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What it's like being a business owner and mum, during a pandemic

Monday, October 12, 2020

What it's like being a business owner and mum, during a pandemic

The Juggle is huge

Being a working mum at the best of times is hard work, rewarding but hard. Being a business owner with two children during a pandemic, now that's mind-blowingly stressful.

I look back over the last few months and wonder how I've got this far, the juggle between being a mum and a boss has been so stressful. I'm not special, all women who work and bring up children are absolute superwomen, many of those superwomen are our clients! But how has it been for this working mum trying to keep a salon afloat during a pandemic?  I'll fill you in (minus a few swear words).

All I can say is that the juggle is huge! Making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, making sure there's someone to pick up both kids from two separate settings, whilst still trying to maintain a bit of normality with various after school activities. All this whilst still surviving by trying not to drink myself to death, finding time to exercise and think about eating healthily...it's massive, the juggle is massive! Not to mention on top of all that, run a business and be a mother hen to all my staff. That's a huge amount of pressure.

But saying all that, there are many upsides too and when it's going well, it's amazing! The rewarding feeling of knowing that I'm living through and surviving one of the biggest setbacks anyone can face in one's career, with two children 5 and under, it makes me feel I can conquer the world!

Just to give you a feeling of what the life of a salon owner has looked like over the last few months, I'll briefly describe the chain of events...

We made the hard decision to close our doors on March 21st 2020 even though many salons were still choosing to carry on regardless of advice. We made this decision based on the safety of our staff and of course our clients. We, perhaps naively, thought we would reopen in May after it all had blown over.

We were closed alongside other businesses in the hospitality sector i.e. pubs, restaurants etc. After 4 months we were finally given the go-ahead to reopen alongside the above industries on the 4th July...but only the hairdressing side of our business. Beauty was not to reopen.

Now as you can imagine, this didn't make a whole lot of sense to the beauty industry, knowing that our industry is one of the safest in terms of cleanliness and sanitisation. But we did as we were told and looked forward to reopening fully on August 1st.

Now here's where it hit us the hardest... 12 hours before our reopening, appointment books full, the government announced that they were pushing back our reopening date by yet another two weeks, minimum. This was a massive blow to not just us but to the whole industry. I was just grateful we had 'hair' to keep us afloat.

We were allowed to reopen on August 15th with a new set of guidelines in place - queue me working around the clock to produce a 23-page risk assessment. Which is updated every few weeks.

It's also worth pointing out that our industry has not received any help, incentives or VAT cuts which has been a bitter pill to swallow for most.

I'm not going to lie, this part of my business journey was not enjoyable, I didn't know if the beauty industry would survive (well a lot of salons haven't), but with the help of our team and most importantly our clients we pulled through. But we've still got a long way to go to fully recover from the setback, a long ol' way.

Jessie asked me "How do I do it?"

This year has been the year for mindfulness for working on myself and I believe this has completely changed my outlook on life. It's made me look at my habitual habits and think of ways to improve. I spend a lot of time organising my life, planning my day, my weeks and months...I have lists everywhere. I have to micromanage every element of my life or it just doesn't work. I have to look at my daily life analytically so I use every hour of my day productively to make sure everything is done. I run my life by lists, processes and systems and that’s the only way I manage the juggle.

I try to exercise for 20 minutes, 5 times a week and I make sure I look after my mental health by taking time out for myself, I usually walk the dogs and spend as much time with my family as I can.

So when Jessie asked me "what is it like being a business owner and a mum during COVID?" my first words were "it's pants, to be honest" (I didn't actually use that word but you get the picture). But you know what, I'll look back on these days in the future and hopefully realise that if I can get through that then I can do anything!

Here's to all the mums out there trying to make ends meet, you truly are amazing and you are doing a fantastic job!

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