What did you do on maternity leave? Find out how friends Lizzie and Rebecca were inspired by theirs to start a popular website, Maternity Leave Life, for other London mums.
What are your career backgrounds?
Lizzie: I’ve worked in the digital world for around 10 years, moving between agency and in-house online teams, now working for M&S.com. My sector is User Experience design which is a fancy title for making websites easier to use.
On maternity leave I re-found my childhood passion of midwifery and set up Hammond Hypnobirthing, teaching Hypnobirthing courses across London, which I now run alongside my day job of working for M&S.
Rebecca: I’ve worked at various PR agencies but settled in a career as a copywriter, working in the retail industry. I worked in-house at Ted Baker, Selfridges, John Lewis and Dorothy Perkins, and loved the hustle and bustle of fashion!
I also spent the last two years working for Ford – a more practical content topic now that I’m a little older!
When and how did you meet?
Rebecca: Our mums met at a baby club in Beckenham when we were just a few months old. We stayed friends throughout childhood, and we’re lucky enough to still be friends now. We were bridesmaids for eachother, and through a very fortunate twist of fate, we fell pregnant at the same time (not planned, we promise!).
Unbelievably, when it came down to it, we actually had our baby boys on the same day in 2015! We’ve been so lucky to experience pregnancy and these first months as mums together and really couldn’t have planned it any better!
How did your lives change when you became mums?
Lizzie: It’s impossible for life not to change, but when we plan days out we make sure we include things we would have done before the babies as well as activities the boys will enjoy. That way we all have fun! The boys are amazing, gorgeous and so much fun – and lots of hard work too…
We’re definitely more tired, and we have to be a bit more organised in terms of planning our days and weekends, but we absolutely love it!
What gave you the idea to start Maternity Leave Life?
Rebecca: We very quickly realised that going out in London was a whole new adventure with a buggy, baby and serious luggage in tow. All our favourite haunts were inaccessible, with steps or narrow doors and no space for buggies, but we were determined not to become hermits!
We started Maternity Leave Life to review all our favourite places from a parent’s point of view. Our readers that follow us on social media have new, exciting features popping up each week, giving them a fantastic idea for a day out.
Having met so many amazing mums on maternity leave, we also wanted to share some of the inspirational stories we’ve heard and also feature interviews with successful ‘mumpreneurs’ talking about how they’ve managed to juggle their careers with family life.
We hope this inspires our audience to enjoy their work-life balance and make the most of the opportunities that maternity leave and being a parent can offer.
What is Maternity Leave Life?
Lizzie: Using the hashtag, #maternityleavelife, is a great description of what can be the most fun, exciting and challenging time – and the perfect time to change your career, redesign your life or rethink your future.
In a nutshell, the Maternity Leave Life website is an inspirational portal offering recommendations on how to make the most of maternity leave. We feature family friendly days out across South London as well as interviews with successful mumpreneurs who have changed their career during this time.
Who is your ideal reader?
Rebecca: Our audience is London-based mums, with children of any age. We like to think our readers are ambitious and intelligent – they wouldn’t be satisfied by going to everyday mum-and-baby classes for the next 11 years and we’re there to inspire them.
Lots of people find out about us when they’re on maternity leave, but the site is designed to give ideas to parents of any age children, so we hope they’ll continue to visit us as their children grow. Of course, as our boys get older we’ll introduce more and more features that match their interests, so we’ll be growing too.
What’s your favourite maternity leave activity?
Lizzie: We’ve loved being adventurous on maternity leave, and not fitting the mould of meeting up for daily morning coffees and cake to talk about the latest colour of our baby’s nappy!
We’ve been so lucky to have each other, so that most of our daily activities can be done as a foursome and that means anything we do is usually pretty fun!
We spent the early spring and summer months in parks, walking and breastfeeding in the sun – it was a great time of year to have a newborn! Plus, the website gives us the push to get out and DO as much as we can, so we spend at least one or two days a week on a maternityleavelife outing, like a day at the sea-side for example.
How do you work together on Maternity Leave Life?
Lizzie: Thank goodness for FaceTime! We usually chat once a day (at least) to discuss what we have planned for the week and if we need to juggle our days out/research trips or content calendar.
These calls are usually cut short by a wriggling baby so we might have to follow up with another call when we’re out walking later on in the day!
We also try to do things separately, so we’ve got twice as much to write about afterwards. Luckily, we have a similar opinion about most things, and we’re both quite open to new ideas or suggestions, so we haven’t had too many disagreements… yet!
What’s your advice for mums going on maternity leave? How can they make the most of it?
Rebecca: We told ourselves that we didn’t want to return to work in a year’s time feeling like we’d spent the whole year being tired and eating cake, with nothing but an empty wallet and a muffin top to show for it!
It’s such a great opportunity – to have all that time to dedicate to your family and your new baby, it’s so important to cherish it. We have to remind ourselves (daily) to put our phones down and turn the laptops off, so that we are giving as much attention to the boys as we can. But, it’s also important to make the most of this time and have a good think about what you want – you’ll never get as much time to introspect about your career and how you want your life to be.
If you can make the most of it, by starting a business or changing your lifestyle, it’s the perfect time to do it. If you know you can’t wait to get back to work, that’s great too – the time off will reinforce that for you and you’ll return refreshed and raring to go!
You can read more about Maternity Leave Life on their website.