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Who are you today, mummy?

Author and mum Amy Beeson shares her experiences of looking after a child over the summer holidays whilst launching a new book with workingmums

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After publishing three books with HarperCollins, running my own business and doing the school run I’ve learnt that women maybe multitaskers but focusing on what you want to achieve most of all each day and feeling fulfilled by small achievements is what success looks like for me. Book sales and client wins are fantastic but they’re intangible and can sometimes leave you feeling a bit flat. Focusing on putting on a great book event one day and then making pancakes with my daughter the next morning feels more real than striving for an end goal since I left the corporate world.

The corporate world is playing catch up; they talk about flexible working but we’re actually doing it.

I did find pregnancy and the return to work challenging because becoming a mum changed me. It changed my relationship with work. I love my job but I’ve got at least three full time jobs (I’m a mum, an author and business owner) but I can’t be all three at the same time, not in the way I want to. I ask myself who am I right now? Over the holidays I was a mum all of the time and an author most of the time, because our new book Our Country Nurse was published and my daughter was off school. There wasn’t much space for client work but that’s OK because most of my clients were away.

For me the biggest challenge is still trying to be present in what I’m doing. Not letting mummy guilt creep in whilst I’m writing and not thinking about emails when I’m with my daughter. And it never gets any easier, it’s never going to not be busy. What I’ve discovered over the last few years is that I need to take responsibility for feeling in control.

I’ve learnt so much by connecting with other mums about what works for them and I’ve discovered that being great at your job doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. I work best in bursts of about two hours – I can get a lot done in those two hours! Then it makes complete sense to go for quick walk, eat something nice, or do some yoga – that’s not slacking; it’s giving my mind and body some sustenance so when I come back to do another two hour burst of writing or client consultations I’m at my optimum.

When you’re in an corporate environment most of the time you have to follow someone else’s rules whether they work for you or not. I get to take a fresh look at each day and ask myself what I need to achieve and how best to set myself up to succeed. Flexible working enables you to pick the time and place that means you always do your best work.

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My mum is probably the kindest colleague I’ll ever have. Whoever you work with be a kind boss to yourself.

Once my daughter’s in bed if I’m working towards something big I’ll do another few hours on the laptop but I don’t do that all the time because it’s not healthy. During the run up to Our Country Nurse coming out I was working till midnight and we’ve had lots of book events and PR to do.

My mum said to me, ‘Let’s enjoy this. Let’s not miss out the pleasure of seeing our book come out by letting all the thoughts of what we need to do spoilt it.’ Sarah is always the first person to tell me to not do too much. Sometimes that’s hard to hear because nothing just falls into your lap; it takes hard work, but you have to ask yourself would you expect the same of someone else? I might expect a colleague to do long hours when it was necessary but not very often, so I try not to expect more of myself than I would of others.

When I do have to work long hours I make a deal with myself that I can do this for a week but next week I’ll need to change things because otherwise I’ll burn out. Part of the joy of working for yourself is doing what fulfils you and that changes day by day. Most of all I want to feel happy, to me nowadays that is what success feels like.

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Amy Beeson runs Wordsby Communications and has a successful writing partnership with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE. Their new book Our Country Nurse is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums journeys during pregnancy and motherhood.

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Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life Sarah Beeson MBE on BBC Radio Stoke

Author and former Stafford health visitor Sarah Beeson MBE joins Liz Ellis and Perry Spiller on BBC Radio Stoke to talk babies, parenting and her new book Our Country Nurse.

Missed it? Listen again on BBC Radio iPlayer.

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The Interview

Liz: Let’s take you back to the 70s. It’s was a decade our next guest started caring for babies and their families. Sarah Beeson from Stafford has an MBE for services to nursing and has recently published her second memoir Our Country Nurse on her adventures. Think Call The Midwife 20 years later. Sarah, what are the big differences for you between then and now for babies?

Sarah: Babies really don’t alter. Fashions and fads come and go. The most important thing is the emotional needs of babies. Today’s parents really get that. As well as the care, the breastfeeding or bottle feeding and looking after your baby the emotional needs are very important.

Perry: You’re a health visitor; you’re going into other people’s houses aren’t you? Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life.

Sarah: It is. I worked in rural Kent. I had a little mini which was given to us by the county as we’d be county council employees and had only just moved into the NHS. The weather could be tremendously harsh in Kent; snow in the winter and the book has the baking hot summer of 1976 where once I parked my Mini when I came back out the steering wheel was so hot I could barely touch it to drive onto my next visit. But knocking on doors for a living has been most enjoyable.

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Liz: You didn’t have children when you started and you were very young when you became a health visitor. What made you want to do it?

Sarah: When I trained at Hackney Hospital on community practice towards the end of my training I went out with a marvellous health visitor visiting high rise blocks and there were terrible conditions in some areas. She was so welcomed by her families, she organised nursery placements, she sorted housing out and I thought I want to that. Later on when they were looking for nurses who wanted to do health visiting I applied and got in.

Liz: You’ve got some really interesting stories. It’s fictional with names changed but loosely it’s based on your life?

Sarah: Yes, it’s my memoir. All the characters names and circumstances are changed except me, Sarah Hill, I’m the only one who is herself and I’m not even completely sure about that.

Perry: So, presumably the main protagonist is you?

Sarah: It’s me narrating and it’s my story but there are some real characters. I dedicated Our Country Nurse to three Staffordshire health visitors who are no longer with us but there wonderful way of working come out in some of my characters particularly Hermione who is wonderful largely based on a dear friend.

Liz: Some of the stories people might find a little shocking. Tell us about the Filipino mum?

Sarah: They was a Filipino couple with a new baby. I went to see them and they worked very long hours for hardly any money. They got one half day a week off on a Sunday and really it modern day slavery.

Perry: How much did they earn?

Sarah: They earned £17 and ten shillings a month between them.

Perry: Good grief.

Sarah: I mean wages weren’t high but that was exploitation. And the excuse from was they got a room – which was an attic, and food – which they weren’t used to and couldn’t eat. They wanted to get away to the United States and their story was largely based on someone I did see.

Perry: What did Sarah encounter with this couple then?

Sarah: The mum was wonderful but she really couldn’t spend enough time with the baby. I used to do a number of clinics and one had bus that went round and picked everyone up and brought them to this monthly country clinic and took them all home again all for free. I more or less said it’s essential she goes to her employer she must come; dereliction of duty on your part if you let them go. She was a very pukka lady and didn’t want to go against that so allowed her to have this afternoon off once a month to come to clinic and that’s where we hatched the plot for her to escape.

Perry: So she escaped!

Liz: You helped her to get out of the situation.

Perry: It says in the book that she was advised to leave the baby under an apple tree so she could carry on working for the family?

Sarah: Yes, what her employer kept telling her was to wrap the baby up and leave her under the apple trees in the orchard and get on with your work, I used to do that on Nanny’s day off. It was January! It was real exploitation. You have to tread very carefully sometimes and that’s the thing with health visiting you have no right of access, you have no right to go in. It’s people’s good will.

Perry: For unmarried mothers back in the 70s was there still stigma there was in previous decades?

Sarah: There was. There’s a story about a young girl, another one I helped to escape from looking after two horrible elderly uncles in a tumbledown farm to a nice little flat of her own. Things were changing in the 70s, it wasn’t as Dickensian as 30s, 40s, 50s but it was still very hard and tough for women at that time generally but particularly unmarried mothers.

Liz: One of the stories from your book which are based on real events is about you going to help a mum with a three year old who’s having issues in the night?

Sarah: This is based on a quite a few incidents because quite a few parents say their child is talking to someone or seeing someone and it’s not that unusual and it’s not usually a ghost, it’s usually imagination and children have seven years before they really separate reality from fantasy.

Liz: What are they doing in the middle of the night though?

Sarah: I can’t give the story away but its not all that it seems. The whole family is really worried because they think they’ve got a poltergeist; things are falling off dressers and crashing to the floor.

Perry: Was this a real story?

Sarah: Yes, but the actual outcome isn’t quite that you might think it was.

Perry: Now that’s a teaser.

Liz: There were a lot of high profile stories in the papers in the 70s about children and ghosts.

Sarah: There is always something going on in that direction.

Liz: You must have thought why are you calling me?

Sarah: When you’re a health visitor people go to you to ask for help and very often you’re not quite the person who has the knowledge but you can be conduit; you can find the right person.

Liz: Did you have any other unusual cases like that?

Sarah: I’ve unblocked drains, I’ve called the environmental health for all sort of infestations – things that I can’t actually deal with though I’m quite good at unblocking drains. In the 70s people didn’t have the money and insurance cover for emergency situations so you did get rung up just as you were leaving the office. For instance on Christmas Eve as I was leaving someone rings with a problem and it was that story that started off the memoirs. A lady rang me and said I can’t settle the baby they’re crying, crying, crying. I went out I was there for absolutely ages talk about breastfeeding, positions and I’d left the minis lights on. I had a completely flat battery and no mobile phones in those days. I didn’t want to go back to the house I’d been there two and a half hours. I walked to the phone box and rang the local garage. Great big snowflakes started to fall and I was stuck in a drift with a flat battery on Christmas Eve and I didn’t have any money with me. This lovely mechanic came out, he started my car and I asked him how much and he said, ‘Nothing, Nurse, it’s Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas.’ I put that into the text of Happy Baby, Happy Family as a little story and my agent said to me you should write your memoirs.

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Liz: Was it because of that going above and beyond dedication that you got the MBE?

Sarah: I got the MBE as a health visitor for working with children and families in Stafford. People put me forward for it without my knowledge. And I understand the Queen often says you get your MBE on behalf of a whole team of people. I just happened to be the one who was going up to get it and representing the profession.

Perry: Here’s the killer question – there’s a lot of people listening who would have been mums in 70s and are the daughters of those mothers. In your estimation are parents better now than they were?

Sarah: This generation of parents is the best there has ever been. Parents these days they really work as a team, they put their child’s welfare, their wellbeing at the heart of what they’re doing. Working parents, working mums especially often feel so torn between work and childcare but working is a good example for your children, whether you’re a stay at home mum, work full time or part time, there has been great improvements in parenting and especially in the emotional needs; that love and security. Recognising your child as an equal, you’re the custodian of those rights.

Liz: You think we do that more now?

Sarah:  A lot more now.

Perry: Is it an attitude of mind thing? In the 70s they were only one generation away from a child should be seen and not heard.

Sarah: That was not quite as bad as it had been but the parents of children then had definitely been told to be seen and not heard. It’s evolved and now parents understand that harsh words can hurt. That’s a big leap forward and I don’t think many parents now would think that smacking children would be OK because it always makes things worse.

Liz: Physically though it was harder for mums back then using terry nappies – we’ve got it easier now.

Perry: And your washing machine saves your life.

Liz: In birth we’re a lot more likely to use pain relief now, there weren’t a lot of options then.

Sarah: We do have wonderful midwifery and obstetrics service these days compared with then but there was every week an antenatal class run by myself and the midwife, there’s a wonderful midwife in the book who was an absolute treasure her mums adored her. We did a topic every week and relaxation every week – taking you through labour – because the NHS is so squeezed and lacking in resources some parents can’t get onto a course sometimes. So yes, I’m all for the new developments, I think it’s wonderful to have them but it’s your wonderful midwife who steers you through it.

Perry: Sarah, it was lovely to speak to you and the new book is Our Country Nurse. There’s quite a few stories drawn from your time in Staffordshire.

Liz: Thank you for coming in Sarah Beeson from Stafford, MBE.

Order a signed copy of Our Country Nurse.

Published by Harper Element.
Paperback at £8.99 available from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and WH Smith.
eBook and £6.49 available from Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Google Play and Kobo.
Audiobook £12.99 read by Anna Bentinck available from Amazon Audible and iTunes.

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Midlanders join Sarah and Amy Beeson at Stafford Book Launch

To celebrate the publication of our third book Our Country Nurse we’d love readers to join us for a party at The Moat House, Staffordshire on Thursday 1st September. For £10 we’ll treat you to a couple of drinks, a signed copy of Our Country Nurse and a goodie bag from Bennetts Skincare.

Drinks from 6.30pm Thur 1 September in the Library at The Moat House, Lower Penkridge Road, Acton Trusell, ST17 0RJ.

Book Now on Eventbrite. Tickets £10 
Eventbrite - Stafford Party for 'Our Country Nurse' with Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson

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Q&A WITH SARAH BEESON

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Sarah Beeson MBE (Photo Our Family Film)

Chat with Stafford author and former health visitor Sarah Beeson. Sarah will be sharing her experiences of being a young health visitor in Kent in the 1970s as told in her new book Our Country Nurse and answering readers questions.

READINGS BY AMY BEESON

Amy Beeson (Photo Vikki Ellis)

Amy Beeson (Photo Vikki Ellis)

Former Blessed William Howard High School student Amy Beeson will be reading extracts from Our Country Nurse and answering questions on writing and publishing.

BOOK NOW

Will we see you there? Book your ticket for this special evening on Eventbrite. 6.30pm Thur 1 September in the Library at The Moat House, Lower Penkridge Road, Acton Trusell, ST17 0RJ.

Book Now on Eventbrite. Tickets £10  (includes signed copy, a glass of wine & a goodie bag from Bennetts).
Eventbrite - Stafford Party for 'Our Country Nurse' with Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson

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Come to ‘Our Country Nurse’ Book Launch at The Poetry Society Cafe

Book your ticket for the London book event for Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson. We’ll be at The Poetry Society Cafe in Covent Garden 6.30pm on Friday 26 August 2016 with some lovely goodies to give to our readers thanks to our lovely sponsors Bennetts Skincare.

Put it in your diary

Come and spend the evening with us on to celebrate the publication  of Our Country Nurse. 6.30pm Fri 26 August at The Poetry Society Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London, Wc2H 7PB.

Book Now on Eventbrite. Tickets £10 (includes signed copy, a glass of wine and a goodie bag from Bennetts).
Eventbrite - Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson Book Launch

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Let’s party like it’s 1975

Enjoy a couple of drinks with us from 6.30pm – 9.30pm. You’ll get a signed copy of Our Country Nurse and some skincare goodies from Bennetts. All for £10 in Covent Garden on Friday night.

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Sarah Beeson (Photo Credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson (Photo Our Family Film)

Sarah will be answering readers questions and talking about what it was like to be a very young health visitor in the Kent Countryside in a year full of mayhem, mystery and a little bit of magic.

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Amy Beeson (Photo Credit Vikki Ellis)

Amy Beeson (Photo Vikki Ellis)

Sarah’s co-author and daughter, writer Amy Beeson will be reading extracts from Our Country Nurse and taking questions on writing the book.

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We couldn’t be in at the Poetry Cafe without a little bit of poetry and we’re thrilled that poet and writer Rachael Blair will be performing poems inspired by Our Country Nurse and motherhood and self discovery.  You’ll find Rachael’s poems on Honest Speaks and her musings on motherhood in literary magazine Raising Mothers.

BOOK NOW

6.30pm Fri 26 August at The Poetry Society Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London, Wc2H 7PB… We’re lookning forward to seeing you there. It’s going to be a fun evening.

Book Now on Eventbrite. Tickets £10 (includes signed copy, a glass of wine and a goodie bag from Bennetts).

Eventbrite - Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson MBE and Amy Beeson Book Launch

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Event Sponsored by Bennetts.

Thank you lovely baby skincare people we do love your products for babies and their mums.

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Do you love holding other people’s babies?

I must confess when I first had LO you think your baby is so awesome it’s hard to be interested in anyone else’s. I guess that’s just natures way of making your new baby the centre of your world.

But with LO starting school last week I got to hold other people’s scrumptious new babies at YoBeBe Apps Mums & Bumps Meet Up at Somerset House and man they were just gorgeous.  What a fantastic gathering of mums and mums-to-be. With complimentary gifts from Mothercare.

It was also a pleasure to chat to the pregnant first time mums about bump life. They were already putting such thought and time into preparing for their Little One’s; my mum (author Sarah Beeson MBE) is right this is the best generation of parents ever. I was asked to speak to this group of women about my journey into motherhood, becoming an author and setting up my own business Wordsby.

Along with Marion a parent blogger at Poignee D’Amour who organises Free Meet Ups in Notting Hill and Elisa who teaches ballet with bump and baby from PregDance.  The advice we give in Happy Baby, Happy Family seemed to strike a big cord and one mum who’s read it said our instant baby calmer The Up-Down Technique stops her baby crying every time in seconds!

You can see Sarah for 1-2-1 Baby Advice at Mumsnet Bumpfest in London on 26 Sept.    And at Natures Purest Balham on 29 September.    There really is nothing more we like than talking to mums and expectant mums so please get in touch if your run a group in London or the Midlands.

If you’re looking for a book with plenty of heart and imagination to wile away those long winter evenings – this is it!

By Amy Beeson

Being a working mum I don’t get to indulge my inner bookworm as much as I’d like, but I made reading The Story of Fester Cat by Paul Magrs a priority over the summer and it was an absolute joy.

I was lucky enough to be an Undergraduate at UEA when author Paul Magrs ran the Creative Writing course there. He is one of the contemporary writers I most admire so I was absolutely thrilled to be sent the manuscript of this memoir with a twist and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The story is told by Fester, a toothless stray moggy who adopts Paul and his partner Jeremy. The opportunity to be, not a fly on the wall, but a cat in the lap, in this literary suburban home in Levenshulme had my neglected bibliophile purring like a kitten.

I took to reading it in the garden while my daughter played and our own cats stretched out in a shady spot, because seeing the world through Fester’s eyes reminded me how much pleasure there is to be had at home. I might have even given my cat the odd nibble of smoked salmon and a few more tickles in the special spot under the chin – Fester made me want to be a better person and cat owner.

paul and festerFester Cat and Paul Magrs

When Fester is taken to Mr Joe at the hairdressers (the vets) to be put to sleep he takes us back through his wondrous life with Paul and Jeremy and the tidbits of tales he has heard of their goings-on Pre-Fester Cat; they are a pair of dafties but he loves them. And I came to love them too, I especially enjoyed the tale of how they met in the cavernous disco at CC Blooms in Edinburgh and discovered that only a few hours earlier by some cosmic coincidence, Jeremy had by pure chance bought Paul’s first novel, only later to reveal he found in the bargain bin at Waterstones just six months after it’d been published!

The tenderness of this book nearly made me cry so many times, not because the cat was going to die but because this genius memoir is filled with a hundred small acts of kindness and love. Just like in his brilliant Brenda and Effie Mysteries, Paul Magrs takes the neglected creatures barely existing in the margins and cherishes them – turning them into heroes who show us what it is to be human.

I felt like I was part of Fester’s household; one of the guests at the feasts they host for friends with 1970s pop in the background; round the kitchen table playing board games at Christmas with a Smörgåsbord laid out; reading in the autumn sun with a scarf round my neck and a cup of hot coffee, lapping up a good mystery book; or best of all sitting on the sofa in the beach house wishing there was a spot for me to write along with them.

And talking of the beach house here’s a real treat for you…My little book worm, Ava, suggested Paul read from his new book Jackanory style from his writing hut. So put the kettle on and enjoy the Paul Magrs reading The Story of Fester Cat.

Screenshot Paul Magrs

 The Story of Fester Cat is available for pre-order on Kindle and in Paperback on Amazon. (Out 4 November 2014)

 

Amy Beeson co-wrote The New Arrival with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE and runs Wordsby Communications. She works one-to-one with clients to share her creative know-how.

Is Mumpreneur a dirty word? Five pearls of wisdom for mums who want to run a business from home

Over the weekend I was featured in an article in The Telegraph on the ‘Rise of the Mumpreneur.’ Here’s what I had to say:

‘Childcare is a huge expense, but setting up a business is a struggle, too’

Amy Beeson, 32, from west London, is mother to two-year-old Ava. After leaving her job in communications for maternity leave in 2011, she decided to spend her time at home co-writing a book with her mother [Sarah Beeson MBE].

It wasn’t straightforward: before the book, The New Arrival, was picked up by a publishing agency [HarperCollins], she had to return to work. Only now has she decided to stay at home working full-time for her business, Wordsby Communications. “Working from home and becoming your own boss is empowering but it can be financially difficult,” she said. “While going to work and paying for childcare is a huge expense, starting up your own business from home means you are likely to struggle financially to begin with as well, so it is important that mothers enjoy the business they are starting up and are able to be adaptable.”’

Telegraph MumrepeurWho am I?

Six months after returning to work from maternity leave I waved goodbye to my full-time Communications Civil Service job after getting a three book deal with HarperCollins to co-write two memoirs and a parenting book with my mum, Sarah Beeson. I started up Wordsby Communications at the beginning of 2013 which provides communications, design, writing and branding services. Our first memoir ‘The New Arrival’ is a top-selling book and tells the heart-warming story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London. Working from home gives me the flexibility to do a job I love and take care of our Little One.

So, some days I’m doing what Reviewers have called “beautifully written and moving memoir” and others I’m developing brand language for Kali Theatre Company or a new brand for Notting Hill Vets. Life as my own boss is certainly never dull. It’s full of highs and lows but it feels like I am living my life.

Mumpreneur?

The label “Mumpreneur” causes ontroversy. The first time I had it applied to me was when I was asked to tell My Mum Story by Pippa Best at Story of Mum, she told me it was great to have a Mumpreneur’s story. I thought that’s not who I am. Yes, I’m a mum but I just work freelance and run a small Creative Communications business Wordsby. I’m hardly Alan Sugar or Richard Branson material.

To some “Mumpreneur” is a dirty word but for me in a world of hashtags I now see it as a tool. Because in social media words are tools. Find the right word and it will open up your digital world to networks and communities, fans, friends, peers and clients; and if you work from home it’s a lifeline.

The hashtags I most often use are #Freelance #Copywriter #London but the support and opportunities I’ve discovered by connecting with other women (often mums) on twitter constantly amazes me. When we have our #TheNewArrival #Twitterparty and #Quiz I just love the community of readers who gather together – it makes writing and communications a two-way street and that’s so much more rewarding than broadcast media. #Mumpreneur is just a tool to make connections in a world filled with buzz.

Here are my five Top Tips for mums who want to be their own boss and look after young children.

1. If you don’t value yourself no-one else will.

A lot of people out there want something for nothing. Know what you’re worth and be confident and clear about what you are offering. I regularly trade services with other mums in business where we are each getting something out of it, but don’t let people pick your brains for the price of a coffee.

2. You can’t do everything.

I bring writing skills, creativity, energy and serious graft to any project. When you run your own business time is money and for me doing my own accounts is a false economy. I use an e-accountancy service called Crunch meaning I don’t waste those precious working hours trying to work out my own tax.

3. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.

Most mums could run military operations they’re so organised. Flexibility, reacting positively and proactively to change and planning ahead – no problem! Transfer those skills to your business and you’ve got a winning formula. But most women are very hard on themselves – we put enormous pressure on ourselves to be great at work, as a mum, as a partner, to be a domestic goddess and look well-groomed and in control. If you can achieve 2-3 of these things in one day – you’re a superstar!

4. Do something you love.

Running your own business means working whenever and wherever you can. To find the energy to do that, your business needs to be something you love doing. It’s unlikely you’re going to strike it rich straight away and there will be times when it’s nail-biting, that’s why it’s got to be something you really want to do.

5. Be kind to yourself

Getting a little R&R for yourself is usually the toughest challenge for any mum but it’s essential. Your children and your business depend on your well-being, so be a good boss and give yourself a break, whether that’s going to the gym, a movie or the night-off from dinner and bedtime. It’s amazing the boost just having an hour or two to yourself can give you.

London Writer and Communications Strategist would like to meet…

  • New Clients. To work on copy, creative content, brand development and communications.
  • Account Manager. I would love to meet another “Mumpreneur” who would like to be her own boss and work with me to win new business and manage client relationships and projects.

Email amyibeeson@gmail.com

 

Finally here…The New Arrival publication day charity book event photos

Boglarka Apostolne Haui, Sarah Beeson and Violetta Finta enjoy the party

Boglarka Apostolne Haui, Sarah Beeson and Violetta Finta enjoy the party

Sarah and Amy Beeson would like to thank all the lovely people who turned up at our charity book launch event on publication day of The New Arrival (27 March 2014). The Star Cafe at St Andrew’s Church is a venue very much at the heart of this West London Community. Guests ticket money was entirely donated to the Homeless Project at the church and we raised £200. Thank you so much to everyone who came.

New Arrival book launch at Baron's CourtQuestions to Sarah Beeson MBE about her memoir were expertly chaired by former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. Sylvia Heal who summed up the young Nurse Sarah Hill in the book as; “a very determined young lady who at the age of 17 knows she wants to be a nurse and she wants to train in a hospital in Hackney East London. Her middle class parents didn’t approve of either of her decisions, so that was her first battle. Her story shows how supportive and valuable womens friendship is. From her early days as a student nurse, throughout her working and family life that solidarity has been a constant thread. Her nursing career politicised her making her aware of the impact on health of peoples social and housing conditions, the importance of employment rights and womens lib. Sarah works hard but also enjoys trying the latest Biba fashions, having boyfriends and generally having fun.  A very enjoyable read that will appeal to many women.”

New Arrival book launch at Baron's Court

Sarah Beeson MBE and Sylvia Heal

The Revrend Lesley Belinda who is the Curate at St Andrew’s said they were; “Delighted to host the launch of this amazing book, and very grateful for Sarah and Amy’s generous support of our homeless project, helping us to provide hot 3-course lunches for up to 100 homeless men and women every Saturday.”

New Arrival book launch at Baron's Court

The Revrend Lesley Bilinda

Amy Beeson who co-wrote The New Arrival with her mum read a couple of extracts to give everyone a taster. She said; “It’s a bit nerve-wracking when you have friends in the audience. I much prefer reading to a room full of strangers, but I think everyone enjoyed it – they laughed in all the right places.

New Arrival book launch at Baron's Court

Amy Beeson

Kelly Henderson the Children’s Advocate at St Andrew’s said; “A charming evening celebrating The New Arrival with two remarkable women, Sarah and her daughter Amy.

New Arrival book launch at Baron's Court

Kelly Henderson

The New Arrival is out now and available in paperback and as an ebook. Find out about the latest deals and upcoming book events.

New Arrival book launch at Baron's Court

Sylvia Heal, Amy Beeson and daughter Ava

Come to charity 70s theme book launch, W14

Join us (Sarah and Amy Beeson) on the day our first book The New Arrival is published. We are having a 70s theme book signing and chat in West Kensington, London at 7pm on Thursday 27 March. Tickets are £5 which includes light refreshments and all proceeds will be donated to the Homeless Project at St Andrew’s Church. Email bookclubevents@gmail.com to book your tickets.

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The story of The New Arrival

“The book is my true story of training to be a nurse at Hackney Hospital in early 1970s,” said Sarah Beeson MBE author and baby expert. “I made some great lifelong friends with a few of the nurses I lived with in the nurses’ home and worked with on the wards. I met patients that touched my heart and one or two that tested me to the limit. It’s a book jam-packed with tales about hospital and London life during years filled with fun, fashion, music, romantic and some terrible dates, women’s lib, politics and how I was changed forever by the way of life in the East End over 40 years ago.”

13. Sarah on Infants Ward Christmas 1972

Sylvia Heal in the chair

The Q&A session with Sarah will be chaired by Sylvia Heal a Magistrate and Honourable Fellow of the University of Wales. Sylvia was Deputy Speaker and a Parliamentary Private Secretary for two Secretaries of State. She served as MP for both Halesowen & Rowley Regis and Mid Staffordshire as well as being a member of the Executive Committee of SSAFA and of the Advertising Standards Authority. Sylvia has vast experience in social care, health and education as both a politician and a social worker and will be ideally placed to lead a discussion on the NHS and women’s social history with the London audience.

St Andrew’s Homeless Project

Every Saturday lunchtime volunteers and staff at St Andrew’s on Greyhound Road W14 offer a home cooked three course meal, shower, washing and toilet facilities, good second-hand clothes and advice to 75-90 people in need of support, friendship and shelter. A large number of visitors who regularly pass through the doors of St Andrew’s find spending time there helps to raise self-confidence and their ability to move onto a more stable way of life. The demand on the homeless project is increasing. You can help by making a donation, volunteering your time or giving non-perishable food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel and soap. If you are interested in finding out more please contact Father Guy Wilkinson guy@gwilkinson.org.uk

Book your ticket

Email bookclubevents@gmail.com to book your tickets. Book early as space is limited.

To work or be at home? Talking motherhood with Harriet Scott on BBC London 94.9

I was very excited to be asked to join Radio DJ Harriet Scott and Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Watkins on BBC London 96.4 to talk about going back to work after having a baby. In truth, I was slightly star struck to chat feeding, sleeping and shopping with an Olympian and her lovely baby William in the Green Room at Broadcasting House while a very obliging Ava slept in her buggy because I didn’t have any childcare.

You can Listen Again to the interview and here are a few of the highlights from what I had to say on my working life after having a baby.

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“I’d changed as person during maternity leave…”

I was due to go back to work when my daughter was a year old. I did go back to work but I only stayed in my job in the Civil Service for six months because I definitely felt that I’d changed as person during maternity leave in what I wanted from work and what I wanted from family life. If anything I think I was a bit braver. I’ve always written but before I had a baby I needed the cushion of having that monthly paycheque.

“We didn’t get the book deal offer until three days after I handed in my notice.”

It was a real gamble leaving work. During my maternity leave I wrote a baby book with my mum [Sarah Beeson MBE], it’s a first year guide to a baby’s first year which will be published in 2015. We got an offer for the book from HarperCollins for that and two memoirs of my mum’s life [‘The New Arrival’ out on 27 March and ‘She’s Arrived!’ out later this year]. Which was amazing but, we didn’t get the book deal offer until three days after I handed in my notice. So, I’d definitely reached a point where I felt we had an amazing Nanny, she was doing an amazing job but I wanted to be the one painting with my child, I wanted to be the one taking her to the Science Museum. I didn’t want it to be somebody else.

And was very difficult. I worried about how we were going to pay the mortgage, even now it’s nail biting month after month but I feel more like myself when I am home with my daughter, writing which is a big part of who I am, rather than being away from seven in the morning until seven at night just to pay a Nanny and to pay the bills and keep my career going so we could have that comfort zone.

Amy opens up The New Arrival

Amy reading The New Arrival

Being a good parent isn’t easy

I don’t think any decision you make as a good parent is easy. Parenting isn’t about quick easy decisions – it’s about doing what you think is right for your child, and your family and yourself within the parameters you have. Finance really impacts on that. I think people’s expectations impact as well. I had a daughter, I didn’t want to send her the message that women just give up work when they have children, but I think if women do want to be at home with their children they should be supported.

There’s not a one-size fits all solution to childcare

What’s really sad is when it’s divisive and it’s Working Mothers versus Stay at Home Mothers. Actually, they’re all just doing their damndest and what they really need, and what all parents need is more support – whether that’s Wrap-around care or maybe more women should be enabled to work part-time which means Wrap-around care isn’t the answer. There needs to be more flexibility in the provision, it’s not a one-size fits all solution.

With our Nanny, she was really lovely and I spent the last two weeks of my Maternity Leave working with her side by side so the transition would be easier for my child and easier for the nanny. And in some respects that was a sacrifice but I think it did make a big difference and we always treated our nanny Elizabeth as part of our family, and even now we don’t have her anymore because I can’t afford it and because it seems like a bit of luxury when I’m only working part-time, she still comes and sees Ava all the time.

And for us it was cheaper to have a nanny than it was to have a nursery. London Nurseries are off the scale in how expensive they are so I worked compressed hours to afford childcare. I used to get in at eight in the morning and work solidly until six at night, and I did feel pressure to show that I was working when I returned to work. You feel like you almost have to demonstrate that you can still do your job.

Mums are so organised they could run military operations

I’ve found since I’ve become a mother that I’m so organised, I could run military operations I’m so organised, to get here today even. If you look at most women and dads, they are balancing a lot. One of the reasons our life works is that my partner is incredibly supportive. Everyday there is a lot of variables, and all you can do as a parent is influence what’s happening – you give up control when you become a parent. You cannot control the outcome of every situation, you just hope it works out – my child is asleep right now, I’ve walked round London Zoo all day to make that happen.

Ava at London Zoo

Ava at London Zoo

“It’s very political having babies”

I felt when I went back to work it’s like everybody jabs your wound, asking you if you’re missing them. You just want to say, ‘Yes, I do. Can you just be quiet!’ And everybody constantly asking you if you are having another baby, implying that’ll you be off again on Maternity Leave soon – people used to say that to me as a joke and I used to not find it funny. It’s none of their business. It’s very political having babies, it’s almost like you become public property in the things people assume about you.

You can listen again to the interview on the BBC website. The New Arrival by Sarah [and Amy] Beeson is available for pre-order in paperback and Kindle. Amy Beeson works as a Freelance copywriter through her limited company Wordsby.