The word mum doesn’t mean ‘mumsy’ or frumpy anymore: Kirsti Hadley, 44, lives in Brighton with her partner James and Sonny-Jay, six. She runs the wildly popular Buggied Out family events, is the founder of GRLPWR Gang and has over 25,000 followers on Instagram.
Kirsti is one of the faces of a new generation of mums; who believe they don’t have to act and look a certain way to be a good parent, and that supporting each other and being honest about the battles women face, as well as being themselves instead of aspiring to a false ideal of perfection, is the way forward.
Here, Kirsti gives us her unique perspective on becoming and being a parent; explaining how it was tough at first but why she now firmly believes that loving herself as she is and not judging herself – or others – harshly is the key to happiness.
Kirsti says: “I wasn’t prepared for having a baby. I dived in head-first which is the way I live life. At first I thought I should be wearing this and looking like that, I lost my identity there for a while, it’s a scary business at first being responsible for another living being, you have to learn to travel around your city with a buggy or a babe strapped to you and you’re constantly risk assessing every situation to keep your nugget safe and it can be really daunting.
“Plus your body is a bit bleurgh from the pregnancy and the hormones and for me that manifested itself in what I can only describe as a kind of temporary madness; ‘who am I?’ ‘what should I be doing? ‘who should I be hanging out with?’ ‘am I an ok mum?’ ‘what the hell am I gonna wear I’m so tired I love my baby so much but I’m so tired and I need help but don’t want to ask for help’, AND THEN – before you know it you’re back to yourself again – but a better version of yourself and all the madness is a distant memory.
“Now I want to be that mum who looks different on the school run. It brought out the rebel in me. I have more of a sense of style identity than I did before. I think when you have created a human being you have a sense of invincibility after that you maybe didn’t have before and you’re more confident and more willing to take risks. I am a mum and I LOVE being a mum and it totally defines me but I don’t want it to define the way that I look.
“I ran my own company looking after talent and organising events so I was back at work immediately after Sonny-Jay was born. But what struck me was how uninspiring everything for families was. The thought of singing nursery rhymes wasn’t exactly exhilarating or appealing to me and I thought, ‘I can definitely do better than this’ so I launched a blog which has evolved into Buggied Out: Stylish family events.
“Buggied out is a take on Bugged Out – the legendary club night that has been going for 20 years run by friends of mine. I find the concept of ‘baby raves’ frenetic so our aim is to provide calm entertainment for children which genuinely appeals to parents.
“It started because I just wanted to create events that my friends and I wanted to go to and everyone got involved, set designers, brand consultants, DJ’s and it grew from there – were were all the Smash & Grab / Indie / Rave generation so if there’s one thing we all know how to do it’s throw a good party! Because I’ve worked with brands for years too it was only a matter of time before we started being approached by kids brands to organise events too, The South Bank Centre, Butlins, Soho House Group, Hunter, Cybex and Polarno Pyret are just a few brands we’ve worked with to date.
“There is one thing I would say though, I created this part of my business to include my child in my work and that can actually end up being stupidly stressful, don’t assume that because you work in the kids industry that you should be able to take your child to work with you any more than a mum that doesn’t! It is a constant battle juggling motherhood with work and I’m in the middle of the school holidays at the moment, I try to keep a balance between holiday clubs that Sonny loves so that I can work and family fun the rest of the time and I am constantly trying not to check e mails when I’m with Sonny. My goal is to be able to take the 6 weeks off next summer. We don’t get this time back and I don’t want to look back and wish I’d done it differently.
“I think every generation of mums changes parenthood. We had the yummy mummies before us and now it’s Insta-mums, who encompass a broad range of parenting styles. Now, more than ever anything goes. Pushing boundaries, being kind, working at a job I love, girls supporting one another, discovering new people, creating, spending time with friends and seeing my child and family happy are the things that inspire me, listening to the wisdom that comes from unaffected by life children is one of the best things ever and I love listening to favourite music and watching fave films for the first time with the kiddo.
“We all want our kids to have advantages in life that we didn’t have and I want my kid to grow up surrounded by creative forces knowing that he can achieve anything that he sets his mind to and I want to try and change the world for the better in a tiny way if I possibly can. JK Rowling is a huge current role model, clever, bold, talented, ballsy, kind, giving, funny, I could gush about her for days. She’s fantastic.
“The way that I try to approach parenting six years in is this: I’m never going to perfect, I shout a bit too much, I work a bit too much, am on my phone a bit too much amongst many other faults I could list BUT I make sure my child knows he is loved more than anything else, I’m always there at shows, school drop offs and most pick ups, we go on regular adventures together just the two of us and we have days where we say only YES to everything.
“I try not to judge myself too harshly and I never ever judge other mums because no-one knows what anyone else’s struggles are, we are all doing the hardest job in the world and we need to cut ourselves and each other some slack every now and again. I’m doing the best I can with the tools that I have and THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH.”
We certainly agree with that.
Did you enjoy this? Here TV presenter Olivia Wayne gives us her advice on how to cope for new mums, and here a best selling author reveals her expert parenting hacks for a stress-free summer. And, if you’re at home on maternity leave, here’s how two mums had coffee one morning with their newborns and had an idea which grew into a thriving business. Also, Olympian Rebecca Adlington tells us how becoming a mum helped her battle the demons she had with her body image – and win.
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