PR Becky Stevens runs Stevens PR with her sister-in-law. Here she reveals how she’s managed to juggle 10 clients with her 5 children (number 6 is on its way!) during Lockdown and the life lessons she’s learnt as a result.
Tell us about your work
“Stevens PR is my own PR business that I set up 15 years ago which I now share with my sister-in-law. We look after health, beauty, fitness brands and aesthetic doctors. We have 10 clients in total. I work mostly from home and I’m a member of a gym where I can work from the cafe but I also pop over to my business partners flat ten minutes away and do what we call ‘hours of power’ together.
I love that it’s an expanding and ever changing industry. I’m a people person so meeting new clients and journalists boosts me mentally. I also love linking people together, be it a client to another client or a journalist with another journalist or PR.”
What was your ‘normal ‘day-to-day life like pre COVID-19?
“I would wake up at 6.30 am to stir four out of the five kids who are all at school. I have Lettice and Edith who are 11 (twins), Ottilie 9, Tattie 5 and Foy, 2 (and I am pregnant with another girl). In normal times, my twins get the bus to the French Lycee, so it’s just a case of making sure they are fed and on the right bus. I then do the school run with my younger two which is a 10 minute car journey or 30 minutes depending on London’s glorious traffic.
I would then squeeze in a workout in the gym for around an hour on the way home (that’s my me-time and puts me in a better fighting mood). Then it was home for my coffee and I would work through till 5.30pm.
My little boy, who is 2, is at home with me but I have a live-in helper who takes care of him during most of the day, and I tend to have a cuddle and lunch with him. I try and mark out a day for meetings so I don’t spread myself too thin – I normally organise about 5 press meetings a week and about 2 client meetings.
Pre COVID the twins would come home at different times on the bus, so I wouldn’t need to worry too much about them (although I’m on ‘Find my friends’ a LOT until they walk through the door). I have a French Teaching Assistant who normally brings my other two back from their school to help with their homework.
Supper for kids pre COVID was around 6.30/7pm. I do supper if I can and always do the witching hour which Ed and I take a deep breath and share together. Then it’s bath time (not every night), and the slow haul to bed that could be between 8.30 to 9.30pm. Ed and I don’t have much time together most week nights. Supper is always homemade with a large glass of wine and then bed by 10.30pm to rub essential oils everywhere, drink Pukka Relax Tea, put some meditation on and zonk out. Our Corona Kitten joins us and mostly sleeps above my head!”
What is your day-to-day life like now?
“We have got used to blissful lie-ins until around 8.30am – even the toddler sleeps til 9am. Then I squeeze in a Zoom workout online. I have just taken on a PT as a client, so I switch between her classes and my American client, P.volve (read about this unique online body sculpting training programme here.) After the Zoom class I have been used to school Zooms that would start at 10am, and I would get to sit down and do work, although it’s very fractured.
My husband managed to sneak off to the office throughout most of Lockdown (his excuse was ‘Too many children at home to concentrate’). I needed to make sure the tweens were up for 8.30am as their Zoom calls started then (between all 4 they’d have about 6 to 8 calls a day). This has been interspersed with ‘Mummy I’m hungry! Mummy I’m bored!’
I have tried to feed them at 12pm before they snack on yellow food all day but I have on many occasion been so knee deep in work I have forgotten their lunch. I have therefore stockpiled Charlie Binghams Lasagne, Fish Pie and Cottage Pie.
In late afternoons I have met mothers in parks so my kids can still get to play with their friends. I feel this has been essential to keeping me and my children sane! Bedtime has been getting later and later for everyone. We nearly all go to bed at the same time now which is 10.30pm/11pm even for the toddler!”
What’s your context outside of work?
“I’ve just bought a Corona kitten and I take Friday’s off to hang out with my two year old boy. My hobbies are fitness and commitments are my children and husband! I love to see my bro who has constantly popped round during Lockdown as he lives by himself and gets lonely. Also my business partner Holly has a little boy.”
What are you finding challenging right now?
“The juggle, and patience. To spend time with each child whilst putting the same effort into work. At the moment work is slipping as I have been homeschooling four kids with a toddler nipping at my ankles. Then there’s the guilt: the guilt that my children aren’t doing enough work; that they aren’t outside playing in fresh air; that my tweens are constantly staring at their screens.”
Do you feel that Lockdown has changed your outlook and if so how?
“Yes totally. It’s changed my outlook on schooling and how much I respect the teachers who spent time and love on the Zoom calls and homework. It was a challenge for parents and teachers and kids and we all had to work together to make it work. It’s also shown me how much my kids need a routine and highlighted the most important things in life. It’s now less about work, work, work, if I manage 3/4 hours of work a day that’s actually enough screen time for me.
Lockdown has proved that I don’t need to be at my screen all day or attend pointless meetings for meetings’ sake. I have the confidence post Corona to say ‘no’ more. Previously I used to run myself ragged saying ‘yes’ to everything.
I’ve also realised my children need me more – for playdates, or taking them out to stretch their legs in the park. It’s important I’m more present rather than fretting about meetings and work.”
What raises your stress levels and how do you manage that?
“The witching hours between 6pm – 9pm. Toothbrushing and laziness also stress me out and the words ‘Mummy I’m BORED!’
Other people’s reaction to Lockdown have been stressful too. I had to really bite my tongue on a few occasions with close friends – it seems we all lived out Lockdown in our own way and we all needed to respect each others’ way of coping.”
Who/ what has been the biggest inspiration to you in life?
“I think clients have inspired me as they have believed in me. Even with 5 kids, every time I was pregnant I won new clients. I’m lucky as the industry I work in is more female so there is a sense of community of women supporting other women.
Holly, my sister-in-law who joined me 5 years ago has been a total boost. She joined me when I was pregnant with number 4. I realised I needed support but its very hard to let go/ share something you have built up yourself. I trust her and she brings a youthful edge and outlook to StevensPR, especially when it comes to social media and tech.”
Are you travelling currently?
“Yes we made it out to Mallorca, our second home, on 5th July. I did the antibody test which came back positive. I did feel very ill at the beginning of lockdown and I was 16 weeks pregnant so it was worrying and a very confusing time for me. I now feel more positive and less worried. I did start wearing masks when we travelled in the airport and now in Mallorca the rules are very strict. There are masks everywhere – wearing one is slightly claustrophobic when you are heavily pregnant in the heat!”
What do you wear for work?
“Mostly fitness gear! I’m always rushing from the gym to meetings, but I do style it up a bit and splash on some foundation. Most press and clients know me so well they know the busy life I lead, plus I did look after a very stylish fitness wear brand so I wore my client to meetings – great excuse. If I’m not in athletic apparel I wear easy breezy clothes, sometimes I dress like a teenager in dungarees. I have never needed to wear a suit for work.”
If you had to edit your wardrobe to 10 items what would you keep?
“Floral floaty dresses, flat sandals, pretty puffy shirts, my mom jeans, white trainers, (Reebok or Veja!), leggings, sports bra and fitness vests. “
What are your handbag essentials?
“SPF 50, Vitamin C Serum (mostly La Roche Posay), Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, Hourglass Arch Brow `Microsculpting Pencil, Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara, Deodorant, my toddlers Wet Wipes (SO handy) and a diaper. I always have one in the bottom of the bag and sometimes by mistake I haul it out at meetings! Maybe there’s also a toy truck or a Shopkins from my 5 year old girl. Oh and a mobile phone cable as I never have any battery.”
What are your home working essentials?
“My mobile phone, coffee, and Pukka Tea throughout the rest of the day. Ashwagandha and magnesium supplements, DoTerra Oils to keep me alert and/or calm, and green apples. I’m also addicted to Tabasco and I put on everything – my poor gut!”
Who or what do you rely on for managing life’s juggle?
“My live-in cleaner/nanny who we adore and is part of the family – she helps with my toddler as he isn’t at nursery yet. She clocks in at 7am – 10am then 5pm-8pm. I’ve always had to pay for extra help as we don’t have parents nearby who can help – my lovely French helper is so supportive if I’m running late for school pick-up which is always the case .”
How do you manage your mind and wellbeing on a daily basis?
“I have finally have got into meditation. I took a 4 day crash course with Jillian Lavender who I love who runs the London Meditation Centre (there is also a New York Meditation Centre). I use the Calm App at night and do breathing techniques I’ve learnt via healers and the DeRoseMethod. I find Instagram has been a huge support during Lockdown and I’ve found new healers and ways to Zen from gong baths to sound healing sessions. I also use essential oils in my Neom diffuser. An episode of Friends helps OR any cooking program I find very relaxing as I adore my food!
Now I’m in Mallorca, I’ve just a day retreat with 10 girlfriends and done crystal healing, Yoga and meditation topped of with dancing where we just leapt around at 8pm.”
How do you stay healthy?
“I live for fitness. I adore Heartcore and Paolas Body Barrre online. I love my supplements but I’m so keen to learn and try the next or newest fitness craze or find the newest healing craze.”
How do you relax?
“By seeing friends, walking or bicycling around London or having sushi and a bottle of Cremant and seeing my brother who lives down the road from me. Ongoing projects I do in Mallorca help me. I love interiors too and I put my heart and soul into doing up our finca over the past 5 years. Im awaiting to do up a ramshackle building on our land – my mind is boggling with interior ideas.”
If you could speak to yourself when you were just starting out your career, what advice would you give yourself that would have made the most difference to you?
“Don’t compare yourself to other PR agencies or PR’s – there’s enough room for all the PR’s out there. Saying ‘no’ is just as powerful as saying ‘yes’. I sometimes underestimate how much we nurture our clients. We go above and beyond for all the brands that we look after and even clients have told me I shouldn’t undervalue my services. Sometimes’ I need to remind myself that I’m ‘worth it’!
Finally, if a journalist never replies its not because she doesn’t like you it’s because she get thousands of emails a day. Be patient and persist.”