Having kids is like a massive, life-changing game of Pick Up Sticks. Even just one baby on its own throws our lives out of balance and into a completely new direction, changes our focus and reprioritises what is important.
But for many of us, there comes a time when either you need to return to work – or GASP – you WANT to return to work, to have a sense of you, and perhaps just be able to drink a coffee in peace with other adults that don’t demand Peppa Pig five times an hour.
One enormous side-effect of motherhood is the bashing that your confidence can take; after months of pulling animated crazy faces, debating the intricacies of Bing’s domestic situation and timing feeds with poop changes, is it any wonder that returning to the world of work is daunting?
Balancing the demands of motherhood with your career must be one of the biggest dilemmas of our late twenties and thirties. We are told all the time that we can ‘have it all’ but having it all comes with much stress and a long ‘To Do’ list that feels like it never ends. And let’s not get started on the ‘Guilts’ of motherhood – that awful, dull feeling in the pit of your stomach that despite your best efforts, you are letting someone down along the way, whether it be your partner, your children, or your employer.
So where on earth do you start to attempt to achieve a work/life balance that allows you the freedom to wear all the hats that you need to as a mother, partner, employee and employee? How do you re-evaluate in a productive way, and come to a conclusion that works for both your family, and you, as an individual?
Clara Wilcox created The Balance Collective; a supportive coaching service that helps women to create the work/life balance that we all deserve. She guides you to create the work/life rhythm that suits you as an individual, and provides support for parents to take control of their careers though topics such as balancing life, career coaching, employability support, confidence building, finding your USP or coaching you through a flexible working request proposal. Through six one to one coaching sessions lasting 45 minutes (phone or Skype) and email support to help keep you on track, focused and supported, this could really help you to not only find your feet again in your career but also create a work-life balance that really works for you and your family.
We took a few minutes out of our own work/life balance to have a chat with Clara, and ask her some very pertinent questions to get to know her a bit more, and what she hopes to achieve with The Balance Collective…
Can you sum up your business in just 10 words?
“Supporting parents to create the work/life balance you deserve”.
Was there a light-bulb moment when you came up with the original idea for your business?
“I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to work flexibly after having my two girls; I found that working part-time didn’t mean that I had to sacrifice my career ambitions. However, I did really struggle with returning to work after having my second daughter. My confidence had taken a dip, and I found myself really doubting my abilities, a lot. I was lucky; I got myself back on track with the help of a great coach, but when I spoke to family and friends I quickly realised that this support wasn’t universally available. Many companies undervalue working parents, and part time jobs that we see advertised are often low paid. This results in many mums and dads feeling overwhelmed with trying to find that perfect balance of career and family life.
My initial thought was based around a jobs board that advertised well-paid, part-time, flexible work.”
How closely have you stuck to that vision?
“The vision is the same – but the tools I use have expanded. The coaching and mentoring that I provide is the core of the work that I now do; I offer many services including an email coaching course called ‘Take Care of the Business of You’, workshops and one-to-one coaching programmes that cover career, return to work, confidence and work/life balance coaching. I also have a blog, and I offer additional services like CV and flexible working consultancy. The jobs board is quietly in the background, but nonetheless still a part of my business.
My business was ‘seeded’ through a social enterprise fund, so the long term goal is not only to help parents back into work through coaching, but to reinvest the profits into grants that help mums up-skill and retrain.”
What is your best-selling product?
Can I be greedy, and say two?
My four-part coaching programmes: Parents get the opportunity to focus on themselves, and find solutions to their work/life balance frustrations, whilst starting to plan their career the way that works for them. Interestingly, many walk away deciding they want to create their own start up!
My weekly blog: This is very popular! It’s a great place to get advice and tips and I’m currently working on creating a book; so watch this space!
Which product or service do you love the most?
I really love my email programme, ‘Taking Care of the Business of You’. It truly shows the power of coaching. Parents work through daily emails and an audio guide to unpick all the things that are holding them back, and leave with increased confidence and a ‘game plan’ for the future. There is only one of me; working flexibly to be with my family is important and this programme means that I can help people all over the world, anytime, any place, while also practising what I preach and having my own work-life balance.
How did you discover The Motherload®?
Two Horizons, a fellow Motherload Store & Directory business recommended I look into it! The community is fantastic, and The Motherload®’s ethos of sharing the reality of motherhood without being judged is spot on. Motherhood can be very isolating, and to have a group of brilliant women to share the load with is brilliant.
How important is it to you to support other small businesses?
It’s ESSENTIAL. Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy; perhaps even the world. Usually they are the most innovative, and creative bunch! Many women, once they become mothers, create businesses to support themselves and their families. It’s predicted that 50% of the workforce will be in freelance or portfolio careers by 2020 – so to make sure that their businesses are sustainable we all need to stick together to grow, and succeed.
What’s your favourite quote?
“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen.
What’s your favourite tipple?
Ah, I can be quite fickle. As of today, it’s a certain coffee shop’s Popcorn Cappuccino, or Amaretto – or both, at the same time! Hmm. I might have to go and try that after this chat!
Where do you hope to take your business in the future?
“I want to grow the business so that we have regional hubs for the business across the country and can help thousands of mums and dads regain control of their career and life, and retrain by having mentoring, and coaching with The Business Collective in a accessible place, near to them.
My personal goal is to get the book I’m writing published, and for my message to reach more people through talks and workshops. Giving a TED Talk is my bucket list ambition!
To find out more about The Balance Collective, and what services Clara provides, you’ll find her website with lots more information here: www.thebalancecollective.co.uk
Clara is offering a fabulous 15% off any of her services to registered members of The Motherload® website and community. If you haven’t signed up to the site yet, then pop along to our register page and we’ll send you our Amazing Mailout, every Friday, with the best of The Motherload®, discounts for our Store & Directory and lots more.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored advertorial, written honestly by The Motherload® and forms part of our promotion of entrepreneurial talent within our Store & Directory to help raise the profile of female entrepreneurs.