Magnificent Mamas is a series of guest posts from brilliant mums who inspire us through their work, passion and general awesomeness. Hopefully they’ll inspire you too.
Please welcome the wonderful Maxine Kerley. Maxine recently left her job to run her business, Digital Bon Bons, full time. She also designed our gorgeous Mums Off Duty logo so I can vouch for her brilliance!
Firstly, I just wanted to say how thrilled I am to be part of Natalie’s Magnificent Mamas series. Honoured, in fact, to be in the same company as some truly amazing mamas.
Becoming a parent
I started my journey into Parenthood in 2014 when our daughter Ava was born. I don’t think anything prepares you for parenthood. No matter how many books you read, what class you attend – you are literally going into the wilderness and there is no Bear Grylls to save you. I thoroughly enjoyed my year of maternity with my little girl. It was fantastic to be with her every day and see her grow and develop. Being a mama was pretty special.
I returned to work in 2015. I was very fortunate, I returned to a company that offered flexible working so I headed back working 32 hours a week. I was excited to return to work too – I missed having something that was for me and doing a job that I had worked really hard at. The company of adults and conversation was also very welcome too.
I had always had a dream of working for myself, but never really knew what I wanted to do or what my bright idea would be. Then in July 2016, I had it.
I’d seen so many wonderful businesses since having my daughter, attended baby classes and bought from beautiful independent brands. I thought, “What if I can use my skills and knowledge to help them grow their businesses online?” That was it – Digital Bon Bons was launched on 31 December 2016.
So here we are in October, 10 months later and I am now working completely full time on my business. How did I get here?
Through a lot of working on top of working. I won’t lie, it’s been challenging. I’ve certainly had moments where I was just going to stop and pack it all in. But the reasons I started this business, aside from having better flexibility to be with my family, was for me. I wanted to have something that was all mine to cherish and grow (aside from my beautiful little cherub).
When you start a business, especially on top of being a parent, and on top of holding down another full-time / part-time job, it is tough. You are juggling so many plates, and trying to tick so much of a never-ending to-do list. It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed, and essentially neglect yourself.
This is why it is so important to make time for you. As a person, outside of being a mama, a business owner and every other hat you wear in your mountain of roles.
It always sounds like an elusive unicorn, doesn’t it? “What is this me time you speak of?” But it’s there everyone, it is there for the taking. We just need to make ourselves do it and I certainly found that over the last 10 months.
There were times when I was working every evening after doing full days at my other job. I even had my husband and friend saying to me, “You need to stop, you’ll burn out.” And they were right.
I have always had trouble relaxing. I’ve always been an “on the go” type of person, but even I had reached my limits and knew some time out was needed.
Taking time away for yourself is so important. A little trip to town to treat yourself to a cake and a cuppa, or even a little trip away with some of your girls to take your mind off everything.
Scheduling it in
I know this sounds crazy, but if you’re the type of person like me who cannot slow down, then try and make yourself do it. Schedule it in your diary – I kid you not! It does actually work wonders.
I make sure that I have times set up with friends to enjoy the cinema for the evening, and time for my husband and I (which isn’t sitting in front of the tele but also going out into civilisation). And not forgetting time for me on my own.
I like to make sure I have some time set aside where I will go out on my own to get some headspace. Sometimes it might be a much needed haircut, or a little browse round the shops.
My business is all about digital, so being online and on my phone are part and parcel. But I also don’t want this to take over my life when I am not working, so I make sure I have digital detoxes.
If I go on holiday, my phone stays off. At night time, at 8pm, it goes off so I am not tempted to check emails or get lost in the Instagram scroll. I want to give myself the headspace to wind down and have a good night’s sleep.
It can be so hard to not be a slave to your phone. But it really does benefit your business, and you too, to have time away and remember what it’s really all about.