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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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Behind the Scenes of the BBC (The Archers, BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live)

The new iPhone 7 has landed and thank heavens I had my (not new) iPhone on Sunday night because without it I wouldn’t have been able to video, photograph, tweet and navigate my way around Broadcasting House in an evening where I was listening live to The Archers down the pub with Dame Jenni Murray from Woman’s Hour for BBC Breakfast. Then me, Takbir and Ava went up to the studios to talk to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live on the top news story of the week for The 5 Live Hit List. Amy x

BBC BREAKFAST

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It was surreal and fabulous in be listening to the radio in the company of other Archers Fans in a cosy pub round the corner from BBC Broadcasting House. As well as me, Takbir and Ava there was Dame Jenny Murri (Woman’s Hour), Claire Cohen (The Telegraph), Lucy Freeman (Radio 4). Polly Neate (Woman’s Aid) and other fans including Sandra Paul, Ursula Knight, Mike Jones and Tom Middlehurst and young listener Annie.

the jury

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We knew all along that Helen was innocent of course but it was rather fun and at times nail-biting to be giving our verdict on The Archers jurors which included Dame Eileen Atkins, Catherine Tate, Nigel Havers, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Cerith Flinn, Tam Williams and Graham Seed who was formerly Nigel Pargetter in the long running radio soap.

FINAL EPISODE OF tHE ARCHERS TRIAL WEEK

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When we heard Rob Titchener talk to Helen at the end of the episode we all jumped. This is what an Archers fan’s face looks like when they hear his insidious tones. It was a fantastic experience, I hope I get to listen with other fans down the pub again. The hour-long special really kept us on the edge of our seats hoping that Helen would finally be set free.

DR WHO MAGIC AT BROADCASTING HOUSE

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We then raced round the corner for my radio interview at the BBC. Ava skipped into the building (she’s been there before for my interview with Harriet Scott on being a working mum on BBC Radio London) but back then she slept through it in the buggy. Now she was eager to enjoy the sights of the Beeb especially the Tardis and Darlek from Dr Who (she does love that show).

INTERVIEW ON IPHONE 7 AND APPLE BRAND ON RADIO 5 LIVE

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5 LIVE HIT LIST INTERVIEW

You can listen to the interview on the 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio with Emma Barnett, Elinor Mills (Editor The Sunday Times) and author and Wordsby Brand Consultant Amy Beeson. But here’s the highlights. (From 1 hour 46 minutes into the show).

Emma Barnett presents 5 Live’s rundown of the top 30 news, politics, sport and showbiz stories of the week that are making the biggest impact across social media and online. The No. 1 Story of the week shared online was the iPhone 7.

EMMA: It’s the iPhone 7 of course! The latest version was launched this week in San Francisco with the company’s decision to ditch the headphones and socket. Apple says the move was motivated by courage which has brought mixed reactions from many former iPhone fans…Whether you love it or hate it Apple is now arguably the biggest company in the world. The launch of a new iPhone is a major global event but what is it about the company that has given it an almost cultlike following. Elinor Mills is still with me and Amy Beeson who is a brand consultant and author who has been watching the launch for us this week and has more on the most expensive iPhone to date. So, Amy, wireless headphones was it a brave decision or a way to make more money?

AMY: It’s a really tricky question. When I heard about the socket and the headphones I immediately thought not again. I’m going to have to go out and buy all new accessories. My initial reaction was quite a negative reaction. Using  a word like “courage” for this move, as a writer was maybe not the word I would have chosen. I went on watched the actual ad and I remembered the guys and gals who developed it in San Francisco really hold the development of seamless technology in their core brand values. So, on the one hand do we need it? On the other hand, as a brand having seamless technology is the next evolutionary step of the iPhone. It is at such a premium price but Apple is not known as a cheap product.

EMMA: It’s not, it’s a luxury product.  Elinor Mills, when you’re looking at something like this coming out, it’s never on a Sunday these launches. It’s kinda not like any other tech launch is it?

ELINOR: I think it’s fascinating that it’s top of the list and we were all discussing in conference last week that we were going to have something on the iPhone 7 because we know everyone is interested. We know that’s because so many of us spend so much of our lives on these, it’s almost we spend more time with them than we do with our children and anything else, so I think people are very obsessive. On the headphone front I think it’s a disaster. The only way I can find my white headphones in my bag is by pulling the wires. Just two little tiny bits of plastic that sit in my ear I think I would lose them the whole time.

EMMA: You get can big headphones like we’re wearing too and they’ll be wireless.

ELINOR: I also think it’s weird in a brand way because the white headphones was so iconic it was in all their adverts. You’d have people in black with the white wire symbolising the iPod so I think that’s interesting because it maybe wireless technology but the wire they made a real fetish about.

EMMA: A big part of the Apple launches, Amy, are what Tim Cook the CEO has to say. It used to be Steve Jobs. What they seem like is important and him in a car with James Corden doing a bit of Carpool Karaoke to enter the stage. There has been criticism that since Steve Jobs passed away the brand has lost some it’s sheen. Where do you stand on that?

AMY: That’s very true. Where a brand is synonymous with a personality, like Virgin and Richard Branson, it definitely does some damage to the value of that brand. But Apple has never really strayed away from their core brand values that came with Think Different in 1997. Next year it’ll be 20 years since Steve Jobs launched that campaign and it set the bar for what brand is.

ELINOR: I think the problem is though that Apple haven’t really come up with anything new really since Steve Jobs went. He had already got in train the iPhone, iPods were a big success but you could argue that Samsung or those kind of people are doing more innovative stuff.

AMY: I think that’s because Apple have never been about new products, they’re reinventive. So, they’ve always taken someone else’s product and taken it to another level. They weren’t the first people to do MP3s but followed up with the iPod. They put the “I” into that technology, they make it their own and it’s very intuitive technology.

EMMA: There are conspiracy theories. I remember when I used to be a tech correspondent and Steve Jobs passed away there was this whole thing that he had left years of prototypes, that he had left years of what he wanted to come. So, do you think there’s a delay or do you think there’s nothing left in the tank?

ELINOR: I think they’ve run out.

EMMA: You think they have? Amy?

AMY: It’s really tricky. Are you a custodian of that brand or are you leading that brand? And which is worse and which is better? I really don’t know. Steve Jobs is an impossible person to follow, I wouldn’t want to have to do that.

EMMA: You wouldn’t want to have to do that? Now, how do you think people think about Apple apart from expensive?

AMY: Apple really has almost this rock star quality. When they release something like the iPhone 7 it made me think it almost has all the hype around it like Adele’s new album coming out. There’s all the build up towards it, it gets released and they’ll be people queuing up around the block to get one. I know for a fact from a branding point of view they look at music a lot in development. So, not only do we access music through our iPhones as a brand they really draw from music marketing.

ELINOR: I just wonder if the sheen’s coming off a bit? Because the products are really quite cool because Jobs had done them before he went but I don’t think they’ve really come up with anything new and a bit of wireless headphone isn’t really going to cut it. Where’s the new thing? Where’s the new iPad. His was all about creativity and design and giving us objects that we didn’t even know we wanted that would transform our lives in the way that we used technology. I don’t think they’ve had a game changer like that for a long time.

EMMA: The watch was meant to be a big moment wasn’t it?

ELINOR: That was a dud.

EMMA: I don’t see many people wearing them – it’s an anecdotal view. Technology is often very difficult to get right, we saw with Google Glass, somebody wearing something on their face as a glasses wearer that was never going to work out for me. Quick line on that Amy, the double lens camera does that feed into the culture of innovation at all?

AMY: It very key in how people want to use their iPhones. I don’t know how different it is, but in the way the iPhone has become integral in business and personal life it’s definitely going to make things better for them.

EMMA: Definitely going to make things better. Amy Beeson thank you very much for that. Elinor Mills as always a pleasure. That’s it from the 5 Live Hit List tonight.

END. You can listen to the interview 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio

AMY BEESON

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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A heartfelt blog post from a mumpreneur on the realities of their child starting school

Have you been worried about your LO’s first day at school? I have, it’s been the subject of many heartfelt conversations with my mum (Sarah Beeson MBE author and baby expert), mum friends and teacher friends.

LO decided to recreate this photo of her with her teddy bears this week. For me and her dad Takbir, it was a reminder of though she’s still our baby, she’s not a baby anymore (though she loves to play babies). Super cute?

Developing self-help skills for reception class

For organised little old me, I have to prepare. I can’t not – I’m a planner. We started gently checking off the self-help skills Sarah recommended in April when the schools admissions came through.

Gradually increasing the opportunities LO had to:

  • Get dressed and undressed on her own
  • Take her coat on and off and hang it up
  • Go to the toilet on her own and wash her hands
  • Put her shoes and socks on
  • Find a tissue and blow her nose
  • Pack up and take out her apple and books from school bag

School admissions stress

I never said this at the time, but we had weeks and weeks of worry following the School Admissions in April as LO didn’t get into any of the six choices of school we made and had no school place. My friends with older kids told me to hang in there; there’s lots of “horse trading” one seasoned school mum told me. And low and behold in June we moved up the waiting list and LO got into a great school.

Joy! I bought her school uniform almost immediately but put off labelling the 20+ items.

Do you hate ironing and sewing too?

I flipping do! It takes me ten minutes to sew on a button and I never iron, I just put things on a hanger straight out the washing machine to dry. There are so many labelling products out there I just didn’t know what to choose.

I turned to social media and asked my friends what they use. Nicola, a mum of two and primary school teacher recommended Stamptastic. I instantly started looking at their site and reading parenting blogger reviews from mums in the know. They all rated the product highly as hassel free and long lasting.

Stamptastic was set up by three mums, and as a mumpreneur myself, I always prefer to support another woman in business. I was really chuffed when Emma sent me the stamp with LO’s name on and the ink pad which costs £22. They also do a PTA scheme where you get great discounts if you get your school to sign up.

On the August Bank Holiday Monday I got out my stamp and bam…Over 20 pieces of school uniform labelled in ten minutes!

I really recommend Stampastic. It’s easy peasy, affordable and effective. That’s me sorted for labelling her stuf until she goes to university. I stamped her uniform, bags even her water bottle. It’s permanent ink and doesn’t come off in the wash.

Do you use books to explore new experiences?

I often turn to books to help LO prepare for a new experience. Whether, it’s ballet class, potty training, or having a day with grandma while mummy’s at work.

As one of LO’s favourite books is ‘The Jolly Postman’ we’ve been reading ‘Starting School’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg quite regularly these last couple of weeks before our current bedtime book ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’. It’s helped remind me a few things about reception class that I’ve long forgotten. 

The first day of school 

I’ve been having a big declutter as part of my preparation for LO starting school. I’ve been mulling over how to do the school run, meet clients for my brand and campaign business Wordsby, write and promote our books Happy Baby, Happy Family and The New Arrival and our next book She’s Arrived!, exercise and have healthier lunches then be on time to pick up LO from school. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mums have to be so organised we could plan military operations.

Finding the perfect school run to work bag

I’ve been asking and asking social media friends what is best bag to carry on the 0.9 mile walk to school, that will fit in my gym gear, laptop, notebooks, sketch pads, diary, pencil-case, purse, water and a snack. While keeping hold of LO’s hand.

Kiran Chung (who was at Pink Lining now at Mumsnet) recommended the Pink Lining rucksack. I do love Pink Lining, they’re stylish and practical and Creative Director Charlotte is fellow mumpreneur. Ever since they’d given us beautiful bags like this little mini rucksack at our rooftop mum and baby party for the launch of Happy Baby, Happy Family I’ve been browsing their website and trying to think of an excuse to get one (since LO is long out of nappies).

I decided I’d been faffing around long enough and hit the PayPal button and bought myself the mummy version of this gorgeous Pink Lining bows rucksack which is a great work bag. It’s perfect; comfortable, practical and other mums’ have been eyeing it up too as I’ve had to write down the website address for where they can buy one quite a few times already.

Do you like my yummy mummy school to work run backpack?


Is going school is harder on the mums and dads?

I’ve been a bit tearful over LO starting school the last few weeks. It’s been amazing just how supportive other parents have been in my everyday life and on social media. So, a big, big thank you.

But when the first day of school came it was a really happy one (no tears at all from any of us). We were happy, excited and enjoyed our time together as family and new experiences we’ve had when we’re apart. My mum said to me, ‘She’s happy, so your happy.’ Which seems kind of obvious now.

I know there’ll be bumps and tough days but I’m going to be positive and embrace this new phase of our lives and remember how lucky we are that as a freelance writer and communications consultant I have the flexibility to drop off and pick up LO from school (something my working mother never had).

For me, being prepared helps us to enjoy new experiences. I was a terrible Girl Guide but I do follow Sarah Beeson’s advice on the school pick up.


Those three tips so far have led to happy chats after school as LO has a snack and drink and little by little starts telling me about her day.

Is your LO starting school? How’s your week been?