I haven’t written for a while as I’ve actually been baking!

I’m also trying out a secondary career as interior designer and decorator. This wasn’t intentional but in order to make space for the business – and believe me, if you want to run any sort of food business from home, you need to make space for it – we need to move J to our spare room (otherwise known as the laundry/junk room, not the place we have overnight guests stay as we’d initially imagined) and turn his box room into an office/storage space.

I quite enjoying planning layouts and colours schemes so was quite happy to start doing the research on this, but in getting quotes for decorators was shocked at the range of prices. To paint (and nothing else) two bedrooms I was quoted anywhere between £500 and £1,400. Given my current not-employed status, we came to the conclusion that it makes more sense for me to do the work. So I’ve been stripping wallpaper, ripping out carpets and learning how to use self-levelling compound to hide the remains of an original 1930s fireplace. It’s fab, and weirdly like cake decorating – get the prep right and the finish sorts itself!

All of this is an aside though to something that’s been niggling my mind. I’m only two months into this new life and something is becoming quickly obvious – it is a very isolating career move. I am more than happy in my own company and don’t tend to feel ‘lonely’ if I’m by myself for long periods, but what I am missing is an office environment. I miss my old colleagues who always brightened my days, but I also miss the general chatter, the idea sharing, the advice, and the sharing of frustrations (and the no-words-for-mooning-in-the-middle-of-the-office, although that was a one-off, not by me obviously). It is irreplaceable.

So this week I did something I’m usually a bit rubbish at – I put out a heartfelt plea on a local parenting Facebook page asking if anyone is in a similar position and felt the same, and would they like to meet up. I’m bordering on 100 responses in less than 24 hours, with more still coming in. It’s like a strange mum-entrepreneur-dating hole that apparently needs filling and I seem to have put myself forward to find a solution to it.

There have been recommendations for other local groups that already exist, some I’m already a member of, some I’ve now signed up for, but what I’m noticing is that they seem to fall into two camps. The first is that they’re pay-for memberships, and aren’t always that local so aren’t hugely convenient for me. The second is that many of them appear to be online only, and the only activity on the groups is people promoting their businesses to each other. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but where’s the debate and discussion? One of the reasons working after having J was so important to me was retaining my own personality, part of life that was mine; that I hadn’t become that nameless ‘mum of so-and-so’ (and I actually enjoy working), and in choosing this new path, I am maintaining myself, but at a cost of colleagues – of friends.

I’ve had offers of people to use their venues for meetups and I’m even going to meet one this week to see what we can arrange. If even ten of the 100 people turned up, maybe we’ll start something lovely – and useful – without pressure to commit to a membership but with like-minded people trying to do the best for their family while still being a working professional. I’m really excited about this how an unexpected opportunity has arisen because I missed my office!

So my lesson of the week is to be brave, take a risk, and maybe you’ll find something amazing.

Corporate cupcakes