What it means to win....
I particularly love this time of year as it gives me a lot of hope. I keep eyeing up some clematis buds which have made a surprising appearance, given that I thought it had died a couple of years ago. The plant has been gradually worming it’s delicate tendrils around the stems of the honeysuckle, in itself a serious force to be reckoned with, attracting so many bees to the bottom of the garden whilst trying to escape the shackles of the wire I've tried to keep it trailing to.
Summertime last year we were living with my in-laws, due to the extension work that had effectively created havoc in all areas of our house. I’d missed out on that stage of witnessing some of the flowers I’d spent many evenings putting into the ground the year before, coming into life, although found a small degree of satisfaction from dead heading my Mother in laws roses.
So, for so many reasons, this year, watching day by day as new flowers emerge, has felt more poignant. Things have moved on a lot in a year, my beloved First Mummies’ Club, which always had a special place in my heart, has also bloomed once more. This time though, it has emerged and bloomed into something far more beautiful and meaningful than even I could have imagined and for the first time, I'm sensing it's potential.
As ‘Taylor Made with Love’ put it … ‘This is not just my business. It is my passion and it is my outlet for saying ‘This is me’, a statement that resonates so very clearly.
First Mummies’ Club is a business but I’m not reliant on it for an income, therefore there is no pressure on me to make a profit. This may be one of the core reasons why I wasn’t successful in getting onto the next stage of the Dacorums Den. To quote from the feedback I was offered ‘when asked to list the grant benefits, the focus was entirely on the benefits to the customer and not to the business.’ To which my response was, ‘I think you’ve just got it in a nutshell!’
First Mummies’ Club was originally started by me after a niggle that just would not go away. When Luca was about six months old, I had this thought that I just could not shift that there must be other Mums, like me, frustrated that they couldn’t do things that they enjoyed doing. In the run up to Luca’s birth, it had unleashed a creative spark in me and I realised, this is where I could find a lot of joy.
However, to get all the benefits from emerging yourself in creativity, you need that head space, that time carved out in your week where you can close the door to the chaos, the dirty dishes, the washing piles, the ‘stuff’ and escape. One of the great things about the social media side of First Mummies’ Club is that it holds me accountable to put my creative dabblings out there…. to encourage Mums to try and find those small windows of opportunity to get creative, but on a larger scale, to ensure they carve a little time just for them in their week… it sounds simple, right?
The First run of First Mummies’ Club was a bit hit and miss. I wasn’t business minded about it all and after running for a year I decided to wind it down as I was expecting my second little boy a few months later. I suspected it would all be too much and quite honestly, couldn’t see myself starting it up again…. What did a life as a stay at home Mum of two boys hold exactly? However, a few months before Robin turned three and as Luca was getting on well in his first year of school, that niggle returned. That overwhelming sense that I was meant to be doing something else, something meaningful, something for the community. In essence, I knew First Mummies’ Club had potential, it was definitely something that Mums needed and I knew I could execute it again but with more passion and direction than before. I also became much clearer about my ‘Why.’ Now, for those of you in businesses or of that curious nature where self development is your thing, we’re often being asked to challenge and reflect on what our ‘Why’ is.
Since having my second child, I’ve realised that the juggle is very much real. I’ve really struggled with the morning school run whilst trying to negotiate with an unpredictable toddler and a highly spirited eldest! I’ve also faced moments of sheer doubt, anxiety even, where life feels that bit more cloudy and I feel lost. What I found through sharing my posts declaring my struggle, is that all Mums go through it…. despite all those happy family images we put out on social media, sometimes life feels really hard but what is paramount to us keeping our head above water; responding with love and not anger and frustration, is carving out that time as Mums, just for us. It sounds simple but time …. Just for ourselves… doing what we enjoy, feels like a commodity but is vital for our mental wellbeing.
So essentially, what I’ve created is a place where Mums can come, step away from that overwhelm, accept it and leave it at the door, to instead create pretty things, learn new things from inspiring people, in a nice place with lovely ladies. The fact that women trust me to make sure those two hours that they are paying for truly count means the world to me.
Prior to the re-launch last November, I have been increasingly interested in mental ill health and although there can be lots of things that add to creating a feeling of loneliness, anxiety, desperation and depression, little things, like being creative can help a little bit. Arts on prescription is an idea that is scientifically proven to work… what an amazing thing to help heal yourself through creativity.
One vital realisation I have made only in the last year, is that quite often, it is not about the finished piece, it is about the process and getting into that zone. If I can say that I’ve helped a group of women, on a regular basis, just find that place of calm for a couple of hours, which in turn allows them a little perspective on other things going on in their life, then that is massive for me. That is what makes my heart sing. As a people pleaser (I’m still never sure if that’s a trait you are meant to admit to but hey, I am) my main focus is on the happiness of the Mums that come. If they are happy, that makes me happy.
Saturday will see me tottering up to London with my Mum as a finalist for the Mpower National Mums in Business award. Recognition is a funny thing. I’m mainly pleased that someone high up thinks that First Mummies’ Club seems like a good idea! I feel so fortunate that right from the get go I’ve met so many lovely, inspiring, dynamic women through First Mummies’ Club, many who have gone onto become really good friends. That is almost a beautiful by-product of what I was expecting to get out of First Mummies’ Club but an aspect that for my own mental well being has been so valuable. The wonderful thing about these friends though is that there is genuine loyalty, love and support for my personal growth which I’m not sure I’d really experienced before. Acknowledgement from friends that they are proud of you when you are doing something you love and is line with who you are as a person is a really powerful thing.
All I know for sure is that I’m feeling the happiest I’ve ever felt, doing something with a group of women who appreciate it all. it’s ok to want to have an outlet to relax, it’s ok not to want to be with your children all of the time and it’s ok to not always feel ok about things.
So, come Saturday evening, although I’m pretty certain, it won’t be an award win, I’ll be delighted to raise a glass to all those fabulous women I've met on my personal journey, blooming marvellous in their own ways, bursting with passion and potential.
For me, that’s where the real win lies.