twitter or Instagram and let us know how you find childfree time to hang out with your other half!

Bubble babysitting app is a service that connects us parents with great local sitters that our friends are already using and rating. You can download the app here if you want to have a look.

We even colour-coordinate nowadays!
MumBoss, Parenting

Is co-parenting really all it’s cracked up to be?

When I tell other mums that my partner and I share the responsibility of childcare, I am often met with an envious ‘lucky you’. This was particularly true in the early days when many of my new mum friends wouldn’t see much of their partners from Monday to Friday and would mostly have to figure out how to look after a tiny baby all by themselves. So yes, in some respects, lucky me. But it’s not always a walk in the park. Taking equal responsibility for childcare, and managing that division of labour, certainly comes with its own unique challenges, and can be a real strain for a relationship.
Here are some of the issues I have encountered along the way:
  • The logistics of trying to organise the workload of two freelancers around a child are a nightmare, and a recipe for rows and hurt feelings. There is the inevitable argument of whose job is more important, or at least the most important that day. It puts enormous strain on a relationship.
  • I have had to slowly – and painfully – learn to let go of the idea that I am not the only one who knows how to look after my child and gets to decide what is best for him. Several of my mum friends have partners who wouldn’t have an opinion on which potty-training method to try, or when to make the transition from a cot to a ‘big boy’ bed, because it mostly doesn’t affect them, whereas my OH is working in the field, elbow deep in nappies, and it’s every bit as much his decision as it is mine (*she says through gritted teeth…*)
  • In the early days (i.e. the first 6 months), my son was exclusively breastfed, which meant that I was the only one who could actually do anything when he woke up in the night, and it also meant that I couldn’t leave him for more than a couple of hours at a time. I felt (unfairly) resentful that my OH could just leave the house when he wanted, could stay away for the night, and was not losing nearly as much sleep as I was. It didn’t feel like the ‘fair’ divide we had agreed on. Not his fault I know, but sleep deprivation’s a bitch.
  • There is an expectation, from several corners, that I should be grateful for his ‘help’. He’s not helping me. Childcare is not my ‘job’. It’s a shared responsibility and no-one expects him to be grateful to me for getting up in the night or changing nappies. This doesn’t mean that I’m ‘ungrateful’. I’m certainly grateful to have him in my life, but I don’t think he’s doing me a favour by sharing childcare duties.
  • Quite simply, my OH doesn’t do things the way I would do them. He doesn’t prioritise the same types of activity, and doesn’t see screentime as such a bad thing. In the past, if I was out for a whole day, I would be worried that my son would not be getting enough stimulation, fresh air, or the general over-the-top attention he would be getting from me. I used to think it would be easier to pay a childcare professional so I could make sure they were doing things my way. I know, total cow. I’m over that now, and realise that we both just offer very different things to my son, which is great. (And I have also very much relaxed my own attitude to screentime!)
  • Total strangers (often grannies in cafes) feel the need to remark on what a good dad my OH is, and it makes my blood boil. Not because he’s not a good dad, because I really know that he is (despite my whining), but because nobody is thinking what a good mum I am for doing the exact same things!
  • Childcare actually isn’t split down the middle. Even when you try really hard, there are still some things that one of you does more than the other, and those things change all the time as your child grows. For a long time, I still considered myself to be the ‘primary parent’, particularly during the first year, but I think we’re slowly finding a better balance.
For all of the above, there are enormous advantages to having a hands-on partner. Like the close bond between my son and his dad, which is amazing to see. I know that I can leave them together without a long list of instructions, and I can now swan out of the house without a care (like I longed to do so much in the early days). I don’t participate in the gentle ‘dad-bashing’ I see from some mums, who occasionally laugh at the ineptitude of their other halves when it comes to changing nappies or dealing with toddler tantrums. He’s actually better at lots of it than I am (but don’t tell him I said so…)
The boys!

My child too

People are saying that we have become desensitised to the refugee crisis, that we are suffering from ‘compassion fatigue‘.
Since becoming a mum, my tolerance for distressing news has plummeted. My protective maternal instinct combined with a sprinkling of anxiety disorder and a big old splodge of OCD has made it nearly impossible for me to read, watch or listen to tragic stories involving children. This includes tales of miscarriage, stillbirths and childhood death, words I can barely bring myself to type, in case by doing so, I somehow bring harm upon my family, upon my sweet, beautiful blond-haired little boy.
Up until very recently, this selective blindness extended to the refugee crisis and the 1000 unaccompanied minors adrift in the Calais Jungle. Every time I heard sentences like ‘129 children have gone missing from the refugee camps’, phrases like ‘sex trafficking’ and words like ‘lost’, ‘alone’ and ‘scared’ to describe children, my brain did the mental equivalent of putting its hands over its ears and shouting ‘lalalalalalala’ as loudly as possible.
This is not desensitisation. This is not a lack of care for others. It’s hypersensitivity. And it’s fear. But that’s not an excuse for inaction either.
Every time I, or you, put our hands over our ears so we cannot hear, or over our eyes so we cannot see; every time we turn the TV over when we hear something that makes us uncomfortable; every time we choose to ignore an issue that is causing pain to others, we are allowing that situation to continue.
So now I am choosing to open my eyes. And here is what I am seeing:
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a parent. As parents, we owe it to the mothers and fathers of these lost kids to help their children, just as we would help a child that we found lost in our local playground, and just as we would hope that another parent would help our child if they needed it. It’s time that we said to the parents of those lost children: your children are our children too. And we will help to take care of them.
Here are some of the things that I am committing to doing, and I urge you to join me:
  • Donate money to help provide mobile phones, backpacks and winter clothes to the unaccompanied minors in the Jungle refugee camp. This is crucial, as the dismantling of the camp is expected to start any day now, and there is no plan to transport the children to safety. Click here to donate.
  • Take part in peaceful protests, e.g. this one on Monday 24th October at Kings Cross/St Pancras in which parents are being asked to bring their kids dressed up as Paddington Bear to put pressure on London councils to help unaccompanied refugee children.
  • Share the hell out of every article and blog post on this crisis so that people cannot forget or look the other way.
We need to read the distressing articles and watch the awful news bulletins; we need to imagine ourselves in the place of the refugees, our kids in the place of these lost children. And we need to allow ourselves to feel sad when we hear terrible things, like stories of children being pulled dead from the water. And then we need to do something about it.
And most importantly of all: we need to stop looking the other way simply because it’s too painful to look at the problem.
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The best piece of mothering advice I have ever received

I usually avoid conversation with strangers on trains. To be completely honest, I even avoid eye contact. Who wants to end up making awkward small talk the entire way from London to Newcastle..?

But I made an exception on my last trip up North, and I’m so glad I did.

I got chatting to a wonderful woman who helped me to see, in a way that no-one else ever has, that I am making the right choice for my family by going out to work and placing my lovely little boy in childcare.

Her advice was simple, and it was this:

Do what you love. You mustn’t give up your dreams and career goals in order to spend every second with your child. Otherwise, you may well end up resenting your child and your relationship will suffer.

And this was the best bit:

Just make sure you “get your ducks in a row.” Translation: Find the right childcare for your child and make sure he’s happy. That way, you both go and have a lovely day, and then look forward to seeing each other on your days off. This made me realise that the reason my situation felt so bad was not that I was going to work, but that I had chosen the wrong childcare for my son (an issue I’m in the middle of resolving).

As a result, your relationship with your child will be all the better because you know that the time you spend with them is time you have chosen to spend with them. And when you are with them, you can be fully and completely present, rather than half-distracted thinking of other things that you could be doing, putting them in front of the telly while you get things done, or simply resenting the fact that you feel forced to be there.

My conclusion: If I follow all of the ‘shoulds’ and give in to the guilt, my relationship with my child will suffer, and then I will really have something to feel bad about.

It’s important to show our children how great it is to be inspired and passionate and how wonderful it it to do something that you love. This will lead to confident kids growing up inspired to follow their passions too.

I don’t know the name of the wonderful lady on the train, and I’m pretty sure she’ll never read this, but if she does: Thank You.

PS. This post in no way intends to denigrate Stay At Home Mums. It’s just about mums like me, who go out to work, and often feel really bloody guilty about it. If you have chosen to be at home with your child(ren), and that’s what you feel passionate about, then I wish you all the best. Truly.


Competition: Win tickets to a family rave in East London

Calling all irresponsibly responsible parents!

The award-winning, always a sell-out, everyone’s-talking-about-it, Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave is coming to Hackney, with live DJs, glitter cannons, free glowsticks and a LICENSED BAR, and you could win a family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) by entering this competition before 11pm on the 7th October:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


When: Oct 16 2016 14:00 – 16:30

Where: The Mangle, 13-18 Sidworth Street, London Fields, E8 3SD London. Click here for event link.

What: A family rave to end all family raves. The kids will love it. You will love it. They’ll play with bubbles. You’ll get a little tipsy. The dress-up theme is ‘Back to the Old Skool’ so you can even dig out some of those 90’s clothes lurking at the back of the wardrobe…

Find Big Fish Little Fish on TwitterInstagram or on their website.

Whoop whoop! See you on the dancefloor!!

Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave

Competition: Win tickets to a family jazz concert at the Southbank Centre

I’ve teamed up with Bubele, an app, website & newsletters dedicated to finding the coolest activities for kids around the UK, to offer 2 family tickets to a Groove Baby family jazz concert at London’s Southbank Centre on Wednesday 21 September at 10.30am.

This concert stars Shane Forbes, one of the most in-demand young jazz drummers in the UK, along with two more rising stars on the UK jazz circuit, Nathaniel Facey on saxophone and Tom Farmer on double bass.

To be in with a chance of winning a family ticket (2 adults, 2 kids), you just need to click the link & answer a simple question before 11pm on Wednesday 14th September:

Click here to enter

PS. I also work with Bubele to produce a fortnightly East London what’s on guide for super cool parents. You can sign up here if that’s your thing.

Family friendly jazz concert

Click here for full details of the concert. One pair of tickets admits 2 adults plus a total of 2 children for free. Competition closes at 11pm on Wednesday 14th September. See full T&Cs here. 


The freelancing mum’s guide to getting sh*t done

Having been self-employed before motherhood, and now as a mum, I am finding out that the challenges involved are very different. Gone are the days of working 60 hours a week (thank goodness!) and only having myself to think about. Here are the things that have helped me to stay sane and get sh*t done over the last two years:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it

Making sure that you have specific days for working, and others for spending with your family, will help you to make sure that you work the number of hours you need to get things done. When you are self-employed, with no-one to answer to, it can be easy to either work yourself into the ground or take too much time off. Decide how many hours you need to do each week, and make a realistic schedule. Children also respond well to a routine, so they will be happier if they know where they are going to be each day.

  • Schedule in some ‘me time’

This comes up on every single list of tips for mums, working mums, self-employed mums, stay-at-home mums and everything in between. It’s arguably the most important point on this list. By taking some downtime from work and family, you can be more productive when you are working, and a more pleasant person for your family to be around. And knowing that you have that time scheduled in will make it easier for you to focus on work and family the rest of the time.

  • Accept help

And also ask for it. You might not be lucky enough to have people throwing offers of babysitting at your feet (I’m not!) but don’t be afraid to ask around. You’ll be surprised how many people will be happy to help out, but just didn’t think to offer.

  • Learn to say no

When you work for yourself, it can be easy to say yes to every offer that comes your way, for fear of turning down the wrong opportunity and missing out. However, when you’re a mum, you have to recognise that your time is more limited, and you need to manage the expectations of your clients and your customers. This means saying no to requests that don’t align with your objectives, or that you simply don’t have time to do. This will avoid you wasting your time, or being forced to break promises.

  • Give 100% to whatever you’re doing

When you’re at work, try to forget about everything else and concentrate on the task at hand. You will be more productive and this means that when you’re with your family, you can turn your phone off and give 100% to them too. My tip: Use a time-tracking tool (such as Toggl) to help you stay on track.

  • Get a dedicated working space

This might take the form of a room in your house, or even a corner of a room, or a desk in a coworking space. This will help you to focus when you’re at work and it also means that you can shut down your computer and leave work behind when you’re done for the day.

  • Outsource

I hate the expression ‘time is money’ but this is literally true when you’re self-employed. If you pay someone to do a task for you, you haven’t simply spent money, you have saved yourself time, which can then be spent on earning money! Identify those things that take you a lot of time, that you don’t enjoy, and that you can offload onto someone else. And do it. For lots of people, accounts and tax returns fall into this category.

  • Make time for your other half too!

I’m really bad at this one. I make time for my son, for my work, and even for me, but I have a terrible habit of neglecting my other half. He’s very understanding, but I’m making an effort to put aside time once a week to spend with him, even if it’s just vegging in front of Britain’s Got Talent with a bottle of wine together!

I would love to hear about your experience of being a self-employed mum so please do Tweet me @hackneymama or comment below!

The studio I share with a bunch of lovely people in Dalston