AMY HUGHES AND HER DAUGHER. © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

“…you know THAT you’re working so hard to financially support them, but you just feel really bad when you’re working too much.”

As the first woman to run 53 Marathons in 53 days, inspiring mum of one Amy Hughes is no stranger to setting goals and showing phenomenal amounts of determination. Amy is also a well-respected fitness trainer at Barry’s UK and founder of Sculpt in Haus, Pilates Studio – Amy started Sculpt in the same week that she found out she was pregnant! Undeterred by the challenges that lay ahead Amy, (along with her partner Martin) has managed to successfully juggle parenthood and alongside a new business venture. We sat down with Amy and beautiful little Lennon at her studio in Manchester and we discussed the challenges of running a business with a baby in tow and how becoming a mum can impact on our identity.

So you started running your business before having a baby, how different has it been since your beautiful baby girl has arrived?
“Very! It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s just difficult because obviously you want to spend time with the baby, but equally, you’re just knackered all the time. It’s funny because people tell you, ‘Aww you’re going to be so tired. You’re not going to have time for anything.’ And you think, ‘Oh I’ll be fine. It can’t be that bad!’ But they weren’t lying!” (Laughs) “And yeah, it’s hard as well because when you’ve got a team, you feel like you’re not doing them justice. I think you just constantly feel pulled in all directions. I also thought I would be back at work 4 weeks after she was born, but I had really bad blood pressure issues so I couldn’t come back at that point in terms of teaching. So that was stressful – but nothing ever goes to plan.”

AMY HUGHES AND HER DAUGHTER © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

Have you experienced the dreaded ‘Mum Guilt’?
“The mum guilt is real; I’ve felt so bad whilst I’ve been setting up this place. But because my partner Martin is self-employed too we can juggle the childcare, so thankfully he’s looking after her when I’m not there. So, she’s not bothered at all. She doesn’t miss me. But it’s you that feels bad! Everything you do is for them; everything has completely changed nothing is about you and everything is about them and in a way you know that you’re working so hard to financially support them, but you just feel so bad when you’re working so much.”

What do you do to help ease that mum guilt?
“Well, when I’m feeling really bad, I think of my mum – she didn’t run her own business, but she worked really hard while I was growing up. She had like 5 jobs! And sometimes we would help her with a little production line, and I think that’s made me want to work hard. So, in the same way I saw my mum working hard and that inspired me, I hope that my work ethic will inspire my daughter too.”

The first few years of running a business are always the hardest, you ever feel like you can switch off?

“Because the business is busy, at the moment I feel like I never switch off. Even down to people messaging on social asking for the opening times, class times etc, you feel like you need to answer them there and then – because that’s what people expect. I was actually thinking about this the other day and I thought to myself that when she becomes old enough to understand when I’m on my phone etc, I’m going to have to put some boundaries in place. But that’s very hard when you’re not at the stage where you can afford for someone to look after your social media and reply to your emails. Also, I’m a ‘yes’ person and I always feel guilty when I can’t fit a client in. For years I’ve worked around them and obviously as much as I value my clients, Lennon is my priority now so in that way it’s good as it forces you to work differently anyway. It just takes time and effort to find as much balance as possible.”

How do you aim to find a better work life/life balance?
“Well, obviously the aim isn’t for me to always be answering every message and running all the classes here. The whole aim of having a business is so you have freedom. At the beginning it is hard though, you struggle with time and financially it can be really tough but focusing on the bigger picture helps. Hopefully the business will give me the freedom to be around more, and we’ll have that financial stability from it too.

I think another thing that can be hard, is obviously with not having that ‘standard’ maternity leave and you can’t go to all the mum and baby clubs. It’s just too hard to fit it in when your list of things to do is so long. But we have done lots of mum and baby classes here though, so Lennon gets the interaction with other babies that way, so we’ve integrated things like that.”

Although you gain so much from becoming a parent, it can often feel like we lose parts of ourselves too. Did you feel you lost any parts of your identity once you became a mum?
“Running was a big part of my life; it was always something that I found easy and that I could just do. And no matter how long I didn’t run for I could still just do it, whereas now it seems to take so much longer than it did before. That’s something that was part of my identity before, but that went – although I am starting to get back into it now. You do lose you; I’ve always been very independent and so that’s something I struggle with, especially with working really hard. I feel like when I’m not working, I should be with the baby, but you need that time for you too. I think the same can be said for Dad’s, I think people can forget about the impact it has on them too.”

And finally, do you have any tips for any mum’s?
“Tips, I don’t know – I would like someone to give me some tips! (We all laugh) “I would say if people offer to help you, accept it. That wasn’t something that came natural to me – at all, but one of my friends offered to have Lenny one a day a week and that’s been a massive help! And it’s hard to do at the start of a business but do try and delegate as much as possible.”

Written by Lolo Stubbs
Photography by Tom Pitfield

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