SheThePeople.TV is proud to present How She Did It, a new series in which we cover the stories of inspiring women who have broken boundaries and accomplished inspiring feats. Here’s Ruchita Dar Shah’s story. We speak to her about how she created First Moms Club, an online and offline community for moms which has over 50,000 members in 60 countries, while raising her two sons.
Her children enjoy being a part of her life, and have fun helping with some creative aspects of the business, like thinking of names for events.
Her First Avatar:
Ruchita used to be in advertising, and her husband used to be a banker. The nature of his job meant that he constantly got transferred, and even got transferred out of the country. So Ruchita also used to keep moving with him and finding new jobs. After her first child, advertising’s crazy hours left her feeling guilty about the fact that she could not be there for her child more. So she soon started freelancing. She was the first to have a baby among her friends’ circle, and at that time, 12 years ago, there were no forums specific to Indian parents.
By the time she had her second child, lots of her friends would ask her for advice instead of asking their moms or their in-laws. “We don’t live in the city we have grown up in, and we live in nuclear setups. We want to know from peers, because that news is the freshest we will get,” says Ruchita.
She started a Facebook group to connect with her own friends in 2010, shortly after Facebook had introduced its group feature. “Soon, lots of people started adding their mommy friends, and I was soon running a small community. I realised we take ourselves too seriously, and treat motherhood like a job. The fun is taken out of it when we are focused on being a perfect mom,” she says.
In 2013, Ruchita launched the official website. She says that FMC is where moms can come and find their own tribe.
Dealing with Guilt:
“There is so much wisdom from moms from any part of the world. I have been an NRI mother and I have been a mother in India. When you live abroad, you want to go back to your roots, take advice for home remedies and how to connect your children to your culture.”
“The guilt is there — the baby comes out and the guilt is in your DNA. But you have to learn to let go of certain things. Seeking perfection will kill you.”
She says that she does feel guilty while working, but if she tries to adopt a more chilled out attitude, then her guilt does lessen.
Working From Home:
Ruchita says that the digital world makes it easy to work from home. She works from home, and the internet helped her a great deal. While at her laptop, she says that she could always keep an eye on the children through her peripheral vision.
I encourage moms to work from home. It satisfies both ides of my personality- the independent and career driven side and the one that wants to be a good mother.
I realised we take ourselves too seriously, and treat motherhood like a job. The fun is taken out of it when we are focused on being a perfect mom
But she also says that the concept of work-life balance doesn’t work. “If one day you are cracking it as a mother, then your handling of the business side of things is not so good. And vice-versa.”
Integrating Kids With Business:
So she tries to integrate the two, and tries to involve her kids in the business. “My kids are in tune with what I do. They keep asking me how many moms are in the community, and participate in every event we hold.”
She even encouraged her boys to put up a stall at the recently held FMC Spring Bazaar. Her children enjoy being a part of her life, and have fun helping with some creative aspects of the business, like thinking of names for events.
“I encourage women to involve their children,” she says. “I feel it is important to share what is happening in my life with my children, so that they can also feel comfortable sharing with me. And it is not only the good. I will let them know when I am not feeling too good.”
“You can’t be strict with them in this scenario. I would rather be their friend and sing that Justin Bieber song with them!” she says.
I feel it is important to share what is happening in my life with my children, so that they can also feel comfortable sharing with me.
A Caring Partner:
Ruchita says that it is important to have a partner who is understanding and not set about any rules on gender roles.
“I outsource so many parenting duties to my husband. We don’t ever say this is only your job, or this is mine. It depends.”
Ruchita wants to bring up her two boys as feminists. A lot of parenting is what you see, she says. So if they see their mother and father doing both roles, that kind of thinking is in their system.
Habits of Success:
I am naturally inquisitive. I want to learn, which is especially important when you are doing a digital business. She also says that when you are working from home, you have to be self motivated and have a routine.
I didn’t realise how much of an entrepreneurial side I had before I started this.”
Another thing that Ruchita realises is important is the determination to just go for it. Discipline is another skill that she has discovered is key to starting any business. She starts her day at the same time every day, and has a particular routine when it comes to work.
“Of course, sometimes you have to adapt and change the rules,” she says.
Mompreneurs Need to Be Taken Seriously:
When she first started, she said a lot of people didn’t take her seriously. “When women start ventures from home, people just think that it is time pass. It is time to take seriously what these women do. You could start small, and it could become big.”
“I want people to know what the voices of mothers are sensible ones and that we can be consistent with what we do and with our careers.”
When brands work with FMC, they know the community is more than a glorified group of women, she adds.
First Happy Mom, Then Happy Child:
Ruchita stresses that being a mother is not a job, and is instead an important role in life, which should be enjoyed. She has seen a lot of moms who forget themselves, their careers, their hobbies, and what makes them themselves. The digital world can help us. Moms at home have found their calling — they have become authors, entrepreneurs, bloggers and more.
“I believe that if the mom is happy, her kid will automatically be happy, because of the positive way she will raise her kid. At FMC, the focus is on the mom first.”