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Bear HuntIn times when money is tight networking is undoubtedly a cost effective way to let people know about your business. However, few people I have met actually enjoy it or find it easy. There is no doubt that you can learn certain tricks of the trade which will help you work the room more confidently but if you are new to business, and a mum, the thought of walking into a room full of ‘proper’ business people can feel intimidating and overwhelming.

That is exactly how I felt a year ago when we set up Mum’s The Boss. I still felt I was ‘playing’ at being self employed – it wasn’t as though our mortgage payments depended on my success. Yes I was in business, but I was more interested in making some extra pocket money each month, to pay for the little luxuries, rather than becoming a business tycoon!

It was for those reasons that we wanted Mum’s The Boss meetings to be as friendly and informal as possible (as well as include lots of nice cake!). We didn’t want any mum, however new to business, to feel intimidated about coming along and showcasing her business – and for admitting that first and foremost she is a mum and her children come first.  

Maybe our purpose in life is to bridge the gap between complete networking phobia and ‘real’ networking!  So to ease that transition, here’s a little something familiar that might make you chuckle to yourself next time you find yourself networking out there in the big, wide world!

 

We’re Going to a Networking Meeting

We’re going to a networking meeting
We’re going for referrals
What a beautiful day
We’re not scared

Uh-oh  – a drinks reception
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under
We’ll have to go and join it!

Sip, slurp, shuffle, smile 

We’re going to a networking meeting
We’re looking for referrals
What a beautiful day
We’re not scared 

Uh-oh  – a one minute elevator pitch!
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under
We’ll have to stand up and do it! 

Um, errrr, mumble, quiver, sweat.

We’re going to a networking meeting
We’re looking for referrals
What a beautiful day
We’re not scared

Oh, what’s this?

One navy suit…..
…Two shiny black shoes……
……..A big box of business cards…

AARRGH – IT’S AN ACCOUNTANT! 

Quick, hurdle over the chairs
Sprint past the bar
Back into my car

Drive home
Into the house
Pour some wine 

Grab a Mars Bar
Run up the stairs
Hide under the covers

We’re not going to a networking meeting again!

 

(NB. Apologies to any Accountants – I know several Accountant’s who are lovely but I needed to pick a profession with the right number of syllables to fit the poem – well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!!)

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superwoman-300x286This week Mum’s The Boss is attending a local business event – not as visitors as you might think, but rather as invited guests where we will on hand to talk to visitors who are thinking of starting their own business.

This marks a massive turning point for us. In less than a year we have gone from the people seeking advice to those giving it! It is also an enormous compliment that outside agencies rate what we do enough to include us in their event and a fantastic way for us to raise our profile amongst local businesses.

When we started out less than a year ago we contacted lots of local organisations asking for help and sponsorship and in all but a few cases never received any replies to our requests. We quickly got the feeling that people viewed us as ‘just a group of mums’ and not really worth taking seriously. It made me smile then last week when 2 of these organisations contacted us out of the blue with offers of assistance and support – obviously word has got out that this ‘group of mums’ is going from strength to strength!

We are just one tiny example of what mums can achieve when they put their minds to it. All over the country mums are making a difference to their schools, families and local communities as well as in business.  Look around you – Mum Power is happening everywhere!

In business mums inherently possess a number of skills which can make them great entrepreneurs. Bringing up a family makes you skilled in the art of multi-tasking, prioritising, negotiating and dealing with finances. As women we are good at thinking creatively, being supportive and generous with our time and often adopt a more more holistic approach to business. And working around a demanding family we can be incredibly productive given limited amounts of time!

Mums know how to get the best from social networking  by doing what they do best – making connections and chatting! Women concentrate on building relationships first and doing business second. Work at home mums with online businesses can generate healthy sales by promoting themselves in a friendly and generous way. How much cheaper is that than paying for expensive advertising that people may never read?

Sally Walker of Squash Box Media has written a brilliant article on The Power of the Social Media Mum. “If you want a piece of news to spread quick, you don’t need to publish it in the daily newspaper or hire a TV crew to come round and interview you on the news. Just find a Mum who has a computer and let her do it for you…..What better way to promote something than by getting millions of Mum’s worldwide to chat about it online.”

Plus a new genre of Mummy Bloggers has emerged, who are generating an enormous amount of attention from their online thoughts and recommendations. Some are even being approached by large companies asking them to review their products, such is the sway their opinion holds. Mum’s like to turn to other mums for advice, hence the growth of online communities and forums such as Netmums, Mumsnet and Gurgle. Individually mums have a powerful voice – but en masse they can be formidable! 

So whatever it is you do, or want to achieve, never underestimate yourself or your ability to make things happen. A mum who feels passionate about something is a force to be reckoned with. Never think ‘but I’m ONLY a mum’ – YOU are a superhero!

42-17098259We all know how our children benefit from an after lunch nap, and as busy mums we are probably all guilty of using that precious time to crack on with work or housework.

But research shows that a 20-30 minute power nap after lunch can reduce stress, improve memory & patience, increase learning & efficiency and generally make for a more productive afternoon all round.

It may seem like a criminal waste of time to sleep when you feel you could be getting lots done but if you are lucky enough to have children who still nap, or who are at school, then maybe it is worth trying it for yourself to see if you can feel the benefits.  

Experts advise to keep the nap between 15 and 30 minutes, as sleeping longer gets you into deeper stages of sleep, from which it’s more difficult to awaken. Also, longer naps can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

 

So why not take the plunge and become a Lady Who Naps! Simply follow these 10 steps to the perfect nap – and feel the benefits!

  1. The best time to nap is between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm, just after lunch.
  2. Try to avoid large amounts of coffee or caffeine before your nap as this will make it difficult to sleep and to wake up.
  3. Switch off your mobile and put the answerphone on to avoid being disturbed.
  4. Set your alarm to wake you when you have completed 30 minutes of sleep. It is very common to lie down and sleep for a while and end up sleeping for hours!
  5. Set the scene for sleep – make sure the temperature is comfortable, pull the curtains and put some soft music in the background
  6. Try to free up your mind from any thoughts or alternatively focus your thoughts on something you enjoy.
  7. 30 minutes of sleep is enough to relax. If you sleep more, you will end up with a headache and a bad mood.
  8. When you wake up, put some water on your face, drink a class of water and go out in the fresh air for a while. If you feel groggy or disorientated when you wake, sit down and try to relax for 5 minutes before standing up.
  9. If you are not feeling like sleeping then do not try to force your self to sleep – just lay and relax
  10. Do not feel guilty. Taking a power nap does not make you lazy – rather it will make you more alert and productive for the rest of the day, and improve both your mental and physical health.

As the mother of 2 toddlers who DON’T nap I can only DREAM of such a luxury……! But if you do decide to become a Lady Who Naps, we’d love to hear your comments about how it made you feel!

 

For more information about the specific health benefits of napping please see http://www.manageyourlifenow.com/Articles/tabid/60/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/19/15-Proven-Tips-For-The-Perfect-Power-Nap.aspx

CB104574When you first have a baby you long for the day they can talk. Then, as soon as they can you realise a) they never stop and b) there is now a very strong possibility they will embarass you in public by saying something toe-curlingly un-PC about someone’s size, gender, appearance or smell!

But the flipside of this ever present danger, is that every now and then they come out with nuggets of pure brilliance – little sayings that stop you in your tracks, make you marvel at the way their minds work and maybe even force you to look at the world in a new way. And sometimes they just say something that is SO random that all it does is make you laugh and laugh and laugh….

Take my 3 year old, for example. A week or so ago I was compelled to Tweet about something she had just said to me. She was running round and round the garden and suddenly shouted “Mummy, mummy, I’m faster than a PEANUT!” Excited as she was at the revelation, I couldn’t quite bring myself to burst her bubble and tell her that, in fact, MOST things are!

So, as it’s Monday, it’s muggy and we could all do with a giggle, please leave a comment and share any of your children’s finest moments – from the profound to the obscure, we’d love to hear your children’s classic quotes!

42-15654381As mums we beat ourselves up about a lot of things – what our children eat, how they behave, how much TV they watch – the potential for feeling guilty is endless. Add to the pot the added guilt that Work at Home Mums feel about not spending as much time with their family and you could be heading for guilt-overload.

Guilt is a state which occurs when you believe you have done something you shouldn’t, or conversely, when you haven’t done something you think you should – and so has the potential to pretty much affect most situations! But if it IS only a state of mind, then maybe a change in perspective is all that’s needed to turn guilt on its head.

Here are some ideas about how you can turn a guilty thought into a postive one:

I feel guilty for relying on my family to help out with childcare
You are giving your child the opportunity to form a really strong bond with their dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. Your child will benefit from these close relationships and you can relax knowing your child is being cared for by someone you trust and by someone who loves them as much as you do. Plus you are saving money on expensive childcare which can be spent directly on the family or channelled back into your business, making the most of the money you earn.

I feel guilty for not spending more time playing with my child
You are teaching your child how to be independent and how to use their imagination and initiative to amuse themselves, qualities that will stand them in good stead in later life. Plus the time you do spend together will be extra special to both of you.

I feel guilty for spending time on a business that isn’t making any money yet
You are building the foundations for your business. A big house needs a strong foundation, and by getting that right from the beginning you stand a greater chance of success long-term. Plus it is widely recognised that very few businesses will see a profit in the first 12-18 months, so you are not alone!

I feel guilty for not keeping on top of all the housework
In the short term you are helping your family learn about teamwork and contribution, and also to appreciate the things they would normally take for granted. By sharing out the chores your children are learning valuable life skills and in the long term, when your business is more profitable, maybe you could afford to employ a cleaner!  Plus, you are helping to build up a strong immune system in your child – a spotlessly clean house is not necessarily a healthy one!

I feel guilty for not spending more time with my partner
If like a lot of WAHMs your working day begins once the children are in bed, you may not spend the evenings together with your partner like you used to. But thinking back, were you doing anything really special with that time, or just watching TV? Make sure when you do spend time together that you try and make it really special – remember it’s Quality not Quantity!

I feel guilty for thinking about work even when I’m having ‘time off’ with the family
Without your contribution to the family income there wouldn’t be so many treats, days out etc. Your work helps to provide a certain standard of living for your family and you should be proud of your financial independence and contribution

I feel guilty for inflicting my business concerns on my partner
Men are natual problem solvers and relish the opportunity to help. Give your partner credit for being interested and wanting to support you. If he seems disinterested when you are talking about your concerns it may be the ‘way’ you are speaking and not the subject matter. Men like to get straight to the point and solve the problem – if all you want to do is offload then maybe a girlfriend IS a better person to talk to.

I feel guilty for not being able to do everything!
Nobody can! And anyone who looks like they can is just a really good actress! You are doing the very best you can with your given set of circumstances, you are being human and falliable and brave and amazing and wonderful – and don’t ever forget it!

American journalist Arianna Huffington once said “While all mothers deal with feelings of guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids!” So more than anyone you need to retrain the way you think and learn to see your situation from a different angle – it might take a little practice but it’s amazing what a shift in perspective can do!

CB050717When I became a mum I never realised how much I would miss silence. From the moment my eldest came kicking and screaming into this world my eardrums have never been the same.

As any parent knows, the sound of a baby crying is like a siren and it does something to you – it forces you to react, respond and rectify whatever is wrong, whatever the time of day or night. At first the list of possibilities is fairly limited – hungry, tired, poorly or a dirty nappy. But as your baby grows so the complexity of their demands increases, along with their volume button!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my kiddies to bits – but they are bloomin’ noisy – and they don’t have an OFF button!! Children’s TV has become like Chinese water torture to me, along with my other pet hate – Electronic Toys! The constant repetition of phrases and songs worms its way deep into my subconscious until I find myself humming along hours after the children are in bed.

Then, as they grow older the noise pollution takes other forms – the continual chatter of the ‘new talker’, that incessant “mummy, mummy, mummy…” when they actually have nothing to say to you, the constant whining as you get closer and closer to bedtime, the arguing with siblings and that most dreaded of all words (when uttered at any volume) – “No!”.

And finally there is that one sound that makes any parents blood run cold – the high pitched scream that accompanies a public tantrum. All that rage and defiance bundled up into one spectacular hissy fit, designed purely to make YOU look like the worst parent that ever lived! 

I used to love listening to music, either on the radio or one of my numerous CDs, but now, on the rare occasion I find myself alone in the house I don’t play music or watch the TV. After a day of having my senses assaulted I wallow in silence. I give myself over to the pure, unadulterated pleasure that is noiselessness, because for me now, as Christina Rossetti wrote in the 19th Century, “Silence is more musical than any song.”

42-16586298Last Tuesday I had a ‘Day Off’. Unfortunately this didn’t involve a duvet day, a spa, or a mammoth shopping trip. Instead I drove 150 miles – and spent about 5 hours in the car doing so, thanks to road works, closed roads, a police census and horseboxes travelling at 30mph – all so I could visit my Dad (an early Father’s Day visit) and my 104 year old Gran who I don’t see as often as I like.

Despite the time spent travelling I had a brilliant day. I was all by myself in the car so I could listen to my own eclectic selection of music instead of The Wheels on the Bus CD! I didn’t have to play ‘I spy something green…..’ or spot tractors – instead I could just enjoy the beautiful Cotswold countryside. I was able to enjoy a proper grown-up lunch with wine and un-interrupted adult conversation with my Dad – a rarity indeed these days. I even got to just sit with a cup of tea staring at the birds in the garden.

But what I also escaped from was the housework, the phone ringing, my emails, watching the clock and working out who needs picking up and taking where; all the many simple, but routine tasks which usually measure out my day. And because of this it freed up some ‘head space’ – my mind was free to ponder and roam, something that in the increasingly busy life I find myself leading just never happens.

So when I finally arrived home, yes I was tired, but also refreshed…..maybe a change in routine IS all you need to recharge the batteries once in a while.


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