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A MOTHER: self employed

Today's conversation is with Kate Cronk, a first time mum to Pip who was born Summer 2021, she's also a self employed illustrator and calligrapher based in Forest Hill, southeast London. After collecting stationery for a number of years, she founded her own studio Peggy & Kate in the summer of 2014, combining her love of colour, painting and nature. 

As a fellow self-employed mother i find it really interesting to hear other peoples stories, as maternity leave was not something i really thought about before having a baby. Most employed women have an allocated maternity leave, which gives them some sort of deadline as to when they have to go back to work (if they choose to anyway). But when you run your own business it can be very difficult to switch off but you also have the luxury of making your own rules in terms of when you work, but for me i felt pressured to get myself back to work and sometimes i regret not giving myself more time. 

I wanted to find out how Kate manages her time and the mental load, mainly because maybe i could take away some tips - ha ha! 

I really hope you enjoy this series of conversations with Mothers, we'll be dropping a new post each day this week in the lead up to Mother's Day so please do come back to join us! 

 

1.  How have you found (if you have?) the balance between being a mother & being self-employed in terms of time?

I knew it would be hard but it’s still surprised me!

My little girl only naps on me, I foolishly thought all babies just nap in their cots so I’d have about 2-3 hours a day to work whilst she slept..that’s happened about twice in 9 months!

At the moment I just grab any opportunity I can to do a bit of work, sometimes this means drawing with my right hand whilst holding the sleeping baby with my left hand. 

 

2.  How do you manage the mental load on a day to day basis? 

I manage by having multiple lists! A big A3 list of projects right by my desk so I can always see what I need to do each month and then a daily list and various reminders on my phone if it’s something very urgent. 

I usually walk to the post box with orders each day, it’s a 4 mile round trip, and that really helps me think things over, sort out my priorities and get ideas for new projects. 

I find the baby admin a stretch sometimes, it takes up so much brain space and I can agonise over things for ages if I’m not careful. I talk to my partner a lot if I’m struggling so that he knows when I’m having a wobbly week and can take over things like doctors appointments, meal planning etc.

 

3.  I struggle myself with this and it does affect my work in terms of being productive etc, do you feel the same or do you give yourself strict working times?

I don’t have strict work times, I just know roughly what I need to get done and then I try my best to do it, but I rarely finish my to do list.

Having a baby has helped me massively with boundaries, I used to work every day, evenings and lots of weekends, not being able to do it has definitely helped me to remember that I can say no to things and forces me to prioritise better. 

 

4.  Do you have help from family/nursery etc or work around your babies needs/naps like I do?

 My partner has just started doing every other week of shared parental leave so I currently have lots of help every other week, it’s been amazing! When that ends I’m hoping my little girl will be able to do 1-2 days at nursery and by then hopefully she’ll be napping in a cot on her own! 

 

5.  Did you allow yourself much of a maternity break? How long and what was the reason for this?

I wish I had taken time off before the baby arrived, but I went into labour whilst I was painting, the paintings I did in early labour will always have a place in my heart though!

One of Kate's early labour paintings! 

 

I took a few months off whilst my boyfriend ran my online shop and wholesale orders but I had to work in the run up to Christmas when she was 5 months as that’s my busiest time. 

 

6.  Would you say motherhood has affected you differently to someone who is employed? 

I had real trouble switching off from thinking about work early on and probably stressed too much about things that didn’t matter in the long run. It’s great to be able to be flexible though and I think that will only get more useful as my little girl gets older. 

 

7.     If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing pre pregnancy/baby to help you right now, what would it be?

Label absolutely everything in the stock room so it’s easy for someone else to pack orders if they need to! 

 

You can follow Kate on Instagram here: @peggyandkate
See Kate's work here: https://katepeggycronk.com/

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