Balancing life as a full time mum and business owner
Sarah Hannibal-White gives us an introduction to why she loves Winchester and how she has managed to create two amazing businesses.
Having been lucky enough to live in this glorious city for seven years I was delighted to fall pregnant and discover that this is the city in which I am going to raise my children.
I have commuted to work ever since moving to Hampshire from Dorset, which left little time to embrace the social community of the city. I was a little apprehensive before the birth of my daughter; I didn’t know what the future would hold for us or how we would make friends. Little did I know what this amazing city had to offer…
There truly is an unknown Winchester out there, a Winchester bursting with so many opportunities for new parents, babies and children. A Winchester just waiting to fill your days, expand your horizons and extend your circle of friends. A supportive, heart-warming Winchester waiting to take you and your new family on a journey. A Winchester to be proud of.
In those first few hazy weeks as a new mum, I spent time with a wide range of other new mums, each on their own private journey into the unknown. Making a real effort to get out of the house as often as possible, even if it did take an hour to arrange all the ‘just in case’ baby paraphernalia that needed to adorn the pushchair. Through word of mouth, social media and recommendations I discovered a range of activities for parents and babies that the city offered and I got out there and got involved. But this was only the tip of the iceberg…
As expected, life was turned upside down when Elsie was born. It makes you rethink, analyse and view your life from a different perspective. I was ready for this. When she was four months old, it was clear to me that I was not going to be able to return to my role of Head of Drama in a girl’s boarding school and give my new role as a Mummy the attention it required. I was torn. Having trained and spent 11 years working as a Drama teacher, I needed to reflect on my next steps.
Photography has always been a passion of mine, and in recent years it has become something that I have taken more and more seriously. I am never without my camera, I always have it with me for those ‘just in case’ moments. A new baby reignited my passion in a whole new way. I wanted to capture every single moment of Elsie’s life and I wanted it to be perfect. I loved it. The feeling I got when I captured something beautiful, being able to share such precious moments with family and friends, but most of all the excitement of knowing what a wonderful collection of memories I was creating for Elsie.
A year ago, I started attending Baby Sensory classes with Elsie. Within half an hour of my first class I realised I was spending more time watching other parents with their babies than I was doing anything else. It was magical, and the parents couldn’t even see what was happening right in front of their eyes. I wished I had my camera with me and felt I was missing out by not capturing everything I was seeing. New parents, new experiences, first times, learning new things. I quickly realised that these were precious moments that I was desperate to help them record so they could celebrate the wonderful moments their babies were achieving.
As a new parent, I was fully aware of the ‘fog’ that can be incredibly
overwhelming and all consuming. Those relentless days that you are just trying to get through, counting down the minutes until someone else arrives to help you through the crying. Feeling like the life you once knew perhaps actually happened to someone else, and that you really are not quite sure who you are any more. That change of identity, into ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ and the instant responsibility that comes along with that. It’s possibly not a time you want to capture on camera. You aren’t feeling your best, you perhaps haven’t brushed your hair (or washed it!), you aren’t back into your pre-maternity clothes, so why on earth would you want anyone to take photographs of you? Well it’s simple, you will never have those moments again, these times will not be repeated, and time… really does fly.
When our Baby Sensory journey drew to a close, I found myself spending a lot of time on Google trying to find out what else there was for us to do in Winchester, how else could we spend our time in this fascinating place, how could we make the most of our days? I was sharing information with a small group of friends but quickly discovered that there was no central ‘information’ point for new parents to find out all the information they needed. I realised that there was SO much out there for new parents, but it was so hard to find!
I created the Facebook Page ‘Boo & Mummy’ as a tool for new parents in Winchester. Last December, I set up the page and decided that every night I would put up a list of what drop in classes there were available to attend the following day. Within a week 50 people had ‘liked’ my page and I felt a sudden pang of responsibility… People needed me. I was informing people and it was making a difference. In those early days, I did a lot of research. I put together a spreadsheet of everything I could find that was on in Winchester; I was overwhelmed. Classes you could book for a term, half a term, summer specials, drop in classes, free events, the list seemed endless and I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the amazing city we had been lucky enough to have our babies in… so I did.
The ‘Boo & Mummy’ page now has over 550 likes and an incredible following from the Winchester community. I am so proud that I have helped so many parents and have loved the feedback I have received about the page. It is a free service, I share information from local businesses and franchise owners advertising their classes, I also help promote Lantern’s Nursery School and Extended Services and have worked alongside a whole range of Winchester events, promoting and marketing them to my audience. I attend classes and review them so that other local parents can enjoy them and find out more and more about what is going on in the local area. I am aware of how little time there is as a new parent and how important it is to get out there and enjoy what is going on. I appreciate that it’s not always easy to do, and I am so pleased that I have helped so many Winchester residents.
It didn’t take long to see how these two areas of my world could come together. How my family action and event photography could be used to help promote the wonderful events, classes and sessions on offer to the Winchester community whilst capturing the children of Winchester at the start of their incredible developmental journeys.
I am now delighted that I am working in partnership with so many Winchester based businesses including Tactile Tots, Baby Sensory, Jiggy Wrigglers, Mini First Aid, Hartbeeps, Busylizzy, the NCT, Tiny Talk, ABC Concerts, Music with Mummy, Messy Explorers, Monkey Music… and many more! I provide marketing and publicity photography for the businesses, alongside capturing those magical moments for the parents. This is not something that is offered by any other photographer in the local area and I have been amazed at how my photographs have been received by the Winchester community.
I have spent months utilising every nap and evening time working on launching my new business with very little childcare and I cannot believe how far it has come in such a short time. I never dreamed I would be able to start my own business and some days still feel like I need more hours in the day but I am so excited about what the future holds for Hannibal-White Photography and the Winchester community.
My photography services also extend to on location family photo shoots, as well as celebration and event photography. Through my work with the Winchester community of parents, I have loved making connections that extend into capturing more private family moments and special occasions. Photographs share so much about who we are as individuals and I feel incredibly proud and fulfilled to know that I am capturing so many important moments to preserve family histories. It is the closest thing we have to reliving the past and it brings me such joy to know that I am recording such precious memories for future generations to cherish and enjoy.