Stacey Kelly – Writer, Illustrator & Founder of Early Years Story Box

Name:  Stacey Kelly

Age:  34

Number of children:  2

Job title:  Writer, Illustrator & Founder of Early Years Story Box (also former teacher).

Duties: I am responsible for every element of my business: productions, marketing (although I’ve had help from Ellie at MacComms with PR), selling & distribution. I write & illustrate all of my children’s books and create all of the resources on my subscription website (Early Years resources to go with my books aimed at nurseries, childcare providers & parents).

Hours: As and when I can work!

Childcare arrangements: My husband works split shifts so we juggle childcare.

What I love about work: That I get to make money from my passion.

What I find difficult is: Finding the balance and juggling home life with running the business. Because I work at home it is also very hard to set boundaries and shut off!

My working life would be easier if I worked in an office and had a team of people doing all of the things that I find more challenging like marketing. I often find that I’m juggling a million things – I’d just love a PA that just organised me haha…

Work/mum life balance: Is a challenge but I am lucky to have a really supportive husband whose working hours mean I have the freedom to work in the day without being distracted, although the kids are constantly trying to climb on me no matter where I go in the house!

How having children has changed the work I do: My children were what inspired me to do what I do. I left teaching when my first baby was born and when she was 4 months old I got the idea to write and illustrate my own children’s books. I then set up a personalised book company and sold over 800 worldwide before having my second baby. When my daughter and son were 3 & 1 I got hit by the dreaded ‘witching hour’ (that time of day when your children go from angelic to feral) and I couldn’t believe that as a teacher I could control 30 kids yet I had no control whatsoever over my two tiny humans. I decided to put my teacher’s cap on and make some fun resources for them to do to see if that worked. I grabbed the illustrations on my computer from my books and threw a few things together and gave it a go. It not only worked, but I also realised that because these activities were linked to my books, it meant that my daughter was using her imagination in wonderful ways because throughout each task she was also exploring the characters and storylines. It also supported her to make sense of the world because she was identifying with the moral messages and relating them to her own life. At this moment, I did a pivot with my personalised book company and Early Years Story Box was born!

Fantasy job / If I wasnt doing this, Id be I wouldn’t want to do anything else but I’d maybe be coaching/mentoring people – although I actually do that at a business scheme I was part of in Leeds!

Mojomums helps mums get their mojo back what advice would you give to mums who feel they have lost theirs? Be kind to yourself. As mums we set such a high bar for ourselves and sometimes we just need to step back and see how great we are doing even with our imperfections. We all go through phases where our mojo takes a hit.

My best advice would be to take time for yourself. There’s a reason you get told to put your oxygen mask on first – you will be a better, mum, wife, businesswoman if you give yourself time to recharge. You can’t keep running on empty and quite often as mums we are trying to be everything to everyone. I often lose my mojo when I burn out. Rather than fight it I give myself a set time (maybe 2 days) where I allow myself to do nothing.  Wear PJs, watch movies and take away all expectations of myself. The kids love it and it allows me to just reset.

Anything else?

When you have goals it can be easy to look at the bigger picture and feel overwhelmed which can be another reason we lose our mojo. I have my big goals but break them down into manageable chunks so I can focus on what needs to be done now. If you have a dream of doing something, just ask yourself what you CAN do to take you one step towards achieving it. You don’t have to conquer the world in a day. When I decided that I wanted to create children’s books I didn’t have a clue how to publish books or even create print ready PDFs! I did, however, know how to write a story with pen and paper and how to draw and paint pictures. Rather than thinking of all of the things that I had to do (and couldn’t), which was too overwhelming, I focused on what I COULD do and that’s where I started. Life has a way of unfolding but it is one step at a time. Just focus on what you can do now and the rest will unfold.


For more information, please visit Early Years Story Box

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