Learning to juggle business with lots of ‘mummy time’

Business Mum of the Year nominee Penny Gilbert, of Didcot, with daughters, Vesper, two, left, and Lilia, six

Business Mum of the Year nominee Penny Gilbert, of Didcot, with daughters, Vesper, two, left, and Lilia, six Buy this photo

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

IT’S often said that mums rule the world, but it’s harder than it looks to run a business and cope with kids.

Now the Oxford Mail is supporting your chance to nominate your top business mums for the NatWest Venus Awards’s Business Mother of the Year Award.

One working mum who has already made the list is Penny Gilbert from Didcot, who runs children’s play business The Creation Station, and has two daughters – Lilia, six, and Vesper, two.

She said: “My boss, the franchise owner Sarah Cressall, nominated me.

“I just think it’s an amazing boost for people like me. I’m not one of those people who goes around voting and nominating myself, so it’s just lovely that Sarah nominated me.

“It’s so important for people to have the kudos of being nominated.”

The 34-year-old added: “I was under a lot of pressure in my old job as an investment banker, and I wanted to see Lilia’s last couple of years before she went off to school at South Moreton County Primary School, so I left.

“My daughters always come first and foremost and the business second. I love them to bits, they are my whole world.

“Perhaps I have not grown the business as quickly as I could have done, but I’m happy with my work-life balance.

“My children have benefited from it because they get that mummy time. I try to make sure that I can juggle it all.”

The Creation Station also run arts and crafts sessions and classes for children, and can be hired to run birthday parties.

Mrs Gilbert said: “The Creation Station is all about encouraging creativity for children and letting them think outside the box and be messy.

“We really want to nurture that creative spirit for kids, and my children really benefit from going along as well. It’s so much better because I can put my daughters first.

“They can come with me and join in, and I can schedule classes around their school times and events. I’m very happy with what I’ve managed to achieve.”

This is the first year Venus Awards has come to celebrate Oxfordshire’s businesswomen, sponsored by the Oxford Mail alongside North Garage BMW.

It was started in 2009 by mum-of-four Tara Howard, from Bournemouth. She said: “It’s a category quite close to my heart, having run a business and juggled a family.

“You can feel guilty at every turn. You’re not spending enough time anywhere, with your family, the business, your partner, or on yourself.”

Mum to Cherie, 20, Ryan, 19, Dallas, 15 and 12-year-old Donny, she added: “We take a lot of pressure on ourselves and think we have got to be everything – the perfect mother and businesswoman.

“We don’t necessarily get the recognition that we deserve.

“It’s just so nice for someone to say ‘I appreciate you and I think you’re doing great.’”

Nominations are open until July 31 and can be made online at oxfordshire.venusawards.co.uk

All about the Venus Awards

SET up in 2009 in Dorset, the Venus Awards now run in eight regions across the country.
Women can nominate themselves or can be nominated by friends, family or colleagues.

There are 15 categories, including Business of the Year, Business Woman of the Year, Inspirational Woman and Lifetime Achievement.

The Business Mother of the Year award has so far received 19 nominations.

The Oxford Mail judges will narrow the nominees down to the top 10, who will then each film a one-minute video.

Videos will go online and the public will be able to vote for the winner.

Winners attend a ceremony at The Belfry, Warwickshire, on November 14 and receive a trophy and certificate.

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