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Juggling a small human or two, and working has been a challenge to say the least. You can never prepare yourself for the time consumption that children require and for some reason everyone thinks that being a mum isn't hard work, well spoiler alert - it is. The stigma surrounding mums who choose not to work is a negative one, usually attached to sitting around in your dressing gown all day watching Loose Women and at the beginning of your cherished child's life, this is relevant. When they sleep all of the time and you are on maternity leave, in my opinion, despite the sleep deprivation, it's a pretty sweet deal. This post is sponsored by Old English Company.

However, as any parent will know, they don't stay the immobile, sleepy creatures they start out as  and it becomes second nature to be chasing around a miniature wrecking ball all day long, that rips all the pages out of the books on the bookshelf and throws the lamps on the floor. It's at around this age that we are expected to go back to work, the age where they are learning new things every single day, the age where they are changing their routine in terms of eating, sleeping and everything in between. So, yeah I get it when people decide not to go back to work in the immediate instance. 

When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I was 20, I had worked my entire working life and was working in an amazing job, which I had given up to move to Newcastle to be with my fiancee. I have made no secret about the fact that when I had Harper at 21, I suffered with severe anxiety and post natal depression. Suddenly my fierce ambition for an amazing career seemed crushed and that frightened me, I felt lost and for a long time I felt like this is it, this is where my life is, at home with this baby, forever. 

When Harper was 10 months old I attempted to go back to work, and I loved it but I got sucked into it and started working 10 hour shifts. I would come home to my sister telling me about all the amazing things Harper had done and I would sob, I hated myself. Eventually, I left the job and went back to being at home with my baby, back to my safe place where I could keep everyone out. 

It took a huge life changing experience that will scar me for my life in December 2014 for me to recognise that my mental health had hit rock bottom, and I had to turn my life around - so I started my blog. It took the constant ache for achievement away, it opened me up to a community of people of all different cultures and lifestyle - it cured me and I could never give up my blog because it is such a huge part of where I am today, without it, I have no idea where I would be. 

After five months of writing my blog, when Harper was almost two, my blog opened a door for me to work in marketing and my regained confidence helped me to land the job. I loved my job, and everyone I worked with, it was a challenge to keep childcare under control but thanks to the unbelievable understanding of my boss and coworkers, it worked and I became Rebekka again. 

18 months later, I fell pregnant with our son, Hudson. 

By the time I was pregnant with Hudson, I had been blogging for two years, I had built a following and networked enough to get the odd sponsored post and a few freelancing gigs whilst working part time in marketing. I had mastered skills and experience in those 18 months, including social media management, marketing, advertising and PR, all of which have contributed to my ability to go full time freelance now. 

As maternity leave came closer to the end for me in September 2017, I made the first steps in returning to work, unfortunately due to a management restructure, it meant that my once supportive and understanding team of colleagues had moved on. In place were a group of people who didn't understand my role in the business and after a lot of back and forth I eventually got my resignation accepted and I parted ways with the business. 

I was back to square one, but more determined than ever to make it work. Harper had started school full time and Hudson was 10 months old. I now live 20 miles away from my sister so she wasn't an option for childcare, my fiance worked 9-5, so my only options were night work and weekend work. 

I was still doing freelance work on the side, but for pennies, I wasn't earning close to enough to what I felt like we needed to live comfortably and that bothered me. Despite the low income, I was building up a client base and experience that now, makes it all worth it. I managed a few social media accounts and was writing articles for other websites until January 2018 - where I am now, full time freelance. 

In January 2018, I worked my butt off enough to secure a 16 hour a week freelance job with a web media company where I do PR, social media management and website management for a number of clients. I still run one of the luxury fashion companies social media platforms and I write for a number of clients sporadically. 

Harper is at school for the 4 hours a day I work for the web media company and I have a strict routine with Hudson so that he has his 2 hour nap during my working hours and the other two hours he plays or is eating his lunch, so we've got it pretty good over here after five years of trying to get it right. Being self employed is a challenge and there's a lot of admin that comes with the job unlike going out to work, but it's worth it and I love the job that I do. 

I realise that this is not the best option for some people and their families and I feel incredibly lucky that I can do this over going out to work. I don't take it for granted and I commend all parents who sacrifice their time to provide for their children. As a working mum, I wanted to share my top tips for getting it right when it comes to work/life balance and how to make it easier on yourself. 

ROUTINE - I cannot stress enough how much easier life becomes when you set a routine for every single aspect of your life except weekends or days off. I consider myself quite a spontaneous person so I did struggle to get this right for a long time but now we thrive from it - we sleep well, we eat better than ever and we work well. At the weekends it's a free for all but we do make Sunday our do nothing day which I think is really important for self care.

USE A PLANNER - As a parent, especially a parent with a child in school, there are about a million things we have to remember on a daily basis including a lot of dates. Make your life a million times easier by buying a daily planner. I need one otherwise my brain will fall out of my head. I set aside 10 minutes when I wake up to plan out my day, check dates and meal plan. If you are in the market for a new planner, Old English Company have an amazing range of planners that will help you reorganise your life and help you to remember all of the life admin that comes with being a working mum. They also have a great competition running right now, over on their website where you can win an entire set of planners - you have until the 26th April 2018 to enter!

MEAL PLANNING - If you're a working parent and you provide the three meals a day, as well as running a household, working and ferrying children to and from school the last thing you need is to be standing in your kitchen not knowing what to make for dinner. The day before my food shop I write out a weekly plan and try my best to stick to it. This is a really easy way to implement structure and just make your life a lot easier in the long run. There are some great meal planning ideas over on Pinterest.

DON'T BE HARD ON YOURSELF - It's easy to say but hard to do, as parents we are under the scrutiny of society constantly. No matter what you are doing, you are doing your best to provide a great life for your family and it's hard fucking work. Make sure you give yourself those bubbles baths, take a trip into town by yourself to browse and have that night out whenever you need one. You are not solely defined by your children, you are still the person you were before and nurturing your needs as well as your children's is important for a happy family all round. 

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