I first discovered Pipsqueak when I bought some cot bedding for my son and immediately fell in love with Chrissy's handprinted designs, product quality and brand ethos. I knew then that I had to have her as a seller on the Mama Brown & Co store! Fast forward 2 years and Pipsqueak has a gorgeous and growing collection of soft furnishings for your children's bedroom, all hand printed by Chrissy making each piece unique to your family.
Here I chat to her about an average day in her world. We find out how she juggles running her growing business around raising her young son, their joint love of learning about history, and we discover the Friday night treat which makes her feel properly middle-aged!
Wake Up Call
My alarm is always set for 7am, but this is in vain as I’m always woken by my small person at 6am. I’m often bleary-eyed because I seem to think it’s a great idea to stay up late and read the whole Internet before I go to sleep, so rely heavily on coffee - I couldn't get through the week without it!
I am, by nature, quite structured. I like being organised and sticking to a schedule. But I understand that concepts of time are tricky for children, so I try to maintain a rhythm for my son and I that feels natural and easy. There is a sequence to how I do things with him, so he knows what to expect. Our mornings are actually quite leisurely. I have a quick shower, more coffee (!) and focus on getting my son ready for school: breakfast, packed lunch, reader, PE kit etc. We are very lucky to have a short, easy walk to school. Sometimes our walk involves us holding hands as we chat about the day ahead, other times we’re blasting stormtroopers as we defend the galaxy. Any the pressure points in our mornings directly relate to motivating my son to get ready before playing and me not being flexible enough. He’s 5 so I understand that’s all he wants to do, but…
"Sometimes our walk involves us holding hands as we chat about the day ahead, other times we’re blasting stormtroopers as we defend the galaxy."
Work Life Balance
Once my son is at school, my day really varies depending on what I’m working on. I always start each day by reviewing my to do list, then rewriting it to include the things I’ve forgotten, followed by checking emails. There is never enough time to tick everything off the list, instead it is just rewritten for the next day!
I used to be a youth worker and had planned to undertake a PhD, however pregnancy shelved those plans and I started to crave something creative. When my son was born, I just wanted to be with him all the time. I went back to work in the hospitality industry when he was one, as it was easy to organise flexible hours around part-time nursery, and whilst I did love being out of the house and having conversations that weren’t related to naps, nappies and breastfeeding.. I struggled (still do at times) with ‘mum guilt’.
Now, I’m really focused on trying to make work fit in around him while he’s little. I’m very lucky that I can mostly organise Pipsqueak around my son. I think for many mums running their own businesses, we never really switch off, but the flip side is the incredible flexibility and autonomy to decide when things get done. As long as orders are fulfilled when promised and that each item sent is a mini work of art, the rest can wait if needed.
When I’m printing, I always prefer to do it in the mornings as it’s quite labour intensive and I don’t like to rush. I really struggle to concentrate when my son is home so this works best for me. I’m working on some new designs to be released late summer and I just launched an exciting collaboration with the artist Rachel Gale.
"I always imagine children being read bedtime stories and receiving last kisses before drifting off to sleep under my bedding and it really fills my heart with joy"
Mama Brown & Co has supported me from the very beginning, being my very first Pipsqueak stockist! That was, and continues to be, a great source of personal and professional achievement for me. I am also always thrilled every time someone chooses Pipsqueak for their children. It makes me so, so happy! I always imagine children being read bedtime stories and receiving last kisses before drifting off to sleep under my bedding and it really fills my heart with joy. There are loads of things I’d like to do, but my ambitions are rather modest; I hope to be successful for myself in the sense that I’m doing good work and I hope my son grows up to be proud of me.
I’m a big advocate for children learning through play and I try to follow my son's lead as much as possible. We’ve been getting into ‘Horrible Histories’ over the past year, and while I tend to have a ‘no screens’ policy on school nights, I’m OK with a little CBBC if the weather keeps us indoors. He only wants to play every day, so I try to make as much as possible space for him to do that.
This past year has been very hard for all of us and I see the challenges my son has faced. As he’s in Year 1, I don’t stress too much about homework or focused learning tasks at home, except for reading. I adore reading and children’s books so try to provide him with wonderful titles that will spark his imagination and curiosity. I’ve always enjoyed history, so we’ve been exploring different eras together through books and documentaries.
As long as it’s not raining, I take my son to the park after school. He gets to see his pals and burn off some energy and I can catch up with mum mates, relax, or play with him. We’ll head home about 5ish before having dinner, then bath and some play time before stories at 7.30 and lights out by 8pm. I’m strict with bedtime so my son gets to sleep easily, is rested for the next day, and also so I have a little free time in the evening. Parents shouldn’t feel guilty for having boundaries with carving out some time away from their children.
By the time my son has gone to bed and I’ve tidied up, I’m usually ready to plonk on the sofa and relax! I do check emails and write a list for what I need to do the next day (I’m a compulsive list maker!) I’m also trying to go to bed a little earlier but it’s hard to switch off sometimes; there’s always something else to do!
I try to keep our rhythm the same every day, even on weekends. I cram as much work as I can into my weekdays so I can relax at the weekend, although there are times it doesn’t always work out that way. Weekends are very fluid for us. Even though we haven’t been able to do much over the past year, I don’t usually make plans, we just go with the flow.
I love travelling so I hope we’re able to schedule some trips once things improve, but getting out of the house for a day trip is always welcomed. We enjoy bike rides and museums or going to the cinema. I really enjoy playing board games with my son, I love watching the way his mind works as he figures something out. He’s really good at Uno, very fun to play with, and has a lovely carefree attitude to it all. I’m also quite partial to taking our kites out if the weather’s right, or to play football before dinner. The last little burst of energetic play makes bedtime a lot easier.
Family dinners are also very important to me. My son and I always have dinner around 5.30pm. My neighbours eat dinner about 8.30pm and that feels really late to me now! I enjoy reading in the evening and my favourite thing to do is on Friday night, when my son is asleep; I have a glass of wine and watch Gardener’s World (I’ve morphed into a proper middle-aged person over the past year!)