Inspiring Mummy: Julia Underwood
Tell us about yourself: Julia, 42, business owner.
Tell us about your family set up: I am married and have 2 children, aged 10 and 12.
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? My background is working with children. Funnily enough though, once I had my own, I no longer wanted to do that as a job, too. With no family nearby and a shift working husband, it was a challenge to fit any regular-working -hour job into these family commitments. Being originally from Germany, I decided to put my language skills to use and started teaching German when the children were still small. I did not want to use external childcare, so I worked around my children being at school and and the time when my husband was at home to go out and teach.This has been working well for the past 7 years, even though it often means teaching until 9pm. But I really need this time for me, being able to do something else, use my brain, be with adults. Doing something I love and that I am good at actually gives me a lot of energy. I never went back into employment and grew my business around my family. This year, I moved into my very own office with a teaching room where I now see all my clients. No more teaching in my dining room, no more deciding whether to lead my clients through the messy kitchen or through the equally untidy living room… No more sharing living space with work.
What are your day-to-day challenges as a mum? The ever-changing shift patterns from my husband are sometimes hard around family life. Long weekends when he is working or on night shift, so sleeping during the day. Or days, when I am waiting for him to come home and he is stuck at work for several more hours and the plans for the rest of the day go out the window. It used to stress me out when I had to cancel lessons and I used to feel very guilty and unprofessional but I learnt to remind myself that kids come first and that “no one is going to die” if I cancel a lesson or move it.
What would you most like to change about your current situation? I worked really hard over the last few years to make our family and work life work for everyone and I am currently really pleased with the balance.
In what ways do you hope to inspire your children? I hope I am showing my children that there are lots of different options for most parents, not just mums. My kids know that I chose to stay at home with them when they were small but that I also have other things that I want to do for myself now.I love my work and they can see that it makes me happy to do my own thing, my own way. I hope they also see that mum and dad can be a team, working together and sharing the responsibilities bringing up a family whilst still looking after themselves. I hope to show them how to communicate and express your needs and dreams to each other and then negotiate to make things work for everyone.
What inspires you the most? (People/books/art etc…) I was part of a coaching group for several years and speaking with women in similar situations always inspired and helped me to find out how I want to shape my life and go and do it. I am also a bit addicted to beautiful stationery and journals, currently using a business planner every day, to write down goals as well as taking a moment to remember everything that is going well and being grateful.
Do you currently take any regular time out for yourself? What do you do with that time out?If not, why not? What prevents you? I have one day a week where I don’t teach and that is Fridays. That is my day before the weekend at home with the kids, catching up with housework, etc. On that day, I do paperwork (sometimes), go shopping, have a beauty treatment or meet a friend for coffee. Once every so often, I also go away for a few days - on my own. I need time alone, to recharge and rest, not having to worry/take care of anyone else but me.
What are your thoughts about the Inspiring Mummy Club, and what do you see as its appeal? Just looking at the website is an inspiration in itself! I know from the time when my children were younger, how many women are out there in the same situation juggling being a new parent, staying at home or working - and often, a bit of our own identity gets lost along the way. The Inspiring Mummy Club is a great way to bring these women together, to show them: “Hey, you are not alone, you are doing great. And if you are thinking of the next steps; here are some ideas!”
And having known Anna for several years, I know that she has been there and done the stay at home mum, the following your dreams, re-inventing yourself and reaching for the stars and she excelled in all of these.