Running an internationally renowned business, with 3 children under 8 - here's Helen Wooldridge on how she makes it work.
Helen and Jasper
Our Life in A Day series takes you on a guided tour around the lives of our lovely suppliers: how they juggle family and business? What inspires them? Tips, truths, confessions and more. In our fourth post, we’re introducing Helen Wooldridge, co-founder of Cuddledry who produce the multi-award winning hooked apron towel that makes bathtime safe, simple and snug.
So to start…
A Bit About the Family
“I’m mum to a little bookworm girl aged 8, a very excitable boy aged 6 and a very entertaining (and challenging!) 2 year old boy. I set up Cuddledry with my old friend Polly at the end of 2006 – inspired by an idea we had over a glass of wine, whilst watching our husbands bath our babies, and struggle to get them happily into a towel. So of course our children were the inspiration for the business, and as they have grown so has the company, the range of products and the number of countries around the world where we sell them!
The Morning Rush…
I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to mornings. I’m the night owl and my husband is the early bird. I do tend to work quite late at night quite often so that’s my excuse for being slow in the mornings (but actually I’m just generally not very good at mornings!). I don’t ever get up earlier than the children – I maximise sleep while they sleep, as they are still little and they don’t believe in having a lie in, ever! My lovely husband always makes me a cup of tea and then I shower, tidy up and sort out the kids rooms and clothes while he takes them downstairs to get breakfast and packed lunches started.
Then he heads off to work and I get the older two ready for school, and depending on whether it’s a work day or a baby day, I get our littlest one ready with a lunchbox and bag too, or I just get him ready to play here.
Breakfast for me is the bit that is less organised – I’m often clearing up the kitchen or putting a wash on so I don’t always get to sit down for breakfast with the kids – some days it happens and other days I’m a bit all over the place and eating on the run. I can often be seen stuffing toast in my mouth as I do the school run!
We all walk down the road together to take them to school and kiss each other goodbye. If our two-year-old is going off to playgroup a friend of mine, who is a childminder, will take him so that I get a little extra work time and I can be properly free for the kids after school. I have lovely friends and family who help if I am away at a meeting or an event
The Working Day
If I don’t have meetings I start work the instant I walk back in from dropping off the kids – at about 8.45am, on my laptop at my kitchen table. And then I work like a demon all day until 3pm when my youngest gets home, hardly even coming up for air!!! There is so much to do – Cuddledry is so busy and growing all the time – I can never get it all done!
Firstly, I look at the emails which have come in overnight first – deal with those as swiftly as I can, and then get on with specific marketing projects, or sales activity in new territories, or frankly whatever is top of the priority list that particular day. Running a business like Cuddledry is never, ever the same for more than one day – there is a new challenge every single day, and I’m always racing to keep up.
Break time? Pardon? I’m not very good at taking breaks – I would rather work flat out and then be free to be a proper mummy when the kids get back. But I do have to take the odd break to hang out the washing or race round with the hoover. And I have to go and feed and clean the chickens too. People always ask me if I get distracted because I work from home, but Cuddledry is so busy, and there is so much exciting stuff going on, that I quite genuinely don’t have time to get distracted!
And for lunch…
I make sure I drink water or I get to 4pm and think ‘why do I feel so weird?’ – and I usually eat whatever is easiest to grab from the fridge – crackers and cheese, an apple, or any cake or chocolate I can get my hands on!
Afternoons, more work or can you squeeze in some you time?
My deadline is 3pm when my 2-year-old returns, and then we are straight off down to pick up the older two from school, so I work until then. I tend to exercise later in the evenings or sometimes in the morning straight after I’ve dropped the kids off.
I tend to start work again at about 8pm some evenings, especially on the two days a week when my 2-year-old stays home with me, I catch up once they have all gone to bed.
I do tea – often after sporting activities or such like with my older kids, and then my husband gets in and he tends to take the lead on bathtime. But we all hang out together really and have a chance to catch up after the day. And with three kids we need both of us to get them all sorted without too much chaos! We both read to each of them individually, or the olders ones have to do their reading to us, and then we each have a bit of time snuggling with each one before they go to sleep (or before they get up again and start causing mayhem in the case of the 2-year-old currently!).
What helps you relax… music? A long bath?
Sometimes, recently, I’ve realised I don’t feel relaxed because I haven’t had a proper bit of outdoor time to myself, so the best relaxation for me is a good walk in the evening around the lanes near us by myself, with my daughter or a friend, so I get out of the house and have time to just think, and get a bit of exercise. And if it’s raining – well a nice big glass of wine, and something yummy to eat, a moment to catch up with my other half, and something decent on the telly. I’m a simple soul!
And finally, what future do you see for your business?
Cuddledry is growing and evolving all the time, we have always planned to build it up for ultimate sale, and it is growing in ways we never imagined. We have a big range of products now, and we are working hard to ensure they are all on sale in many countries around the world. Polly and I can see a very bright future for Cuddledry not only here but in some major markets around the world, where the demand for Cuddledry is already strong and is growing fast. Many of them are places where we never expected to see such growth – very exciting times!”
Thanks so much for taking part Helen, exciting times indeed! Cuddledry range can be viewed here >>