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…
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.
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.
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.