Following the stillbirth of her child, Pat Moores realised there was little help and support out there on childcare, beyond glossy magazines and books by ‘experts’. Frustrated that parents didn’t have a forum for real life experiences, Pat ditched her high-powered job at Sony and set up For Parents By Parents with co-founder Janet Kingston.In the four years since its foundation, the website has attracted thousands of readers with its no-nonsense, warts-and-all description of being a parent, winning it numerous awards from parenting bodies.
“I felt that people that lost a child, or who had postnatal depression, there was nowhere for them to go,” Pat explains.
“You could get your magazine and see a glossy picture of a mother and child on the cover – for people who haven’t had positive experiences as a parent, this can be incredibly demoralising. I felt they were patronising and not very helpful.
Then you have the professional books, telling you how you should do it and you should deal with things. But there was nothing from parents telling it how it is to other parents, honestly. Parents are notoriously dishonest telling other people how it is.”
Pat and her husband wrote several of the early case studies on stillbirth, encouraging others to come forward and share their experiences. Funding the site out of their own pockets, the couple luckily came across a web designer who wanted some work to showcase to other clients – For Parents By Parents was a gratefully free ‘model.’
After the birth of her daughter, Pat had a choice – to either keep her job at Sony or work on the site and care for her baby without the help of a nanny. She chose the latter – something that she does not regret.
“With Sony, I was out of the country maybe ten days out of 30, so I could’ve had a nanny, but that’s not what I wanted to do, I wanted to bring up my daughter myself,” she explains. “It wasn’t really an option to go back to that job, I had to re-think things after having her.
“I worked as a consultant for one day a week and then the rest of the time was either looking after my daughter or working on the website in the evenings and strange hours of the night.
“It was a real shock, I missed my job, but it wasn’t an option without having a live-in nanny to do the job. You take your hard choices and you lose your cashcard, that’s quite hard, but that’s OK.”
For Parents By Parents has grown significantly since the first articles were uploaded four years ago from Pat’s home. The site is now a respected source of information for parents and authorities alike – surveys conducted by for the resource have been used by the government in policy documents.
However, despite her background in marketing with Sony, Pat found it difficult to reach new readers through traditional methods.
“We tested out various forms of advertising and advertorials and, from my background, the obvious things like advertising just didn’t work,” she says. “That was quite surprising, but the parenting market is a very interesting and very different type of market.
“It’s a very cynical and very private market, it doesn’t like to be preached at, although some people love loads of information. People will give credibility to another parent saying ‘I found this site and it was very useful’
“While we have made a big policy of not having expert opinions on the site, as it’s the voice of the parent, we’ve had fantastic support from recognised support agencies and seen that we are not in it for a fast buck to the point we are penalising ourselves financially.”
The website has been Pat’s proverbial labour of love, income hasn’t been her main concern. Despite this, she has not only made the website viable, she has built it into a valuable resource for parents. However, her success hasn’t given her any illusions as to how difficult it is for parents to go it alone.
“It is incredibly tough, I wouldn’t say it’s got any easier, but I think more people are looking to do it,” she says. “If you’ve had a demanding job, people say you can go back, but it is practically impossible, without doing everything really badly.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Pat feels that the government is too generous to parents when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. She feels she has struck the right balance in being a parent and running a business, but believes that small firms simply cannot cope with extended breaks by employees.
“I know that’s not a very popular view,” she admits.
“The bottom line is if you work in the public sector, you are fine, if you for a large organisation they are getting there, but if you work for a small company, they are not getting there, for good commercial reasons that they cannot afford to be off work for that long.
“Most sensible employers who keep good employees give time off to those people when it can be managed, they don’t need Big Brother telling them.
“If good small employers are looking after their staff, they will give people time off, but when the business can stand it. It’s just barmy to legislate.”
Pat warns that other high-flying careerists looking to ditch it all to run a small firm should think hard before taking the plunge.
“I’d say think very carefully if you want to live without the perks you want to have,” she advises. “I’ve never planned my career, I’ve been very fortunate and I thought I wouldn’t miss any of it, having a nice car, earning a nice salary, people reporting to me and listening to me.
“But when you start your own business it’s very, very lonely. If you have worked for a small business, have a go, but if you’ve only worked for a big company, and you just think you might like to have a bash at it, you probably shouldn’t do it.”
To visit the For Parents By Parents website, go to www.forparentsbyparents.com