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Mumpreneur Nichola Howard talks about juggling family life and work; from launching her own business to ambitions from her daughter becoming a unicorn jockey.

My number one job now is being a mum. I have two wonderful children, Oliver, who is five, and Tilly, who is three. They really turned my world upside down when they arrived.

Before becoming a mum, I was an interior design consultant and worked right through my pregnancy – all hours, and I honestly thought when I had my son I would just strap him to my back and go back to work, the baby would fit around me and not vice versa.

Then he arrived two months premature and everything just went out of the window, going back to work, I was exhausted, and as I was living in Cambridgshire at the time, I had no family support network to help with childcare.

Oliver had to stay in hospital for three weeks after he was born. To visit the hospital every day from home was a two hour round trip, whereas if I was at work, the hospital was just down the road, so that is where I based myself straight after having him and I used to work until it was time to visit and feed him. It seemed easier all round. But when I look back now, it is bonkers, and not something I would recommend to new mums.

I think the reality of having children is so different to what you perceive it is going to be like, no matter what people warn you about, you have to live it yourself.

When I got pregnant with Tilly, I thought, I am not doing that again. So, I decided to move back home to Atherton, Greater Manchester, for the family support, which I am very lucky to have.

Although, it turns out I have ended up chief babysitter! But I would not change it for the world! I love that fact that Oliver and Tilly are growing up with their cousins around them. My sister-in-law and I act as a tag team together, so one day, I would have five children under seven running around my house and another day she will have them so we are both able to have time to ourselves.

I had 12 months off with Tilly, so it could not have been a more different experience. It really gave me time to think and it cemented the idea that I wanted to start a new career.

I started to host local artisan events aimed at promoting local businesses and the kids used to come with me. They loved it.

Now two years (and quite a few mistakes) later, I have started Launch Events North West hosting free business to business exhibitions and I am about to embark on my fifth expo, in Blackpool.

It is scary when you start out, especially having a young family and it is really is important to have a plan. Not only so you all know where you are up to but also to keep your sanity.

Oliver is at school and Tilly starts nursery in September, she is really ready and so am I! I am hoping the juggling will be a lot easier and I will not have to be so much of an octopus as well as having eyes and ears in the back of my head.

I think each and every mum has their own way of doing things and is trying to do the best they can, so I would never preach to anyone about what they should and should not do. But I definitely don’t recommend going back to work the day after giving birth!

I would say, don’t be afraid to ask for support and help with the children to be able to manage your family and business life.

Like most mums, I struggle with feeling guilty and one thing I wish for is more time! But I try to combat that with good diary management.

I hope what I am doing is inspiring the kids to choose a career they love. They really enjoy coming to events with me and I think they will be natural sales people – they already mimic what they hear me saying on the phone. But there is plenty of time for that, at the moment, I am just enjoying my new career that gives me more time with them, and as their career choices are litter picker and unicorn jockey, I don’t think I have too much to worry about yet.

Launch Events North West, will be bringing Blackpool Expo to The Village, Heron’s Reach, between 8.30am and 3pm on Friday, September 25.

Up to 80 businesses will be exhibiting from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company and the Intellectual Property Office to Genting Casino and Lancashire Wine School.

The event, which is free to visitors, already has over 80 people registered to attend and it is hoped more than 500 people will take the opportunity to network with other businesses in Lancashire.

Blackpool Expo also includes free seminars throughout the day to give advice on areas such as access to funding, increasing sales and a media masterclass to teach attendees how to raise their business’ profile.

Exhibitor stands and visitor tickets are available at www.blackpoolexpo.co.uk. To find out more about Launch Events North West go to www.facebook.com/launcheventsnorthwest  and follow Nichola @LaunchEventsNW

Check out Nichola’s blog at https://mumsintheknow.co.uk/blackpool/2015/08/26/mum-in-the-spotlight-nichola-howard/

Thanks for sharing @mitkblackpool

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