Going back to work

Wannabe Apprentice, TV presenter and mum-preneur Saira Khan has advice for mums returning to work after a baby.


Saira Khan first blasted into our national consciousness as one of the pushiest contenders on TV’s The Apprentice.


Now she presents Beat The Boss on CBBC and runs her own mum and baby skincare products company Mia Moo.

Saira took some time to talk to babyexpert.com about life as a ‘mum-preneur’.

‘I had Zacariah in April 2008 by caesarean, so I had six weeks off to recover from that, then I was back at work by week 8. I’m self-employed so I couldn’t really take time off, but Zac was with me full-time for six months as I was breastfeeding .

‘One minute I was on the phone to a buyer, talking about margins and so on, then I’d come off the phone and play with Zac for a bit. My husband Steve used to joke that Zac’s first word wouldn’t be m-m-m-mama, but m-m-m-margins!

‘I’ve always been very driven, worked very hard and got up early so having a baby wasn’t a big shock to my system. Now it’s longer hours but I always make sure I finish at 5pm, then 5-7.30pm is our time.

‘Many women feel nervous about returning to work after they’ve spent time at home having a baby. That didn’t happen with me because I didn’t really take a break, but firstly, do not feel guilty.

‘Many women feel guilty that they’re no longer there to look after their baby. You worry whether you’re doing the right thing for your child by putting him into childcare. Get over it. Make sure you choose childcare you’re happy with then get on with it. Socialising with other children and learning to be looked after by someone else is good for most children. My son loves going to his childminder and he loves being with other children.

‘Secondly, there’s no excuse for not keeping up to date with what’s going on in the world. Just because you’ve had a baby doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with world events. Keep your skills current if you can.

‘Spending time with mummy friends is a great way to swap ideas about getting back to work. Community forums like Babyexpert too are great ways keep yourself informed about what’s going on. My NCT group have been a godsend.

‘Value the contribution you can make. I’m employing a woman one day a week who’s a mum but didn’t want to go back full time. It’s great because I’m flexible about days and so is she.

‘Mums have completely changed the baby industry. The internet and home-working mean you can quite easily start a business from home and run it around your family commitments.

‘The whole mum-preneur area is going to get even bigger: there is such a vast pool of talent – women with very good senior experience who don’t want to work full-time but are extremely efficient and competent and don’t want to let their skills go to waste.

‘Women are much better at multi-tasking, and employing a woman who’s also a mum is such a win-win situation for an employer. Mums are brilliant at time-management as you’re used to fitting so much in during your day.

‘Every company should make a rule of employing more back-to-work mums. If you allow women to have more flexible and part-time work, you will get happier and more reliable employees who will then do so much more for your business.’

Recent research from Kodak Inkjet showed that almost half (47%) of stay-at-home mums are turning on their computers to raise some extra cash.

More than a third are taking part in online market research to boost their coffers, while 13 per cent are selling their books, DVDs, and CDs on auction websites.

Other popular money-making schemes include reviewing events or products, setting up websites and even putting their typing skills to good use.

One in 20 ‘mousewives’ earn at least £200 a month from their extra jobs.

Six per cent reckon they could easily turn their home based work into a full-time job. Another 16 per cent think it would be possible if they put in more hours.

Saira Khan says, ‘The credit crunch is really having an effect on people and we are looking for ways to make a little bit of extra cash without having to make a large investment.

‘For many stay-at-home mums, the only thing they can really do is something on their computer that still allows them to look after the kids.

‘Writing quick reviews, filling in online surveys or typing letters for businesses is an ideal way to do this.’

Click here for Saira Khan’s tips on setting up a home office.


Click here for your chance to win a brand new Kodal ESP9 all-in-one inkjet printer and vouchers, worth a total £500.

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