Becoming a mum is one of the most rewarding roles you can take on. But sometimes your little bundle of joy can take centre stage, leaving mums feeling anti social and alone, like they have lost a part of themselves.
Millions of women around the world can call themselves a mum. So why not join forces and make friends, take advice and have fun with other mums? Caroline Warren and her business partner Nikki have done just that, creating Pop-up Mums, a networking initiative for mums around the North East of England.
Read this week’s She Means Business to find out about these ‘mumpreneurs’ and their brilliant business idea; to inspire and unite women in their community.
Tell us a bit more about the idea of Pop-Up Mums.
Pop-Up Mums is essentially a unique new way of connecting mums across our region who may struggle to find time for themselves or to socialise in between play dates to the park, trips to the supermarket and the school run. Pop-up Mums looks to offer a way to help women remember that they can have an individual identity as well as being a mum.
The idea behind ‘Pop-up Mums’ is that our events will sporadically pop up all over the North East. We understand how life with children can be make it hard to commit to set courses or events, our aim is to offer events during the day, evening, and weekends therefore not limiting ours mums to choice.
Why did you set up this organisation?
Both Nikki (co-founder) and I quickly discovered that socialising as a mother is a whole new ball game compared to socialising before having children.
Having left my job as an air hostess and moved to the North East for love, I soon discovered the intensity of being a new mum in a new city was taking its toll on my outlook on life. I never quite grasped how dramatic the transition would be from ‘high flying’- (literally) – sociable career woman to stay at home mum. To make my situation even more overwhelming, I had moved from my secure family and friends network and found it difficult to penetrate social cliques that were already established at some parent and toddler groups. Ideally, I wanted to meet another mum who would not only appreciate those important moments in my child’s life but also in mine as an individual woman, not just as a mum.
After forming a friendship with my husband’s best friend’s wife Nikki, we discovered we weren’t alone in our feelings of frustration and isolation.
From my (Nikki) point of view, the realisation of what motherhood entails is just beginning. I have only recently come out of that dramatic adjustment period of sleepless nights, night feeds, hormones and getting to know my little one.
I began maternity leave with an abundance of pregnant and new mother friends, however as everyone else returned to work and I made the decision to leave my job, I began to realise that despite being given this amazing opportunity to devote myself to motherhood, as Caroline has found, the reality of 24/7 care for a child is considerably more intensive and that I never fully appreciated what ‘stay a home mum’ involved.
Despite being lucky enough to have a wonderful family support network, I increasingly missed the companionship of people that I truly had a connection with. In my former working life, there was rarely a day went by without laughter, wit and banter and while everything my son does makes me smile or laugh, it’s not in the same way as with another adult who understands you.
A mother’s support system is not only crucial during the early years of motherhood, but throughout our individual journeys as our children grow.
What kind of events does Pop-Up Mums organise?
Applicable to mums of any age, Pop-Up Mums Events are aiming to offer pre-organised events across the North East. Regardless of whether you’re a young mum, new mum, older mum or an ‘empty nester’, we hope there will be something of interest to connect everyone.
Pop-Up Mums debut events are Mums ‘Speed Friending’, fundamentally working on the same concept as Speed dating! Mums pre-register and book on our website, we then pair you with other mums who maybe have children of a similar age, or live in the same area. Speed friending events are both daytime with childcare facilities or on an evening in a bar, with a more grown up feel.
Our ‘Mums Wear Heels’ event sees local fashion stylists, make-up artists, hair consultants and even fitness and nutritional experts come together under one roof to give mums one to one advice on self-improvement.
Our weekend breakfast and cinema clubs looks to provide a relaxed style morning breakfast and a kids blockbuster film whilst mum can indulge in a manicure, pedicure or even eye brow shape with our on hand technician in a quiet corner or the room. A CRB (DBS) child minder will be on hand to watch your children as treatments are under-taken. Hopefully we’ve thought of everything!
Pop-Up Mums asked for advice from the well-known charity Mind. Why did you think that their advice could help your business?
We were extremely keen to understand women’s mental wellbeing more clearly and therefore sought advice from mental health charity Mind.
It is well-known that hormones, sleep deprivation and the intensity of caring for a child 24/7 can quickly become overwhelming for mums, however at Pop-Up Mums we wanted to understand the importance of mums regaining social inclusion.
The challenges of having children at different times in life to others, or moving away from established friends; that social isolation can contribute to stress, anxiety and lower self-esteem and can often mean the different between the ‘baby blues’ and something more serious.
Through professional advice from Mind, Pop-Up Mums can ensure we offer an empathetic and nurturing environment for mums of any age who might be feeling out of the loop and in need a of a support network.
You are starting an event called ‘Speed Friending’. What does that involve?
‘Speed Friending’ basically works on the same premise as Speed dating. Simply sign up for an event at popupmumsevents.com; by taking a ticket booking and entering your details on our speed friending forms you will be matched with potential friends by Pop-Up Mums who maybe have children of a similar age, or live in the same area.
On the day of the event we will greet you at the door, helping to alleviate any nervous feelings associated with walking into a room full of strangers.
After the registration process and a welcome talk Mums will be shown to their tables for speed friending to begin. After four minute rounds of lively chat with paired mums ‘Speed Dating style’, filling out notes on each mum as to whether they have clicked or not. Guests are invited to continue their conversations over refreshments and nibbles before receiving a goodie bag to take home. At the end of the event the forms are collected and checked to see which mums match, at which point we pass on pre-approved contact details to allow Mums to contact each other.
Our daytime events allow for mums to attend with children who will be taken care of by local CRB (DBS) checked child-minders and evening events allow for more of a relaxed girls night out feel.
Speed friending isn’t necessarily about coming alone, but being open to meet new people. Sign up and take part with a friend, it’s certainly a different type of ladies night out!
Why do you think it is important for women to socialise outside of family life?
Female companionship is often just as crucial as a partners or family network. Women experiencing the same things at the same time listen, console and encourage in a more empathetic way compared to a partner or Mother so it’s vital to meet people you have things in common with.
Our aim is to facilitate events that allow women some much-needed me-time without compromising the commitments they have made in becoming a mother. We want to help Mums develop or re-establish a support network with like-minded people right on their doorstep.
We also understand how precious a mothers time can be, Speed Friending gives mums a unique and speedy way of finding people that they may instantly ‘click’ with, women’s intuition knows whether you are going to have more in common than just ‘child’ talk
When is your next event and how can women get involved?
Our next event is ‘Speed Friending’ Evening event on Tuesday 21st Oct at 7.30pm at The Library Bar, Durham City Centre. Tickets can be bought online at www.popupmumsevents.com
Mums can pre-register their interest for all other Pop-up Mums Events on our website, follow us on facebook www.facebook.com/popupmumevents and twitter @popupmums
Your business promotes the importance of mums getting much needed ‘me’ time. What do you and your business partner, Nikki do to wind down?
Caroline – I love spending time with my husband and three year old daughter, usually sampling new restaurants in the region or indulging our travelling bug. We are also looking forward to our new baby arrival due in January 2015.
Nikki – I too enjoy spending time with my family. My husband and I are foodies and love introducing William our 14 month old son to new restaurants.
When we’re not all being Mums or working, I like to spend time with my friends, catching up on each other’s lives, while I love a good night out drinking and dancing, now a days its more likely to be round someone’s house with good food and chit chat.
I also dabble in home-baking which I hope at some point to incorporate under the umbrella of Pop-Up Mums.
Where do you see Pop-Up Mums in 5 years time?
We would love to see Pop-Up Mums Events known across the region as a unique events brand. We are keen to support and work with many local businesses and hope to have established good mutual business to business connections as well as in the community.
We hope to encourage ‘Mumtrepreneurialism’ and wish to develop a series of themed markets called ‘Mamas Markets’ to allow those talented Mums in the area to exhibit their creations
Furthermore we already have interest in branching out Pop-up Mums to areas further afield than the North East!
To find out more about Pop-up Mum’s and to register for events go to www.popupmumsevents.com