Interview with Clare Flaxen – Founder of Resilient Mums
A cognitive behavioural therapist and mentor, Clare works with mums to teach them new ways to manage stress and the various challenges that come with motherhood. Clare is a huge advocate for women being able to have real, unedited conversations about the ups and downs of motherhood and how important looking after maternal wellbeing is, after all ‘as a mum who hasn't felt overwhelmed at times?'
Describe your business – what do you do?
We love our kids, but motherhood comes with a very unique set of pressures and expectations that can lead us to feel like it’s all too much or we’re not doing a good enough job.
I do CBT work individually with women and I also have a Facebook group – The Resilient Mums Collective. I teach strategies and tools to build emotional resilience and support women in becoming more confident, less stressed and better able to navigate this roller coaster ride of motherhood. A huge part of it is looking at what’s going on with our thoughts and how it all links to how we feel and what we do. Once you learn how to get a handle on that and change up the internal chatter we all have, the better able you’ll be to approach life from a calmer, happier place. I do all my CBT work over skype or the phone, so it doesn’t matter where you are and if you’re having a rough day and your child is hell bent on not letting you get dressed, let alone out of the house, you don’t have to worry about it! You also don’t need to worry about childcare. So often, mums are blocked from accessing support as they can’t bring their children to appointments. It depends on the age of the child and their level of understanding, but as long as you can talk freely, it’s fine to have your child with you during sessions.
I love to use different ways of teaching CBT and emotional wellbeing: 1:1 sessions; videos; podcasts; written articles and blogs. And I love collaborating with other people working in the world of mums. I’m basically a massive advocate and cheerleader for mums.
I think that far too often mums feel like they have to do it all and they stay silent about the things they’re finding hard. But we all need some help and support at times. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
What gave you the idea to start up your business?
I’ve worked in emotional wellbeing for over twenty years. First as a mental health social worker (I’m still registered as one), then setting up and running a mental health & wellbeing service at a London university and for the last six years as a cognitive behavioural therapist and wellbeing mentor.
I first got the idea to set up Resilient Mums after I became a mum myself. I was living in the States, in Washington DC, when I had my daughter. I’d left my job running the mental health & wellbeing service to move there with my husband (Pablo). It was there that I trained as a cognitive behavioural therapist: the States is a great place to study CBT and I was fortunate enough to get a place on the training program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for Cognitive Therapy, where CBT was first created. It was an amazing experience and that time of my life living there will always be very special to me.
Once I had my daughter I knew I didn’t want to go back to a 9-5 job. So, I thought about setting up my own private CBT practice. It seemed a no brainer to me to work with mums. I knew just how demanding motherhood was and how many unexpected things can come up emotionally and really have an impact on how we feel. Plus, I didn’t know one single person who wasn’t finding some aspect of motherhood a challenge. Not one single person. Whether it was the stresses of trying to juggle it all, a lack of confidence as a mum, a crisis in their sense of identity (I could relate to that one!) or anxieties around their children, right across the spectrum from a difficult period to full blown postnatal difficulties, no one was having a completely easy time, especially in the beginning when it’s all so new. It seemed to me that there was a real lack of services and support aimed specifically at mums across the board. And so, Resilient Mums was born.
What aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?
Setting up my own business was a bit left field for me – it’s not something I’d ever really thought about doing before I became a mum.
I was confident with the wellbeing side of things and providing support, but I needed some help when it came to setting up as a business: things like branding, using social media, the details of how it all works.
It’s been a huge learning curve for me and I’m doing things, like teaching CBT strategies in videos on Facebook or putting together online courses, that I never thought I’d be doing. And I’m loving it!
I’ve had a huge amount of support and learnt a lot from Ruth herself. I started off watching her training videos, then progressed to her group coaching programme and am now doing one to one coaching with her. She’s helped me to start up my business and think about ways to build it and stay engaged with the core of what it’s all about – a passion for helping mums find a way back to enjoying more of their time with their kids and feeling more confident about themselves.
I also found it hugely helpful at the start to watch a ton of webinars online to learn the basics about starting up and get my head around how it all works. I’ve done some business boot camps too and an online course with the brilliant Shaa Wasmund and I’ve found her work invaluable in teaching me practical skills and being just massively motivating in general.
She and Ruth are both forces to be reckoned with!
I never underestimate the power there is in groups like Ruth’s The Hub – being surrounded by a supportive group of women online who all have the same aims to grow their businesses and are there supporting and cheering each other on can make a huge difference in reaching your goals and succeeding.
What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
For me, the freedom and autonomy are unbeatable. I love that I’m creating things the way I want to and the way I think is going to be most helpful to my clients. I love being able to use my skills and put them towards building something that I feel immensely proud of. The flexibility it allows me is a huge factor too – I plan my days the way I want to, and I have choice in how I spend my time.
Being able to spend time with my daughter is priceless. I have one day each week that I spend just her and me and it’s awesome. I also never have to stress about negotiating time off for special occasions with her or things her nursery puts on. I feel very lucky to not even have to think about that!
This is the biggest joy for me – being present on a day to day basis in my daughter’s life and building a future for her and my family. When she’s older, I’d love for her to be proud of what her mum has created.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Time!!! There’s never enough….it can be a real juggling act.
That and confidence to keep finding a way through when it all feels unclear or some things are slow to get off the ground. When you work by yourself, you don’t have anyone else to bounce ideas off or delegate things to that aren’t necessarily your strengths (well, that will be the next phase when I can employ people to do the things I’m not great at!). That’s why having a coach and being part of the online community of women entrepreneurs is so important – it gives you that sounding board and encouragement.
Juggling life with your partner isn’t always easy when you’re self-employed – evenings can get taken over with work if you’re not careful.
If you could go back and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
Get on with it! Just start. It doesn't need to be perfect and you’ll figure it out along the way. Also, don’t be scared, doing this is really, really fun. I am grateful every day that I have the opportunity to build Resilient Mums.
What are your plans for the future?
So many! I want to keep building my CBT practice and I have an online course teaching CBT skills to mums that will be out later in the year.
I want to write more articles and blogs and I plan to launch a series of podcasts in the future. I love the idea of just talking honestly about the world of mums and blasting some taboos out of the water.
Bigger picture I plan to teach workshops and build more collaborations with other professionals working with mums and wellbeing. I think there’s a lot of scope to work on maternal mental wellbeing training for health services and that’s something I’m interested in doing. A book would be nice too!
To find out more about Clare and Resilient Mums…
Website – https://www.resilientmums.com/
The Resilient Mums Collective – https://www.facebook.com/groups/resilientmums/
FB Page – https://www.facebook.com/resilientmums/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/resilientmums/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/resilientmums