Parentpreneur story Karen Cornish, Freelance Editor and Writer

Never turn away help and try to remember that you’re already doing the most important job in the world.

Your name: Karen Cornish

Names and ages of children: Martha (two and a half)

Business: Freelance writer

Location: Melton Constable, North Norfolk


Tell us about your background:

When I fell pregnant in 2008 I was the deputy editor of Dogs Today magazine. I’d worked for the company for seven years, firstly at the magazine’s Surrey head office and then later from home when my husband and I moved to North Norfolk.

I loved my job and didn’t really like the idea of giving up work entirely to be a mum, so I continued to work full time when my daughter was just six weeks old. This meant relying on help from family and working myself into the ground to meet deadlines. When Martha slept during the day, I worked, regardless of how much sleep I’d had the night before. On deadline day I would proofread pages with my baby in a sling whilst swinging my hips and not daring to stop for fear of her waking up!

After a year, family help reduced, as did Martha’s daytime naps, and there came a point when I realised that I couldn’t carry on any longer. I didn’t want to put Martha into nursery so that I could work full time. I wanted her with me.

I discussed the possibility of reducing my hours with my employer but this was not an option. However, the editor was keen to keep me and suggested that I write for them on a freelance basis. Over the following year I continued to write for Dogs Today while steadily building up a list of other clients.

What do you do on a typical day?

Martha and I usually go out in the morning to do something fun. This could mean going to a Steiner parent/child group, a friend’s house or a visit to the beach or local zoo. Often we take a picnic with us if the weather is nice.

After lunch Martha generally has a two-hour nap so I get down to work straight away, getting as much done as I can before she wakes up. Once she is up we usually do something crafty, like painting or Play-doh, and then she often helps me prepare dinner.

Once my husband is home from work about 6pm he takes over, bathing Martha and reading her bedtime stories while I go back to the computer.

Bedtime is usually around midnight. I try not to work too late so I have a little time to unwind before bed.

What projects are you working on now/ have you worked on recently?

I write regularly for Dogs Today and Your Cat, as well as a pet-focused PR company. I would love to branch out into writing about parenting in the future.

How do you manage your working day with your childcare arrangements?

Martha currently has one session at a nursery each week but we are looking to increase this later in the year. Grandparents also come in very handy from time to time.

What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement by far is giving birth. For as long as I can remember I have had tokophobia – an extreme fear of childbirth – and thought I could never be a mother. After lots of hypnotherapy I actually had a homebirth with no pain relief or fear. I still can’t quite believe it!

Who or what inspires you?

My mum, who brought my brother and I up single-handedly and taught me the importance of financial independence, and Martha whose incredible self-confidence is beginning to rub off on me a bit.

What do you hope to be doing in five years?

In five years time Martha will be at school so I’ll be working more during the day and less in the evenings. Of course, I can’t rule out the possibility of another baby, but I’m struggling to see how I’d manage with two!

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy knitting and reading and try to do one or the other each evening.

What advice would you give other mums thinking of starting a business?

Never turn away help and try to remember that you’re already doing the most important job in the world.

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