Nicola is an Author, PR Strategist and Professional Photographer who lives in Surrey, UK. With a career spanning 25 years both as a Journalist and as a multi-award winning Communications professional, she has been responsible for many of the highest value campaigns in digital television. She is also the founder of Working Mum Association, and cites the day her son was born as the moment when she decided to overhaul her life (for the better!)
Tell us a bit about you as a mum
I think it is fair enough to say I was always career-focused, until I spent some time with one of my friend’s little girls and knew that I wanted to start a family. J took a while to come along, but when he did, he completely changed everything. Initially, I felt as if I completely lost my own identity as being a mum was all consuming. Without any family close by, it took a lot to get used to such a big overnight change – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. A few months after he was born, J inspired me to write my debut children’s picture book, James and the Amazing Gift. The second book in the series, James and the Birthday Balloon has not only won the Red Ribbon Prize in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, but it was also named Children’s Book of the Year 2017 by the Online Book Club. But above all of this, I’d like for J to grow up knowing that his mum works hard but is also there for him as much as I possibly can be. I would like to think that we’re very close.
Tell us about your current job
In August 2018, I left Thorpe Park Resort, where I was working as the Head of PR to concentrate on being an Author, Public Speaker and PR Strategist, offering female entrepreneurs the tools to be able to get themselves visible. It means I also have more time to concentrate on running the Working Mum Association to support like-minded working mums, and also running my photography business, which has continued to go from strength to strength.
How easy have you found being a working mum?
I have always worked hard and within weeks of J being born, I was organising new-born photo shoots and ensuring that I was still photographing weddings. It’s fair to say that keeping the photography business running whilst I was on maternity leave from my full time role, helped me in terms of being away from J later on.
Trying to combine everything has been difficult at times, not least when he’s been unwell or I’ve been stuck in traffic and not been able to get to the nursery to pick him up on time. I found that there was a lack of support for mums who were going through what I was, which is why the Working Mum Association was launched. The most important thing that a working mum should know (aside from how amazing she is), is that she is not alone!
How have you found trying to balance being a mum with your current role?
There is now, finally after four years, a real sense of balance at this end in that I get to be the mum I always wanted to be. I get to do the majority of drop-offs and pickups and am able to be there for my son much more. Working in an office environment even at four days a week was tough. Even harder was the international travel element in one of my previous roles. That moment when you used to connect via Skype and were asked where you were and when you were coming home, really got to me. Now I’m concentrating on helping fellow female entrepreneurs with their PR strategy, writing my books, continuing with the photography business, and of course running the WMA.
What has kept you going throughout your journey so far?
It would have to be my son and striving to give him the best life that I possibly can. That and I’m guiding him to understand that if you dream about something, then you can achieve it with consistent action and hard work.
What advice would you offer anyone who is about to return to work after having a child?
It can be tough at first because your colleagues won’t understand when you have to leave the office on the dot for the nursery run, or you have to leave because they’re unwell. They also won’t understand how much harder it is for you now to socialise, because it means you will miss bath time / bedtime. The best way I found to cope was to focus on the positives. By looking at your situation positively and being thankful for everything you have, really does help. But there are equally days where it just feels really tough. Go easy on yourself. You’re doing an amazing job and have so got this.
What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you about combining motherhood with a job?
I don’t remember receiving any advice about this. I just know that I felt there wasn’t enough support out there for working mums, and I’m hoping that the Working Mum Association will go even a little way to help redress this. Even if it makes a difference to one mum’s life, no matter where in the world she is, then it has fulfilled its aim.
Anything else you would like our members to know about you?
My third children’s book is going to be published later this year and I’m also writing a book for working mums everywhere so they too can find their own sense of balance, so watch this page!