The Ambition Series: Meet Mother Pukka

Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, is my fourth guest in The Ambition Series and if I’m honest, I felt a little bit in awe of her uber-coolness when I first approached her about taking part. I needn’t have worried though because despite the fact that I see her name everywhere these days and the fact that she is taking the world of blogging, vlogging and social media by storm, she is also entirely down to earth, funny, kind and well, basically just like every other Mama making a living. If you are blogging yourself or even if you aren’t, then there is a good chance that you will have heard of Mother Pukka and most likely will expect her success to be down to some machine like, ambitious streak just as I did. If that is the case then I expect her answers may surprise you…

Anna Whitehouse Mother Pukka

Would you consider yourself to be an ambitious woman and if so what does ‘ambition’ mean to you personally?

I’m determined. Determined to pick-up my daughter from school at 3pm every day next September. It’s a maternal instinct that has fuelled my blog. I think, for me, I don’t have ambitions, I am simply trying to work around life’s restrictions. And my previous work (any work, to be honest) doesn’t end at 3pm – I know no one who has successfully negotiated a 3pm finish. So what are we to do? I’ve created a career around those restrictions.

In general, do you find that other women are supportive of your success with Mother Pukka or negative about it? How do you deal with the haters?

I suppose it’s how you define success. I’m struggling to have a second child and that makes me feel totally unsuccessful in my darker, more sleep-deprived moments. I’m also transparent about the good, bad and ugly moments that happen in my yoghurt-stained parental life. I don’t think there can be negativity around a person just doing what they can to make ends meet. We’re all grown up, we’re all too tired to hate on others. Or if there is hate, I literally haven’t noticed it because I’ve been arm-deep in a shitty bin that was housing a soggy cucumber end.

You’ve spoken in the media about how you quit a high flying job in order to be at home with your daughter. Has this altered your ambitions or definition of success at all?

I actually didn’t quit my job to be at home with my daughter – it was more to see more of her. I still wanted there to be a working day, it was just my working day. Control is success for me; control over not having to answer to anyone when your kid has a code red sick bug and you need to be with them. When you need to simply be a parent.

Anna Whitehouse Mother Pukka and daughter

In order to make it big in the blogging / vlogging world, which three characteristics do you think are most important?

A fresh perspective, I suppose. But that can’t be made up – it must be yours and not simply to stand out from the crowd; people will smell a rat. Plus a willingness to share your life – sounds easier than it is. Oh and an understanding family who understand your RSI-induced Instagram stalking.

What or who inspires you to get up and go each morning, create new content and keep pushing your career forwards?

My mum @grandmother_pukka. She’s the maternal oracle, the big boss. She kicks me up the derriere when I’m crying into my soggy cornflakes. She’s the woman with no brakes on her bike and she keeps encouraging me to go down that hill on her bike.

Grandmother Pukka with Mother Pukka Anna Whitehouse and daughter

You’ve recently launched the #flex campaign aimed at encouraging employers to offer a more flexible working environment. How important do you think that this flexibility is in allowing parents to achieve their ambitions?

I really don’t want the Mother Pukka Flex Appeal to be a big witch hunt. It’s mainly to show businesses that they’re losing talent and there’s a simple way to retain those people. I think if more businesses would be open to flexible working and treated people as, well, people whose lives are messy (whether you are a parent or not), they’d get back so much in terms of productivity. If they don’t, then maybe that person isn’t right for the company? It’s a good way of measuring people on their talent, not ability to sit on a chair beyond 6pm.

Do you have a list of goals you would like to achieve in your career? If so, what’s next for you?

To be there at 3pm to pick-up Mae next September from school. That to me is parenting the shit out of life.

 

Thanks so much for agreeing to take part Anna and for speaking so candidly about your motivations and struggles.

What did you think of Anna’s responses? I see such a strong theme of women being motivated by their children in this series. As Anna says, wanting to be there on the school run and being able to work flexibly when your children are sick and need you is really high up there on the list of priorities for a lot of parents. I think her definition of success and mine are very similar. I loved Anna’s incredibly honest take on being a working Mama and well, everything! I’d love to hear what you think so drop me a comment in the box below.

For more from Anna you can visit the Mother Pukka website here.

 

 

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38 Comments

  1. October 18, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    This is so inspiring, and makes me think how society should be. We really shouldn’t have to answer to anyone when it comes to taking care of our kids, and although it’s great we get to be fulfilled in other ways apart from motherhood we should also have the opportunity to be there for our kids. After all that is our job as much as paid work is.
    Kate recently posted…Giggle Parenting Inspiration: The Lick MonsterMy Profile

  2. Julia
    October 18, 2016 / 3:06 pm

    I really enjoyed reading Anna’s answers to your pertinent questions, I applaud her honest answers which I guess speak to many women. Employers should take note!

  3. October 18, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    I love the #flex campaign – I’m just a big proponent of flexible working for parents. I think it would allow so many mums and dads to continue to work without feeling like they have to give up their career. I’m lucky to have a fairly flexible employer, but even they have a long way to go before flexible working is really the norm.
    Squirmy Popple recently posted…I get bored by my child – and that’s okayMy Profile

  4. October 21, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    Interesting interview. I’ve only really heard of Anna’s blog but not followed her writing, so interesting to hear what she’s about.

    I’m quite lucky in my company, in that they are relatively flexible. Certainly I’m able to do the hours I requested to be able to compress my hours to be able to do one pick up a week without cutting my hours. There are many people in our business who work shorter hours in order to do school drop offs and/or pick ups. But it does make it very hard for arranging meetings, off site visits just generally catching up with people to progress projects. I think it’s much easier if people are doing individual work rather than working round 4 people in a team, all of whom do different working hours. They also accommodate people working from home.

    But, my company brought in flexi time, and have pretty much removed flexible working where your contracted hours are different. Instead you have to be working between 10-12 and 2-4. The rest of the time you can flex working more or less as long as your hours are stuck to. This is great for people without kids, and the morning bit works for drop offs, but it makes it harder than before for parents to do picks up – it’s impossible. Thankfully people on the old system can keep theirs, but new starters are likely to have requests turned down on the basis that they have flexi working.

    More companies should be open to it, and with the capability to work from home for many office staff, that increases the flexibility.

  5. October 22, 2016 / 7:21 am

    I loved reading this interview with Anna. I’m a big fan of flexible working since going back to work, and my company agreed to a day working from home a week and leaving every day at 5 to pick my daughter up from nursery. It’s hard leaving at 5 sometimes you’re right in the middle of something, and it feels like you’re leaving in the middle of the day. Then I often end up taking work home with home with me in the evening or at the weekend. That’s part of the nature of my role. I do think that more needs to be done to make those who are not parents more aware of flexible working. I hope that flexible working starts to becone more of a common thing in companies so that they stop loosing talent or dedicated employees. Claire x #fortheloveofblog
    The Pramshed recently posted…fortheloveofBLOG Week 24My Profile

  6. October 22, 2016 / 8:20 am

    Anna’s #flexappeal campaign is fab isn’t it? I love her attitude and it makes perfect sense the way she talks about employers, talent and productivity. I went back to work full time after my first child (he went to nursery) and for a while after my second child but they were not flexible or understanding re sickness etc so in the end it was just too stressful and I felt I had to choose. I’ve never regretted giving up my job to be at home with the kids but I do resent the fact that I felt I had to choose work or them. Now I feel like I would really struggle to find work that would allow me to still do the school run or be flexible around sick days etc. #fortheloveofblog
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  7. October 22, 2016 / 8:28 am

    What an awesome lady. I’m currently trying to balance work and life and motherhood and would love nothing more than to pick up my little one from school every day next year. This is really inspiring. I often think employers are short sighted and judgmental when it comes to flexible working, so let’s hope Anna and others can help carve the way forward.
    Kimberly x
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  8. October 22, 2016 / 8:30 am

    What a great interview and very inspirational. I’m lucky in that I don’t currently have to work for at least this year so that I can homeschool my daughter, but I will be going back next year and will hope I can figure things out by then. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Cherry – The Newby Tribe recently posted…Our Family Review : The StorksMy Profile

  9. October 22, 2016 / 9:11 am

    What a lovely, warm post. I think a lot of mothers move into their own self-employed careers as a result of the lack of flexibility in the workplace – whereas flexible workers are frequently the most committed. I’ve been fortunate to agree a good flexible arrangement with my supportive boss – because as soon as I had my daughter she became my focus #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. October 22, 2016 / 9:54 am

    She is what I want to be – a real inspiration . Great series , well done to you #fortheloveofblog

  11. October 22, 2016 / 11:00 am

    It sounds as if Anna has a good, strong work/life ethic and I think if she achieves this and helps others to achieve it, then she will have hit the success button. It’s lovely to hear about such an honest blogger, who seems to know what she wants and wants to help others achieve goals too. Alison x #fortheloveofBLOG
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  12. October 22, 2016 / 12:57 pm

    This is very inspiring post. I love that she says she left her old job to see more of her daughter as opposed to just look after her daughter. I believe that’s something employees almost feel they can’t admit – that they WANT to see their child rather than they just have to be there through duty. I leave work by 4pm on my working days to collect my daughter from nursery just after 5pm. That gives me an hour with her at home before we start bedtime because I only see her for minutes in the morning. I also don’t Mondays or Fridays because I want to still have that 1-1 time with her. So many people I work with just see it as being through necessity rather than choice. I only hope she does influence employers to be more flexible. I have been reasonably fortunate but it shouldn’t be a problem in this modern day. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Angela Watling recently posted…‘Meal of the Month’ – Thai-style chana dal – October 2016My Profile

  13. October 22, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    What a great interview. I love that Anna is driven by being there for her children. There are so many if us that would love to be there for them all the time and I think being there to pick them up from school is a great goal to strive for.
    #fortheloveofBLOG
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  14. October 22, 2016 / 1:40 pm

    Another great instalment to this series. I admire the effort she is putting in to be able to pick her daughter up from school, being flexible with working hours isn’t always easy for working parents.

    #fortheloveofBLOG
    The Tale of Mummyhood recently posted…Stocking Fillers with Snapfish!My Profile

  15. October 22, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    I love everything Anna from Mother Pukka stands for. I think everyone has their own idea of success and as long as your are successful in your own mind thats all that should matter. I too want to be at the school gates next September to pick up my daughter and that has massively fuelled some recent decisions I made.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  16. October 22, 2016 / 3:50 pm

    I think it’s great that the push for flexible working conditions is being made. Companies need to realize that simply taking up space in an office cubicle doesn’t mean an emplyee is being productive. It’s time to reward people who are able to self motivate without a supervisor standing over them. Those are the people worth keeping around and they are responsible enough to be given freedom to complet their work in the manner they see fit. #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. October 22, 2016 / 5:38 pm

    As a Mom of three littles, going back to a 9-5 feels almost impossible. If only things were more flexible and childcare more affordable! I had totally missed Mother Pukka before so I look forward to having a good snoop around the website! #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. October 22, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    I love the point about finishing at 3pm. I’m trying to decide what to study and the main point is how do I work it around school times and holidays! A really inspiring lady , lovely interview! #fortheloveofBLOG
    Amie recently posted…What They Wore – HalloweenMy Profile

  19. October 22, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Oh well done. Good questions and her answers are on point.
    A fresh perspective and a willingness to share your life…
    I’m taking notes over here.

  20. October 22, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    She is awesome isn’t she! I love the fact she has designed her own life, her own work and now she’s created this amazing campaign! Way to many employers talk flex working but they don’t mean it! When I job shared – I know I worked a whole lot harder than some full-timers, and delivered on time all the time. But boy the looks I got when I rocked up at 10am after dropping my kids at school….Grrr! You go Mother Pukka I’m behind you!
    Tooting Mama recently posted…My 11 truths about adoptionMy Profile

  21. October 23, 2016 / 6:44 am

    loved ‘parenting the shit out of life’ what a good read. I hadn’t heard of her until your Instagram post so will definitely give her a follow. #fortheloveofblog
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  22. October 23, 2016 / 11:57 am

    I love Anna from Mother Pukka, she’s really inspiring and I love her idea of the #flexappeal. I am hoping I will be at the school gates when my son starts school, but I will have to negotiate different working times with my manager. #fortheloveofblog

  23. October 23, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    Such a good interview, I love her response to why she’s doing her flex appeal. Rather than attack them, show them what they’ll miss and they’ll think differently. Kill them with kindness I suppose! Looking forward to another post
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  24. October 23, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    This is my favourite interview so far in this series. What a great woman she is. So inspiring and the way she explains it all makes you wonder why on earth life isn’t just like this for everyone already, no questions asked. Brilliant. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Jaki recently posted…Guest Blog: 13 Fun Activities to Do At Home with Family by iZullyMy Profile

  25. October 24, 2016 / 7:01 am

    Loved this. It made me want to cry a little. I recently left my job to see more of my son, as my workplace were not willing to work with what I needed. I miss my job and was so frustrated with them for not having a more flexible outlook. They’re well aware that they’ve lost a key person, and it’s completely their fault. I’m loving the time with my boy.

  26. October 25, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    She tells it like it is to some extent that employers need to be more flexible/understanding of women in the workplace. Sadly a number of companies see their employees as easy to replace and just a number. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  27. October 25, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    Such a fresh, inspiring outlook. I really agree with everything she has said. I think being a mother/parent really can fuel you, can make you see clear and what you need to do in order to survive I guess. Flex sounds like an amazing campaign, something I greatly appreciate having had issues in the past regarding. #fortheloveofBLOG

  28. October 28, 2016 / 10:13 pm

    I love Mother Pukka and what a great interview.I look forward to seeing what happends with the Flex Appeal .#fortheloveofblog

  29. November 1, 2016 / 9:57 pm

    This is really interesting to read. I quit my job (not necessarily high flying, but I was well respected and good at what I did) so I could be there more for my daughter who’d been so ill for months. People think it’s just to ‘stay home with her’ – but actually it’s to have the option to be there when she needs me. And now I’m tying to carve a more flexible career from my blog and hope to go freelance next year. I’d not heard of her flex campaign but will be having a look. I worked with people who didn’t have kids and felt such pressure having to leave for illnesses, which is why in the end I couldn’t find a happy balance. #fortheloveofblog

  30. January 15, 2017 / 10:41 am

    Wow, love this. It actually made me a bit emotional. Like someone has finally articulated what is going on in my brain and why I’m so unhappy. I want to work, but I also want to be there for my child. Why should it be so difficult.
    Lauren M recently posted…I’m an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion!My Profile

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