Holly Goes Lightly & We Blog North
My name is Holly and I’m a 31 year-old lifestyle blogger at hollygoeslightly.co.uk and start-up business owner. I have a daughter who is 2.5 years old and am 7 months pregnant with our second.
Following being made redundant on my first maternity leave, I decided to pursue what was then a hobby and turn it into a career and business - WeBlogNorth.com. I’ve been doing that for approx. 2 years now and am just starting to see the momentum building and the business growing. My husband, Rich, owns a Digital Marketing Agency here in Manchester, so we’re both “entrepreneurs” and busy people, but we have created flexible working conditions for me to still be at home twice a week with my daughter and hopefully the same in due course with Number 2. Work-life balance is always at the forefront of my mind.
We both moved up North from London nearly 7 years ago and we live in South Manchester with our dog, in a house we bought and renovated last year (and is still a work in progress!). I am proud to call Manchester my home.
1. One word to describe working motherhood?
2. One thing you enjoy most about being a working mother?
The reward and sense of achievement when you’ve had a good, productive day. There’s nothing like bossing motherhood and work... bossing life in general!
3. One thing you’ve found toughest about being a working mother?
Juggling absolutely bloody everything! And the real lack of spare time to get things done. The constant guilt and feeling you should be with your family when you’re working and working when you’re with your family.
4. One thing you wish you’d known when you first became a mother?
That every baby and child is so different. They don’t all fit a mould or fall into the same pattern and it takes a massive sense of adjustment. Our daughter has never slept through the night and we spent a good 18 months trying and beating ourselves up about that fact, when we realised she just wasn’t ready and that was her. We stopped comparing ourselves and took the pressure off. It’s tough, but at least we know it’s not wrong now!
5. One thing that surprised you when you became a mother?
The insane amount of love and responsibility you physically as well as emotionally feel about that little human. I mean, I get an actual gut-reaction when I think about her and I’d heard people say things like, “You don’t understand ‘til you become a parent!” and I used to roll my eyes, but now I totally get where they’re coming from. It’s hard to put your finger on, you just know that feeling when you’ve had it.
6. One thing you’d like to start doing?
Going back to a bit of personal development and “me-time”. I really want to start up French and Italian lessons and dedicate a bit of time to me, my brain and my bucket-list.
7. One thing you’d like to stop doing?
Worrying about money! (Bought my lottery ticket today and everything!)
8. One way in which your aspirations and goals have changed since becoming a mother?
Despite the answer to the previous question, I am far less concerned about earning tons of cash. Instead, I want to earn enough to live comfortably, take a couple of holidays a year, buy the odd nice thing etc but mainly enjoy my job, be less stressed and anxious and have more quality time with the people I love. I think my goals are simpler and more family and self-focused.
9. One thing you do when you need more energy?
I’m not going to lie and say, “Go for a run”... it’s eat. Eat carbs! I’m often tired and lacking energy and I know there are probably better ways, but I tend to opt for a bowl of pasta for that rush.
10. One top tip for managing your time or productivity?
Get organised with apps. I think the majority of us have a smartphone these days and use our laptops or desktops daily. So make the most of the amazing free technology out there that gets organised for you! I like list-writing and a physical notebook too, but I live out of Asana now and run my life by my Google Calendar (including my personal life!) If it’s not in my Google Cal, it ain’t happening!
11. One item you couldn’t do without?
My phone. Absolutely sad as that is to say, it contains everything I need and use on a daily basis. Plus it’s my link to the outside world (particularly on mummy-days where I might need it!)
12. One activity you most love doing with your kids?
Getting outdoors. I always go on about this - it’s free, it’s easy and we’re surrounded by it. Whether it’s a local National Trust Park, or a day trip to the beach, or a stroll to the playground, I see our daughter thrive in the fresh air and entertain herself endlessly without the need for toys, devices or anything fancy. It’s good for the soul too.
13. One great shop for kids’ clothes?
Highstreet - I love Next kids’ fashion. Independent - Acorn & Pip definitely.
14. One talent you’re proud of?
My interpersonal skills. Sounds weird saying that, but I pride myself on being able to get on with lots of “types” of people, from all walks of life and finding some common ground. I like people.
15. One great family midweek meal you rely on?
Spaghetti bolognese. Meat or veggie, the whole family love it, it’s nutritious, super easy to make from scratch and warms the cockles of my heart. Oh, got to be served with garlic bread too! Carb-on-carb action.
16. One great kids toy everyone loves playing with?
When she was a baby, the best thing we ever bought was her jumperoo-type-toy (hers was the ‘Baby Einstein’). For the first time in months, I had my hands-free and she could entertain herself safely. Now, as a toddler, it’d be her baby dolly’s buggy - she loves to role-play.
17. One book you’d recommend, either for leisure or for business?
I genuinely don’t get time to read many books these days, sadly. But I do love a good practical “learn-how-to” book and at the moment, I’m reading “How to Style Your Brand - everything you need to know to create a distinctive brand identity” by Fiona Humberstone. I dip in and out of it, but it’s super practical for anyone thinking of starting up their own business or blog.
18. One thing you have to say about work/life balance?
It is so important to find your happy medium in life, otherwise what’s the point? We only get to do this once! Of course there will be times in life where work has to take over, I’d be unrealistic to pretend it doesn’t, particularly if you’re building something yourself or have a career goal to reach, but it is then important to bring it back every now and then and put yourself and your well-being first. You are not your best self when you’re tired, stressed and anxious - it’s counter-productive. So really, when you’re under immense pressure, that’s the best time to take a bit of a deep breath and time for you, as you’ll be re-energised and ten times more productive if you do.
19. One thing you’d love to achieve work-wise in the future?
I’d love to be recognised nationally for an achievement or expertise in my field. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book (perhaps about content creation and starting your own business) and seeing it sat there on the shelves of Waterstones.
20. One thing you’d love to achieve in your family life in the future?
Good life experiences and travel. I’d like my kids to grow up as well-rounded and cultured individuals and I think a lot of that comes from experiencing things in life, meeting different people and seeing different places.
21. One thing you’d like to see change for working mothers?
More flexibility, understanding and support! If more businesses only realised that if they spent the time nurturing a woman through this integral and important phase of life, they would have the best, most productive, multi-tasking and loyal employees working for them. Women shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to make a choice when they become mothers.
22. One crucial piece of advice for other working mums?
Don’t assume that everyone else has got it all figured out. It’s easy to compare yourself to other, seemingly successful, working mums and feel like you’re never going to get there. But in my experience, most people are also struggling in some way and everyone is just “winging it”. What you see on the outside can be very deceiving.
23. One thing you’d love to ask other working mums?
Do you find it hard to keep that sense of you, since becoming a mum? Do you think you’ve changed? (That’s two things!)
(All pictures taken by our very own Anna on one of her Day in the Life shoots)