Running a business is blooming hard.
Aside from the invaluable work experience and countless lessons about small ways to help save the environment, this is what I have learnt in my far too short 100 hours interning at Lotus Maternity. And being a woman in business brings its own unique set of challenges.
From disasters with ale taps (Olivia’s idea of a *small* glass of beer is to almost flood the room!), to factory trips, to careers presentations, no two hours, let alone two days, are the same. Working in a start-up means teaching yourself to become proficient in innumerable and diverse sides of business. Passion and a true belief in the importance and usefulness of your products aren’t enough – you have to be willing to put in the hours to master every business-related skill imaginable, to make connections with everyone and anyone (especially the tech guys next door – very helpful when coding for your website has you stumped!), and to use every ounce of your creative energy dreaming up new and ingenious marketing methods.
I’m sure by this point you’re thinking: ‘this is all very interesting, but what does this have to do with a maternity blog?’. Firstly, thank you for considering my article interesting! Secondly (and on a more serious note), look at it this way: neither I nor Olivia, founder of Lotus Maternity and my wonderful boss for the last four weeks, have children, nor are either of us intending to have children anytime soon. I have seen first-hand the incredible amount of effort, time and commitment that Olivia puts in to her company, and can’t imagine how difficult it would be to juggle this alongside looking after children.
In modern society, we are quick to say women can have it all – a loving family, a successful career. While this is true for many women, and we should of course all be grateful to everyone all over the globe who has fought and is still fighting for our rights, with the focus on ‘having it all’ are we losing sight of the difficulties of managing both motherhood and a career? Studies have proven that women on average still do the majority of the childcare and housework, for example a 2016 Oxfam poll found that women living with their partners in the UK averaged a whopping two days’ worth more work than men a month on such tasks.* Running a business alongside doing the majority of the childcare and housework? Sounds near to impossible to me!
I’m definitely not saying that women should give up their jobs to stay at home with their babies (the career-woman in me shivers at the thought!), but rather that the work we women do, whether it be running a business or looking after the little ones, should be acknowledged and rewarded. It’s certainly not easy to run a business, but I’m sure every parent would agree it isn’t exactly easy to raise a child either!
After saying all this, I’ve got a couple of questions for any dads reading this article: are you doing enough to support and appreciate the work your partner does in order to raise and protect, develop and successfully care for your baby? Do you pull your weight, or do you fall into the trap of letting your partner do all the housework & childcare? If any of you are on our mailing list, you’ll have noticed I’ve spoken a lot during this internship of the ‘importance of finding your tribe’. We are no longer cave dwellers with a large community, and we now often live miles away from our relatives.
Moreover, the community spirit that once existed within neighbourhoods has become somewhat non-existent in modern day, Western society. Could this be a reason as to why as many as 1 in 10 mothers suffer from postnatal depression? Having a baby can be extremely isolating, hence why having a good support network is not only crucial for breastfeeding, but also necessary for surviving motherhood! It would be great if all you dads could take a moment to think ‘what could I do to help that little bit more?’ – even something as small as taking the baby for half an hour when you get home to allow your partner an opportunity to put their feet up and enjoy a hot cuppa in peace would do her the world of good. If you’d like any more tips (on the house, of course), please sign up to our mailing list here.
All I’ve said in this blog can easily be applied to the process of looking after children too – each day with a baby, toddler, child or even teen is, I’m sure, a steep learning curve with new obstacles and difficulties thrown in each step of the way. Whether you choose to be a stay-at-home mum, looking after your kids and your home while your partner goes to work, whether your career is your baby and you couldn’t possibly imagine giving it up for even the shortest of maternity leaves, or whether you’re somewhere in between, your choice is your choice and should be respected. Women have it hard enough in day-to-day life (I’m thinking catcalling, high heels and the gender pay gap, just to name a few!), that we certainly don’t need our personal choices in regards to career and/or family judged by those that may not know our motivations and values.
Here at Lotus Maternity, we aim to empower women to breastfeed in public with confidence and complete discretion through our award-winning nursing tops, which allow you to remain you. Designed by midwives for mothers, our breastfeeding tops are perfect whether you’re in the workplace, at home or out with the girls for a coffee break. Our products are intended to be worn by women everywhere, whatever their career choices. And for those of you who aren’t breastfeeding? Our super soft, bamboo baby blankets make the perfect keepsake for your own little one or for a friend – we’ve got you covered!
My time interning at Lotus Maternity has been invaluable – I have learnt so much about business, ethics and empowering women. I can only say the biggest of thank yous to Olivia for being such a great help at every stage, and to you, the reader, for humouring me by reading to the end!