#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? 

I’m Mel: an inventor, business woman, entrepreneur, wife and mum to two girls (13 and 9).  Seven years ago, I was a sleep deprived stay-at-home mum, with no desire to return to the work force.  My youngest daughter’s frequent night-waking had left me exhausted. I was desperate for a solution to stop her kicking her covers off and waking cold throughout the night, but couldn’t find anything to help.  So, I took matters into my own hands and invented the Fidgetbum™, and began a journey to create and build a brand, promoting a product that I’ve put my heart and soul into and, in doing so, helping other sleep deprived families get some much needed rest.  

Fidgetbum™ is a soothing, effective sleep aid for children.  A stretchy wrap-around device that snugly holds the covers in place, without restricting the child in bed, it also provides children with a sense of security that sleep experts have likened to a warm hug. Whilst it was initially invented to help my toddler daughter transition into a bed and sleep through the night, we have also had incredible feedback from parents of children with additional sensory needs.  Sleep disturbances are often a major issue for children with autism and this can really take its toll on their families. We have had such a strong and positive response from families in this situation, that we are currently in the process of launching a double-bed Fidgetbum™ to cater specifically for older non-sleepers.

The whole process from patent to production, website creation, and sales and marketing, has been a steep learning curve with lots of twists and turns along the road, but I have loved every minute of the journey so far and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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

No, not at all. My friends know that when I put my mind to something, I won’t let it go until I achieve my goal.  So many people say that they wish they had my confidence, but I just know what I want and go for it. When I came up with the idea of the Fidgetbum™, I knew that I had invented something special that could help other sleep deprived mums feel human again and that spurred me on.  Juggling the business with motherhood keeps me busy, but I never take anything on if I can’t give it 100%. Some people get a dog, some people have another baby. Fidgetbum™ is just like my third child.

What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mutha? (childcare, judgements of others, time etc) 

Time is the biggest challenge – I often feel that I need to clone myself several times over in order to be everywhere and do everything at the same time.  The school holidays are particularly challenging, as I become chief taxi driver, but the girls have grown up with the brand and understand that the business is part of our family life.  I’m fortunate to be able to work in the evenings and on-the-go, so I’m not tied to an office, and I’m able to successfully manage my commitments with the children alongside the business, but it’s hard.  At times it really has felt like a labour of love. When it gets really hard, I just have to remind myself why I’m doing this and who it’s all for.

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

Sometimes a decision finds you and your life takes a detour to the original plan. I wasn’t planning on returning to work after my second child.  The idea for the Fidgetbum™ came to me when my youngest daughter was around 18 months old. She was a terrible night-waker, kicking the covers off many, many times a night, waking cold and leaving the whole household exhausted in the process.  They say that the darkest hour is just before dawn and that was true for me. At a time when I was at my lowest point: extremely tired, desperate and broken, I was inspired to find a solution to our endless sleep deprived nights. I mocked up a prototype and it worked like a dream (if you will).  I knew then, that I was about to begin a journey with Fidgetbum™ and, despite it being at odds with my original life plan, it felt completely right and I have never looked back.

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

My friends are everything to me.  Without them, I would be lost. Whether it’s a catch up over a coffee, a long weekend in their company, or a natter on the phone, they keep me sane, keep me grounded and help me find the real me again.  My husband works away a lot and I don’t have a big family, so my friends are a support network that I really couldn’t live without. We laugh, a lot, and that is the best stress release I know.

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

It’s very easy to lose your sense of identity when you become a mum, especially in the early days when sleep deprivation and loneliness can alienate you from existing friendship groups.  Lack of sleep can be debilitating and leave you anxious, overwhelmed and lacking in confidence. It’s the easiest thing in the world to slip into the role of “someone’s mum”, but often much harder to regain your sense of self.  I found my sense of purpose again, by throwing myself behind the creation and growth of my brand and it spurred me on to think of the positive role model that I was developing for my girls to follow. We are all individual women in our own right, with lives, careers, talents and passions, developed long before we took on the role of motherhood.  In order to reach our full potential as mothers, I strongly believe that we need to rediscover ourselves in order to impart our wisdom and life lessons onto our children. The ‘mum guilt’ can really hit you hard, but always try to take time for yourself and follow your own goals as, the example that you set your children (in terms of self-respect and work ethic) will bring its own reward.

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

Do it!  I’m a big believer in the mantra “what’s the worst that could happen?”: If you don’t try, you’ll never know.  

Family is so important and so many women that I speak to have taken a career break or opted for flexible working or reduced hours to fit around their kids.  It’s the perfect time to take stock and reassess what you want from life, whether that’s a career change or returning to a job you loved. If it doesn’t work out, you can always change your mind.  Life is too short to live with “what if’s”. Follow your heart (and write a sound business plan).

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