Raising children is basically a full-time job. Raising two children under the age of two is even more difficult, and when you throw postpartum insomnia and running your own business into the mix, you certainly have a lot on your plate. That’s exactly what Rosie Davies-Smith, 34, does on a daily basis, splitting her time between running her PR business in London and looking after her two young children at home in Devon, alongside her husband, whose full-time job is also in the city.
Rosie’s oldest, Sloane, will soon be two years old, while her youngest, Isla, will be one at the end of March. Rosie and her husband moved to Devon during the pandemic, miles from their parents, friends and support network, and they both often have to spend time in London to work. The flexibility to work from home was therefore vital to the Davies-Smith household, as was mutual support when needed.
Not only does Rosie manage to run a successful business while taking care of her two toddlers, but she also suffers from postpartum insomnia which makes daily life even more difficult.
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“I’ve never had mental health issues before,” Rosie said. “But after Isla was born – she had a bit of a bumpy birth – that was sort of the beginning. She had reflux, she wasn’t feeling very well, poor thing, and I started waking up before her at night because I used to think I heard her crying.
“Then I would wake up at 2 a.m. every night and never go back to sleep. In the middle of the night it’s a really dark and lonely place. And during the day I’m just so frustrated because I’m too tired.” I was at a breaking point at a point where I just couldn’t function anymore. I was very emotional.
Building a business with two under 2
Despite her daily struggle with insomnia, Rosie has managed to build and grow her business PR Dispatch exponentially over the past two years.
PR Dispatch teaches small businesses how to do their own PR. It gives them access to a press database, email templates, weekly support calls and more, so it’s a very handy job. The office is in Peckham, south London and Rosie has a fantastic team to rely on when the need arises.
All was not well for Rosie’s business ventures, however. She used to have another business, a PR agency, which she opened in 2013 and founded PR Dispatch in 2017. When the pandemic hit in March 2020 — just weeks after Sloane was born — 90 percent of her clients at her original PR agency were out of business.
“I had a whole team of people working on it and just one person at PR Dispatch,” Rosie said. “So I had to switch everyone to PR Dispatch because this business was actually growing – people were working from home and had time to do their PR themselves. We’ve increased our PR Dispatch members by 200 percent.
“We had a lot of late nights – Sloane was days old at the time – so a lot of late nights to record my screen to teach the team how to work for the PR dispatch business.
“I then had Isla a year later — a little surprise, a nice surprise — I always wanted two, but maybe not that close together,” she laughed.
“Have two [children], the juggling was really difficult. I ended up closing the other PR business in January 2022. We only had one customer anyway.”
The importance of asking for help
Rosie said her team is “absolutely critical” to PR Dispatch’s successful growth while raising her two young children, and acknowledges that she is fortunate to be able to pay for kindergarten to give her some time during the week to give to “actually get some work done”.
“If one of them is sick, everything will be completely thrown off,” she added. “When they have to go to the doctors it’s a real juggle, but my husband is great. I couldn’t do it without him.
“He works from home but he also has to travel to London – he went to London this morning for three days. But he does 50 percent of the pickups and drops just to give us both a little time or we’d go crazy.”
Since Rosie and her husband both have to travel to London occasionally, the trips have to be “planned like a military operation” as they don’t live close to relatives or close friends who can look after the girls. Occasionally one of her parents has had to come down to look after her, but mostly they try to be flexible with each other’s schedules – relieved by the fact that Rosie is the boss of their company.
“The hardest part is that we never have time for each other,” admits Rosie. “One of us will always bridge the gap with the kids if one of us wants to go and do something.”
Despite having moved so far from home, Rosie “misses massively” south London, her home of 12 years, Rosie says one of the easiest parts of moving for the good of her family has been meeting new people and making new friends. “Having a really young baby helps – I’ve been to baby yoga, I’m in a WhatsApp group and there are loads of really great small business owners down here who have kids too, so we connected through that.
“The hardest thing is finding the time when I work five days a week. They tend to want to meet up during the week while I literally only have weekends at the moment. But the network down here has been fantastic and I don’t feel like I’ve had any trouble meeting people.”
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dealing with insomnia
Rosie has also found a way to deal with her postpartum insomnia, which seems to be helping her now and giving her more energy to be a business owner and mom.
“I had everything to solve the insomnia. Prescribed medication, hypnotherapy, CBD oil,” she said, but then she discovered a severe sleep restriction. Rosie only sleeps six hours a night from 12:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. as part of the technique, which is designed to get you to bed “absolutely ready” and more likely to sleep through the night. When she wakes up, instead of tossing and turning in her bed, she goes downstairs, makes a cup of hot water, goes back upstairs and tries again. She also takes supplements and avoids alcohol, which she says is a big trigger for her insomnia.
“I just decided to be honest with people because it put me in a place where I can’t actually work or take care of the kids,” she added. “I think just being honest helped me get through this.”
If you’re struggling with insomnia, visit the NHS website for help and advice.
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