I’m really pleased to introduce Emmy McCarthy today, director of the Not for Profit foundation, Amsterdam Mamas. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Emmy several times and chatting with her regularly on Facebook. She was also the inspiring keynote speech at the SPARK event I attended recently. Almost 40 years old and mother of a 5 year old son, Emmy has worked tirelessly for 40+ hours every week for around 5 years now, contributing to growing the amazing organisation that is Amsterdam Mamas, which started with just a small group and now is a community supporting thousands. Here’s her story.
Short explanation of how and why you came to start your own business:
I saw a need for a community of parents in the city (Amsterdam) and I knew that I did not want to monetize the parents because there are enough things for parents to pay for already. Which meant working with supporting businesses and that’s how the business side began.
Are there any particular laws/initiatives in your country/location that support working parents?
Yes, if you are employed there are lots of parent benefits. If you are self-employed there is less support but that’s the trade off for your own flexibility in owning a business.
What are the main challenges in your country/location in terms of achieving balance?
I don’t know that the country causes the challenges. Living in the Netherlands has allowed me to easily start and sustain a business that I am passionate about. That passion often crosses over into family life and maintaining that balance is the biggest challenge.
What was one of the most unexpected things about becoming a parent?
That I would fall in love with the worst boss I’ve ever had! He is demanding, couldn’t do anything for himself for a really long time, requires my undivided attention and is always on the go. He’s 5 years old and I am madly in love with him.
What is one of the greatest wishes for your children? And yourself?
That my child sees me pursuing my dreams, making mistakes, learning and being fulfilled not only as his mother but also as an individual.
One of the moments you are most proud of in the last few months?
In business the launch of the new website, for my son, overcoming so many challenges as he grows. He is amazing.
One of the biggest challenges in the last few months?
Also the website. It is worse than childbirth bringing a website to life.
Share one of your favourite resources for working parents (website/book etc.)
My business mamas network, Amsterdam Business Mamas. They are a constant source of inspiration. I also loved the How to talk like TED book recently.
What kind of work does your partner do?
The complete opposite. He is happily working for a large organization.
What do you love about being a working parent?
That I get to use my brain for non-parent things.
What do you think is a myth about being a working parent?
That it’s hard. Everything is hard but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it and enjoy it.
Do your children go to school/daycare/alternative child-minding? How often?
My son goes to school, when he’s not at school, he’s with me.
Describe your office:
I love my office, it is my oasis in the city. Calm, quiet, green and filled with people I genuinely enjoy working with.
What are one or two of your favourite products or services?
The Village Card – I love that it is bringing local family focused businesses together.
What was one of the most unexpected things about starting a business?
How much I would love it. I wasn’t prepared for that. I thought it would be scary and daunting but it is exhilarating and challenging in the best ways.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 1 year? 5 years?
Still serving the local community, being the place that everyone knows that they can come for trusted, reliable information.
What advice can you give others just starting out in business?
Don’t wait, don’t overthink and don’t worry about making mistakes, because you will and that’s ok.
Is your partner/family/friends supportive of your business?
Utterly, I couldn’t do it without him.
What is your favourite thing about being in business?
The flexibility for myself but mostly the people I get to work with and the community I serve.
Your top tip/s for Family Work Balance:
Stop trying to find equality in balance because you will always be disappointed. It isn’t a trade off, 40 hours of work for 40 hours of parenting. Its about realizing that sometimes your family needs you more and sometimes your business/career takes more attention and as long as overall you are balancing those needs you shouldn’t get too caught up in the quest for day to day balance.
This post is part of a series of Professional Parents Profiles where working parents around the world share their stories and experiences of family work balance. Whether you own a business, would like to or work full or part time, you can share your story too! Together, we can all share ideas and inspiration to find better balance. Please contact me. Renee