Every so often, on a Wednesday, we ask a mum how they manage their work and family. This week, Steph Douglas, founder of thoughtful gift packages company Don't Buy Her Flowers, gives us her approach to feeling like she’s ‘got this’. (Sometimes.)
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I'm Steph, I'm married to Doug and we have three kids - Buster, Mabel and Frank. I started Don't Buy Her Flowers in 2014 selling thoughtful gift packages. The idea came when I had my first baby and received 8 bunches of flowers - they were lovely but I was so overwhelmed and exhausted and it struck me as bizarre that the go-to gift was another thing to care for.
We started as gifts for new mums but very quickly our customers were asking to send packages for other reasons - there are so many occasions when someone could do with some TLC and people want to create something more personal that shows someone they've really thought about them. The idea is that our gifts encourage the recipient to have a sit down and take a bit of time for themselves, whether that's with a good book and a G&T, enjoying a hot cup of tea or locking themselves in the bathroom for a full head to toe recovery session.
We're about to launch a new package that is all about unwinding - whether someone is sending a package to a new mum, a birthday, someone who has been bereaved or someone who is just having a bad week, we're all pretty overwhelmed and someone saying 'here, look after yourself' is so powerful. That person is acknowledging you might need some looking after and I had totally underestimated how powerful that is. I ran the business from home for two years, and now we have a warehouse in Gloucestershire, where I'm from, and a growing team. Which feels bloody great. I'm really excited about our next phase.
2. What is your most embarrassing parenting moment?
Three kids in, I don't think I get that embarrassed anymore! I'm more likely to feel flustered - I had one of those moments the other day where I'd loaded the pram like Buckeroo and when I took a crying Frank out his foot got stuck and it tipped up and stuff was rolling across the floor... those moments would have killed me with my first but now I'm generally ok. I like to look for the pair of knowing eyes who will give you a 'yeah, we've all been there' look. Some days I can handle it, sometimes an accidental kick in the shins from one of the kids will leave me in tears but that's more down to feeling overwhelmed than embarrassed!
3. How do you juggle your business with being a Mum to three?
Hmm... sometimes I feel on top of it and sometimes - a lot of the time - I don't! Frank is in nursery three days a week and I feel that is the right balance for us at this moment in time, except I can't actually do all that I need to do with the business in three days a week so there's a bit of a gap. He usually sleeps in the afternoons he's home, and with evenings and a bit of weekends I can manage, but I had reached a point where I had more days covered and I was doing less in the evenings and weekends before Frank arrived.
I think the grass is always greener so I need to remind myself that this was a choice, I'm very lucky that I have that choice, and also this is a phase. When Frank is a bit bigger he'll probably go up to four days and I'll generally be less sleep-deprived so that'll help!
The first couple of years in business were incredibly tough - it takes a lot to get something going - and it feels much calmer than it did then. The business has grown month on month since we launched and we're at a level I couldn't have imagined two or three years ago, so it's important to stop and reflect on that as if you're always just focused on pushing forward it's exhausting. And I have Doug and three amazing kids. We're doing ok.
You can follow Steph here @steph_dontbuyherflowers, browse for Mother’s Day (end of March) and all other thoughtful gifts here. Steph has also been on loads of podcasts, and inspired me when I set up We Got This (Sometimes!) - just search for her in the podcast library. I think the Scummy Mummies episodes with her are ace.