Name: Merry Whitaker
Number of children: 2 (aged 7 and 4)
Job title: Managing Director LoveKeepCreate Ltd, making keepsakes from the beloved old clothing people don’t want to part with.
Duties: I deal with the administrative side of running the business, including HR, marketing, finance, website, logistics, PR, customer service. Having a business partner is great as it means we can play to our strengths and share out the jobs no one wants.
Hours: Full time plus some! I tend to be in the office everyday but I try to leave early 2 or 3 days a week to do school pick-up.
Childcare arrangements: After school club twice a week, the electronic baby sitter, help from family, working after bedtime. School holidays were sent from hell (in childcare terms), but being able to set my own office hours and to be flexible is worth its weight in gold.
What I love about work: I really love that we do something which means so much to people, it’s fantastic getting such positive feedback from people for whom their keepsakes mean so much. I also love the variety. We’ve been doing this business for nearly four years now but every day is different.
What I find difficult is: The relentlessness of running your own business and the responsibility of it. Especially as we get bigger I am more and more aware of how much our employees are relying on us to keep the work coming in. Also when you have your own business it is really hard to find down time. Once or twice a year I’ll get away and that’s about the only time I really switch the emails off.
My working life would be easier if… There were an extra 4 hours in every day and if my husband didn’t work such long hours as well. He has his own small business too. When we can afford it I’d love to get a house-keeper!
Work/mum life balance: I really struggle with this. If I’m completely honest I find the working element of my life much easier to get on with and more interesting. I enjoy living at 100 miles an hour. I am definitely guilty of not giving my children enough undivided attention, especially during the week. I have not found the right balance yet, but trying to pick them up from school a couple of times in the week does mean I get some time with them, helping with homework etc. I’m not one of these people who has a rosy view of looking after small children, I would describe myself as an adequate mother – I’m not winning any awards!
How having children has changed the work I do: I can’t imagine having ended up in a job so focused on children without having had them! If I hadn’t had them I think I would have sought out a more adventurous working life with more travel.
Fantasy job / If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be… consulting for a think tank on international politics. I’ve got quite a few friends with some really cool jobs (perhaps unsurprisingly none of them have children!).
Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back – what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs? I think that as long as you have young children you really can’t have it all, something has to give. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a good business/job whilst having young children, but if the kids are the most important thing to you then be realistic that you’re simply not going to drive the business/job as hard as you could if you didn’t have them. Conversely, if you want to drive the business/job as hard as you can then don’t waste emotional energy beating yourself up for not being there for the kids enough.
Anything else? I really dislike it when people say we’ve been lucky. I really believe that where I have got to today has been the result on making sensible decisions, being driven and working ridiculously hard. This life isn’t about lucky breaks, it’s about seizing every opportunity and bleeding it dry. Don’t wait for the right time, it will never come! And you need to find a really healthy attitude to life envy – limit social media, know that most people aren’t really being honest about the hard bits of life.
For more information visit www.lovekeepcreate.co.uk