Guest Post: How to Re-invent Yourself After Having Children

Today’s guest blog is from Sophie Cornish. Sophie is the co-founder of sophie cornishNotonthehighstreet.com. Following a successful career in journalism and two children, Sophie teamed up with her friend Holly Tucker when she had just turned 40 to bring their kitchen table idea to life and so, notonthehighstreet.com was born. Eight years later they run a multi-million pound company that champions over 5,000 craft and creative businesses offering them a route to reach customers all around the county via their alternative online marketplace. Many of these companies are run by women like them who started their own business after having children and Sophie feels passionately about encouraging mums that it is never too late to reinvent yourself professionally. Here, and in her new book, she gives her advice about how to go about this. We also have ten copies of the book to giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.

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Mother of invention

Here’s a good business tip: take a bowl of mashed banana (half of it on the floor), a filthy, food-encrusted high chair, then combine that with some acute sleep deprivation and use it to unearth new levels of your own ambition and creativity.

Truly. It stands to reason.

Sitting opposite my six month old daughter Honor – 15 years ago now – patiently feeding her the same way I had done several times a day for the last month, isn’t the place I’d most expected to feel a sudden flourish of drive and fresh ideas, yet I discovered that it’s a sure fire way to catch yourself looking reality in the eye. While I loved those moments, and treasure them even now – every bit as much as the glittery awards ceremonies and international business travel of my career – the sheer repetitiveness of the task somehow left my mind (sleep starved though it was) wide open to new ways of thinking about my career, my future (our future) and my ambitions.

sophie cornish

Whilst a sudden rush of artistic flair may not jump straight out at you in these moments, that new dependent tiny person certainly brings a scary feeling of responsibility. You are now the provider, and will be, for a long time. So, in my world at least, that meant I needed to look lively, and get on with the ideas and dreams I’d been nurturing for quite some time. I took that feeling and had it drive me to be personally and financially ambitious. Necessity literally became the mother of invention.

And it wasn’t hard to do. When you get away from a very corporate environment, or even just an office environment, for a few months, a whole load of new thoughts and ideas start to flow. However much the compelling practicalities of mothering draw on your time and your headspace, I’d urge you to nurture those little ideas, write down your thoughts and completely re-observe the world from your new, less structured, perspective.

I would utilise any of those moments, when my hands were busy but my mind free, to contemplate how I would achieve what I wanted or needed to and what could lie ahead for me. If you do one thing, allow yourself to think, to spot those little problems in life and time to feel excited that someone has to solve them, so it might as well be you!

In our newly released second book ‘Shape Up Your Business’, we include a quote from Lily Tomlin which still resonates with me and takes me back to those days post-babies and pre-notonthehighstreet.com.:

I said somebody should do something about that, then I realised I am somebody.”

Neither of my children slept well in their beds, day or night, so when I was on maternity leave I used to put them in the pram, walk to the park till they fell asleep then sit down urgently at the nearest bench, pull out my notebook and start writing. Anything. Ideas for a novel, ideas for a business, sums and calculations about what a business would need to turn over or what I’d need to earn if I was to give my family the life I wanted for them. Or I’d just shape my thoughts on what seemed to be current, interesting, or relevant themes of the moment. Things that needed addressing. Issues that needed solving.

Shape Up Your Business - Jacket Image

These notes were vital in keeping my focus, my passions and ambitions at the fore and vague or impulsive as they seemed at the time, I think that allowing myself time to observe and think played a very significant role in my achieving the ambitions that I harboured then.

Being a new mum and having time away from the office can be a scary prospect, especially after you’ve worked hard to achieve and make headway up that slippery career ladder. My fear was that maternity leave would see me lose touch or be forgotten – not great for self-confidence. I became obsessed with staying switched on – I even began reading the Financial Times, never done before or since! I don’t know if I recommend that, but ’Shape Up Your Business’ includes a chapter dedicated to identifying and tapping into your own personal brand of confidence – that, I do know, is crucial: in my experience if you believe you can, you most certainly will.

I did find my own fresh new brand of confidence. I loved the ‘grown-upness’ of being a mother. I felt and channelled a new level of self-assuredness – it was as if the responsibility did something to my chemistry, and the big stuff didn’t seem so big any more. I quickly learned to embrace that, both before and after I went back to work, and do things that I once might have feared. First that meant going for a promotion, taking on a big project, and later, learning new skills, and starting my own businesses.

And now to the real trick: how do you find the time, and the energy beyond those night feeds and early morning wake up calls? Easily. You will know by now that you actually are superwoman. When you know what a staggering amount you can achieve on zero sleep, with zero time to yourself, and your hands permanently tied behind your back (well, to a baby), you also know – as I did – that when the day comes that you are once again behind your desk, alone, with your hands free and your brain clear… you will be able to achieve just about anything.

Shape Up Your Business by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker is available to buy now on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shape-Up-Your-Business-Notonthehighstreet-com/dp/1471102149

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Win…win…win

We have ten copies of ‘Shape up your Business’ to give away. To enter simply leave comment below and from all comments received by midnight on 31st August, we will pick out ten lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

About The Netmums Blog

The Netmums Blog brings you a behind the scenes look at Netmums, as well as some fabulous guest bloggers and an up to date look at what's new on our Parent Bloggers Network.
This entry was posted in Books and reading, Business, Mums in business, Woman - the woman behind the mum and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Guest Post: How to Re-invent Yourself After Having Children

  1. Lois Phillips says:

    What an inspirational story, it will give confidence, impetus and belief to those new (old) mothers who think they are smothered into the childcare role.

    Society has totally failed in this country to provide flexible work / lives to mothers, that have an enormously, valuble and important role to play in bringing up the future, well balanced and effective individuals the country really needs.

    Therefore, you just have to go and get it for yourself and its challenging but great fun !!!

    Lois.

  2. Sally says:

    Would love to win a copy x

  3. Danielle Akin says:

    This book will be a great resource to me as I am just thinking of starting a business after having my two girls age 3 and 1.

  4. Sarah Johnson says:

    Well after having been a stay at home mum for around 3 and a half years now i have been harbouring some of my own ideas as to what I can do on my return to “work” and reading this article has inspired me to start work on that. Writing these ideas down may actually be a good start. Small steps will hopefully lead to big things.

    I love being a stay at home mum but I do think we all need something for ourselves to help keep us human/women/sane* delete as appropriate, and also to keep that confidence that we need to get us through. I would happily give a demonstration on nappy changing, breastfeeding, cleaning the house with a child attached to me but maybe not a business pitch in the dragons den is in reach just yet. I would like to think it’s possible one day. Now just let me go stop that toddler fight!!!!!

  5. samantha grace says:

    Great blog. Enjoyed reading, very interesting. Would love a copy of book. Thank you x

  6. Joanne Challoner says:

    As an IT Project Manager currently on my second maternity leave this post totally resonates with me, I love being a mum but also still would like to have a career and provide for my family, going back into the city and now competing against young, single and child free for roles is scaring the hell outta me, some much needed confidence and inspiration is needed!!

  7. Nora says:

    Would love to get my hands on a copy, as I am currently spending my night feeding time trying to make sense of the possibilities of ‘what’s next’ when I am no longer on leave with my youngest (and last) child.

  8. Janaki says:

    Sounds great to me as I can relate to it. Would love to know more!

  9. Really lovely inspiring story, just what I need to hear It has made my visions clearer through my jogged brain and dreary eyes after splitting with my daughters father, getting made redundant and losing my home I decided to start up my own business venture one was an online boutique and the other a baby sore online, after meeting my now husband through the world of web development we decided to buy websites innovate them Seo etc and sell them on, in recent weeks I have been so sleep deprived with my little boy of 20 months running the home, my children, hubby and his 3 children all in a one bedroom flat, I kind of lost my vision for a while always feel like things block my path ie no matter how hard I work endlessly when I want to sleep the money earns seems to go to the baby mothers or to my husbands African family. I have changed things in recent weeks though and my focus is for the good of my children and I will go to no end to meet that, love to hear that super women can get to where they want to be and will definitely benefit from this, I am very glad I read this blog tonight has motivated me once again thank you

  10. Lucy says:

    Would love this book to give me a kick to get going again after children and life hurdles 🙂

  11. gill says:

    Very inspirational

  12. Kelly Crawford says:

    Looks like a fantastic read! Inspirational story.

  13. Charlene says:

    Sounds like a great book to read (and win! 😉 ). Had our little girl last September and since being on maternity leave have given my notice in – last ‘official’ day is in 2 weeks. Scary thought as I have had a job since I left school at 16 and this book sounds like it will help me focus on doing something I want and not lose myself in being mummy!

  14. Tina says:

    I would love a copy too. Inspirational.

  15. Sophie Cocovini says:

    This is just the inspiration I need to get myself back to working on my terms, doing what I want, when I want, working for myself. Reading this has brought the ideas that have been at the back of my mind, to the forefront, so thank you!

  16. Angie Cornish says:

    “A bowl full of banana (half on the floor” just sums it up. I’m working on a business idea at the moment and would love a copy of the book.

  17. Caroline says:

    This would be a great read! I’d love to have my own business around my 2 year old but have no idea what to do or where to start

  18. Catherine says:

    Simply Inspirational. I am the Mum to a beautiful 7 month old girl and have just launched my own business personalising baby gifts with embroidery – called Needlework Studio. This book would be fantastic to give me hints, tips and the motivation to strive higher.

  19. Papi says:

    It could give a new motivation to me/new mum!! So, waiting for a copy;)

  20. A fab read 🙂 I am a mum of 3 and a seller on notonthehighstreet. I was pregnant with my youngest when my notonthehighstreet shop opened in 2010. It was quite a challenge getting out all the masses of christmas orders (she was due on christmas eve) and I could barely reach the desk! But I can honestly say thanks to Sophie and Holly I was able to hand in my notice at my ‘proper’ job and I haven’t looked back since! Just moved the business into a new studio with a shop attached and have never been happier. To all those dreaming of starting something themselves – do it!! you are superwoman! 🙂

  21. Rachel Gregory says:

    I did enjoy her previous book & would love to read this one.

  22. Nicole says:

    Superwoman – that made me think. Its normal. Sometimes with the demands of your family, you feel as if you drowning and your dreams are dying but that comment made me realise. Its normal and its a season and do the best you can for your family and kids while you are in this season and you can still reach your dreams….would love to read this book.

  23. Nadine Rose says:

    It is wonderful to read about the process behind Sophie’s rise to success – and so true, I too had my creative flows at unexpected times such as during a 4am feed! On holiday in Thailand I mapped out the following 9 years of my life without realising at the time how everything would fall in to place – a dream of opening a shop, selling ethical products, hosting creative workshops and supporting women in the Third World. Life is truly wondrous and all the more so for having three gorgeous daughters.

  24. fiona says:

    Fellow superwoman would love to read more!

  25. lucie says:

    am CONSTANTLY thinking about this! I had two freelance careers pre babies (now 3 and 1), and now I’m struggling simply to keep one of them going. ‘Just’ (in inverted commas, because it’s no mean feat!) need some time and a clear head to sit down and work out priorities, needs and resources available. From that, I’m hoping that I’ll begin to see the wood for the trees. Would love to win one of these books – please!

  26. Roz says:

    My ideas notebook is fat and fab – just need to take the plunge x

  27. Sharon says:

    Very inspiring read. Due to be a Mum for the first time before the end of August. Very exciting but a lot of this resonates. I have so many business ideas whirling around in my head. Would love to read Sophie’s book & then pass it on to other mums to inspire them also.

  28. Frances Walsh says:

    Being a mum of three, I have found that my periods of maternity leave away from my normal job have always been a time of hectic child-centred activity balanced with pockets of head-space to think about making changes in your life (even when you are too tired to action them at the time). Since my youngest turned two, we have moved from London to Cornwall, I have re-entered my previous life as a practising artist and I have secured several ‘proper’ jobs that mean I can help to pay the bills… but there are still ideas bubbling away for creative projects or even businesses… it’s good to see women like Sophie and Holly share their experiences and encourage us that we all have lots to offer!

  29. walshfm says:

    Being a mum of three, I have found that my periods of maternity leave away from my normal job have always been a time of hectic child-centred activity balanced with pockets of head-space to think about making changes in your life (even when you are too tired to action them at the time). Since my youngest turned two, we have moved from London to Cornwall, I have re-entered my previous life as a practising artist and I have secured several ‘proper’ jobs that mean I can help to pay the bills… but there are still ideas bubbling away for creative projects or even businesses… it’s good to see women like Sophie and Holly share their experiences and encourage us that we all have lots to offer!

  30. Rebekah says:

    Such inspirational advice and reassurance that any type of reinvention after having a baby is possible 🙂 !

  31. Angie says:

    I left a career in marketing to have my daughter as I could not find flexible or part time skilled work in my industry. I am launching my own pre-school dance franchise, and through the new challenges it has brought (such as standing up infront of 400 strangers encouraging them to dance with me!) I have faced and conquered some of my fears and demons and lived to tell the tale! Would love a copy of this book as I struggle with balancing work and home committments and self esteem.

  32. Sanna says:

    Sounds like a great read, and a really fascinating insight. Would love to get my hands on this 🙂

  33. jenny says:

    Would love to read this for some inspiration!

  34. handmade gb says:

    I have started my business from home after having my little girl, and with no family near by, have struggled to balance the two! Sophie’s story is an inspiration to us all!!

  35. Zoe says:

    All very well when you have a banker husband, rich mummy & daddy and no immediate financial worries isn’t it. Money makes money.

  36. Mary says:

    I think there will be a light in the tunnel after you send me a copy of this book!! Plssssss!

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