Column: How flex appeal is becoming the new standard for working mums

PUBLISHED: 21:00 18 April 2018

Debbie McMorran with Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, and her daughter Evie.

Debbie McMorran with Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, and her daughter Evie.

Archant

If you’ve had children, or if anyone you know has had children, or indeed just if you’ve worked with other people within the last few years - you may well have had experience of flexible working, or the idea of changing your working hours upon returning to work after having children.

Debbie McMorran with Danielle Wellington of MilknFizzDebbie McMorran with Danielle Wellington of MilknFizz

The requirement and need to have flexibility in the workplace seems to be growing rapidly. With more and more women filling pivotal roles within businesses, it only makes sense that they are wanting to return to these roles following periods of maternity leave.

Although they may not be wanting to leave their previous roles, they may also be wanting to have more flexibility in their working hours, to allow for picking their children up from childcare, or indeed to allow them to spend more time with their children during the working week. One person who has been working tirelessly to enable women more opportunity for flexible working, is Anna Whitehouse - also known as Mother Pukka on Instagram.

Anna previously worked as a journalist, but for the last few years has been championing all things related to flexible working.

Local mumpreneur Danielle Wallington, who has set up events company MilknFizz invited Anna along to a recent brunch to talk to guests about her quest for flexible working, and about her hugely successful best selling book ‘Parenting the sh*t out of life’.

Held in the fantastic surroundings of Hatfield House, the brunch was packed out with local mums who were all keen to hear Anna’s thoughts of returning to work with flexible working, and also to hear about her life as an “Instagram celebrity”. The guests sat enraptured as Anna told us all about her quest for flexible working, and why it is so important to her.

Balancing her youngest daughter on her knee, and the microphone in her hand, she talked passionately about how she feels when women (specifically women although of course there is an acknowledgment that flexible working is important for all - not just women) are forced out of the workplace just because they have children.

One of the things that Anna is planning to do is start going into schools, and educating young men about the need for flexible working - the hope that by educating the workforce and potential business leaders of the future - she can pre-empt problems for future employees seeking flexibity in their working hours.

There is much evidence to suggest that by allowing flex-working, companies can retain, or attract a highly skilled workforce who have been overlooked in other companies - often gaining highly qualified people who just need a little flexibility in which hours they work.

As well as the talk, there were lots of local businesses showcasing their products. I was amazed to see how many small businesses there are from the immediate area surrounding St Albans, all offering great products - these were all aimed at parents and children, and made for a great shopping experience!

I took the opportunity to chat in more detail with Danielle - the founder of the events company running the brunch to find out a little more about the brand.

What prompted you to set up MilknFizz and where did the name come from?

I decided to set up milknfizz after having my son in 2016. I felt like I had lost my identity and all the classes or groups locally were all focused on the ‘baby’ which is totally understandable but I felt there wasn’t anything for the ‘mums’. I still wanted to go out and meet with friends, go to events and enjoy myself.

The name came quite easily actually. I had been thinking about it for a while especially in those early days of motherhood when all my son wanted was milk! 24/7 I’m fact he still does and he’s nearly one and a half! and all I wanted was a glass of Prosecco!

But it also has a deeper meaning, you’re not ‘just a Mum’ when you have kids you’re still ‘you’ and you can still have both the ‘milk and the fizz’ and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. It’s important for your mental health to take time out once in a while.

Why do you think it appeals to so many mums?

I wanted to create events for like minded mums, people like me really who felt like there wasn’t anything else out there to celebrate ‘motherhood’ and chat to other women about their experiences and not feel judged.

What do you think it has that other local event companies don’t have?

I think it’s the variety of events on offer, MilknFizz offers a new kind of ‘social calendar’ a series of events inspiring mothers to help build and feel part of a community- a community set on banishing those feelings of isolation and loneliness that are shared in motherhood.

Where would you like to see the company in a year?

In a year’s time I would like to see MilknFizz grow and be a recognisable name in the local community. I would love to put on more events and maybe branch out into other areas where they don’t have the same services. Either way I am really enjoying what I’m doing and all I really want is for people to enjoy themselves, make new friends and to not feel so lonely. Being a mum is hard, so you need all the support you can get, plus a few glasses of fizz!

For more information about Danielle’s company, you can check it out at milknfizz.co.uk, and for more information about flex appeal - check out Mother Pukka on instagram!

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