Becky O’Connor is an awesome mum of two boys (aged 7 and 4) and co-founder of Good With Money - a website about how to be better and do good with your cash. She recently launched the #ThisMumSaves campaign with PensionBee, focusing on helping part-time, self-employed women to understand more about what pension savings can do for them in the future.
What time did you wake up this morning?
6.30am (I hit snooze twice though)
What was your very first thought of the day?
Who’s turn is it to make the coffee?
What are your 3 essentials for getting up, out and at ‘em?
Having a) a child that screams “Mummy” repeatedly from their bedroom - that’s a sure fire shot of adrenalin to get me going b) another child that comes into bed with me wanting instant conversation and Horrid Henry on the TV c) at least two coffees.
Describe a typical working morning?
I try to drop the boys off at pre-school and school as early as possible and then, if there’s time, I’ll give the dog a quick whizz round the park. At home, I usually have to spend 15 minutes tidying up the breakfast stuff, washing up and putting clothes away before heading to the study - it helps me concentrate if I know those basic household things are done.
I’ve usually done a to-do list the night before so that I don’t have to rely too much on my morning-y brain to remember what needs doing and can just blitz it, stopping only for cups of tea. I reply to emails, draft blog posts, take calls schedule tweets and commission/ pitch ideas. I have to do quite a lot of planning and strategy work at the moment too as the business is growing, which is very exciting, but is a whole other workstream. I’m very motivated by ticks. Nothing makes me feel better than three or four good, solid ticks on the to-do list by 12 noon. Course, that doesn’t always happen.
Why did you decide to start the #ThisMumSaves campaign?
I’m genuinely worried about the state of women’s savings. We hear a lot about income inequality but less about pension inequality. At its worst, it can trap women in unhappy marriages when they hit old age or even before because they realise too late they’re dependent on their husband’s pension. At best, the pensions gap means that women might just not quite have the life they imagine when they hit their mid sixties. If there’s anything we learn from having kids, it is that life whizzes by and before you know it you are ten years older.
So many mums have to focus on the here and now and day to day. It can be really difficult to extract yourself from that, when life is going at a million miles an hour, to pull back and do something for your future self, like starting a pension. For me, this is one of the most important types of self-care, but not one that you see so much on Instagram.
What's the best part of your job?
Getting to write about what I am passionate about - the power of money to change our own lives AND the world. I write a lot about sustainable investing, which I find really exciting. Money makes the world go round - educating people about the banks and funds they can put it in to actually help solve global problems like CO2 emissions and poverty is seriously rewarding. It’s macro economic struggles meets micro household finances - and I like to do it in a more fun, creative and personal way than your typical personal finance pages - because why not?
#1 tip for juggling work and family life?
Stop juggling. Seriously. I work in designated hours and do nothing to do with work outside those hours. I don’t work in the evening or early morning unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. I have to keep everything as separate as possible or I don’t do anything properly - it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way and the only system I know for maintaining my sanity and continuing to meet the expectations of others, children or clients. Psychological and physical compartmentalisation of work and home life for me is super important (although as I wrote that, I realise I’d been talking to Mum’s The Word about this campaign on the school run!!! Note to self: follow own advice).
The happiest moment in your day?
Reading with the boys at bedtime.
The hardest moment in your day?
Getting the kids out the house in the morning - with everything they need. We’re like particles being smashed together in the Cern collider between 8 and 8.15.
Most overused word of the day?
“Don’t…. X, Y, Z”, ie. “Don’t sit on your brother’s head”, “don’t stand on the kitchen table”, “don’t go outside without your shoes on”. Fun? Me?
Once the kids are in bed I…
Crash. I get one hour of TV if possible. I do also do pilates one night a week, a run one night if it is light enough and try to go out for dinner or drinks - or have someone over - one night a week.
Top 3 local gems?
Langton Pavilion Cafe (what did we ever do before this opened??), the Daily Bread in Rusthall and Basil.
Best piece of advice for fellow Mum's…
Self-sacrifice is part of the Mum job, but it can go too far. Do at least one thing on your own in the week that’s not to do with work, kids or household management but is just something you really enjoy. It could be going for a run, it might be getting your nails done, or just meeting a friend. It’s surprising how hard it is to make yourself a key part of your life - your kids will also be curious about what you do and it’s good for them to see you enjoying other things (even if they can make you feel a bit guilty about it sometimes).