working mothers

How Annie and Steph make work, work

Annie Ridout, Emma Victor-Smith, Steph Douglas.jpg


This was the 16th We Got This (Sometimes!) Norwich event (there are clearly a lot of topics to cover when you have kids and are trying to navigate life, right?!)

Annie Ridout in Norwich, photo by    Emily Gray Photography

Annie Ridout in Norwich, photo by Emily Gray Photography

Annie has written a book about how to become freelance when you have kids. Steph left her job and set up a business because she knew her job wouldn’t work round kids. Seventy women came to hear them both share their experience with fizz in a beautiful setting at Bill’s in Norwich. The audience were at various stages - looking for the next step, already freelance but wondering if they made the right choice, maybe didn’t have a choice so are trying to be more effective. The general feeling was “we want to be with our kids, we want and need to earn money - how on earth do we balance it all?”

Steph Douglas in Norwich, photo by    Emily Gray Photography

Steph Douglas in Norwich, photo by Emily Gray Photography

Before we start looking at the advice, a quick side note:  we had a couple of women in the audience who are not mums, and they found the event just as useful - if you’re reading this, and you’re freelance, you’ll get some positive action from Annies’s book. Whether it’s reassurance, inspiration, knowledge - I’ve been freelance for over ten years and things have changed a lot. Put some new tools in your toolkit. Annie’s book is just £7 from Jarrolds. 

The feedback from this event has been pretty immense to be honest. I know there is a gap for women like us, which is why I started We Got This (Sometimes) but even so - the environment we’re in, and trying to navigate is tricky and Annie and Steph are pretty awesome at agreeing to share their experience. Some of the feedback:

Top tips for a mum considering going freelance

“So here goes! I have officially handed in my notice and I am leaping fearlessly into the world of freelance (well, maybe a bit of fear but going to go for it regardless). I'm freee... except that I'm very much not. Two wonderful but high maintenance little ladies will be quite literally hanging on for the ride. Thank you Emma @wegotthissometimes for the brilliant 'Making Work Work' event on Wednesday. Very wise words from @annieridout and @steph_dontbuyherflowers, not to mention the brilliant women in business (or soon to be) I had the privilege of meeting beforehand. I've been totally inspired this week and I'm ready as I'll ever be. Now time to prepare to welcome some babies! 🎉👶🎉” SarahWelcomeBaby

“Happy Friday everyone!

The Freelance Mum, 4th Estates, Annie Ridout

This week I feel like a cloud has lifted after a number of months feeling quite flat (career-wise), I suddenly have hope and a bit of clarity for the future! I took voluntary redundancy from my job in HR and assumed I’d look for another similar role but with three kids it’s not easy to find a flexible senior position (@mother_pukka ’s #flexappeal campaign couldn’t have come sooner). I know I’d never dared leave without a plan so a restructure and a pretty toxic environment was the push I needed. I attended @wegotthissometimes event with @annieridout and @steph_dontbuyherflowers @dontbuyherflowers this week and something just clicked!

Hannah and Martine at  PX Success ,  photo by    Emily Gray Photography

Hannah and Martine at PX Success, photo by Emily Gray Photography

Fast forward to today, I got home to an empty house (which never happens) so settled down with this book and noticed Annie wrote “well done for making the leap”, it just reaffirms everything and makes it feel more real! I’ve gone from worrying to being excited about the future, yay!!” @home_we_call_westie

“Thanks so much @wegotthissometimes for a great event! And huge thanks to @steph_dontbuyherflowers for the inspiring mentoring. I feel fired up and ready to go” @hello_lovely_party

“Such a great feeling to be surrounded by like minded individuals who all have the same daily struggles of raising children and trying to stay sane!” @wired_mama

“These events keep me going. Being in a room full of other women nodding their heads along to what Annie and Steph said make me feel part of something. They were both so honest and thats what makes us all come together!” @little.dottie.designs

“Great event last night thank you. First one I’ve come to and was really impressed with the content and how it was run.” @bigmindcoaching

“It was a really good evening and has given me a big boost. Thank you!” @greenandrowe

“Thank you so much for another brilliant event. I had such a good time. “ @cherished_heart_jewellery

“Little message to say thanks for a great night at Bill's Norwich last week.  I've felt really rejuvenated since!” @melissamorgandesigns

Many thanks to co-sponsors Minivino Wines who bought their recyclable, resealable wines for everyone to try, and to Liz their Marketing Director who helped women in the speed mentoring sessions. Huge thanks also to Ginger Fashion on Timber Hill, who showcased their big Scamp and Dude range and gorgeous Norfolk cushions. Please follow them, and buy their things - the event couldn’t happen without them! Little Freddie supplied gorgeous gift sets of organic food for mums to try with their weaning babies, which went down very well. 

Have a look at @wired_mama - she made this wire art for We Got This which I love!

Wired Mama    wire art - she can make any word, in a range of fonts, most sizes

Wired Mama wire art - she can make any word, in a range of fonts, most sizes

We Got This Sometimes.jpg

What did I find most useful?

As a freelancer and a small business owner, I feel the pain and benefits of both. What I found most useful:

  • Try to break the cycle of the guilt I feel when I am working about the kids and then about the work, when I am with the kids

  • Remember to be kind to your partner above all else 

  • Concentrate on stories, less on sales (like the “why” that Simon Sinek promotes)

  • Encourage Mike to and all my friends husbands to listen to the Dear Sugars podcast as recommended by Steph (link is in the event notes)

  • Know what to delegate and when - you can only grow if you delegate.

What’s next?

Steph speed mentoring

Steph speed mentoring

I mentioned a We Got This (Sometimes) business club, which seemed to have a lot of support - that’s what I’ll be working on next. I’ll be in touch - if you’d like to know more, there is a mailing list on this link called #PowerHour Business Events - that’s where I will send details, or please email me here.


There were surveys on your chairs for Liza, a student who is planning a Wellness event for mums - a digital version is here if you missed it, please feel free to complete if you didn’t attend, the survey is here.

Bill’s Norwich - it’s pretty up there - photo by    Emily Gray Photography

Bill’s Norwich - it’s pretty up there - photo by Emily Gray Photography

Annie’s book signing with    Jarrolds

Annie’s book signing with Jarrolds

Thank you to our co-sponsors    Minivino Wines

Thank you to our co-sponsors Minivino Wines

Thanks to co-sponsor  Ginger Fashion  on Timber Hill

Thanks to co-sponsor Ginger Fashion on Timber Hill


All photos by Emily Gray Photography

Guest Blog: Why I have chosen employment over freelancing...

Photo by Emily Gray Photography

Photo by Emily Gray Photography

I’ve read lots recently about freelancing mums and wanted to add to the debate and talk about why I have chosen flexible employment and how it works for me.

Since having my children in 2010 and 2014 I’ve (nearly) always been employed. I’ve tried 3 days, 4 days, and 4 days over 5 days (phew!) and many combinations of nurseries, after school etc. For me the boundaries and routines of regular employment are actually really helpful to parenting. Perhaps it’s my personality type but for me stability and consistency are really important-and when thinking about what to do for the best in your career after children I think is important to recognise your own values.

Earlier this year I took 3 months off between jobs- I considered freelancing and even not working - but weirdly during this time it was the first time we had ever been late for school or missed a crucial appointment. Without a focus and timetable in the mornings my routine really went to pot. Not that it’s perfect now- but when you have to get out at a certain time you really can do it.

I work full time now and I’m a mum of two - one at school and one pre school. I’ve found a senior Marketing Director role where I can work from home 3 days a week- though it does mean some nights away from home. My husband also works from home and without a shadow of a doubt I couldn’t do my job without the flexibility he also has. After motherhood it might not be just you that has to change your work pattern and if you and your partner (if you have one) can both have some flexibility it can make a real difference. 

For me working with a steady income, predictable hours and the ability to shut the laptop at the end of the day and switch off is so important.

So for me what’s good about being employed:

  • Security (as much as you’ll ever get anyway)

  • Switch off- you can usually just leave it til Monday.

  • Switch it- if it’s not working there are other jobs out there

  • Training- helping you get where you really want to be

  • Community- others in the same boat or just other adult humans

What’s not so good

  • Other people will rely on you and this can sometimes feel too much on top of family life.

  • You sometimes have to make very hard choices about who gets your time.

  • Not all employers understand the struggle of the juggle

Ultimately whether freelance or employed you will probably know in your heart if it is working or not for you and family. There is not a right or wrong answer it is much more about how it fits with your values and personality.

Liz Cobbold is Marketing Director at Broadland Wineries and has nearly 20 years experience in senior marketing roles for Adnams and Tesco. She has two sons aged 4 and 8. Liz works flexibly and has been through the process of deciding whether to go freelance or not and chose the employed route.

If you’d like to blog for this website, with corresponding social media posts, please email me with an article and high quality image.

Meet Liz at our 'Making Work, Work' event on 13th Feb at Bills Norwich. She has agreed to speed mentoring sessions after the talk with Annie Ridout (author of The Freelance Mum) and Steph Douglas, owner of Don't Buy Her Flowers) - tickets and information is available here.

Kitchen hacks for people who want to spend less time cooking but want to be healthy (catchy headline!)


Being a food marketing person who can’t cook, and is defeated by meal plans, food shopping, cooking, all of it, these products are genius. In fact, it’s safe to say my husband has been doing more and more of the cooking. When you know you’re no good at it, there’s little motivation. HOWEVER I came across Bace Foods in the EDP in the summer, and then met them by chance at a local school fete. These products are helping us, so I went to meet them so I could share this kitchen hack with you.

It’s a range of base sauces made by a mum and dad in Hethersett. I LOVE them. It’s a cooking hack that saves time chopping veg, and gets a variety of veg into your cooking that your family might not eat in its natural state. Suzy and Steve spend hours and hours cooking British beans and peas, blending with vegetables and hand filling tubs - and that is the base for your chilli, curry, soup, baked eggs, pretty much anything!

They are totally on trend - plant based, helps reduce meat consumption, vegan, British, healthy, they tick all the boxes. Before I go on - you can buy at their online shop (free delivery if you spend more than £10 in Norfolk), and at tonnes of farm shops round the county. I asked Suzy to make us (as in, you and me) a meal plan using Bace. So the idea is, you have a stock of Bace Foods in your fridge or freezer, and you can turn your hand to these easy, easy recipes. I know in general food bills are high, so I asked Suzy to cost each recipe per head, and they range from £1.03 per person to £2.17. Not bad!

When you use these sauces instead of your own chopped veg, it gives a better depth of flavour, makes it tastier and gives your meal more nutrients. There are no preservatives, the sauces are hot filled which makes them last without preservatives.

The process is a real labour of love: pulses are soaked the night before, all the stones are removed, the veg is prepared, peeled and cleaned. The pulses are pressure cooked to all have the same tender consistency in three huge pressure cookers. The veg is cooked and then blended to a smooth consistency, and the herbs and flavour is added now or after. After blending the veg in the pan with the pulses, it is all heated, and then carefully hand filled into pots.

Not only are busy mums like us finding it a good kitchen hack, but schools and care homes are buying catering size packs - imagine all our kids and relatives getting such goodness, easily.

The products are:

beans with benefits

carlin peas with perks

green peas with perks

You’ll find Bace Foods at a variety of stockists in Norfolk and they sell online across the country.

6 stealthy ways to bring beauty back into your life again

6 stealthy ways to get beauty back into your life.JPG

When I was tagged into a post about Sali Hughes doing a book tour, I realised I hadn’t even thought properly about beauty products for a year, apart from an emergency lipstick purchase (you can’t meet Mother Pukka and not have a red lip, in my eyes). Two small kids, setting up a business, moving house, freelancing and trying to be an adult took up the time (humble brag alert).

Without sounding like a cliche, I had of course my staple dark-eye-hiding concealer and colour-boosting trusty Bare Minerals foundation but I didn’t know what had changed, what was new, who was Bobbi Brown (joke!).

What if Sali opened my eyes to this world again? (she has). What if other women feel the same (you do!). When was the last time you leisurely browsed a make up brand IN REAL LIFE?! When did you last shake up your make up?! Exactly.

I am not going to say this is how I ‘treated myself’, or ‘pampered myself’ as ALL women should find a few minutes to themselves each day.

SO. 6 ways to edge beauty back into your busy, juggley life:

1 Read the archive of Sali’s articles at The Guardian. Just google her name plus the needed product type and you’ll be faced with a range of very bank account friendly options to luxury products. Here is a handy link to her entire back catalogue.

2 I was going to say, buy a ticket to see Sali Hughes in conversation with Sam Chapman. But it’s sold out now! 140 people are gathering next week at Jarrolds. Pretty Iconic (I have the new paperback version) is a bit like a blast from the past, a chat with a friend and the start of a wish list. Anyone else remember having a tube of Rimmel Hide the Blemish in high school? Or realising that YSL Touche Eclat on under eyes made them appear a bit ‘different’ in photos vs real life? You can buy the new book at Jarrolds (online link coming).

3 Along with over 2m other people, watch video after video of Norwich mothers Sam and Nic at Pixiwoo, their makeup tutorials are utterly mesmerising. Also LOOK…Nic did a ‘Mum on the Run’ tutorial 💁🏽‍♀️.

4 Watch Sali Hughes in the bathroom with Lily Allen. And Caitlin Moran. And Charlotte Tilbury. And Caroline Hirons. And Bobbi Brown. Here.

5 See Haylie @haylieclarkey__, she is the Senior Lead Artist at Charlotte Tilbury in Jarrold. You can pick up a quick trick in 15 mins, or a transformation makeover. I was in for a transformation makeover for my birthday, and learnt about what products are good for me, why, how much passion Charlotte put into the product development and I could pick ‘a look’.

My bestie Emma and me, footloose and fancy free on my birthday. Best pic I have of my transformation by Haylie.

My bestie Emma and me, footloose and fancy free on my birthday. Best pic I have of my transformation by Haylie.

I walked away with a few products and some samples, and my absolute favourite is the Magic Cream. It’s like using pillows of deep, enriching rose scented heaven. You can book in here.

6 Have you heard of Caroline Hirons? My friend told me all about her. I studiously examined her website to learn all about double cleansing, serums, night creams, day creams. Now THAT is investing in yourself. You might think what a load of faff, but I find I’m living my best life when I actually do this little routine. Often I don’t (very often) - a tip from my friend Gemma is to do it when the kids are in the bath. #everyoneiswinning #notexactlyrelaxing. Here is a link to Carolines cheat sheets.

I know I said 6 tips but what about all the beauty experts we have in Norfolk?! Here is a list of some I know, if you’d like me to add you, send me a quick email, more than happy to expand it!

Have fun, let me know what you find and do, let me know any tips! Emma x