Mama You Can

Mama You Can series: Kelly Pike

June 8, 2017
mama you can

Some of you may have seen my post a few weeks ago where I talked about making big life decisions. My big life decision recently was to leave my job as a Business Director at a London media agency to work on Surrey Mama and to have more time with my girls.

It was a very difficult and one of the most scary decisions I have ever had to make – wave bye bye to a full time salary anyone?! BUT so far I am happy with my decision and I think it was the right one for me.

When I wrote about my decision to leave my job on Instagram I was overwhelmed by the comments I received, both of well wishes but also from Mama’s in a similar situation; some about to leave jobs and some who had taken the plunge and decided to make a change for them and their families.

I was really inspired by some of the stories and in my current situation wanted to hear more so I have decided to start a weekly series on my blog called ‘Mama you can’ so I can share these stories with you all.

This series will share stories from Mama’s who have been in a similar situation to me – after little ones came along realised that their jobs just weren’t going to work with their new circumstances, so they either re-trained, started a business or went freelance.

Now, I am not saying that everyone should quit their jobs, that might get me into trouble! However I want to show that there isn’t only one route in life once you have children and most importantly it’s about having the confidence to make a change, the confidence in yourself to believe that you can do something else / ask for flexible hours / run a business from home.

My biggest challenge throughout life has been confidence and it’s something I continually have to work on, so reading these stories has given me a little boost and I hope that this series is inspiring to others as well.

Mama You Can with Kelly Pike 

First up in the series is Kelly Pike aka @bristol_mama. Here is her story.

Kelly Pike @bristol_mama

Kelly Pike @bristol_mama

Hi, my name is Kelly and I’m addicted to the media. It’s practically the fifth member of our family.  And whilst my husband is a bit put out by it, it’s a good thing I am because for the last 14 years I’ve been an arts an culture publicist and it’s an industry where knowing your Stella from your Style is pretty important. The media needs to be in your bones.

Before I had children I specialised in book publicity and worked for some of the most respected publishers in the land.  I started work at the tail end of the glory days of publishing. 11am champagne launch parties galore and long, long boozy lunches. It was 2004 and operating the fax machine was still an important part of my office skill set. After trawling London in the standard fashion of the recently graduated, I ended up at HarperCollins, unpaid at first but eventually working my way up. I got to work with some brilliant household names: Phillippa Gregory, Tony Parsons, Cecelia Ahern.  I’d be driven around the country buying Whisky for George RR Martin or shopping in Harrod’s with the crime writer Alex Barlay. It was great fun; an office based version of university. Maybe someone will write a book about it one day…  

In 2007 I followed my then boyfriend to Hong Kong and spent the best part of a year working in comms for a Hong Kong based NGO but by the start of the recession in 2008 I was back in publishing again. The landscape was different  – followers, bloggers; Twitter, Facebook. But the books were the same. Grittier, straightened times. I ended up at a brilliant indie publisher called Granta. It felt like home, I had my own office and I loved it there, which made it all the harder when I rather preemptively became pregnant with Number One Child. I said the same things I imagine most expectant first time mums say; ‘ I’ll be back in 6 months’, ‘motherhood won’t change me’, ‘we’ll still go to festivals/all the parties/see our friends’. *Delete as appropriate…

And actually, for the first few months, I still believed that. But it quickly became clear that renting + creative job + childcare + London = financially unworkable. I couldn’t afford to go back to the job I loved. It barely covered the childcare and rent was unaffordable on one income.

It was a wrench but when we made the decision, it happened incredibly quickly.  My husband was from Bristol. It had an independent arts and culture scene and, crucially, he could get a job there nearly as well paid as London. Oh. And we could buy a house. Perfect, right? We made the decision to leave when my son was 2 months old. 3 months later and 4 days after Christmas, we were in our new house in Bristol. Shivering from the damp and hearing things go bump in the night.

It turns out, moving cities with a tiny baby is hard. Way harder than I thought. And the first few months were very, very lonely.  

After my maternity pay ended I only had one option. Freelance. But it was terrifying. I was used to being part of a team, bouncing ideas around. The buck ultimately stopping with someone else. Going back after maternity leave to any job is hard. Things have moved on a bit in your absence and your life is unrecognisable. Your confidence is altered and going back freelance is harder still because you need to go out guns blazing but it’s difficult when you only have 6 hours childcare and have to breastfeed during Skypes to keep them quiet.

I was terrified no one would hire me, but I was really surprised that finding work and people to pay me was actually quite easy. Getting the work done was the hard part. In the 3 years I’ve been freelancing I’ve barely had time to catch my breath. There was a short 4 month hiatus when I had Child Number Two but now she’s older I’m finding my schedule is increasingly full. And with more stimulating projects. I’m also, finally, able to contribute meaningfully to the household. After three years of doubting myself, my confidence is creeping back. I’ll always wish I had a team to sound against but freelance parent forums and some other freelancers in my industry are gradually filling in that gap.

To start with I thought I’d just do it to keep my skill set ticking over. But actually the flexibility working in this way is worth the extra stress and juggling. I get to see quite a bit of my children. I can be there for important things. I am my own boss and really I can’t see how I would exist now if I had a traditionally salaried job working for someone else, having to be at my desk for 9. I read people like @motherpukka’s blog campaigning for #flexappeal and realise I have it already. In abundance. Don’t get me wrong freelancing is hard – I never know quite how much money I’m going to make, childcare is a constant juggle and somehow you are always available but the rewards of  my children and no commute will always make it worth while.


So, should you leave your job too? Yes! Yes you should. Because it’s trite but you really do only get these years once. If you are in anyway thinking about setting off to do your own thing, it’s the right decision. Don’t fret about finding work. You already have all the skills you need.  And as a publicist I can tell you that  if there is one thing social media has done its make putting yourself out there easier and less intimidating than ever.  Prepare for more juggling and a different kind of stress but also for more cuddles and bedtime stories. Because it’s right there for the taking.

For more from Kelly see:

Instagram @Bristol_Mama

I’ll be back next week with the second Mama in the series, look out for it.

Sarah xx

Pink Pear Bear

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  • Reply Kristie - Mammaprada June 8, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Aw I love this! Really resonates with me. I left my job due to my first child being ill constantly for the first 2.5yrs. It became unworkable. Now after baby number two the costs of childcare and all the breakfast/after school clubs make it not worth going back to a conventional job. It’s inspiring to hear about people getting the balance right. Xx

    • Reply Sarah July 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

      It’s the cost of childcare that makes it so hard, totally agree. Fingers
      Crossed the balance will work, I’ll let you know x

  • Reply justsayingmum June 8, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Oh my word I adore Kelly’s instagram feed and it was gorgeous to learn more about her. Kelly you are a real inspiration and I need all the tips on how to make a living out of this because it would be wonderful to write full time!

    • Reply justsayingmum June 8, 2017 at 11:31 am

      oops I found this post at #coolmumclub

    • Reply Sarah June 9, 2017 at 5:48 am

      So do I, its beautiful isn’t it. Glad you enjoyed the first of the series. x

    • Reply Sarah July 4, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Thanks so much. She’s wonderful isn’t she x

  • Reply Talya June 8, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Love this new series and what an inspiring story – proving that yes mama you can! Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

    • Reply Sarah June 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

      Thank you. Let’s hope this Mama can 🙂 xx

  • Reply Rebecca June 8, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I am slowly leaving my job! I have cut down my hours and am finding freelance opportunities are coming more frequently now so fingers crossed I can give up the day job entirely! #coolmumclub

    • Reply Sarah June 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

      That’s fantastic news! Good luck for the future lovely x

    • Reply Sarah July 4, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Fingers crossed, I’d love to hear how you get on? Maybe you could share your story with us in a few months time? X

  • Reply Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... June 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I have left jobs in the past because I was deeply unhappy. It takes bravery and hope and self belief to go for your dreams #coolmumclub

    • Reply Sarah June 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

      It definitely does, fingers crossed to all of the Mama’s following their dreams that it works out x

    • Reply Sarah July 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

      It definitely does, well done for following your heart! Nothing worse than spending so much time somewhere you’re unhappy x

  • Reply Muffin top mummy June 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Omg I love this! Both this interview and the series. I’m 6 months into a 12 month maternity leave and just starting out trying to pick up some freelance work as I really don’t want to go back to my job. This is very inspiring and has really encouraged me to go for it – thank you!! #coolmumclub

    • Reply Sarah June 13, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      Fab so glad you’ve found it inspiring and useful. good luck with your freelance work xx

    • Reply Sarah July 4, 2017 at 10:09 am

      I’m so pleased to hear! Would love to know how you get on. Keep in touch xx

  • Reply tammymum June 11, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I love this, lots. Being form Bristol I can see the appeal to move there given their background. It is a wonderful city. I have huge respect for Mumas, or anyone, who leave a full time job to embark on the unknown and pursue a new passion or career. It sounds like it was completely the right choice for Kelly which is so reassuring to read. I have mentioned before I have made a similar decision myself so if you ever need someone to fill a gap on the series I would be happy to partake. Thank you for linking up at #fmailyfun

    • Reply Sarah June 13, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      I would love you to, I will find your details on your blog and get in touch. Thanks for stopping by x

  • Reply Alana - Burnished Chaos June 11, 2017 at 7:30 am

    This is so inspiring, I can see I am going to be hooked on this series. For me, I’ve been a stay at home mom for 8 years but times are changing and I need to start making money. As soon as the youngest starts school in a year I need to be going back to work. Trying to find something that fits around school hours though is a nightmare and we always said we wouldn’t use after school clubs and breakfast clubs etc, but we are going to have to. Unless of course I can start making enough money at home before then, so that’s the focus this year.

    • Reply Sarah June 13, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Its so difficult isn’t it at all ages to sort childcare. Good luck with everything and the next in the series is coming on Thursday… xx

  • Reply Aleena June 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Oh my gosh I love both this series and this post! I will never forget the day that every last scrap of childcare I could call upon fell through for the zillionth time and I called the regional manager of the business I ran and told him I wouldn’t be in Monday, or after that at all! It was both the scariest and most wonderful thing I have ever done! Also, we are about to relocate to Wiltshire having suffered London renting on 1 1/2 salaries for far too long! So not too far at all from Kelly! What an inspiration this lady is, just as you are Sarah! I know it must have been such a difficult decision for you to make to leave your job, but stories like this really are living proof that life is what you make it, and sometimes that just isn’t 9 to 5!! Love love love this! #BigPinkLink

  • Reply Helena June 12, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    What a great series you have here. I love that you both are going after your dreams. #coolmumclub

    • Reply Sarah June 13, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Thank you. xx

  • Reply Wendy June 12, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    This is so inspiring!! I have not really worked properly my whole life, I have had part time barmaid and waitress jobs when I was younger but I had my first baby when I was 22 and not long out of uni. I am so worried I’m unemployable due to lack of experience but I do really love the idea of freelancing, would be a dream come true if I could make my blog my job. Wishing you loads of success and I love this new series xx #BlogCrush

  • Reply Lexie June 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Reading posts like this are inspiring and disheartening to me at the same time.
    I want so badly to be able to leave my day job and spend more time with my son.
    My husband and I just cannot make the financial aspect of that idea work yet. I am trying to hard to build up my blog and my work from home wine business so that I can transition into working from home.
    I will keep working and I will keep reading stories like this with the goal of spending more time with my son in mind.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Sarah July 8, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      I think that’s all you can do. I went back to work after my first and couldn’t have left work but after my second we just couldn’t make the childcare / commuting work financially so the decision was made for us. Good luck with everything x

  • Reply kristin mccarthy June 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    lovely to (virtually) meet you!


  • Reply Jenny Eaves June 15, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    This is a great series, brilliant to read about mums who have made big life decisions. I think becoming a mum really does make the important things stand out more. I know so many mums who have had made big life changes after they have had littles ones, myself included. Thanks for linking up to #BigPinkLink

  • Reply Peachy and her Mommy June 16, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I left my job too. It’s been six months and I don’t regret it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I have never been happier. It does take a bit of planning though. But it’s worth it. Thanks for linking with the #DreamTeam.

    • Reply Sarah July 8, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      That’s really great to hear! It definitely does doesn’t it. Xx

  • Reply Jaki June 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    This a really great series and it’s really positive to read other people’s experiences. I look forward to reading more. Also pleased to hear things are working out for you. Thanks for joining in at #TriumphantTales, hope to see you back tomorrow.

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