Natasha Ascott, Chief Mudder at leading children's outerwear brand Muddy Puddles, shares her experiences of juggling the roles of mother and business leader
"I sit in the bucket with the large group of parents (predominantly mothers) who feels constantly torn between the demands and desire to pour myself in to work and into the lives of my children. The cataclysmic realisation, when I had my first child, that she wouldn’t just lie peacefully next to me while I ticked along with my normal rhythms and routines took a long time to get over. It meant I started to think again about how I could have a fulfilling career and still be present when I wanted to for my very consuming children. This led to a second misguided assumption on my part, that running your own business would create the opportunity for the perfect balance. It is true that having your own business gives you autonomy. It does mean you can juggle your timetable so that you never miss a nativity and can be home for teatime and then do your work later without asking permission. However, what I had not accounted for is the enormous amount of work and responsibility that comes with running your own business.
Building Muddy Puddles has been one of the most rewarding and exhausting things I have done. To try and make it all work I often get up at the crack of dawn to squeeze an hour or two of work before the rest of the house is awake. There have not been many evenings at home when I am not at my computer trying to get a bit more done. Having said that, I think that has become a much more normal scenario in every family home with the insane juggle of work and home school (which I think it would be safe to say has largely brought out my inner dragon – never have my children longed for their ‘real’ teachers more).
The best thing I have ever done is hire a passionate and brilliant team who really make Muddy Puddles what it is today. I love working with them to build the brand. The variety of challenges is always exciting from designing the product and thinking through every detail and how it will work; to developing the content and messaging to reflect our passionate desire to enable families to get outdoors; to the strategy and thinking through our plans and budgets and how we will get to the next stage with the business.
It has meant that I can be distracted and caught up in work even when I am ‘being a parent’ and I think my youngest son’s first instruction to me when he could talk was ‘put your phone away’ and he was right! But as my Mum said to me ‘whatever you do you will never feel you got it right’ and so on a good day I try to accept that I am just doing my best and that is going to have to be good enough. If I were to give anyone else advice who was about to go on the entrepreneurial journey, while having a young family, I would say, don’t underestimate how much it will take and remember that anything worth doing is difficult to do so make sure you feel truly passionate and excited about the business you want to build which will mean that overall it is an incredibly rewarding journey."
Hear Natasha's thoughts on the benefits of nature for children and grown-ups, or browse her children's outerwear creations at Muddy Puddles