"I have to make this work for me"

with Sophie David, founder of Little Happy Learners

Show notes:

Sophie David started Little Happy Learners in 2019 and still feels in the early days of her business; it’s taken her 5 years to get clear on her vision for her business. 6 months ago Sophie set herself a deadline – go all in for a year, and if it doesn’t work, go back to teaching. In that 6 months, she has seen her Instagram following grow by over 300%. Overnight growth is never overnight.

Sophie shares lots of insight into her business, her purpose and some really valuable and practical tidbits if you’re going through a tricky patch with your kids (anyone else got a 3yr old they can’t cope with?!)

Most of all, whatever our choices, we need to find a way that makes it work for us.

Listen in for:

  • Why Sophie decided to leave teaching and become a stay at home mum
  • The sadness and ‘void’ she felt at leaving behind such a huge part of her identity
  • Making a conscious decision to make being at home work for her, and the birth of Little Happy Learners
  • The unhelpful narratives around being a stay at home mum
  • Sophie lost her business mojo and decided to give LHL a year, all in, or go back to teaching. But the work paid off and we discussed what has led to her huge growth in the last 6 months.
  • Why 15 mins of connection with your child can make such a difference to a day
  • Social media v’s reality, and ‘how you do it all’
  • How important Sophie’s purpose is to her, her vision for her business and the guiding principle that it has become
  • Advice for early years specialists who are finding employment isn’t a great fit for parenthood

Links:

Website
Instagram
LinkedIn

 

About Sophie David:

Little Happy Learners launched in 2019 in a small house just outside London. Sophie is a stay at home mum, an ex primary school teacher and early years specialist.
Sophie has created a community of parents, carers, educators and fun seekers. Their purpose is to share the wonderful ways you can play and learn with your little ones at home!

LHL is here to share a way of life for all and the young children in your care. By introducing some fun, exciting and simple activities to make each day a success. Especially if it involves recyclables and crafts!

Not only has Sophie created a huge community but she is also an author and mum of 3 – I can’t wait to talk about Sophie’s niche, business growth, career journey AND how this works alongside raising a family

Sophie David’s Links:

Website
Instagram

Transcript:

Intro

Hello. I’m Caroline Marshall, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner the podcast speaking to mums in business. You. I’ll be in conversation with some of the most inspiring women and mothers in enterprise about their journey, how they created their successful businesses alongside raising their children and what that looks like in work and family life.

Caroline (00:28):
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Bump to Business owner. I’m your host, Caroline Marshall, and today we welcome Sophie David, founder of Little Happy Learners, Little Happy Learners, launched in 2019 in a small house just outside London. She’s a stay-at-home house mom and ex-primary school teacher and an early years specialist. Sophie has created a community of parents, carers, educators, and fun seekers. Their purpose is to share the wonderful ways you can play and learn with your little ones at home. LHL is here to share a way of life for all and the young children in your care by introducing some fun, exciting and simple activities to make each day a success, especially if it involves recyclables and crafts. Not only has Sophie created a huge community, but she’s also an author and a mom of three. I can’t wait to talk to Sophie about her niche business growth career journey and how this works alongside raising a family. Welcome, Sophie. Hello.

(01:26):
I feel like I particularly need you because I am not one, as my friends will all tell you, ever since before I had children. I am not one for crafts making things. I actually outsource that to my mum a lot, but I think you might help me feel better about trying some bits. I think I should have spoken to you in 2020 is something I’m dying to talk to you about, if it all kicked off for you during that time, I can fully imagine it did. Now I love talking to mums who have started their business, their career path that led to it. And I’m really interested in yours because I know we had a little conversation before the podcast started, is that a lot of teachers sadly do find when they have children, it is not the right career for them at that stage. Hopefully they’ll go back. We love our teachers, we don’t want them leaving, but I also think it’s nice to present different ways they could be doing what they do at school, but doing it at home and making businesses from it. So tell us a bit about your career journey to getting here.

Sophie (02:24):
So I started Little Happy Learners after having my second son. So I was a primary school teacher, I was an earlier specialist, and then I had my eldest son, he’s six. I was fully under the impression that I would go back to teaching. I absolutely loved my job. I was made to be a teacher. I genuinely believed that. So I definitely went off a maternity leave thinking I’m going to come back. I’m going to enjoy being a teacher. And it just wasn’t the reality. It’s so hard if you want to be an amazing teacher, you don’t turn off from it. It’s just your brain can never switch off. So I found it really difficult doing both, but I went back to teaching pregnant with my second. My eldest was only six months old when I fell pregnant.

Caroline (03:11):
Oh my goodness. So many questions.

Sophie (03:16):
I loved being a mom, so I wanted to continue and have lots and lots of babies. Like I said to you a moment ago before we started recording, I’d have more. I wouldn’t stop if I had the choice, but my husband says no. But yeah, so I went back to teach him for only, I think it was about three months, and then I went off on maternity leave again and then I decided having two boys under two was going to be too much. I couldn’t do that and be a teacher. I decided to make decision to leave the journey with Little Happy Learners. Didn’t start straightaway because I’d already started running a business doing baby massage.

(03:55):
So when I was pregnant with my second. I had educated myself. I’d gone on a course and I’d learned to be a baby massage instructor, so I’d started running sessions in my local area and I absolutely loved it. Then I decided that I wanted to do more. I’ve always been a really creative person. So when I was a reception teacher, I was able to tap into that creativity and that was just my passion. So when I came away from it, I did, I felt really sad because one, I wasn’t teaching anymore, and two, I felt like a bit of a void. I was quite young when I had my two boys. There wasn’t many of my friends that had children and I was willing the day away for my husband to get home from work because this was pre covid and he was in the office every day and I was willing no day away.

(04:44):
And I then sat there one day and thought, I have to make this work for me. I have to be happy doing what I’m doing. How can I do this and be a mom at the same time? And Little Happy Learners was born. I thought, why not share and blog and share different ideas and try and build a community of moms that feel the same as me because there must have been hundreds of moms, thousands of at home with their children thinking, what do I do with them? I don’t go out. I’ve got no money to go out. I’ve not got the time to go out and they’re stuck at home. So what can we do? And that’s where it began.

Caroline (05:22):
I love that. And it shows I love that your stage of life you recognise, you are like, I was just willing the day away and I feel like so many moms, they would be like, oh, I shouldn’t say that. I should be grateful with my two kids at home or making out. I’m really busy and not you were like, there’s something else I should be doing here. And using also what you’ve been used to doing your whole life before you became a mom.

Sophie (05:45):
I think also there’s this narrative that if you’re at home and you’re a stay at home mom, that you are not using your brain. So I’d have people say to me other moms, and I know they didn’t mean it in a negative way, but being the person that I am, I took it quite negatively and they’d say, I could never be a stay at home mom because I need to use my brain. And I would think, actually, no, I am using my brain because I’m having to think about all these different things that both of my children need. And if you are in the mindset that I am, I love to learn. So I’ve always got this thirst to know more. So I was researching until the early hours sometimes about what I can do for each of my children at different stages and how I could make sure that their sibling rivalry wasn’t going to burn a hole in their relationships for the rest of their life. So I feel like that I took something that people were saying to me in this whole negative connotations of being a stay at home mom and I made it into something else for me and what worked for me. And I definitely never ever felt brain dead or that I wasn’t doing enough. So I think it’s just the way that you see things and how you change it to make it positive. That’s what I tried to do with Little Happy Learners.

Caroline (06:58):
Oh God, I’m so sorry you had these comments. I can also say I’m going through a bit of a challenging time with my three-year-old. And I can say that’s using my brain so hard at the minute because obviously managing that, managing my emotions and that’s brain work, but also thinking and looking up and researching ways to get out of this stage kind of thing because it’s been going on for quite a while now. So God, people say the worst things and I think also it’s probably that isn’t even their fear of being a stay-at-home mom of the brain part. And that’s what people have been saying. It’s like become acceptable to say it like that, but it’s more about the fact that caring, looking after others isn’t treated with the same respect as earning money is probably what we also know as the actual truth. And that’s just a society thing, not a individual thing either.

Sophie (07:44):
Absolutely. Yeah. And I feel like it was never meant in an a mean way or we weren’t trying to be nasty. I think it’s just exactly what you are saying. We deem going out and having a career and a job as something that we look up to and that’s what we inspire to do. We want to be a professional. But I think you can do that in so many different aspects. It doesn’t have to be going out to work and doing it. So many moms are doing it from their homes now, and it’s just what you make of it, isn’t it? And how you see it and being successful looks different to everybody.

Caroline (08:17):
That’s a really good one as well. And it’s like you’ve gone out and started something to achieve your own success and within what makes you feel happy. So let’s talk about your motherhood journey a little bit in the sense that because you’d worked in the early years, did you think, oh, I kind of get this whole motherhood thing, I’ll be fine.

Sophie (08:37):
Absolutely not. No. I think being a teacher, so I’m trained to be a primary school teacher so I can teach all the way up to age 11. I taught predominantly in reception. I worked with preschools across my borough and yeah, absolutely. I did not have a clue. So once I was handed this tiny baby, I genuinely thought, this is just out of my realms of understanding with my eldest. He really struggled and had lots of tummy complaints and he had flux and he was a really needy baby. He’s still a bit of a needy 6-year-old, and I think he’s quite happy to admit that as well. We always say that he would crawl back in if he could.

Caroline (09:16):
Oh, I think my seconds is like that. He’d quite happily just sometimes be on me.

Sophie (09:24):
Oh, absolutely. My 6-year-old gets in my bed every night still now crawls in just for a hug and then goes back to his own. And I think I found it really difficult because like you say, being an early years teacher, I genuinely did think, oh, I’ll be able to do this. It’s fine. I know kids, but you don’t know kids because their kids are all different. Every child is different and especially your own. And it’s true what they say, I can command a class of 30, but give me my free any day. They’re a challenge. They act differently with their parents, don’t they? And they do. So no, I definitely didn’t feel like an expert. And I’ve always used my community, they use me, I like to learn from them. I’m always asking questions from the people in my phone and I constantly use their expert advice because I genuinely believe that we can learn from each other so much more than we know or feel that we know in ourselves. I’m always questioning everything that I do.

Caroline (10:22):
Well, we had it here first then. Yeah, definitely. It’s hard as control your own children than a class of 30. Thank you for reassuring us. And I also think there’s so much, I think we’re starting to, but I dunno if it’s because we’re moms now and we’re in that world, so that I think this but starting to also get more of an understanding it’s not just about the kids, it’s about how we change and not just starting with hormones and pregnancy, but how nothing can prepare you for that. You weren’t taught in a classroom what the mother’s going through.

Sophie (10:52):
No, and I think also you go through so much in that, especially with your first, I always say, people ask me all the time what transition I found the hardest at going from two to three or three or one to two. But my hardest transition was going from none to one because that’s when you do the most changing as a parent, I think I went from loving my job and thinking that was the most important part of me to then being at home and realising that I was needed so much more there than I was ever going to be needed in a school. It just changed. The shift in me changed completely. I never ever thought I would say that I’m going to be a stay at home mom. And I think that it’s hard, isn’t it? Because then I’ve done another shift because I’ve definitely moved away from being a stay at home mom.

Caroline (11:43):
I was going to say, do you still identify as being a stay at home mom? It looks like you’ve got this empire that you’ve built.

Sophie (11:49):
Yeah, it’s really hard because I think that’s just my nature to, if someone was to say to me, oh, how’s Little Happy Learners doing, I go, yes, great, thank you.

Caroline (12:00):
I do the same as well, God, we need to be better at bigging up, we need to go to a session where we talk about that.

Sophie (12:06):
My one goal for this year. I’ve set it that I need to start being, I need to be driven and tell people, and I am so driven in the business sense, but I think I need to own it a bit more because yeah, still I think that a stay at home mom status did leave me quite a long time ago because now I’m definitely juggling a work-life balance and having my kids at home. But what I would say is that I still feel very privileged in the fact that I can run this business and be there for my children. So I do every school pick up. I’m there morning and afternoon. I’m still making dinners from scratch, which I know is so difficult for so many parents that are having to juggle the nine till five. So I’d say that I have both. I’m a working mom from home because I manage to fit it in. I say privilege, but most of my evenings are spent working. So I just do it in a different pattern to other people.

Caroline (13:02):
That’s it. And I think it’s that their understanding and honesty that you aren’t just squeezing it into the school day. And also how old’s your youngest as well?

Sophie (13:11):
Three. So she doesn’t go to nursery or preschool either. She won’t go until September, so she’s with me 24 7. So right now my husband works from home as well, and he’s sat downstairs with his up laptop working while she’s playing next to him. So there’s definitely a juggle and we try and fit it in as much as we can. But with things like this I will make time for. But generally in the day I try to do most of my work in the evenings.

Caroline (13:39):
And I think it’s great to have that refreshing honesty of like, oh, I squeeze it between the kids when it’s not your 3-year-old. We know what a 3-year-old is like and what the attention they need and the school run and you’re taking her with you on that and juggling it all. So it is good to know that’s when you do your work and you’ve managed to build this amazing business using your skills, which is why I think it’s so inspiring because you’ve taken the skills you already had and made it into a business. So you launched in 2019, was there an explosion for you in 2020 is what I’m dying to know. I’ve only come aware of you the past year or so, so I wasn’t there at that stage. I’m probably too busy figuring out what to do with my own. So I’d love to understand. Yeah, was this explosion for your business and the need for it more so do you think

Sophie (14:25):
During covid times? No. Surprising.

Caroline (14:28):
Oh, interesting.

Sophie (14:29):
It worked that way for so many others. So weirdly, when I first started Little Happy Learners, I genuinely, this is not a lie. I genuinely believed I was the only one doing this. I was like, I need to share the things I’m doing at home with my children. There’s no one doing this. And then I started doing it and I realised there’s so many people doing it. It is called the Play Community on Instagram. So there’s a whole plethora of all these different people sharing what they do with their kids. So honestly, it was a huge eye opener. I thought, wow, I thought I was going to be really niche and it’s not. So that opened my to that. But I know for lots of people during Covid, when everyone was stuck at home, they had a real big boost. And I’d say it probably did go from maybe below a hundred thousand to over a hundred thousand. But my growth has gone crazy since September just gone.

Caroline (15:22):
Wow. Amazing.

Sophie (15:24):
In September I was on 170,000 on social media and now I’m on 745,000.

Caroline (15:30):
Oh my goodness.

Sophie (15:31):
Yes, in six months. So my burst in engagement did not happen during Covid. And if I’m honest, during Covid I had a community of people that we were constantly in conversations. I was putting stuff out there, content, and it definitely was getting engagement, but it didn’t explode until recently. And I think even my book, my book was in 2022, so two years ago, and that’s post covid. So yeah, it’s lots of it didn’t happen during Covid. No.

Caroline (16:03):
No, I love that. And it’s just good. It also shows while you’ve had a period of extreme growth, you’ve been working on this since 2019. So overnight growth isn’t overnight just to say it never is and I love that reality. And why do you think it’s picked up since September? Have you changed anything about it, enhanced anything? Do you think there’s anything, just think it’s really always good to share or for you to reflect on?

Sophie (16:31):
Absolutely. And its hard to, so I think people ask me this all the time and it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. So being completely honest with you, it was in the summer last year, I’ve lost my mojo for so long. I had just lost this interest and I didn’t know why. So my daughter is very different to my boys. My boys would just come along for the ride and do whatever I wanted to do with them. We would craft and do everything. And so I had all this content that I could just put out there. My daughter, a completely different kettle of fish. She will only do what she wants to do. So I think I found that I lost my mojo for quite a long time because she just wanted to do the same things every day and she just loves bossing me around.

(17:12):
If I can be her sort of doctor every day, she’d have me doing that. So I think I’d just lost my mojo. But I said to my husband, I had the summer off and I said, I’m going to go all in from September. I’m going to give it the next year until my daughter goes to preschool. And if it doesn’t pick up, then I’m going to go back into the classroom I think. And lo and behold, you put all the effort in, it happens. So I think I’ve just been consistent with posting. I’ve got a real vision of what it is that I want to do now. And I think having that real mindset of this is what I want my business to look has really changed the whole output and then what I’m getting back. So yeah, I think it’s just having a real specific view of what you want it to look like and being clear with that, which I don’t think I ever was before. I always just saw myself as a stay at home mom that was using this as a hobby. Whereas now I see it as I’m pushing forward with the business side of it and I want to do more.

Caroline (18:12):
I love that. So you came to this, so you took a break in the summer and set yourself a timeline, set yourself some goals and it exploded basically. Is that basically where we got to and are you able to share with us what your vision is?

Sophie (18:26):
Yeah, so I think I sat down with my husband and he said, what is it that you want from this,

Sophie? You just need to be really clear. And I always say, whenever I talk about Little Happy Learners, I say it is me doing all of everything that I put out there. But my children are very much, they have so much control about what I’m putting out there. They are involved in videos, they love, love being involved in them, especially with the phonics funds, they’re fully involved. It’s as much me as it is them. But also my husband is, I always call him the silent partner because he definitely helps me plan it all out and make it.

Caroline (19:04):
Yeah, I had a mentor would call them, they are a stakeholder in your business essentially because invested in your success as your life partner. They might not have anything to do with business, incomings, outgoings, things like that. But you are always going to bounce stuff off them, aren’t you?

Sophie (19:19):
Yeah. And he is, he’s amazing as well. So he does, he spends many an evening sitting planning stuff out with me and saying, you need to do this, you need to do that. So he’s very, very good. So he just sat and said, what is your vision? And I said, my main goal, and it always has been, is that I want to create a space for parents to just come and have a look. So this is the free side of it, the social media side of it. I want parents to be able to come to Little Happy Learners and look at all of the posts and I want ’em to be able to find anything on my page that will give them 15 minutes of connection with their child. My drive is to create those little moments with our children that can take a really rubbish afternoon that you think, oh my gosh, they won’t stop crying.

(20:03):
Or they’re just really windy or they’re really tired. Take that afternoon and make it better because all they need is 10 minutes of your time. And that’s it. And it does, it changes the whole day. So I wanted that to be the free side of it, but I also want to be able to give parents and some educators, so preschools and nurseries are so underfunded, they do not get the training and the opportunities to go on training courses like any other educator. And they are with our children for so many hours of the day that they need to feel empowered to be able to teach them and to push them on. So I want to, as a business, be able to empower parents and educators to have a toolbox, a toolkit of that will help them to teach their children and lead them onto the next learning stage. So if that’s through phonics or through maths or through anything. So I have different courses At the moment we’re only running maths and phonics, but I have lots of things in the pipeline ready to go forward that we’ll be able to support any parent or educator in any area that they want to. So that’s the business side of it. I think we’re still underpinning things at the moment.

Caroline (21:17):
Well, and that’s the beauty of a business. It changes things do. And thank you for sharing with us and I love what you said, it really is that whole feeling empowered that 10 minutes can change the day. So just to open up, I went through a really bad phase. My second was very sick and so when he came home as a baby, it was like we were attached, we were glued. And then I had issues with me and my eldest and he wouldn’t go to bed very well. He was struggling and I had a sleep train and she was like, you need to do one-on-one playtime with him when he is back from nursery every day. And it made the world of difference. And it wasn’t that long, but it was just like, and I felt really stupid as the mom in it, but I looked back on me and I was going through all that stuff. Of course that happened. I just needed someone external to say it.

Sophie (22:01):
But also it’s not, I think it’s really hard in those moments when your child is the neediest and when they’re having a tantrum and when they’re showing up in different ways they, they’re showing all these emotions. Our natural response is to just think, what can I do? I dunno what to do. And you just think of that moment and you think of it as just one moment of the day that they’re having a tantrum about. But it’s not, there’s so many things that are built into that moment that if we got there, if we intercepted before they got to that, it might have been able to have stopped that tantrum. And I’ve only learned that since my middle child is middle child and he’s definitely needy in terms of my time. He’s needy and wants that one-to-one time. So every day after school he loves cooking. Every day he comes in and prepares dinner with me and that’s his time. And my other two know that my other two will get on and they’ll play with something or they’ll watch something on the tv, but that’s his time. He prepares dinner with me, he gets up on his step up and he knows that that’s his and that’s where he can unwind. He sits there and he chops things and chats with me.

Caroline (23:12):
That’s so lovely.

Sophie (23:13):
It’s amazing. And that just that 10 minutes, he then will be able to go off and play independently and he can spend two hours after that doing whatever he wants. But because he’s had that moment with me, it’s filled his cup. I read something and this was back when I had my two boys under two and I was finding it really difficult. They both very different. Very different. And I read something and it was said, I’m trying to remember exactly what it said, but it said, when your child comes up to you and says, can you play with me? That’s basically them asking you to talk that’s asking for their time. And so instead of seeing it as, oh no, go and play with yourself or try and be independent, you need to just turn to them and say, okay, let’s go and play. And often that time when they’re playing with you is when they would tell you whatever is on their mind, they offload and they give you all that information. And I’ve used that from the moment I read it because it is even after school, I never asked my children how their day was when I picked them up. I always wait until we’re doing something together and that’s when they’ll tell me everything. And it makes so much sense. It’s almost like adults, we are told to go for a walk and talk and it’s much easier.

(24:30):
And they’re supposed to be way more beneficial for us because we can just talk and not think about it. It’s the same with them. They’ll just be playing or drawing and painting and that’s when they’re able to get everything off their chest. So I think it’s really important just to get that 10 minutes in. So that’s my aim for the social media side of things to try and give parents and carers and educators that toolkit to be able to go to and go, okay, I can do that and that’s my 10 minutes and that will fill everyone’s cup.

Caroline (24:58):
I love that. And because I remember one thing that also helped me as well, cause she was talking about when my husband was aware at works, it was just me. So I couldn’t even physically have one-on-one time with my older one, the baby was there, it would be like say to the baby, this is race time now you just sit there and even though he’s a baby. So we didn’t know it was like ready. My eldest would then be like, yes, this is my time now. So he knew I was making an effort even if I couldn’t physically do it, oh, I’m going to learn so much from you. I know it tools for the younger one. Now I got through that stage of the older one. I’m now onto the younger one where I’m trying to figure this stuff out. And it’s interesting because even now stuff I’m getting ideas and thoughts about it, but I’m like, you think, oh, I’ve done this with the first one, why don’t I think about this with the second, they’re different.

Sophie (25:45):
All three of mine are completely different. So I’ve had to learn just ways to deal with all three of their emotions differently because I can’t believe they’ve all been brought up the same but are so different.

Caroline (25:59):
And that was it. I remember, I think was it our parents generation were a bit more like, oh, I parented you all equally. And now we’re a bit more like you shouldn’t be parent. They all have different needs or sometimes they feel like they’re the independent one and that’s the one you need to give something to because you don’t want them to just think they should be. That might be something they think about that something I read recently as well, which gave me a few thoughts about my first child.

Sophie (26:22):
And it’s really hard, isn’t it? I read lots and it’s about where they are in the family, so first, middle and baby and how we parent differently for those things. So I’m always really aware of that. I’m one of five girls, so I always think back to that and think where did I fit in my family? And so I was fourth and so I try not to a bit, but my middle child does show many sums of being a middle child. But lots of people say that with their middle, that’s the one that gets the least amount of attention. But with him, he definitely gets the most. And I think that’s because he commands the most. So he just wants to have that time with us every day. And that’s fair. He doesn’t like the tv, so he won’t go and watch the TV ever. Whereas my eldest, he likes to have his downtime so he will go and sit and watch something on the tv and my youngest will, she’s just,

Caroline (27:16):
And I also love how I think that’d be really helpful. I think sometimes you just externally, if you go on someone’s feed, it can look really slick and put together, but for you to say, my third came along and didn’t want to do any of this stuff that my boys would do, which helped your business. And so it’s kind of interesting to hear that, to be like, okay, great, so we are not super women. We have to organise something else that has brought a challenge to it.

Sophie (27:42):
Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the things that I always, so if I ever do a Q&A, I think I will always get at least three or four people saying, how do you do it all? And I always go back and I answer it privately because I never want those parents to feel like I am doing it all. It’s very easy for social media to portray that everything’s just going swimmingly. But there’s a lot of stuff that I won’t share on social media, the things that my children are going through individually, but obviously they go through so much and we can’t do it all and we can’t manage everything at the same time. So sometimes social media has to fall by the wayside when I’ve got more going on with the business. And I think it’s just in our natural way now as parents to feel like we have to be doing everything all the time. And that’s so challenging because we are running businesses, we are working, we’re being the moms that need to be cooking and getting processed food out of our diets and we’re trying to do everything. And it’s so hard and I think it’s easy for any social media channel to look like we’re just doing it and it is really easy, but it’s absolutely not. I don’t find it easy having free kids. I say they’re all so different. It is hard. I find it hard too.

Caroline (28:56):
And when they start school, you’ve got things you need to keep up on top of for their school. Okay, I’m just saying this, it’s March at the time. So we’re going through world book day, we’ve got Easter, Easter holidays coming up and it’s a lot kind of thing. I’ve only got one at school at the minute. I dropped some balls this week, I’ve got his school bag yesterday. I gave myself such a hard time, but I was like, oh gosh, well I’m sure my eldest is sort of child that learns from that sort of thing and won’t forget it. And today it was like got my school bag mom and I’m like, ah yes, maybe we needed this. This was the right passage to make you independent. I

Sophie (29:28):
Think it almost gives you that chance to go to them. Well actually it’s not just me that needs to remember it. You need to remember it too. And I think we have to learn from was I once sent my son in and I score as a teacher. I would never ever do this. I sent him in his uniform when it was at own clothes.

Caroline (29:45):
Oh no.

Sophie (29:47):
And honestly, I think I’ve done well. I think it was obviously must have been unwell or something. I’m going to put it down to being un and my husband had taken him that day and then he rang me and was like, everyone else is in their own clothes and he’s not, oh.

Caroline (30:01):
Poor poppet.

Sophie (30:02):
I don’t think I let myself get over that for at least two weeks, but I’ll never ever forget again. I have everything written on a calendar. We have to learn from these things.

Caroline (30:13):
That’s why I started bringing in a days in the week calendar just to try and start that because my eldest just will never, they always try and teach independence. He is one who’s naturally less independent on that side. So the other side, he’ll go off on his own, make friends do whatever he wants. But when it comes to thinking about things, he’s just not that independent. So I’m like physical, physical, need it there. So I could say, go look at the chart, own Thursday, sort yourself outself please.

(30:38):
Oh, I love that. It’s all about sharing mistakes and things and what we’ve done. So we’ve both shared them together of our things this week. And if you look, because we talk about a lot about your social following, that’s where your business started. So how has that changed what it looked like in 2019 to now? Because from then to here, I remember in 2020 was when all the reels came out and things. Did that feel like a lot more pressure as well to do what you do in a different way?

Sophie (31:03):
Absolutely. So when I look back on my account back then it was all stills and that was so much easier. In a way it’s all hard because you’ve just got to keep on keeping up and it is difficult when everything’s changing. But yeah, it was hard to transition from doing videos, but I really enjoy it. I really enjoy doing flat lays and I really enjoy shooting content that’s my favourite. So when I work in the evenings for any writing that I do or any work that I do that’s like courses, but I do my content with my children so they see it all. So we have it flat lay and sometimes it’s their hands doing it, sometimes I shoot with them. So they’re fully involved in all of that and we do it in real time. So I try and make it as enjoyable as possible whilst we are doing it, they love it because they get to see it afterwards, all sped up and they think it’s magic. So it’s great. We do shoot content during the day, but I think that because you’re doing it with videos, it’s quite easy just to shoot. I just have a thing that holds my phone and it shoots it for me. So yeah, I don’t think it’s the editing side of it that’s the most challenging, the most time consuming, but you just get used to it after a while, don’t you? But it looked very different in the beginning, very different now I feel like you have to be a bit more slick to get seen, I suppose.

Caroline (32:25):
Yeah, you have to be slick from the start when you need to. I think the thing is, it’s like performing. It’s so public. That’s what I say about this. It’s not like if you’re a writer and you can write in your home, do all the tweaks and then you’ve got to go to a publisher. But it is so you’ve just got to put it out there to see what fails and what’s as well. Yeah, and sometimes you have no idea why something has done well, but people seem to catch onto it. Yeah,

Sophie (32:49):
Well so recently I had a phonics video. So this is what’s blown up my account from being quite small, not small, but relatively small to now being what it is. It was just one phonics video. And I can honestly tell you I’ve shared this phonics video maybe six or seven times during my time on social media and we’ve just done it slightly differently, but it’s exactly the same. I shared it and when I say I was sat in my car taking the boys to football, my husband drove and I’m sitting there trying to get it out, I try and get a post out every day. I’d forgotten think I’d got up late and I edited it really quickly and it was seen by 30 million people.

Caroline (33:28):
30 million!

Sophie (33:30):
You cannot write what’s going to do well or not. I can spend an hour editing a video and then it do not very well. And then I spend five minutes in the car on the way to football getting this one video out and it’s the one that’s done the best on my account ever.

Caroline (33:47):
And I think everyone else thinks, because obviously your account on the front looks very slick, but to hear the work that goes behind it and that you are also still just in a car with your husband driving, doing the football run or whatever going, shit, I’m late doing this, I’ve got to get it done. You heard it here. Little Happy Learners is no different.

Sophie (34:07):
Me in the school run, I’ve not even got my makeup done. I’ve got my hair on top of my head going up. And it does, it looks slick, but this is me sat in the evening in my pyjamas, editing a video whilst I’m trying to watch some sort of series with my husband. So it is just me doing it on a whim in the evening hoping it’s going to come out and people get to see it.

Caroline (34:29):
And I said, it’s repeating a phonics video you’ve done six or seven times just in a slightly different way.

Sophie (34:35):
And it was with my daughter and I even sped it up slightly. So when I listened back to it, I think the voice sounds really strange because it’s obviously sped up slightly. So I listened to it back and think I would never post this again if I wasn’t in such a rush. But it got seen by that many people. It’s still being seen now and it’s still constantly getting people to follow my pages. So odd. You can’t write

Caroline (34:59):
Perhaps Instagram thought it was authentic content, it was speed up and clearly rushed in you. Yeah, send the raw stuff.

Sophie (35:07):
This is great, go for it. It was so odd. I think it’s also just, I don’t know, I think maybe the pressure us, maybe it was the title, I don’t know. You can’t write it. People ask all the time, how do you make something go viral? And I honestly have been doing it for five years and I can’t tell you.

Caroline (35:24):
Good to know. Awesome. You heard it here first. And I was going to ask also just something interesting, my son said, what do your kids say you do for a living?

Sophie (35:32):
Oh yeah. Do you know what they’ll say? Little Happy Learners. If someone said, what does your mommy, my son recently said, you’ve got the best job in the world, you get loads of toys because I had some toys sent to us and he thinks that’s brilliant, but I think they would just say Little Happy Learners. Mommy works at home and she has Little Happy Learners.

Caroline (35:49):
Oh, I love that because I realised I’m trying to educate my son more on it. I went to school recently for a little crafts thing and they were like, oh, Rafe says you work in a tall building. And I was like, no, I work from home. And they were like, yeah. And they were like, what does your mom do? He works in wellness. And I was like, no, I don’t do that. A corporate yoga teacher. I translated it as, but I’m glad he thinks my commitment to wellbeing is that good. I made a job from it.

Sophie (36:15):
That’s quite cute. I like that.

Caroline (36:17):
Well, I was just like, right, I clearly need to do a better job at this of explaining what mommy does and now it earns money. And I’m like, yeah, I’ll take that.

Sophie (36:25):
I’m going to ask my children tonight and see what they say.

Caroline (36:27):
Yeah, it’s a great question. I feel like we should all ask that and put it on. I’ll say, sure,

Sophie (36:31):
I’ll put it on my social media tonight. What does mommy do for a job? And I think one of them will say she doesn’t have a job. And then I think the other one will say, Little Happy Learners is her job. And then my daughter, I dunno what she’d say

Caroline (36:43):
Doctor, after playing doctors so much she cooks for me, the chef. I love that. And what I love as well is we talked about you’ve got your goal, you’ve got your focus, and that’s why things have gone really well this past half a year. Has there anything you’ve been focused on that has been quite like a shiny maybe ego-driven thing? I think as business owners or in the social media world, it’s very easy to be like, oh, I’ll do this. And then it’s not actually, for example, years ago when I was struggling with the workplace, I was like, Greg, I’m going to write a blog. And he was like, you don’t write Caroline. And he’s right. He was absolutely right. But I had a go at him for not supporting you,

Sophie (37:23):
Not supporting your blogging passion.

Caroline (37:27):
And now I have someone else who writes my blogs, that’s how much I don’t write blogs. Is there anything you’ve been like, oh, I should do this because other people do and it wasn’t the right thing for you to do?

Sophie (37:39):
Do you know what? I don’t know. I think there’s always things that you sort of jump on, isn’t there? And you think, well I dunno if there is wise actually social media wise, I always try and get on board with different things that people are doing. So I try and keep up to date. But yeah, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m very much really scared of putting myself out there. So I tend to stay where I’m at and I try and be really comfortable in what I’m doing. So I did start doing courses and I charge, you see courses, people offer courses online all the time and I’d see some people charging like 400, 500 pounds for a course. And I would think, oh, that’s really expensive. So when I first started putting courses out, I charged 20 pounds, which is not a lot.

(38:28):
And I never wanted it to be expensive, but I also knew I was never going to charge 400, 500 pounds because that’s, I want more, I want as many people to access what I’m doing as possible. So I made it 20 pounds. But what I’ve since learned is that if I want to get people to come and educate themselves in how they can support their children at home, I need to either offer it for free, which is what I do the majority of the time. I’d say 85% of what I do is free. And then now I run courses and I do them for five pounds per person, which is really, really cheap. But in a business mind, since we’re talking about business, I now get hundreds of people signing up to a five pound course rather than 50 people joining up for 20 pounds.

(39:13):
So from a business sense, it’s changed drastically because I’m getting more and more people doing it, which for me, I think business wise I flip very much between wanting to do things to make a difference and wanting to grow a business. So I have to try and make that work and I feel like I’ve now found a way that I can make it work that I feel like I’m offering so much for five pounds that people sign up. So yeah, I dunno, I’ve not tried many things at the moment. I think on the business side of things, I’m still very much at the beginning, so I’ve probably got a lot of time where I will try things and it won’t work.

Caroline (39:51):
I love that. And that’s really open to say you’re still at the beginning on the business side of things and getting there. And like you said, your goal is to reach as many people as possible and support as many people as possible. It kind of reminds me of the positive birth company that’s like she has a similar goal for her hypnobirthing courses is the fact they’re meant to be, but realistic for people to get. And I always think I sometimes see it from the other side as a VA business owner and also talking to people, you may see people charging something and the reality is they’re actually not. Or they might be charging that for one person and then the rest of their stuff doesn’t meet that level at all. We’ve all got to take it with a healthy pinch of salt. While people have said they’ve put stuff out there for a certain cost, are they getting their customers?

Sophie (40:32):
Yeah, because they can’t. But that’s too, it’s unaffordable and especially in terms of parenting, because I am still in that parenting umbrella and it’s education and parenting, but people, I don’t know if that’s something that people want to put that much money into because as much as we all want to be the best parents we can, there’s so much information out there and what I think that I now offer is just one part of the information. But I, I’ve tried to learn and research everything so I can give you a lot of information for that small price and it stops you from having to do all of that research and sort of cycling through what you enjoy and what you don’t.

Caroline (41:13):
And you’re putting a value on what you do as well, which you should, but you are also bringing it to people that need it in a cost of living crisis. A bit of a crisis in the education system with overcrowding not enough funding and giving support for parents that’s affordable.

Sophie (41:29):
Yeah, absolutely. So

Caroline (41:30):
What would be your advice for someone who like you as a teaching background, starting to learn early year specialists, starting to learn that this might not be right for parenthood, at least in the early years and thinking of doing something else. Is there any advice you can share with them that made you start going down this route with Little Happy Learners?

Sophie (41:50):
It’s really hard because I think the education sector, you’ve put yourself into a little category, haven’t you? The education that if you are really passionate about education, then you want to stay in that category. I’m very passionate about education, I’m very passionate about teaching and I’m very passionate about what children can learn at home. Parents are their biggest role models. So I personally think as a teacher you have so many skills that you are taught, the organisation skills are next to none when you’re a teacher. So even just that one small area is huge in any career. So my advice is that just because we are in this category of education doesn’t mean that we have to stay there. We have so many skills as teachers and educators that we could pretty much do anything. And I do believe that when you are a teacher, you have to have so many different hats on and you’re taught to analyse data, you’re taught to run a class of 30 children, which I’m pretty sure means that you can run any team of adults ever.

(42:59):
There’s just so many different skills that you learn in that time of being a teacher. So my advice is don’t think that you can’t do anything else. Don’t think that that’s just the one thing that you can do for the rest of your life because you can use those skills in lots of different ways. But in terms of coming out of teaching and then going into something education based, I don’t want to tell you that with rose tinted glasses that it’s really easy because it’s not. And I think that’s where I find it difficult to stay on track and to keep my passion alive. So I’m so passionate about teaching that I want to continue that, but it would be so easy for me now to become a social media influencer because I have the following now. I could so easily go, I’m not going to do that anymore and I’m just going to start influencing because it’s hard. It’s really hard to stay on this education track when there’s a lot more opportunities elsewhere. Being in an education and not being a teacher is difficult. So because I’m so passionate about it, I will continue to do that because that’s what I feel like is my calling. That’s what I love most and I’m not as passionate about influencing as I am about education.

Caroline (44:11):
That’s lovely because shown you’ve not gone, that is the shiny thing you could have gone for and start getting partnerships things since your kids could have got more toys sent to you, I’m sure than you’ve got because you will only put out ones that are right for education for your purpose. Let’s call it your purpose.

Sophie (44:30):
Okay, yeah, that is actually, it’s very true because I say no to lots and lots now because it doesn’t fit with what I do. And I think that’s really important to stay true to what you believe in. I don’t accept gifted things because I don’t want my children to feel like they can just get everything. I want them to have a value in having things around them and I want them to know that you have to work for it. So I feel like getting lots of free things and being like, look, you’ve got this now it’s too much. So I don’t accept gifted things and I only take on partnerships with brands that I really do truly think feed into my brand and what my family are all about. So yeah, that is my shiny thing that I’ve not done and

Caroline (45:16):
Well done. And I think that’s so great to know. And sometimes people need to hear because if you’re going in a crossroads, it’s somewhere. And also so valuable, what you said about don’t just feel like you have to keep to the education path if it’s not right for you. Because I know a fantastic virtual assistant agency owner, and she’s an ex-teacher and only hires teachers. She understands their skills and what they do. And I’m speaking to a lady on this podcast called Lauren of Web3, and she’s trying to support women getting into Web3 and even if their background isn’t in it. So there’s a whole other host of things, but like you said as well, it’s not easy. I think trying to pivot your career is an easy full stop, but let’s just add that actual layer when you’ve got little ones or kids. I haven’t got part, neither of us here, I’ve got past the age of six yet, so we’re not sure what that’s like. That’ll be even harder, won’t it?

Sophie (46:08):
Yeah, definitely. I think coming up, it’s really hard, isn’t it? I think being a woman is very difficult, especially when you then go on off and have children. I think we have a very different mindset when we’re working to then when you are a parent that then to realise that you have to map out a new path for yourself. I definitely wasn’t aware that that was even something that I was going to have to consider. So I think when it then comes to it, I think it’s taken me a really long time, well, six years nearly, to realise what it is that I want to do and how I want to get there. I genuinely believe that I just wanted to write books and I wanted to be an author, and now I believe that there’s so much more that I want to do. Yeah, it’s hard. I think it’s hard in whatever career you have to then map out a new path for you, especially if you are driven and you have a viewpoint that you want to make a difference. I think it’s really difficult to then know how you can do that.

Caroline (47:02):
I love that. And actually I feel like you’re really helping me on my bump to business owner journey and what to do with that part. I’m definitely learning from you as we’re at the beginning of the journey with this still not in its first year yet. And I think, yeah, I also do think it’s a little element of privilege if you’ve come from a privileged background about talking about having a career. And yet obviously when they’re teenagers, they don’t want to talk to us about having babies. They don’t want us to do that yet. They want us to have career, and then we get it and we’re like, oh. But it doesn’t quite work, sadly.

Sophie (47:35):
And I think also it is worth always thinking that you can try and fit your career into your family life. I’ve just recently listened to another podcast and it was talking about how relationships and family are the most important thing. It was quite a morbid chat and it said about someone being on their deathbed and they never remembered all the things that they achieved, but who they were with in that last moment. And that really resonates with me because I think the reason why I’ve started this is because I want to make sure that I can have the best of both worlds. And I know that’s not something that everyone can do, but for business owners especially, I think we need to try and make it work for us in the best way possible. For some people sitting in the evenings and working is not something they want to do, but for me, if it means that I can be there at school pickup and I can go to the parents’ evening and do all of the things, then that’s most important to me.

Caroline (48:30):
Yeah, I think sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in business ownership and think, oh, it’s hard. But then at the same time, it’s such a privilege if you can do what we both try to do, which is to do the pickups, to make all the school things, and we still forget things in the meantime clearly. But I think it’s such a privilege and we are very lucky, which I always try and remind myself about, and that’s what I set out to do when I’m tired. I take mommy days still and on a Wednesday and when I’m tired after a mommy day because they’re more work than my work days. And I have a personal question for you in the evenings, because what I’m starting to discover is I get a bit brain dead by the evening, so I am to shift up the work I do in the evenings if I do work in the evenings, which I do most of the time, but I try and not always, but I have to do stuff that isn’t really thinking so tired. So how do you manage that? Or is it something, is that where all your creative ideas flow out and you’re lucky?

Sophie (49:26):
Yeah, I feel like because I love what I do in the evenings, the writing side of it is definitely something I love. I love writing, I love putting all my ideas down. So in terms of the creativity, I try and get all the ideas down on paper during the day. So I have a notebook that I just have out all the time and I just write stuff down and then in the evenings I just have to write it and I dunno why and I dunno how, but in the evenings it tends to just, I can just sit down and I have nothing else to think about so I can just get it. I know that I’ve done the washing and I know that the kids are in bed so I don’t have to even think about them. And that’s when I find that the writing side of me becomes most productive is in the evenings. But I know that that wouldn’t be the case for everybody. I have a strange brain that doesn’t turn off until tell it to turn off.

Caroline (50:17):
I love it. No, and it’s about finding your pattern and what works for you and I find my pattern a work in progress still. You are five years in and kind of getting into a bit of flow and I’m sure it’ll change up again at some point. It always does. Lovely. And honestly, I could chat for ages. Sophie, this has been so lovely. What’s next for you and Little Happy Learners?

Sophie (50:40):
Well, lots of things. We’ve got lots more courses that are going to come out in the next year. I like to plan things quarterly, so I’m coming to the end of March now and I’ve met all of my targets, so I wanted to get new phonics courses out there, which I’m doing. So I do a preschool course and I now do a reception course and we are doing a math course, first one’s running tonight and then as of next quarter I’m aiming to get some different courses out there. So I know people have been asking for a gross motor and fine motor workshop, a speech and language workshop and just different courses and hopefully new books because books are so hard. The book deals are, I’ve always got, I’ve got a literary agent and I’ve always got him with different proposals that he’s sending off because I dunno why, but I’ve made that the passion and that’s the passion project that has to happen. So that hopefully will come soon as well.

Caroline (51:36):
Love that. Let’s push your other book then. So where can people find your other book? So then that go some sales and get your next book out there.

Sophie (51:45):
My first book is called How to Create Little Happy Learners and you can find it on Amazon, you can find it in Waterstones pretty much anywhere where you buy your books if you want to, you can go to the library and you can hire it at a library, but it is a book that has 60 activities for children age naught to five. But all of those activities can be adapted for every age group from Naugh to five. So in actual fact there might be 60 activities, but they can be done five different ways and it covers everything that’s messy. Play, baking, maths, phonics, lots of different things. And you can find it on Amazon. I think it’s on Amazon for £14.50.

Caroline (52:23):
Love it. Love it. Good promoting that. And where can we find you?

Sophie (52:27):
So you can find me on social media. So I have an Instagram page called Little Happy Learners and you can also now find me on YouTube. So I’ve only just started that. That’s something new that started I think at the beginning of January and I share phonics videos on there. So if you have a letter that you are your child’s learning at school and they’re struggling on it, you can go onto YouTube and you can watch a video with me and my children exploring that sound. So how you can sound and blend with it, how you can segment for spelling and just how you can explore that sound together

Caroline (53:02):
As someone who’s in year one at school hearing blend, there’s all this stuff. I’m not from an education background. It was all new to me last year of phonics, blending new style phonics. I was like, what is this world? So I wish I found you a year ago, but I’m going to start now and make sure I’m well set up for my second child.

Sophie (53:21):
Great. Yeah. So on YouTube we are going to start doing all of the digraphs next. So all of the two letters that make one sound so that you’ve just got somewhere you can go and then you and your child can just look at that video. They’re only two minutes long and you can watch them on your tv. So my children now just sit and watch themselves sometimes to do fun.

Caroline (53:41):
Great. I’ll like, doesn’t everyone do this? I love it. They’ll grow up totally thinking, oh, I’m going to do what mommy does and be on YouTube.

Sophie (53:51):
That’s what my son does. I’m going to be on YouTube. I’m like, oh no, maybe aim a little bit higher than YouTube. Please.

Caroline (53:55):
Yeah. Or yeah, maybe find your purpose first. We’ll tell him find your purpose and then if it evolves into a YouTube channel then there we go. Thank you so much, Sophie. I can’t wait to find out more and hear more about your courses that are coming. Everyone go follow you and get themselves ready for school. So got loads of friends who have kids not yet at school, so I’m going to send them your way.

Sophie (54:19):
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Outro:

Thank you so much for listening to Bump to Business Owner. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Please do rate, review, follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening. It really helps us to connect with more mums and business owners. You can DM me at Bump to Business Owner on Instagram and I’ll be back next week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *