Gemma Stow, Founder of The F Movement

Gemma Stow, Founder of The F Movement

#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers.  In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.

What makes you more than a mother? 

Being more than a mother means everything to me. I love having my own identity and being able to do work that I love. I have always worked with people to help them unlock their potential and find their fierce! It wasn’t that long ago that I had to find my own fierce.

When I was working in the public sector as a probation officer I was very confident and career driven and in control knowing exactly what I wanted. I then started a family and this knocked me for six! I couldn’t believe how it changed me – I did experience post natal depression and I was lost. I felt like I had lost my sense of self and that I had no confidence. There were times I couldn’t leave the house and some really dark times where I questioned whether I was a good enough mother at all. I really believed that the old me had gone forever.

However it was deciding what was right for me and what I needed, and that was to work. I have always been ambitious and LOVE to work. Especially when it helps others. I decided to leave the public sector and set up my own business for more freedom and flexibility around my children. It was an education centre supporting young people with challenging behaviour. We built an amazing reputation from scratch and won awards for the amazing work we did. It was life changing for those kids and for us as staff.

Then I decided to follow my heart even further and set up The F Movement. I realised after 7 years after the PND experience, that I was carrying this guilty burden that was impacting on everything I was doing. That I had somehow failed as a mum (the thing I told myself should come naturally) so then questioning how I would ever succeed at anything else? It was time to find my fierce and help other women do the same. Not to settle for less and follow their hearts and believe in themselves that they can be, do or have anything they want.

As an introvert there were things that I used to avoid in business; selling, presenting, public speaking, networking and self promotion. I would get my team to do it instead – and yes it was good delegation – but I knew deep down I wanted to do more. For the last two years I have built my second business. And as it is just me I have stepped up and pushed through those comfort zones to adopt new ways of working. I have definitely found my fierce and am definitely more than a mutha! I now absolutely love empowering women who want change and who want more by supporting them with their business ideas and dreams and helping them make it happen by first believing they can! I have impacted over 1200 women through my free community and paid coaching programmes helping them to find their fierce.

Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?

I love it when people ask me what I do and I can’t wait to tell them. Sometimes they ask how I juggle it all but I say it’s so much easier to manage my own time than having to ask for time off from a boss who might not understand how important it is to me to go and read a story to my five year olds class. It’s these moments that make it so worth it. Last summer I was able to take my family abroad for the school holidays and work (and play !) whilst I was there because of the online business I have built. I am proud to be a working entrepreneurial mother. I have so much respect for women who choose to stay at home – I couldn’t do it and I know I am a much better mum for following my passion and being that role model I want to be to my children.

What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?

My biggest challenge is being present. I love my children and I love my work. I do believe we can have it all and it is just about doing what feels right to you and not what you think you ‘should’ be doing. Sometimes I work more than seeing my children and then other times I don’t work at all. I involve my children in what I do they know exactly why I love my work and how important it is to me. My daughter has found something that she loves too and I can see a budding entrepreneur in her already. I want to be that strong female role model to my children so they know how important it is to do work that you love and that makes a difference.

How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?

From being a confident, career driven ambitious woman, having children was a real shock to the system and I think that can be the same for a lot of female professionals because we are used to being able to pick and choose to do the things we want.

However with a new baby taking over, it was hard to not feel backed into a corner. I had to make it work. The experience of PND meant I lost a sense of who I was and I thought I had lost all my confidence and was scared at that time that I would never be me again. Of course things change when you have children – everything changes – and accepting that can be hard.

So after getting support I found what I needed to do to get back to me and it was when my daughter was four months old I started looking around premises to start the brand new business from scratch. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I would make it work too! I still remember the estate agent looking at me sideways as I told him about the business I was building whilst carrying my baby on my chest! Awesome moments that I share with daughter now!

Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?

As an introvert I love time alone. It helps me to reflect and rejuvenate. I love to have some space to read. I am no good at doing nothing, which sometimes I know I need, so I love yoga and have started running again. The best thing I now do that changed everything was to get up an hour earlier than the rest of the house and have that quiet time just for me. It really sets me up for the day.

What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?

I would ask them to find some time to figure out what lights them up. What could they talk about all night and not get bored. And when they figure that out to spend some time doing it – reading about it, learning more about it, surrounding themselves with others that love it too. It makes all the difference and starts to build confidence and self worth and is something just for her to remind her that she is more than just a mutha too!

Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?

I often get asked how do you find your fierce? There are four things to start thinking about;

1. Surround yourself with other women who are like you. For example I love to be around other ambitious women who work for themselves – we can share the ups and downs and really support each other. It’s not always our nearest and dearest that understand everything we are passionate about (and their protectiveness can sometimes stop us).

2. Start to say YES to opportunities that come your way. For years I used to overthink everything and talk myself out of it. Now I say ‘Yes and figure it out later’ even if it is scary – it has been the game changer not only for my business success but also for my own confidence.

3. Take action. Even the small steps lead somewhere. They have to. So keep moving forward and embrace failures – you either win or you learn so they are good experiences and will make you even more successful!

4. If you follow what you really want to do then you will be a more fulfilled person – and this will shine through in everything you do, including being a mum. Don’t let guilt stop you. Show your children who you really are, and what lights you up and they will only be proud of you.

Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?

Katherine Hickman

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www.gemmastow.com

Are you #MoreThanAMutha?  Get in touch to share your story.

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