SURVIVOR STORY: How not to say it with flowers

Me in first weekOur latest Sleep Thief Survivor Steph Douglas is mother to toddlers Buster (4) and Mabel (2).

She was inspired to set up her unique business after she received countless bunches of flowers following the birth of her eldest child, Buster.

However, she found she lacked the energy (or vases) to care for anything other than her newborn! As a result, the 34-year-old launched Don’t Buy Her Flowers which offers thoughtful care packages for new mums.
What was early motherhood like for you?  

A rollercoaster. At times it was like I was high – that post-birth ‘look what I DID’ and then there would be a day when no one slept, everyone cried and I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. For me, those first months are foggy – I often felt I wasn’t really in the room and only half listening to conversations because my head was full of nap times and which boob was next and can everyone talk really, really quietly in case they wake the baby. Then month by month it gets a little easier, you get a bit more sleep and it all feels a bit more ‘normal’, and suddenly you realise you’re coping more than you’re crying. Yay!

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The beautiful care package range

Has motherhood changed you – if so how?

It’s weird – in some ways I think motherhood can teach you what’s important, so you can cut out the bullshit and be more confident, but then there are moments when you feel so self-conscious and a bit lost? If it’s a weary day and the kids are playing up you might feel like everyone is looking at you thinking you’re a terrible mother and want to crawl under a rock. Other times, especially now they’re older and I know that some days kids will just lose their sh*t, I can stay calm, laugh it off and look for the person in the crowd that will give me a knowing smile. I’m a massive believer in the sisterhood. I often read that it doesn’t exist – that women are all in competition with each other – but that is not my experience since becoming a mother. Sure, there are some daft ones, but there are many more awesome ones ready to tell you that you’re doing a great job.

So, dare I ask – were your babies sleepers?!

Are any babies ‘sleepers’?! There were some shocking nights when they’re up every hour, but I think that’s to be expected (but no one expects it) at the beginning. At 21 months Buster had got pretty good at sleeping through when Mabel arrived but then started waking in the night, so two of them were waking up and then we all got bugs and we crashed a bit. The first Christmas with both kids was when Buster was just two and Mabel was 3 months old and we refer to it as ‘The Black Christmas’. We were miserable!

What did you find most difficult about being a sleep-deprived mum?

My erratic emotions! Lack of sleep combined with hormones can make you crazy and while the babies had my full attention and smiles, I often found my husband irritating, or the little things like leaving his shoes in the middle of the kitchen felt so big that I wanted to (and often did) scream. I write a blog and my most-read post is called ‘When New Mums Get Angry’, so I know I wasn’t alone! The problem is, the sleep-deprivation means you can’t rationalise the fact that you’re a bit bonkers because you’re sleep-deprived and hormonal, so it can feel quite scary I think. But you’re not bonkers! You’re just very, very tired.

What advice would you give to other parents of small children who are thinking of setting up their own business?

Accept that you won’t be able to do everything you did before and run a business on top. Something has to give. My house is a mess and sometimes my social life has to take a backseat and it took a while to accept that that’s ok. Doug also does more at home – he can handle the weekly online shop and most nights he cooks dinner while I work. I’d also say take your time; none of it’s worth it if you kill yourself by working every minute. These kids have a habit of needing you just as you feel you’re ready to set the business-world alight, whether it’s a case of the sh!ts or just a needy phase. It’s good to plan for that and have a bit of a buffer for deadlines if you can.

Douglas Family Nov 14

Steph and her family

How do you juggle family life with running a business? Any tips?

Six months in, I’m not sure I’m qualified to dish out tips, especially on juggling! It’s a constant battle to keep the balance because it’s very easy when it’s your own business, especially when it’s at home, to work on it constantly. You can go at it full pelt and have no time or energy left for yourself or your family, or you can take charge and leave the phone behind. A friend reminded me – ‘YOU set the pace’. Obviously, I want it to succeed and that requires a lot of work, but what’s the point if you’re not enjoying it or spending time with the family you’re kind of doing it for?

What would you say has been your biggest challenge since having children? Probably working out that I need time for myself and time with my partner Doug – just the two of us. The kids are never going to be neglected – all the mums I know give their absolute all to their children – but it’s really easy for parents to neglect themselves. When we do have time together we always find we actually rather like each other, so taking a bit of time out leads to a more harmonious household!

What are your plans for the future of Don’t Buy Her Flowers?

It’s going really well – the feedback is overwhelming actually, and sales steadily growing month on month. Every business owner I’ve spoken to has said to stay focused on the core idea, which is thoughtful gift packages for new mums. There’s huge potential and lots of ideas, but I want to keep getting this right for a while first.

care-package-open-3COMPETITION TIME

Steph has one of her beautiful care package to give away to a deserved new mum! Details here!

If you are a new mum or know one that could do with a little TLC nominate them or yourself over at Facebook.

  • Closing date May 31st 2015. Only one entry per person. UK entries only.

For more information on the new mum care packages or to read Steph’s awesome blog check out www.dontbuyherflowers.com. You can also find her on Facebook or Twitter.

You can read other survivor stories here. Has parenthood inspired you to achieve something great?  Whether you have overcome an illness, set up a business, fulfilled ambitions or survived a sleep thief against the odds, then I would love to hear your story!  Please get in touch on  [email protected] or contact me on Facebook. 

9 thoughts on “SURVIVOR STORY: How not to say it with flowers

  1. This is so inspiring, and yes – such a great idea! I remember my friend started crying when her mum visited and brought her a big plant thingy for the garden – she was like “What? Something else I have to look after!” My husband got me a box of posh biscuit type goodies a few weeks after he went back to work as he had obviously realised I wasn’t managing to eat! It was sooo nice to have a gift that was useful and edible which required no work on my part!

  2. What a great business idea! I am all for practical/ pampering gifts, my plants never survived but something to remind to take care of oneself (but one does not have time t look for it as a new mum) is just fantastic!

  3. This is a fantastic idea! I hated getting flowers after my little boy was born, just more stuff to try and keep alive and feel guilty over. Most of them were left to wither in my mum’s utility room as none of us had the time to deal with them. So yes to dry shampoo and chocolates!

Feel free to leave a reply..misery loves company.