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Finding a 'new normal': how three amazing women have run businesses and their households during a pandemic

Unprecedented times. How many times have we heard that phrase recently? But it really is. I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected in some way by the pandemic, some more than others. I am lucky to still have a roof over my head and a job. I started Remade Reloved in November 2019, and 2020 was going to be my year. My children were starting preschool, my mental health was improving and I had so many big plans for my business. 

Then in March 2020 everyone's lives were turned upside down by the pandemic. I had to close down my business. My children came home from preschool one day and then just didn't go back for months. Suddenly my husband and I were working from home, when the day before our jobs had been very firmly office based. We were working around each other while also juggling three-year-old twins who were bored. All. The. Time. 

My mental health took a nosedive and suddenly there was no time to sew. There was barely time to do anything. It felt like our lives were on hold, waiting for things to return to normal. 

However, there is a 'new normal' (how many times have we ever heard THAT phrase too!?) During lockdown, I started a Facebook group for creative people in the local area. As of today, there are just shy of 600 members. This group has kept me going and not only have I made some new friends through it, it’s opened my eyes to all the amazing small businesses out there, and the hard working people running them.

One of these friends is Amanda, who runs Pandablue Creations and Buttons by Athena and Me. If I thought I had it tough, she has a very small baby and a preschooler - and she runs two businesses!

Amanda says: “For me it's been a case of working with it rather than against it! My main thing is lino printing but you can't do that with a child at home so I started looking for something I could share with her, and that turned out to be making buttons. Unlike painting, where she'll paint for a couple minutes then be in the wind, she'll sit with me for ages adding glitter and powders to the buttons, then she plays with them after they're made. It’s been a challenge but finding something to do with her has really helped.”

Another group member is Emma Rosen, a local independent author and mum of three. She says:

“Like Marie, 2020 was set to be ‘my year’ and I’d just launched school author visits as a new facet to my business. Of course, lockdown put a pause on that. I also did most of the home-schooling, and as an ex-teacher I was mulish in sticking to the set work. However, that took a toll on my creative time. In order to work I either had to multitask while supervising the kids, or try to concentrate while listening to my husband looking after them. My productivity dropped and I found it all extremely frustrating. On the other hand, we’ve grown closer, so every cloud has a silver lining!

Hats off to all small business owners who have kept going through the pandemic with small children at home - you’re all amazing!

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