My contribution for Make Motherhood Diverse

The other day, I came across a collection of photos of myself that I had never seen before and they took my breath away to say the least. And no, not the ones circa 98’ when I was downing some dubious luminous concoction. 

They were pictures of the early days. Yes those days. The early days of being a mother and the early days of my baby boy. The photos had been hidden in a cloud somewhere (perhaps alongside the dates of family members’ birthdays and my ‘safe’ places). 

After a three day labour, an emergency C section and a 9 pound 10 baby, it is clear I was not ‘photo ready’. In a world where brushing your hair, putting on make up and cracking out some perfect angles to streamline any excess fat are the norm, I seemed to doing my own thing; my own red faced, disorientated version!  

Throughout my pregnancy, my focus was on my unborn baby. I just wanted everything to be ok. I counted down the days until my due date. I couldn’t think much beyond that. In terms of career and how our relationship would change, I thought I would figure it out later. We would go slow and make decisions as and when necessary. 

What happened next was unexpected. Obviously this happened after a while…in the beginning I found walking in a straight line and stringing a sentence together pretty cumbersome. 

The surprise? I became hugely ambitious. Yes, I know. Perfect timing eh? This surge of ideas and new found determination occurred when I had the least amount of time, energy and wiggle room to actually leave the house. Why oh why didn’t this happen in my 20s, when I was mainly hungover, killing time on the sofa, watching the 134th season of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and scoffing Crunch Creams? 

It was almost as if the doctors had taken my boy out and put back in a fireball of ‘Let’s freakin’ do this’. 

My brain went into overdrive. Suddenly I had so much clarity about what I wanted my life to be about. I became braver; I reached out, I started to say no, I started to say yes, I started to make bold, scary moves even though it wasn’t the perfect time. Bingo. 

I listened to my intuition. I asked for more money. I made more money. I trusted the process. I started to dream bigger. 

I love our boy more than anything and I am so grateful that my partner and I are both freelance so we could figure it out together. 

With so little sleep, patience and a hungry baby, I knew I didn’t want to venture far. So I had to get creative. ‘Me time’ wasn’t all massages or some light window shopping. 

I make a deliberate decision to remain inspired; to go to talks, to surround myself with inspiring women who have STUFF TO SAY. To spend little time discussing nappy cream. It's not an uplifting topic for me. 

In the early days, I didn’t have a significant income. So I used it wisely to make me feel more like me…well the new me. A bouncy hair cut, excellent underwear, mega hydrating, luxurious skincare. Clothes that felt like they were made for me and my new shape and didn't make me look like I got dressed in the lost property PE box. Plus bills…you know, the life stuff. 

Of course, I was still in the baby bubble and asked the really personal questions that (a) I didn’t have the answer to or (b) responded in a high pitched voice with the first thing that came into my head whether it was accurate or not.

Here are some of my favourites:

(1) How are your bits and bobs?

(2) When are you having another? Do you want a big family (Ermm... we are 5 days in…?)

(3) How are your ankles- still swollen?

(4) Late Pregnancy … asked by a ‘birthing know all’ guy (in truth, all the gear no idea and another Dad at the birthing workshop) ‘When are you getting swept?’ with, may I add, an accompanying hand gestures. Yep. Grim. 

The thing is I know the stats. As a woman over 30 with a child, I am less likely to earn what I deserve and welcome the opportunities that match my experience and skills. Thank goodness I met my friend Indra when I was a young actor who showed me that you can have children and still pursue a creative career. Had I not seen this perspective, I may have presumed that I had to choose. 

There is still the assumption that once you have had a baby (or even when you are thinking about/in the process of cooking one) that you have left the table. 

‘Sooo have you given up then?’ was said to me on numerous occasions in my pregnancy referencing my thriving acting career. 

I know I don’t represent a corporate background view point but at the time of writing, I have helped over 700 clients through my coaching business and heard so many stories. 

I believe there has never been a more perfect time to rewrite the rule book and do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Granted, I am not saying it is all going to be easy breezy and effortless at all times. Parenting is ever changing, we know this. Don’t even mention the dishes or the stack of paperwork that never ends.  

However please know, you don’t have to choose, I despise the notion of either/or

e.g 

I am a career woman and I don’t see my children or I stay at home and therefore don’t earn money. 

I take care of myself so I deprive my children. 

I spent the majority of time with my children so therefore I can’t explore a creative project. 

Now I am mum, I must close down any thoughts of career progression. 

We can create our own blend of what works for us, we know our own circumstances. Often it isn’t a huge whopping change, just some pretty spectacular tweaks. 

Practically you can begin by asking yourself, what is important? What would you create in an ideal situation? What would you earn? How would you spend your time? What brings you joy?

Next ask what is missing for you? What do you need help with? What would make all the different? I know we are all busy but taking even ten minutes to write down your thoughts will leave you fizzing with ideas.  

The world of Instagram is ready to welcome you (and in real life too obviously!) and support you. We want to hear your voice, your perspective, your ideas and big dreams. 

Please don’t assume, everything has been done already. There is a beautiful space waiting for your flavour and someone always need to hear it from you. I always share the story of my struggles with science lessons. For the first two years of secondary school, I had no idea what was going and so simply stared into space in the chemistry lab. Then in year 9, I had an amazing teacher. She was saying the same things but in a different way. In a way that made perfect sense to me. Suddenly I started to excel. She still remains one of the scariest people I have ever met but I know I am going to have the ‘fastest finger first’ at a pub quiz should I need to ace the periodic table. 

There will always be a reason not to move forward with your big dreams. As responsible adults (!) there is always something or someone that requires your time. 

Just take baby steps. One day at a time. Be kind to yourself. Eat and drink well, sleep when you need to and take daily action at your own pace. I can’t wait to see what you create and please know I will be cheering you on all the way. 

Latest piece for the Huff Post... a wish list for new mums

I love the Huffington Post as a platform and I am thrilled to be a contributor. Here is my latest piece... click the graphic or click here

Interview with Elaine Farrell | Boss Like A Mum

Name: Elaine Farrell

What do you do? How would you describe your working life?

I work within an influencer and partnerships team at a media agency in London. This means working with brands to design influencer campaigns, i.e. designing campaigns and commissioning content to leverage the audiences of influential people on social media to promote a brand.

Elaine Farrell

Did you show any early signs as a child that indicated that you would end up where you are today? (Feel to tell childhood stories, early influencers, anecdotes etc)

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a journalist, and I still love to write, which is the main driving force behind my blog. The written word is probably the only thread of consistency throughout my career, and I’ve gone from translating and editing words to creating original content. I’ve spent the last few years working with brands on their social media and online content, including blogs and email newsletters, and love helping small businesses develop their voice.

Describe your morning routine.

On a work day, I get up at 6.30am and make a cup of coffee and breakfast before doing anything else. I take them both to the bathroom so I can eat while getting dressed to save time! It also means that I’m making less noise as I’m not moving around the flat. My husband and son usually sleep until around 8am and it would be more than my life’s worth to wake them up! In an ideal world, I would stick the news on in the morning while I get dressed but, with such a small living space, it’s just not possible to do that without disturbing the boys. I try to walk the 3.5 miles to my office just to get a bit of headspace before the start of the working day. As I usually don’t get to see my son in the morning anyway, I don’t feel bad about leaving earlier than I need to so I can walk.

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from and when do they arrive?

I get inspiration from conversations I have with other people, from films, books and art, and from other people’s blogs and social media accounts. I find that, as long as I’m building a bit of headspace into the day, such as walking to work in the morning, or going out for a run on my days off, I’m usually not short of inspiration. Unfortunately, it’s finding the time to implement the new ideas that I struggle with!

When motivation wavers, how do you get back on track?

I think that, when you are lacking motivation, it’s important to allow yourself to have some time off from whatever it is you’re working on. Often, that’s all it takes to get back on track! If you’re really not motivated for long periods of time, however, then it’s time to ask yourself if you’re working on the right thing or whether it’s time for a change.

Elaine Farrell

What is the best thing about your job/lifestyle?

Digital marketing, and social media in particular, is still a growing industry, which makes a nice change from my last career in translation, which had started to feel like a dying profession. I feel stimulated, inspired and excited by my job, which is really all that I want out of my career!

If you could do something else for the day, what would you do?

I would love to get a glimpse into life as a midwife! I wouldn’t consider it as a career change for many reasons, but I would love to do it for just one day. When I had my son, I felt so much admiration for midwives and thought how amazing it must be to deliver so many babies into the world. I know that the reality is often long hours, poor pay, and some tragedy and heartache, but they do truly amazing work. It must be very fulfilling.

How do you overcome any challenges in your working life?

It’s all about having conversations with people, and having the courage to voice your concerns. That being said, it’s also important to be able to listen, and sometimes accept difficult truths about yourself. Challenges are not always caused by external factors, and we each have to take responsibility for the part we play in creating difficult situations if we want to move past them.

How do you celebrate your successes?

Gin! It’s wine for a tough day, and gin for a good one.

Do you have any tools/resources or rituals that you couldn’t live without?

I need to have exercise in some form in my life. I feel really sluggish if too many days go by without it. I love Pilates and I’m getting back into running again. It’s tough to find the time, but, for the most part, my family understand that I need to exercise for my mental wellbeing. It’s not just about fitting into a pair of jeans!

Which books from your bookcase would you recommend?

Such a difficult question! The one book that changed my outlook completely, and was the impetus for a big change in my life, was Louise Hay’s ‘You Can Heal Your Life’. For fiction, one of my favourite books of all time is Joyce Carol Oates’ ‘Blonde’ and I’ve had to buy it so many times because I insist on giving copies to other people to read all the time. I would also recommend having a really well-thumbed copy of a favourite mindless book on your shelf that you can go back and dip into when you just need a bit of a mental massage. For me, it’s Harry Potter! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read the books, watched the films and listen to the audiobooks. 

What are your daily essentials to make you feel ready?

I couldn’t get through the day without my phone and headphones. I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my way to and from the office and they’re a big source of both inspiration and relaxation for me.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Don't be so hard on yourself all the time. And stop letting other people be so hard on you too. My teenage years were difficult. I was bullied, as it seems so many people are in one form or another, and I absorbed the negativity about me like a sponge. It took me a long time to gain self-confidence and acceptance of who I am. I would say that it’s an ongoing process, and I still have moments of terrible self-doubt as a result of my childhood and teenage years.

Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?

That’s a tough one! I don’t often look that far ahead… I know that I would like to have another child. In 5 years, I will be celebrating my 40th birthday, and I just hope that I feel happy with that and happy with what I have accomplished. When I turned 30, I felt that I was exactly where I wanted to be at that age. I had launched my own business, which was going well. I had a long list of regular clients and freelancers that I worked with. I was happy in my relationship. I hope that I feel the same sense of accomplishment at 40! Perhaps I need to make a bucket list...

Elaine Farrell

Elaine Farrell -  Boss Like A Mum

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Published on The Early Hour // Nicky Raby

I was recently published on The Early Hour where I share my 8 ways to be more productive in the evening.

I used to be a morning person, however there have been MANY changes since having a baby!

Read the full article here

Published on Cheltenham Maman | Nicky Raby

Do you need to shake things up a little? Here are five ways I am switching things up in 2017. Click below or read here:

Cheltenham Maman | Nicky Raby

Published on Doing It For The Kids | Nicky Raby

Ah. Life as a freelancing parent. I thought I was busy before but then add a small, wriggling, jiggling, movin’, shakin’ baby to the mix and everything becomes amplified.

My partner and I are both freelancers. When life is easy breezy and smooth, this feels like the best thing in the world. We can both spend chunks of time with each other and our son; We can both earn, contribute and spend freely; We can do what we love. In those moments we have balance. We have equality. We have the solution nailed.

And then… we don’t. It takes just one last minute audition, a teething, non-napping baby, an unexpected filming job away from home or a delayed train to promptly take us from Smugsville, London, to the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ motorway.

Click the graphic below to read the full article. 

Do you need a plan of action to help you figure out the magical world of parenting and freelancing. Find out more below: 

Published on Motherland

I have been an avid reader for a while now.

Motherland hosts exactly the kind of content I need to read as mum. I don't necessarily want to read about favourite nappy rash creams.

I want to feel creative, to be inspired and to retrieve information that is going to move me forward. 

https://charlottephilby.com/features/how-to-start-a-business-now/

Work with me personally, find out more below:

Published on Nurturing Mums

Boy...it's a juggle but totally worth it...

Click here to read the full interview:

Work with me personally:

Published on Huffington Post| Article One

I'm very excited to be joining the Huffington family as a contributor. Click the graphic below to read the article. 

My video for Selfish Mother

I am thrilled to share my video that I devised for the Selfish Mother You Tube channel. I share my five tips on how to find the new you after becoming a parent. I discuss self care, setting boundaries and ignoring the washing up where necessary! :)