As many of you know, we welcomed our beautiful daughter Harriet into the world in December last year as a lovely little sister for Freddie and Charlie. She is a gem, a real joy and fabulous addition to our family. She is adored by her two older brothers who have given her an interesting variety of names that she commonly goes by, including Hetty Boo Bunny, Boo Boo Bananas and ‘The Baby’, to name but a few!
Life as a family of five has not been without its challenges and my husband and I are now officially outnumbered by small people. Three children definitely feels like a big step up from two and we do spend a long time debating how long it will be until we have a good night’s sleep, for a full week, without one of them waking up – but that is a whole separate blog article!
With the exciting developments with Lovekeepcreate, particularly our successful appearance on Dragons’ Den on New Year’s Day, I always knew it was going to be challenging to take maternity leave in the strictest sense of the phrase. Most small business owners can testify to the fact that you simply cannot define working hours when you are working for yourself. Hard as I try, I find it very difficult to separate myself from the fabulous business that Merry and I have created.
However, following the hype post Dragons’ Den and having been assured by Merry that she and our great team were handling things, I settled into a wonderful few months on maternity leave, which has been characterised by a lot of coffee and cake as well as many hours catching up with lovely friends and family.
Harriet is now eight months old and I am easing back into the LKC fold for a couple of days a week, but I have to confess that despite her being my third baby, it is extremely difficult. Only this week, whilst in a meeting, I was explaining how I was back at work and I was met with a couple of comments, “oh no she is still so young” and “don’t you feel awful leaving her?!”. Out of the blue I felt that familiar sting through the heart of what can only be described as Mum Guilt and suddenly felt I had to rapidly backtrack, explain myself and my new childcare arrangements whilst also trying not to give away the fact that I was quite enjoying my cappuccino without bouncing a baby on my knee or breastfeeding.
Mum guilt is not a new thing for me. In fact, I think that motherhood should come with some kind of serious health warning from the NHS for the crippling sense of guilt and worry that it instils as soon as the chubby bundle of joy is presented to you post birth. I remember when Freddie was as young as six weeks old, attempting to read him a story as I was worrying that I wasn’t stimulating him enough. Obviously now I appreciate how utterly ridiculous this sounds but at the time it was a real concern!
Other things I worry and feel guilty about on a reasonably regular basis (at least a few times a week) include; my children aren’t eating enough vegetables, they are watching too much TV, we aren’t reading enough to and with them, we (mainly me) are shouting and snapping too much at them…. Honestly the list goes on and on doesn’t it?!
Recently though I have been trying to make a pact with myself to lose some of the mum guilt and to put my thoughts into perspective. You only have to log on to social media or to watch the news to start to realise how terribly over reactive and first world my list of worries are. In the same week as my meeting when I started to feel guilty about returning to work, I also met with someone else who is a parent of three grown up children. On listening to my ramblings about my mum worries (I’m sure he could sense my ridiculous anxiety), he simply said, “it doesn’t matter how much you worry or agonise about decisions, you do know that they will all come good in the end”. It was only on my drive home from work that afternoon that I felt mildly reassured and hopeful and thought, yes, yes, they probably do!
So, for now I am going to leave my worries at home and enjoy the couple of days that I can have a hot coffee safe in the knowledge that my beautiful girl Harriet will be okay. We have some extremely exciting new products at LKC that I have been working very hard designing so do watch this space!