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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.

If you’re not enjoying it, you’re not doing it right

Why I’ve decided to try and do one thing at a time and accept nobody’s perfect.

At the beginning of 2013 I started out on a freelance career – attempting to balance caring for my daughter, setting up my new business Wordsby Communications and writing the first of three books with my mum ‘The New Arrival’.

Well what do you know – come June I felt wrung out. I’d get the balance right for a week or two but then before you knew it I was working till midnight every night and weekends, barely seeing my husband, feeling like a bad mother but you know what I was managing my twitter account, regularly updating my blog, meeting all my deadlines and making all those really important meetings.

But what’s the point of being good at your job if you feel like you are failing elsewhere I asked myself – isn’t that why I gave up my secure job and started working for myself – so I could have greater control over my life? I was fortunate enough to be doing something I’d always dreamed of but I felt swamped. So I thought just STOP.

I’ve now got five new rules and I’m back to enjoying my work and the rest of my life.

1.    Only do one thing at a time.
Emailing clients from the sandpit is not effectively multi-tasking – it is switching from one thing to the other frenetically and doing neither particularly well.

2.    Take some time for yourself.
Once your child is past the newborn stage we all need a little more time to look after ourselves other than washing our hair and brushing our teeth – having a shower is not time out. I swear that after I’ve had an hour off for a swim or to read a book even if it’s just once a week I’m a more fun, less snappy person and my writing is definitely smarter and sharper.

3.    I am not perfect – and I like it that way.
I just can’t manage to write brilliantly, have a sparkling house, a contented child, a gourmet dinner on the table, all the laundry washed, folded and put away and be well groomed all on the same day. I might be able to manage two of these things on any given day – and I think that’s pretty darn good.

4.    Don’t work all hours unless you absolutely you have to.
OK we all have times when you’ve just got to knuckle down and get something big done but working long hours all the time is just not sustainable or healthy.

5.    Have more fun.  
I am a creative because I love writing and coming up with new ideas. If I’m not getting satisfaction from what I’m doing I now ask myself why is that? Often it just means a tweak here and there and I’m back to feeling in control and most importantly happy.

Amy Beeson is a Freelance Writer and the Director of Wordsby Communications working with many women running a small business on a limited budget who need affordable solutions for their communications needs. Amy’s currently busy working away on three new books with baby expert Sarah Beeson MBE (Amy’s mum) for HarperCollins the first of which ‘The New Arrival’ is now available for pre-order and will be published in the UK on 27 March 2014.

@amyibeeson

@wordsbycomms

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