Florence chats to Bridget Supple, Antenatal Teacher and news editor of the International Journal of Birth and Parent Education about her interest in the Microbiome and how that has developed into providing online courses for parents and birth professionals about the microbiome and how to best prepare for the optimum bacterial start for babies.
Sophie talks to hypnotherapist, doula and Traumatic Birth Recovery specialist Alex Heath about her work with families recovering from difficult pregnancy, birth or postnatal experiences. She shares her experience, thoughts about how to best prepare for birth and how the 3-step Rewind Technique can be utilised simply and quickly to reduce the emotional effects of traumatic experiences.
For more information about Alex and her work, or to find a 3-step Rewind Practitioner visit https://www.traumaticbirthrecovery.com
Click here to watch Sophie’s video on birth plans, and how an Obstetrician recently wrote about leaving medicine due to his experience of birth trauma
Click here to watch Sophie’s interview with Laura Tilson, Osteopath
Harry Kane, footballing star in the recent World Cup, came under fire on Twitter last week for congratulating his partner, Kate, on giving birth to their second daughter without the use of drugs. Here we discuss the #SoProud movement that has come on the back of it and why anyone chooses to opt for a pain-relief free birth in the first place. Oh, and where doulas fit in!
With the summer holidays in full swing it can be tough to balance work and family life. If you’re a mum you’ll likely be juggling work and childcare commitments and even if you’re not, chances are that your clients or people you work with may be and their reduced hours will possibly have a knock-on impact on your business too.
To help support you through this challenging time of year we’re gathered together some recommended time saving tips for you!
1. Be realistic
As a self-employed doula and mother you’re going have a limited amount of time and energy to dedicate to your business over the summer holidays; so try not to over commit yourself. Struggling to fit work into time you really don’t have only leads to stress and exhaustion.
Even if you’ve got a foolproof childcare plan in place, there’s always the possibility that your child could get poorly, so give yourself a little wiggle room!
2. Don’t feel guilty for taking time off
We all have limitations on our time. You work hard to meet the needs of your clients and you deserve a break every now and then. The key is to communicate your plans in plenty of time. If you’re taking off, let your clients know as soon as possible.
Whilst you’re away make sure your email out-of-office is turned on. If you have a Facebook page it’s worth setting up an automated response for potential clients who may contact you there.
This is really important because if a client sends you an email or a message via your Facebook page and they hear nothing for several days they may start to get a little frustrated, even go elsewhere. However if they get a quick auto-response that lets them know that you’ll get back to them in a few days they’re informed and much more likely to wait.
3. Be clever (and efficient) with your time
When you’re working during the summer holidays it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to work a full day, so look for smaller chunks of time within your day that you can use for work time. This could be anything from 10 minutes in the morning when you could check your social media channels or an hour in the afternoon when you can get stuck into a bigger job.
4. Get organised
Once you’ve figured out when you can work, make sure you are ready to use that time! If you’re visiting clients, teaching a class or on call, make sure your kit bag is ready and waiting by the door. When it comes to admin and other office tasks, keep a running to-do list so that when you sit down to work there’s no faffing about, you can get stuck into a task you need to do straight away.
5. Stick to the three D’s
A long to-do can look impenetrable, but there’s a simple way to break it up and make life a little easier for yourself over the summer. It’s time to prioritise! Divide all tasks into three categories, you’re either do to…
- Do it
- Delegate it, or
- Dump it
If a task isn’t essential or time sensitive then consider dumping it until you’ve got more time on your hands. If you’ve got the budget consider outsourcing some of your admin or marketing tasks. Social media posting, blog writing and even general admin can all be outsourced and with the rise of virtual assistants and freelance social media managers, people can often be contracted for a little as a few weeks. Anything that’s left goes on the do it list. These are the tasks that are important, time sensitive or only able to be done by you.
6. Divide and conquer!
Like a big list, a big job on your list can be hard to get stuck into, it just feels a bit overwhelming! If this is the case then try dividing your big jobs into small tasks. For example, if you need to write and publish a blog post for your website, split the task into small, manageable chunks. For example:
Task 1: Research
Task 2: Write first draft
Task 3: Find quotes and suitable images
Task 4: Check draft and update if needed
Task 5: Load the content to your website, add images and publish
Task 6: Promote your blog post
See! Now that wasn’t so hard was it? Rather than trying to find a big block of 2-3 hours, you can complete the job in a series of 20-30 minute blocks.
7. Cut yourself out of the equation
Often times you’re needed to personally complete tasks in your business, but there are things you can do to make your life a little simpler. If you find yourself answering the same questions from potential clients over and over, consider adding an FAQ’s section to your website. Use an online diary management tool like calendly to enable potential customers to book slots of your time without having to call you. Add a shop to your website where they can buy packages quickly and easily. Look for opportunities where you don’t necessarily need to be involved.
Find yourself with a large chunk of time? Blogs, newsletters and social media can all be created and scheduled in advance, which means you can get ahead of yourself when you have free time, and enjoy your family time, knowing that your content will be published automatically.
9. Finally… relax!
Let go of the idea of working full-time over the summer, accept that you have less time and that’s just the way it is. Think positive, stay focused and most importantly, really be present in the moment. You’ll be better and more productive at work if you really commit to the task at hand and you’ll be a better, more fun mum if you’re able to put down the tablet and really enjoy your down time with your children.
Have a great summer!
Sophie chats about birth plans after reading two very differing opinions about them recently. What are your thoughts about birth plans – a good or a bad thing? Does it empower you to consider your options, or create unrealistic expectations?
If you want to find a doula who will support you antenatally, help prepare a birth preferences/wishes and attend your birth then visit the Nurturing Birth Directory
Click here to watch Sophie’s video on preparing for a baby in your life and relationship
Here in the UK we’re super lucky that every woman has the right to take 52 weeks maternity leave. However, being able to afford to take it is another matter altogether. Some ultra-supportive employers offer enhanced maternity leave packages, providing as much as six month’s pay whilst you take a break to recover from birth and raise your new baby. But many offer just the Statutory Maternity Pay allowance of
- 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
- £145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
So can you really cut, squeeze and thrift your way to taking a whole year off? It takes some serious saving, canny shopping and brilliant baby budgeting, but it is possible! Here’s how…
1. Check your company’s maternity policy and pay rate
Start by putting a call in to HR to check your options. Many companies will offer an enhanced maternity package to employees that have been with the organisation for a year or more and it means that you’ll receive a far more generous pay out than Statutory Maternity Pay alone. Check your intranet or contact your HR department in confidence. You might not be as strapped for cash as you think!
2. Find out if you’re entitled to statutory maternity pay
Even if your company doesn’t run an enhanced scheme they are still obliged to pay you Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) as long as you meet the conditions. The gov.uk website is really useful for SMP information. As well as the qualifying conditions and rate of pay you can use the online calculator to work-out how much you might receive.
If you’re self-employed then you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. To check your eligibility and how much you could be entitled to click here to visit the gov.uk website
3. Budget, budget, budget
Once you know how much you’re going to get, you can work out a ‘year off with baby’ budget. Using your new income as a starting point, write down all your outgoings to see how far your money would stretch. Once you’ve worked out any shortfall then it’s time to start cutting back where you can! Luxuries like takeaway coffees, the gym membership, cinema cards, an all channels cable TV subscription and nights out are a good place to start!
4. Save while you still can!
Hopefully you’ve still got about six months before your income is slashed, so start putting some extra cash away now. Save gradually, and if you can, start cutting your monthly expenditure bit-by-bit until you’re was living as closely as possible on what you’ll be receiving during maternity leave. A gradual cut will give you time to get used to living on less and enable you to save a fair bit too!
5. Buy the basics – you don’t need much more
It’s easy to get carried away when planning for the arrival of a new baby. From designer clothing to the latest gadgets and gizmos (baby wipe warmer anyone?) there’s a whole hoard of products that neither you nor your baby will need. Stick to the basics:
- Somewhere for the baby to sleep (bed-sharing is safe if you are exclusively breastfeeding and observe the safe sleep seven rules)
- baby vests
- a coat and hat for outside
- nappies (washable nappies work out significantly cheaper in the long run, particularly if you go on to have subsequent children)
- a sling/wrap to carry your baby – about 1/10th the cost of many buggies or prams, and much preferred by most babies
- bottles and steriliser if you are going to be formula feeding
and a job-lot of cotton wool will see you through the first few months.
6. Shop a season ahead
Nowadays most mainstream retailers run seasonal reductions and sales throughout the year. Look out for sales throughout the year and you can often snap up most of the equipment and clothing you need at a reduced price. Once you’ve worked out your babies due date, make a list of what you need and then keep watch for the discounts!
7. Use your local children’s centre
There are over 3,600 children’s centres in England, all offering a variety of advice and support for mums-to-be. Instead of signing up for an expensive private antenatal course, attend the class at your local centre. And after the birth of your child you can sign up for a variety of fun activities – all for free! To find your nearest SureStart Centre, ask your midwife or click here to visit the gov.uk website
8. Shop second-hand
Online auction or sales sites like E-bay, Preloved or Gumtree always have a massive amount of baby items for sale as do hundreds of baby groups on Facebook. And because there’s so much choice you can often get high-quality items at rock bottom prices. Children’s charity shops, car boot sales and National Childbirth Trust sales are another potential goldmine of second-hand baby equipment and give you the chance to inspect the items before you buy – just remember to haggle!
9. Learn to love vouchers
are a veritable buffet of discounts, buy one get one frees and special offers. Self-confessed voucher addicts can use discount deals to save money on everything from your weekly shop and monthly hair cut to a romantic Valentines night away. When it comes to allowing yourself the occasional treat – and let’s face it, mums deserve a treat or two – a little discount goes a long way.
Click here to read our blog post on going plastic-free with your new baby.