I have always been a worker. I started out doing a paper round after school, went on to have a Saturday job at 16 and after leaving college I decided that working was for me and not studying. I worked my way up in a well-known retailer and had such a passion for it that you would have thought I owned the shop myself. After leaving this job to pursue a new career as a teaching assistant I unexpectedly fell pregnant very quickly (we had tried the year before but after 4 months nothing had happened. Just goes to show what a new job can do for you!) I went on maternity and had planned to return to work but my new found motherly attachment had other plans! I knew I had to be at home with him and I knew I wouldn’t have been happy going back into full-time work.
Three years on and I have seen out the newborn days, the nappy changes, the weaning, the teething, the second guessing myself (well almost!), the night time feeds and being covered in baby sick. I have just left the terrible two’s and am now facing the threenager stage. I have been the person he relies on, the cleaner, the errand runner and have learnt to always put a tiny person’s needs before mine. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved almost every moment of it… But, I have come to realise that somewhere in this time I have become lost. I have the most important job in the world but I no longer have a place just for me, a project to work on (besides creating an awesome mini me!) or something to work towards.
I wrote my book and self-published it last February but once it came out I noticed how low my confidence levels had become. I had forgotten how to ‘work’. I had been out of routine, out of the loop and had no clue where to start or which route I should take with it all. I sheepishly began to blog to try and raise my profile but with no guidance and a child to take care of I didn’t seem to have the constant drive I thought I would. At times I felt out of my depth. I knew how to ‘Mum’ and this was who I had become. Could I get back to the work driven woman I was before? I really didn’t know.
In a workplace you have targets to hit, deadlines to meet, you have a boss praising you at the end of a good day. You have focus, there are annual reviews and training resources to guide your progression. As a stay at home Mother, all this is a distant memory. Instead, you forget about your looks, your child has a better wardrobe than you, your bags have their own bags and you can’t remember the last time you really had a good full nights’ sleep. Trying to see through all of this and find the old you is hard. She is still there somewhere deep down but what does it take to find her?
For me, the answer has been found via support.
In August I was ready to jack it all in. I was enjoying writing but I had no idea where I could take it all. I had other books sitting on my desk and wanting to have them published but I didn’t know who to contact first. I had a book on Amazon which needed constant marketing and I wanted it to be seen and known about but doing it alone had become a daily task. And then I ‘met’ some fellow Mum bloggers. They invited me into their circle and provided me with the support and help I so desperately needed but which I hadn’t actually consciously realised I’d needed. I have gained a new insight into it all, I have seen where writing can take you, whether it’s to blog for fun, to be paid, to receive products or to produce reviews for companies there are so many options.
I have joined business groups for women and have ‘met’ people who are willing to help you out even though they have never met you in person. I have had messages from women who have great tips and are willing to share these because they want to see other women succeed in business too.
A new passion started to fire up in me and I began to catch a glimpse of the old ‘me’. The ‘me’ who loved to do well in whatever I put my hand to and the ‘me’ who will give anything a go in life (Many a different job!)
From these amazing contacts, I was suddenly given the opportunity to speak about my teething knowledge at a group. I somehow found the confidence to stand up in front of some new Mums and talk openly about myself and my book. The thought of this had previously terrified me because I only saw myself as a Mum and no longer as that driven, confident working woman I once was. Now, something inside had finally clicked. Whether it is simply because of Jake being older or because I am now ready to tackle a new career, I don’t know. What I do know is that I came away from that meeting completely buzzing. I had stepped back into the shoes I had worn when I ran a shop and I knew that I was finally re-discovering the old me.
In the last couple of weeks, I have not only created a new website, I have also written a teething piece for cheeky chompers, applied for other blogging related jobs and have started freelance writing. A new step but an exciting one!
There is life after becoming a Mum and you may already be back in work because that was the right move for you but if like me you have chosen to stay at home in these early years and are feeling anxious or less confident about going back into work, whether that is into an office or trying your hand at your own business from home, it will come together.
You need to look past the Mum version of yourself and remember the pre-Mum version. You need to find your support network, your confidantes, your girl tribe.
Once the Mum fog of nappies, dirty dishes and snotty noses lifts you will be able to re-discover you!