Here’s how I came to find myself in a fancy science building in Manchester last weekend, surrounded by 200 of the most ambitious, badass mothers I’ve ever met.
A few months ago, I found out that Pregnant Then Screwed was going to be hosting an event in Manchester celebrating working mothers, and I knew immediately that I had to be there. If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know that I bang on about working mums’ rights A LOT. If you haven’t, check out my #FlexiMamas series, which will give you a sense of how passionate I am about this stuff.
And then I forgot to buy a ticket.
When I tried to get one about a week after tickets went on sale, they were sold out, and I was bummed. Advocating for working mothers is my THING, and I was going to miss my chance to hang out with a whole bunch of other women who have made it their thing too.
Then I found out that they needed volunteers to help run the event. Score! So I signed up for an early morning slot, figuring a) I never sleep past 6:15 anyway and b) that would give me the whole afternoon to listen to inspirational speakers.
And man, was I ever inspired.
Here are the top 5 things I learned at Pregnant Then Screwed Live:
1. I deserve a promotion, damn it.
I mean, I knew this before the event, but after listening to Alice and Phanella from The Step Up Club talk about negotiating a payrise and promotion, I REALLY knew it.
They talked about the importance of doing your market research to find out what you’re worth, writing down what you want and taking it into your meeting, using evidence of your achievements to back up your request, and asking for more than you’re willing to settle for – because you might just get it.
All great tips, but what really got to me was how they emphasised the importance of being confident and really believing in yourself. I know I’m good at what I do. I know I’m worth more. And I’m going to make sure that everyone knows it.
2. It’s okay to put yourself first.
Natasha from Mental Mutha talked frankly (and often hilariously) about her struggles with mental health, and something she said really stuck with me. She said that she always puts herself first, and she doesn’t see that as selfish, because she has to take care of herself in order to be able to take care of her her son.
As mothers, we’re used to putting our child first and ignoring our own needs, sometimes to the detriment of our own physical and mental health. Happy mum = happy child. So go on – take that extra-long bath, go to that yoga class or eat carton of Ben & Jerry’s. It just might make you a better parent.
3. Influencers are people too.
I’ve never been a big fan of the word ‘influencer’. It always seemed a bit…well, wanky.
But – as it turns out – influencers aren’t (usually) wankers. They’re just people who have managed to get a lot of people to care about what they say, which takes a lot of hard work. They take their reputations very seriously, and many of them use their platform to advocate for causes that they care about, rather than just trying to sell you stuff.
As I listened to people like Harriet from Toby and Roo, Anna from Mother Pukka and Candice Braithwaite talk about their careers, I found that I liked them. Not as people whose photos I see on Instagram or whose blogs I read, but as actual human beings who I’d like to have a pint with. Human beings who happen to take really pretty pictures.
4. Events with babies are the best events.
It was great to see so many mothers (and a few dads) carrying babies around throughout the day. Props to you guys for taking your baby to an all-day event. My daughter, as delightful as she is now as an almost three-year-old, was an impossible baby. The idea of taking her to a day of feminist workshops would have seemed as ridiculous taking her to a nightclub. I wasn’t as brave as you were.
Coming to an event like this with your children made an important point. We can’t totally separate our work lives and parenting lives, and it’s unreasonable to expect us to do so. I loved how some of the panelists did their sessions with their babies sitting on their laps or strapped to their chests. It totally exemplified what this event was all about.
Also, babies are super cute.
5. There’s a revolution coming.
Listen, world. Us mums are sick and tired of ridiculous childcare costs, inflexible working and lack of job opportunities.
Our current system doesn’t work. It hasn’t for a long time. That’s why we’re coming together to support each other, create solutions and shake things up.
The days of 9-5 are numbered. We demand that employers recognise that we have lives outside of work. We demand childcare that doesn’t cost more than our mortgage. We demand to be paid what we’re worth.
Let’s do this, ladies.