Inspiring Mummy: Catherine Kite
Tell us about yourself:
Hi, I’m Catherine Kite, self-employed copywriter, loving (and absolutely never grumpy) wife and role-model-mum to a 6 year-old boy and 4 year-old girl.
I’ve recently turned 40 (she says, trying to be all nonchalant and breezy about it!) and, as of September, will have both kids in full-time school. So, you could say that this year is all about ‘the next chapter’ for me.
Tell us about your family set up:
The Kite family is really just your average everyday family. My son is a mini version of my husband and my daughter is a mini-me. We laugh together and throw tantrums in equal measure, as you’d expect in any house with young children!
Do you work or stay at home? How does that work for you? How do you feel about those decisions and choices? Has what you do greatly changed since you’ve had a family? In what ways?
I took the decision to start freelancing as a Copywriter 3 years ago after I was made redundant from my long-term job as a Marketing Manager. The redundancy happened at the end of my second maternity leave, just as I was due to return to work. Apparently corporate restructuring, maternity leave and a request for flexible working just don’t go hand in hand!
With some redundancy money in my back pocket, I had a window of opportunity to try something new without the immediate pressure of earning a set amount of money every month. I chose to become self-employed, because working from home on my own terms seemed to be the most flexible way I could earn a living whilst still being available for the kids.
It was a fairly scary decision to go solo and I have questioned that choice several times during the last three years. The lifestyle I have now is worlds apart from the corporate life I had before children. Running your own business is tough enough without the added dimension of also being mum and having to squeeze work into school hours or evenings when you’re already tired. Honestly, it’s just one big juggling act.
However, I stuck with it and think I must be doing something right because the kids are still in one piece and I have a regular flow of work! I’m normally awful at giving myself praise for a job well done, but actually, looking back over the last 3 years I’m proud of the fact that I’ve managed to nurture a profitable business whilst also being there every single time for my two little munchkins.
What are your day-to-day challenges as a mum?
Running a family and a business can feel a bit like a military operation sometimes.
Making sure everyone is in the right place, at the right time, with the right kit/book/spellings/snacks in tow is pretty stressful.
And that’s all before I even sit down at my laptop to start my paid work and try to remember which project I’m working on, for which client, by which deadline. Or think about what we’re going to have for dinner that night. Or whether I replied to that party invitation. Or paid the window cleaner.
Juggling work and family can feel relentless at times, and I know I put myself under pressure do a good job for my clients AND grow well-rounded, kind and loving human children. Inevitably I find ‘Mummy Guilt’ lurks round most corners and tends to slap me in the face on a daily basis (am I spending enough time with the kids, am I being too strict/not strict enough, am I using my shouty-most voice too often, have I fed them too much sugar?). This side of being a mum isn’t something they tell you about in the Parenting Manuals or at NCT classes!
What would you most like to change about your current situation?
With my daughter starting full-time school in September my situation is actually due to change shortly anyway. I will gain an extra day a week to work on my business and I’m looking forward to that.
However, I’m conscious that I need to work harder on not working so hard!
Being self-employed should be all about the work-life balance. I don’t want to look back on these early years (of both business and children) and feel as though I was a bit too grumpy, a bit too often, or simply that I ran myself ragged and forgot to enjoy the ride.
In what ways do you hope to inspire your children?
I hope that my children will see the rewards of trying new things, thinking positively and persevering.
I really want them to see and believe that they can achieve anything they want to in life, and to set out with confidence in themselves and their abilities, even when something is a bit tricky or doesn’t quite go according to plan.
What inspires you the most? (People/books/art etc…)
I’ve recently read a handful of good books that have done wonders for my mindset. If you get the chance, check out ‘Happy’ by Fearne Cotton, ‘Girl Code’ by Cara Alwill Leyba and ‘She Means Business’ by Carrie Green.
I also get inspired by the opportunity to be creative (and not just in a glitter glue kind of way – sorry kids!). Doing a bit of painting, designing or even upcycling, feeds my creative soul and is really great time-out.
Beyond that, I am inspired by anyone who has a really positive state of mind or who injects a bit of humour into the every day. Because you’ve gotta laugh right?
Do you currently take any regular time out for yourself? What do you do with that time out?
I have to admit that I’ve been pretty poor at giving myself guilt-free time out, but I’m getting better at it. I now recognise that I need to look after myself and my wellbeing in order to be do a better job of looking after those around me.
For me that means having nice things to look forward to (anything from time with friends, to an arty evening). I’m a really sociable person and miss adult company during the week when I’m working alone, so just spending time with a friend, having a laugh and a chat over a glass of wine, is really restorative for me.
I probably ought to exercise more than I do as well, but I haven’t yet found a kind of exercise that I really want to do regularly, at a time that fits with everything else I have on my plate. That will hopefully change in September when I get that bonus extra day every week. Putting an hour or two of that towards exercise (or more likely having a cheeky coffee and cake) will be time well spent.
What are your thoughts about the Inspiring Mummy Club, and what do you see as its appeal?
I think that generally us mummies are too hard on ourselves and need the support and encouragement of other mums to recognise that we’re actually doing the best job we can. Especially if we’re also juggling work commitments or dealing with other life challenges too.
Despite the regular school runs and multitude of kiddy related activities we all do, being mummy can actually be lonely, frustrating, monotonous and thankless at times. Don’t get me wrong, it is also fun and rewarding and all that good stuff too, but being part of a supportive community where it’s okay to share the highs and lows, and feel spurred on to just keep going, is a real boost.
We're always on the lookout for other Inspiring Mummy Stories, so if you would like to be included, please get in touch!