Welcome to the Wonderful Women. This week, I’m chatting to one of my blogging favourites, the incredibly inspirational Ursula Tavender, AKA Mumbelievable.
As well as working as a blogger, Ursula is a freelance PR and events specialist.
Having experienced the shattering of her confidence after having her son, Xav in 2013 and realising that many mums felt the same, Ursula set up her blog and Facebook community to support and empower mums to rebuild their confidence and recognise how amazing they are.
Now determined to help as many women as possible, she is preparing to launch a series of confidence workshops for mums returning to work after having children.
Ursula and her husband Tim have also become advocates for organ donation after Tim’s kidneys failed in 2015 and he received the gift of a transplanted kidney. Now they are working to raise awareness of the importance of signing up to the organ donor register and letting loved ones know about the decision to become a donor.
Describe a typical day for you?
Ah, the juggling act! Xav goes to preschool four mornings a week now so I try and cram as much work as I can into those precious hours so we can spend the afternoons exploring his world together and seeing people who are important to us.
I grab time whenever I can when he’s with me to work or get blog bits done, but he’s not too keen on letting me do that so it mostly needs to wait until he’s in bed!
At the moment I’m still working on freelance client projects, but I’m hoping before too much longer Mumbelievable will generate enough income that I’ll be able to focus on it 100%. That’s where my heart is and I love what it stands for.
Tim runs his own business, so we’re very lucky that we see lots of each other. After dinner he and Xav have their special time together for bath time and bedtime so I’ll pour a glass of wine and make dinner, restore some normality in the house after it’s been hit by Hurricane Xav and maybe grab a few minutes at the laptop. All while listening to them laugh their heads off. It’s probably my favourite time of day. It’s so gorgeous.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Without a doubt, making it through this past year.
We were told Tim’s kidneys were failing the same week that Xav was born prematurely. We’d been told the damage was irreversible, but we figured that we had to at least try to see if we could improve his health ourselves. I researched and researched, and found loads of natural ways to help him, which I think helped him to keep going for as long as he did before his transplant last August.
He was so lucky to receive a donor kidney, but it’s been a really rough ride for him since and he’s faced complication after complication. He’s finally coming through the other side now, and I’m in absolute awe of his strength and determination to keep going throughout it all.
Having something like Tim’s illness and transplant happen to our family has changed the way we see the world, which I see as nothing but a gift. It’s so liberating to truly not sweat the small stuff and to see the extraordinary in the most insignificant moments.
Seeing our son becoming the kind, compassionate, strong, funny and brilliant little human that he is makes me feel like the marriage we have built and the way we’re raising him is also a huge achievement. I’m so lucky to be part of such a great team.
What’s in your handbag?
My phone, headphones and charger. I use my phone a lot to take photos and chat on social media with other bloggers and my audience. Inspiration and ideas for content, products and collaborations come to me at the most random moments so I use my phone to record voice memos and take notes so I don’t forget.
My wallet, keys, lip balm and sunglasses – mine and Xav’s – he’s a dude. The usual mum stuff too. Cars, dinosaurs, trains, loads of snacks…basically lots of toddler bribery. The obligatory nappies, wipes and sun cream. And usually an unidentifiable seabed of what looks like old raising coated in Cheddars crumbs. I’ve resolved so many times that I will keep my handbag and Xav’s bag separate to avoid the ‘mum bag’. But no matter how hard I try, it’s just easier to carry one bag and lump it all in together.
What are your ambitions in life?
That’s changed quite a lot recently given how life has changed now. My ambitions are a lot simpler. I just want to be happy and to spend as much time as I can with the people I love most in beautiful places.
I’m working really hard to build a business that will give me the flexibility to be with my family doing things that make us happy and help others.
A few years ago I spent some time volunteering in a slum community in Namibia digging foundations and moulding bricks for basic housing and those were some of the happiest days I’ve spent on this earth.
When Xav is older, one of my ambitions is to do a similar thing together. I’d love for the three of us to take some time out each year to go and lend a hand somewhere that needs it.
I’d also like to continue trying to show people the true impact of organ donation and encouraging them to communicate their wish to be a donor with their loved ones.
As unthinkable as it is to imagine something catastrophic happening to us, it’s so important that we have these conversations because even if you’re on the register, if your family doesn’t know your wishes they could still make the decision that they don’t want a donation to go ahead.
One person’s organs could help save as many as nine people, so I’d love to help spread this message.
What career advice do you now know, you wish you’d had on day 1?
Two things: First, you are enough. You don’t need to be anything more. You don’t need to put on a facade, be older or more experienced or more talented than you are – because you’re capable of incredible things just as you are and you have everything within you that you need to succeed.
Second, think big, don’t settle. Believe that you can do ANYTHING.
Figure out what it is that makes your heart jump and follow your gut to create your life purposefully around that.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
My dream is that over the next five years Mumbelievable will grow so it can empower women all over the world and to help them to regain confidence and recognise that they’re doing an incredible job.
I’m so sick of all the judgement that exists among parents and I want this business to celebrate mums and help them to nurture themselves so they can feel as good as they deserve to and be happier in their personal and professional lives.
I’ll still be writing. I’ll always write. Hopefully in five years I will have had the opportunity to write the book that I’ve had in me for years and been planning for ages. As Xav gets older I’m hoping I’ll have more time to write.
What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur?
Find any way you can to build a rock-solid sense of self-belief so that you can just be yourself and know that that’s the best way. Get crystal clear about what it is you want to do, and focus all the energy you can muster into that thing.
Be disciplined, be organised and learn as much as you can from people who deserve your respect and admiration.
Trust your instincts.
If you feel you’re pushing rather than being pulled in one direction, it may not be the right path for you. Don’t take your mistakes too seriously. You’ll make lots, and that’s OK. Change it up and move on. You’ll be better for it.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know?
Throw the books out the window. You don’t need them. Let your baby lead because he knows the way. Trust that between the two of you, you can figure out what’s best. Every moment (and there will be a gazillion of them) you sob “I’m not cut out for being a mum!” will be matched by another one where you just know you’re on the right track.
It’ll be pure joy and excruciatingly tough in equal measure. But trust your instincts and don’t get hung up on what he should or shouldn’t be doing because he’s in a league of his own and that’s really cool.
Finally, happiness is…
The things that are so small, you’d never normally notice them. Coming home from the day and playing in the garden when it’s sunny. Being together with the people I love the most and appreciating that we’re alive.