Working Mum: Meri Mance, Food and Drink PR

“I went back to work three days after having Flash and one week after having Ginger” – she simply took them to the office with her. Meri Mance, owner of a successful PR company, on babies and work…

Meritaten (Meri) Mance is 40, has two children – Flash, two (nearly three) and Ginger seven months. She lives in Kennington, London, with her partner – in business and love – James Sinclair-Smith

“I have my own Public Relations company, Meri Mance PR Ltd, based in Soho. We represent food and drink-based businesses. Our clients include: Moët Hennessy, Freixenet, Patty & Bun, Swingers Crazy Golf Club, Night Tales, The Crystal Maze and Rum Kitchen – amongst others.

I went back to work three days after having Flash and one week after having Ginger. As I have worked for myself for so long and it never stops – I was responding to emails before I went into the operating room for my c-section and from my hospital bed the next day – I did not find the transition hard at all.

The only issue I had was that I was recovering from a serious op so had to be a little less fast-paced than normal. My husband, James, is amazing and I would never be able to do it without him. He is my business partner so we very much share the workload and managing the children.

Since having our first child, our company has grown and expanded. When we discovered I was pregnant, we joined forces to make the business even stronger and when Flash was born we worked from home.

Our team are used to having her around so she gets bounced and cooed at a lot

Over the past two years, our client portfolio has grown and now includes some of the biggest brands in the world. This has meant that we have been able to expand the company, take on an office, take on additional team members and support our lifestyle with more childcare.

I’m still breastfeeding so most working days look like Flash getting up at about 6.30am and James giving him breakfast and making us coffee while I give Ginger a feed. Then I get up and depending on whether it’s a day Ginger is going to nursery or coming to the office with us I express her milk.

James will bring me a bite to eat and then we get ready, get the children ready and take either both of them to nursery or just Flash and take Ginger into the office.

Flash goes to nursery four days a week now and Ginger has just started going in for three days. We have a personal trainer on the mornings Ginger goes to nursery as we are both trying to tone after three years of having babies!

On the days Ginger is not at nursery, if I have a day full of meetings I will have our amazing nanny Daniella look after her at home but on the whole, if we’re just working from the office Ginger will come in with us. Our team are used to having her around so she gets bounced and cooed at a lot.

When she was tiny I would bring her in every day, sometimes I would have to breastfeed her mid-meeting but my clients were mostly supportive and respectful of it so it was never a problem. I even breastfed during a meeting in the boardroom at Moët Hennessy UK HQ when Ginger was a few months old.

We’ve known each other since we were children; we’re used to each other’s ways and temperaments and we love each other dearly so work very well together

As she has got older, though – and sleeps less – I can’t do it as much as it’s distracting and I need to focus. Basically I just juggle it all to suit the children and our way of life.

I didn’t have children to never see them so we try and include them where we can. We tend to spend every Friday together – James and I will work in the morning and then take the children out somewhere special from lunchtime.

A work-day lunch tends to be at my desk or out with a journalist or client, sometimes I will take Ginger with me and people love to see her or James will take her if I need to talk shop.

Either James or I head off at around 5pm to pick up Flash from nursery and then it’s straight on to feeding the children. James usually does Flash’s dinner and I will feed Ginger.

We’ll then give the children a bath – one of us normally gets in with them – and then I get Ginger to sleep and James reads Flash a story. All going to plan, they are both asleep by 7/7.30pm and James and I have dinner together. We are normally in bed by 10pm.

Because James and I work together, we share everything. I’m not sure it’s a situation that most people would be able to deal with but we’ve known each other since we were children; we’re used to each other’s ways and temperaments and we love each other dearly so work very well together.

There is nothing like a new baby to push you to make money to support your family

I love working, I love my work, I also love my children very much and I consider myself incredibly lucky that I have the best of both worlds. I would never be able to look after the children full-time; it’s just not in my make-up.

I think if I hadn’t been able to go back to work as soon as I had the babies I would probably have become quite depressed. I want to be the best I can be during the time I spend with them and that means having autonomy, I need my work to stimulate my brain and focus me.

The hardest thing is the lack of sleep. It’s the same story for everyone, I’m sure. Breastfeeding through the night means living on little sleep and having to get through a full working day when you would normally be catching up when the baby sleeps during the day. Breastfeeding is also draining so you’re doubly tired.

My advice for other working mums? Just go for it, if you are happy working then make it happen – there is nothing like a new baby to push you to make money to support your family.

If you’re happy then your children will be too. Also, don’t be worried about what other people think: it’s your life and you should live it how you wish.”

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