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.

elaine-and-gary-in-pub
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.

elaine-and-gary-recent
We even colour-coordinate nowadays!
MumBoss

The importance of saying yes

AKA why I decided to take part in the Mumpreneur Networking Club Bus Tour Blogathon.
Tomorrow, I will be sacrificing a full day of work to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to Waterloo and a train to Guildford to sit on a stationary bus all day, and then travel all the way back to Hackney. I have had to ask my other half to cancel some of his own work so he can pick the toddler up from nursery and, for the first time ever, we’ll have to waiting at the nursery door for it to open in the morning. Why?
As a self-employed mum, my time is precious. And I don’t give it away very easily. In fact, I would say that saying no has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt over the past 2 years since my son was born, and the one that has ensured I enjoy a decent work-life balance while still earning enough money to support my family.
However, sometimes it’s good to say yes, as long as the opportunity is the right one. And how do you know?
  • Step 1: Make sure you have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve in the short, medium and long term. Write it down so you can keep referring back to it.
  • Step 2: Compare each potential opportunity with the list, and be honest with yourself about whether that particular opportunity is going to help you to achieve those goals, either directly or indirectly.
For me personally, after a couple of years of professionally blogging for businesses and parent websites, I have taken the plunge and launched my own personal blog. My goal right now is to network with other bloggers, promote my blog, increase followers and engagement on my social platforms, and pick up some tips and tricks along the way. One of the main themes of my blog is about the challenges involved in being a self-employed mum, so it will be great to chat to other mums in the same position and find out what their personal challenges are too. So when I was offered the chance to go and represent a business I work for on the Mumpreneur Networking Club Bus Tour, I said yes straight away as it’s the perfect opportunity for me right now. Now can someone remind me of that at 6am tomorrow morning..?
  • If you’re in Guildford tomorrow, come say hi. I’ll be at the blogathon in the morning, and then representing the Bubele app for parents in the afternoon.
MNC take the plunge
MumBoss

Forging a Career around Motherhood

To illustrate the person I was before becoming a mama, let me tell you a little story…

In my past life, I founded a translation agency. I worked all day every day. Throughout my pregnancy, I was sure that the birth itself would be a minor blip in my working week, and that I would be right back on it as soon as I’d pushed out the placenta. My waters broke at around 11pm when I was already one day past my due date and had accepted work from an important client. The deadline was the next day, so rather than go to the hospital, or even phone the midwife, I grabbed a towel, sat back down at my desk, and kept going until I’d finished the piece of work. Then we went to hospital. I didn’t want to tell my client that I was having a baby (I didn’t tell any of my clients), so I just said that I would be uncontactable for a couple of days, and turned on my out-of-office, for the first time ever.

Then little Beanie arrived, and everything changed. Not in a sudden lightning bolt kind of way, but in a subtle changing-of-the-seasons kind of way. I didn’t want to rush out to the office. I wanted to sit on my bum and drink tea and eat cake and hold my beautiful baby boy for just five minutes longer. So that’s exactly what I did. I was really skint for a few months, but it didn’t matter.

And then one day I got a Tweet from a local mum who was setting up an app for parents. Would I meet her for coffee? Jumping at the chance to go and have an adult chat with someone, and intrigued by the possibility of doing something different, off I went. And I never looked back.  Bit by bit, I took on a few hours here and there, taking on their Twitter account, and then their Facebook account too, creating blog posts for them, and helping to launch a local parent newsletter, which would eventually be rolled out to the rest of the UK. And it all fit neatly around my life as a mum. I even took my son to meetings!

Somewhere along the line, I heard of Digital Mums, and things really started to happen. In a nutshell, Digital Mums takes lost mums like me, and turns them into social media ninjas. It’s a pretty exhausting transformation, with so much to learn and do in five short months, but it was worth every single late night and mini breakdown (there were several).

Now, I work a very reasonable 35ish hours per week, for the original client, but also with additional freelance work in social media and content creation. I coordinate a team of mums around the country who are all trying to find work that fits around family life, and that complements their mum life. I meet and talk to incredible mums every single day, mums who have turned their lives upside down in order to find a more flexible way of working, and it’s the most supportive and wonderful community I’ve ever encountered.

And you know what? I’m a bit poorer, and a bit more tired, but I’m happy. I get to sit and watch Kung Fu Panda for the millionth time with my little boy, and play with Duplo, and read the Gruffalo over and over, but I’m also supporting my family and doing something that I really enjoy at the same time.

And so this is my new blog all about my new life. I really hope you like it.

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