In conversation with Jess McLish

Welcome to Coeur et Maman, thank you for joining us today. If you had an opportunity to write your own bio, how would it read? What do you want to be known for?

Thank you so much for having me! My name is Jess, I'm a super busy mum of 2, and owner of Coventry Rocks - a website made especially for families to find things to do in Coventry and the surrounding areas. I launched the Coventry Rocks business in December 2019, just before having my second daughter, and I am so glad I did! It's my passion, I call it my third baby! :-)


What is the best part about the town you live in, and why have you chosen to call it home?

Coventry is an amazing place to bring up a family. It is such a vibrant and busy city, with so much to do for kids and adults alike. If you want to go shopping or visit a museum, you can. If you want to head to a park or go for a long walk, there are so many options! On Coventry Rocks, we feature over 50 amazing outdoor spaces - from family friendly walks, to nature reserves, woodlands and kids play areas - there really is something for everyone! And then there's the people of Coventry, who are wonderful, welcoming and friendly. Since I launched my business I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of local businesses - baby and toddler groups, community groups and charities, and lots of local shops and traders as well. There is a fantastic community spirit in Coventry, which was especially evident during the last year when we've all needed to support each other that little bit more.

What does a typical weekend day look like for you, and if you had to make it into an ideal day, what would you do?

At the moment, our weekends are pretty quiet! We tend to bring both girls in bed with us, and lay in as long as possible (if we get to 8am we're happy!). Once we're all up and dressed we would head out to a local park or nature reserve for a walk / bike ride. We love to discover new places, so when guidelines allow we'd tend to find something new on the map, pop the baby in the carrier, and spend a couple of hours exploring.
The ideal day would be to meet friends at the zoo or farm, and spend some time catching up, pottering and eating/drinking whilst the kids play. We have some fantastic friends locally, and we have missed them terribly with the recent restrictions.

What would you say is the best advice you received when starting out or during the course of your career or business venture?

I think the best advice would be to believe in myself. I'm not a super confident person, and now and then I tend to 'wobble' and lose confidence in what I’m doing. Thankfully I have some great friends and mentors around me who are quick to pick me up and make me appreciate how far I’ve come. Owning your own business can be a lonely existence, so I’m grateful to have a fantastic support network around me.

What does motherhood mean to you, and what are your thoughts on the current society’s attitude towards women’s decisions to be or not be mothers?

Motherhood has been an amazing journey for me, but it can certainly be a bumpy ride at times! I was very lucky to have two very happy and healthy pregnancies, and both labours were incredible. The time has passed by so quickly, my eldest is 4 now, and she's such a funny, clever and sassy little lady! We have many ups and downs, but I couldn't be more proud of her. Then there's little Ruby, who was born just before lockdown, and has had a very sheltered first year! But she is the most beautiful and laid back little girl, and I feel so lucky to have two healthy happy daughters.

Unfortunately, it seems women are judged whether they are or are not a mother. Whether they want babies or don't. Whether they go back to work or stay at home. Whether they breast or bottle feed. Whether they use a dummy or not. Society's attitude can be harmful and judgemental, and as a woman this is very difficult to ignore.

Unfortunately, it seems women are judged whether they are or are not a mother. Whether they want babies or don't. Whether they go back to work or stay at home. Whether they breast or bottle feed. Whether they use a dummy or not. Society's attitude can be harmful and judgemental, and as a woman this is very difficult to ignore.

Is there a book, work of art or other creative product that has had the most influence on you, helped you make it through a difficult or uncertain time or pushed you towards achieving your goals?

I recently read 'The Work/Parent Switch' by Anita Claire - It’s about busy working parents, and how to make the most of your time at home with your kids, despite having no time, no energy and having a million things going on in your head. It’s about understanding what our kids really need from us, and it’s got some quite useful strategies for dealing with certain situations. Warmth and attention. At the time of reading it, I was about to return to work part time, and I was worried about how I would spin so many plates and still be a good mum. We were also going through a phase with my eldest where anger was overtaking her emotions. This book taught me a few ways to switch from work mode to parent mode, and also how to handle certain behaviors.

If you could choose one trailblazing woman to be your mentor, who would it be?

I'm not sure if you'd call her a trailblazer, but I love Giovanna Fletcher. I just love everything she stands for! She's a busy mum of 3, with a successful career, and a hugely positive outlook on life. Her Happy Mum Happy Baby book and podcasts spoke volumes to me when I was a new mum - they are all about doing what's right for you and turning down the chatter of other people's opinions. Her instagram is filled with photos of her au naturale - with a messy mum bun and sticky marks on her clothes, and in this day and age that is so refreshing to see.

Have you taken any brave action of late? Change, or our dreams, can often times feel scary, what’s your go-to approach for dealing with fear?

The bravest thing I’ve done recently is being interviewed on live radio! It was all very random, and I was nervous as hell, but I felt so proud once I’d done it! When I’m unsure about something I’d always seek support from closest friends, who know just what to say to pick me back up again.

If you had one hope for the future, what would it be?

All I can hope for, is that my little girls grow up to be happy, healthy and confident women.

And lastly, what piece of advice would you give your 23 year old self?

Haha! When I was 23 I was in a very different place indeed! I would tell myself 'everything will turn out OK'.

Editor’s note

Thank you Jess for joining us for the premier of our interview series. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning so much about the myriad ways families can spend quality time together while exploring our local areas and making the most of what nature has to offer. It’s starting to look like the lockdown restrictions are going to be eased soon; what a brilliant opportunity to check out some of the activities highlighted in Coventry Rocks.

You can also connect with Jess on Instagram and Facebook, and if you are not local to Coventry, the Coventry Rocks website provides lots of ideas for you to explore similar concepts closer to you.


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