When you hit a milestone birthday, it prompts reflection. For me, that milestone has been reaching half a decade. As a young wide-eyed apprentice, my perception of being old was hitting 50. And here I am now having officially surpassed middle age but do I feel old? Absolutely not.
As a 40-something mum who had a business idea to help one hundred women kickstart their careers, I didn’t envisage that just eight years later, that very same business would have touched the lives of over 7000 women.
When I look back, professionally, I have achieved more in the last decade than I did in the two before that. So why is it, all too often, middle-aged mums are overlooked?
I have always wanted to help people – my years working for colleges and training providers as a teacher, career advisor, coach and assessor meant I was the first port of call for people. People talked, while I listened, advised, and supported. It laid the foundations for Successful Mums.
And I haven’t changed.
My team will tell you that.
I still want to be that person contacting every single learner, checking in with everyone. Having seen the business grow from scratch, I care about the women we help, and I want them to succeed. And succeed they do.
At Successful Mums we continue to support mums in their twenties and thirties, but more and more of our mums are coming to us in their forties and fifties. These middle-aged mums have heaps of life and work experience, buckets of empathy and huge amounts to offer employers.
We have seen first-hand that success is not defined by your age, and Ruth is proof of this.
Ruth was one of the first women who came on a Successful Mums journey. She had a brilliant business idea to introduce cryotherapy to Sevenoaks, and our Business Start-Up course helped her turn that dream into reality. Now she is regularly making people, including household names, go cold, quite literally. Ruth is in her 50s and she has absolutely found her mid-life mojo.
Ruth was closely followed by Regan who came to us to help get her business off the ground, and who still years later is still running the hugely popular Cooking Shed. But as well as teaching culinary skills is now one of my dearest friends. Proof that business brings people together.
Then there was Cathy. As a mid-life mum Cathy thought it was far too late for a new role after redundancy post 50. Our back to work and confidence course gave her the kick start she needed – Cathy is now working flexibly for Silverback Publishing as Commercial Director for Retroford Magazine.
And as much as the business grows, we will still retain that small business mentality, we celebrate the wins. When one of our learners gets a job, that is when you will see my happy dance! And there are some stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Laura, came to us having never really worked, with a young daughter and zero belief that someone would want to employ her. We built Laura’s confidence and equipped her with the skills she needed through our back to work course. We helped her secure a work experience placement, and the job offer followed immediately after. I remember how happy she was. That happiness was infectious
Then there was Sholpan, who after a ten-year career break, and no UK work experience, thought she would never find a flexible job around her family. But with our help, she did.
We support parents to start-up businesses and find jobs but also give them the confidence to make big career changes. Jill was a finance consultant and, thanks to Successful Mums is now a coach and mentor who specialises in animal flow – a unique form of ground-based movement.
As the business grows, so do the memories. When my business was in its infancy, I remember Angie who is now a successful accountant, coming to the courses with her baby in a sling. Angie has the most beautiful soul, and Bel her little one loved being nestled with her mum while she learnt. Having a baby doesn’t have to stop you having a career.
Our courses also create connections. The Successful Mums network of like-minded mums is big, but the connections are personal. Karen and Trina are an example of this, they met through Successful Mums when Karen did a guest speaker slot, Trina was left incredibly inspired and so Karen then went on to mentor her.
We are hearing from more and more middle-aged woman, that they are suffering from imposter syndrome. If this is you, believe me you are good enough; you are not alone, and it is never too late to realise your dreams.
Let Maggie inspire you, she was in her late 50s when she reached out to us to help her start her own jewellery business. Being a grandmother didn’t hold her back and now aged 61 with our help she has honed her digital skills to show off her creative jewellery making talents.
I do need to also say thank you to some of the cool mid-lifers that have supported me over the years including Lindsay McCurday, Steve Lawrence, Susanna Lawson (a very young mid-lifer) and Penny Ferguson who have all inspired me in one way or another.
So, what is next for Successful Mums? Well, we are striving for change. We are focused on educating employers on how to be more forward-thinking in their approach. We want to be here to help parents find their mid-life mojo – after all turning 50 is not the end of your forties it is the start of the next chapter.
All power to those mid-life mums out there – those who have already found their mojo, and for those of you that haven’t – why not reach out – we can help you achieve great things.
As for being 50, I’m embracing this wisdom and let’s face it, aging is a privilege.