5 things we wish we’d known about juggling a career with kids and all-the-things
Hey there powerful parents, Laura Andrew and Becca Aspin here. Yorkshire mamas and founders of Home PR, a soulful PR and copywriting agency helping female founders, small businesses and creatives fuse strategy with storytelling to build the business and life of their dreams.
We work from our homes in East Yorkshire, in between the school run and dog walks, helping women make the most of what they have to offer with the words and stories that set them apart. Life feels pretty good for both of us but we admit, we had to learn the hard way.
Before our business was even an idea, we were both working long hours in demanding corporate jobs. Laura was an emergency services Corporate Communications Manager and I was a manager working in communications at a busy NHS Trust. With daily commutes, kids, dogs, husbands, houses, a side hustle and our health to look after, we were always busy, always in a rush, brutally burnt out and not particularly happy.
“Neither of us had got crystal clear on where we were going, the North Star guiding our journey to get there. Once we did, everything changed.”The Home Birds on getting clear on your direction.
Neither of us wanted to continue like this….
We wanted to be home more, spend more time with the kids and rediscover our creativity. We were both living with the belief it was meant to feel this hard but an enduring tug on our hearts told us there must be another way.
After reaching a tipping point, which saw us both regularly in tears for no apparent reason, we knew it was time for a drastic change. So, we both jumped off the 9-5 career in search of living better. I went first, giving my corporate job the heave-ho to start freelancing and by Christmas, Laura had joined me.
The freedom and space for creativity felt incredible. No more commuting meant we could do the preschool and school run (because let’s face it, preschool hours aren’t exactly working-parent friendly), walk the dogs and feel more in control of our time.
We soon created our little business, which we called Home PR. Home because it’s one of our values, PR because we wanted to focus on words and storytelling, rather than becoming an agency that does all-the-things. While we’d made a massive change and felt like we’d rebalanced and shed some layers of guilt, it didn’t last long.
And so it began…
Projects and work came at us from all directions, which was incredible given we’d only just started our business. Word of mouth recommendations kept us busy (a little too busy) and the money was coming in. It felt good, it reaffirmed we’d made the right decision to leave the security of our public sector jobs. But before we knew it, we were working around the clock to build a business while doing all the doing, including the stuff we actually didn’t want to do. Why? Well the books we’d been reading were all about saying yes to every opportunity as an entrepreneur, even if you didn’t have the answer.
But a lack of boundaries led to constant overwhelm and over delivery while juggling how to keep our families and ourselves happy. Despite feeling incredibly proud of everything we’d achieved, our self care was at the bottom of the to-do list. We soon felt like we were back where we’d started – in a big sweaty mess from rushing around, being late and having to call in favours at the school gate.
Throw in Laura’s husband being hospitalised with a life-threatening condition, six months of chemotherapy and a handful of complications to boot (all while we were launching two festivals and making it to the kids’ nativities), it’s safe to say we hit bottom, unconsciously.
It wasn’t the burn out you hear of where people are bed bound and unable to work…
We kept going but it was lacklustre. We felt dreadful, always exhausted, ratty and our skin suffered along with everything else. Our time at home was spent furiously typing on our laptops, we were still racing around and the kids had to go to after school or summer clubs because we were working on big projects.
Life was draining. The pace felt unsustainable and wasn’t what either of us wanted for the foreseeable, let alone the rest of our lives. We realised this way of working and living just didn’t fit our vision or our values.
Ah, the vision. The vision we kinda knew we both had but never made the time to nail down.
Neither of us had got crystal clear on where we were going, the North star guiding our journey to get there. Once we did, everything changed.
In January 2020, three years after starting our business, ‘the vision’ had had enough. It’d been bubbling away in the back of our minds and eventually pushed its way to the fore shouting, “Hey! Over here! This is where you want to go! I’ve been here all along, now PAY ME SOME ATTENTION!”.
So we went back to basics, back to our foundations and back to our why. We reconnected with what lights us up, why we do what we do and the life we’re trying to live and create. We realised we’d built a business we actually didn’t like.
So we started over. Again.
This time we started with who we wanted to work with, how we wanted to work and how we could use our superpowers to best serve our dream clients.
We love writing and content creation the most, especially when we got to help like minded female founders share their inspiring stories with the world and build businesses they loved. So we committed to making this our new reality.
It was slow going. The decision to massively shift our business model right before the first lockdown in March 2020 (and subsequently having four kids to home school) meant we didn’t have quite the momentum we’d hoped for. But we were equally grateful to have this extra time with our children and the flexibility to be able to homeschool them.
Since then, we’ve put purpose and power into our business to create a company we’re proud of – a soulful public relations and copywriting agency with people and purpose at the core.
As dreamers and doers, we believe while running a business can be hard work, writing about it and sharing your story with the world, doesn’t have to be. Our mission is to help women harness the power of their words and create the life they’ve always dreamed of. Helping them bring their ideas to life with clarity and confidence.
This new journey has been incredible. Not only are we now working with women with shared values, we do it all from home and have been on the deepest spiritual journey to really understand what we want and how we can get there. It’s been eye opening and we’re so grateful we learnt it now rather than never.
With all this in mind, here are five things we wish we’d known about juggling kids and a career:
1. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but regret will get you nowhere. After all, it’s all part of your story.
Life isn’t meant to be perfect. Instead of kicking yourself and regretting decisions you did or didn’t make, embrace your low points and get curious about your failures, what can they teach you? Because it’s all part of the story and if things had been done differently, we wouldn’t be where we are now. There’s still time to make a change. Remember all the things to be grateful for and focus on the now, not the past.
2. Listen to your heart. When you become a parent everyone has an opinion about everything, ignore them and follow your instinct.
Learn to trust your gut and listen to your hearts, they never lie. When you become a parent, everyone has an opinion about everything and it’s easy to question yourself and know what the right thing is to do, both in terms of your personal and professional life. Stop the noise and connect with your body. It will tell you what you need to do. Trust it.
3. It’s your parental leave, do what works for you (and leave any judgement for others at the door).
In a world filled with comparison, it’s easy to lose sight of what you want. But you’re the only one who can decide what works best for you, so do that. When my eldest son Will was born I was self-employed and had a project I could go back to part time. And because I earnt more in two days working than the monthly statutory maternity leave, I went back to work when he was three months old. It was hard but neither of us knew any difference and it worked for our family. Yet I was forever feeling guilty when people would comment about how early I had gone back to work. Think about how your words or comments may make other people feel and leave any judgement at the door, it only reflects badly on you.
4. When you’re creating a business or making a big decision about your career and your life, revisit your vision and values.
Don’t get so busy doing the doing, that you don’t take the time to do the foundational work on yourself. Or your business. It’s easy to lose your way when you get caught up in progression or chaos. Regularly revisit your vision and values and remind yourself where you’re going and what you need to do to get there. It’ll help you shape your career, your business and your life so it’s aligned with you, your family and the dream life you’re trying to create.
5. Respect yourself and your business with strong boundaries.
Learn the importance of boundaries in all parts of your life. Set them and stick to them to fiercely protect your time. And remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Working nights, weekends and holidays to be seen to be doing a good job or helping out with every fundraiser or ‘can you just’ task isn’t the answer (we learnt this the hard way). Put boundaries in place at home, at work and every other aspect of life, you’ll feel so much better.
If you need help with your words, you’re wanting to start a new business or make a change with one that isn’t serving you, we can help. Discover more and book a free discovery call here.