The Online Business: Nicky Khan, The London Birth School

“Very little takes priority over my morning cup of Yorkshire Tea.” says Nicky Khan. She talks about her typical workdays, teaching about modern birth online and working from home…

Nicky Khan runs The London Birth School, providing birth education through classes and an online school, focusing on demystifying hypnobirthing. She is also a birth and postnatal doula covering South West London. She lives in Putney with her family and two fluffy cats. 

What time do you wake up in the morning?
Ideally, 6.15 am some days a week when I try and do a live online workout (my motivation comes and goes though) and 7 am the rest of the week. My kids are getting better at figuring out their Gro Clock and playing in their rooms until 7 am but it’s a bit of a hit and miss. On Sundays, we put on CBeebies and attempt a lie in…

What’s the first thing you do?
Normally the kids pile into our bed around 7 am and I have a quick look at my phone. Once I’m up I like to get going – make the bed straight away then head to the kitchen to put the kettle on. Very little takes priority over my morning cup of Yorkshire Tea.

When’s breakfast?
I don’t often eat breakfast (or at least not right away), other than a cup of tea. Once I’m back from the school run and sitting down to work I’ll have a second cup of tea and either some homemade granola and yoghurt (if I’ve been organised) or a slice of sourdough toast. 

What time do you start work?
Unless I’ve got an errand to run or meeting first thing, I tend to try and be disciplined and start work as soon as I’m back from the school run just after 9 am. I only have four mornings a week with childcare so I need to be productive in that time. It means I try and clear up the breakfast stuff and get the house vaguely in order before I do the school run. 

Where do you work from (home, studio, office etc)?
I work from home (as does my husband at the moment). We have a cabin-office at the bottom of the garden that since lockdown started in March, my husband has taken over so I work from the kitchen table. I actually prefer being in the house to work as it means I’m closer to the kettle and fridge.

Tell us about the work you do, including the online side of it…
I had been teaching hypnobirthing for four years, alongside having my children and working part-time as a lawyer. This summer I decided to throw my energy into my business full-time. I have expanded the classes I teach to cover a full antenatal course and created my first online course, and have two more courses in the pipeline.

Do you break for lunch – and if yes, what’s on the menu?
I always break for lunch (and three days a week to collect my daughter from preschool). We then tend to each lunch together – often leftovers from the night before’s dinner or something easy like sandwiches/ stuffed pasta/ soup. And of course another cup of tea.

How do you lift yourself from the afternoon slump?
I’m afraid the afternoon is fuelled by sugar and caffeine, in whatever form I can get my hands on. I’m not a “one square of dark chocolate” kind of girl but more an “inhale a sharing bag of chocolate buttons” girl. I do also love a 20-minute power nap if I can get one but I’m rarely so lucky.

Do you incorporate exercise into your workday?
I try to do a half-hour morning workout at 6.30 am three times a week. It’s such a cliche but it really does set me up for the day. I just need to avoid hitting the snooze button. Otherwise, it becomes really unlikely that the workout is going to happen.

Where do you go for inspiration?
I love being outside – whether it’s at our allotment, local woods or the beach and just being around nature generally to clear my head. I love chatting to other mums and seeing what their birth experiences were like and their personal highs and lows from pregnancy, birth and new parenthood are. I read a lot of books and blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts. 

What tech could you not live without?
Can I have three? Instagram – Netflix – Airbnb. 

Finish this sentence: The Internet is…
“a great servant but a really scary master” – a Kate Northrup quote.

What time do you finish for the day?
It really depends on what I’ve managed to get done in the day and how urgently things need doing, but I often work in the evenings once the kids are in bed. It means I get a few hours of uninterrupted time, and depending on what I’m doing I often have Netflix on too.

Are the evenings for rest, work or play?
A combination of all three? I’m hopeless at going to bed early and there hasn’t been much opportunity to play lately, but nice food, a glass of wine, some work and a good series and I’m pretty happy.

What are you reading/watching at the moment? How do you switch off from work nowadays?
I’m reading Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols – it’s all about the science of how water makes us feel happier, more connected and better at what we do. I love the ocean and find it totally fascinating so loving the science behind it. We’ve just finished The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown, also been enjoying Emily In Paris on Netflix for pure escapism.

Screens in the bedroom, or banned?
I do sleep with my phone charging next to me but I try to be disciplined and read a few pages of my book before I go to sleep rather than scroll. I check my phone first thing in the morning for literally a minute and then I can ignore it until it’s time to work a few hours later.

How do you sleep?
Like a log. Out like a light and rarely stir unless a small person wakes me. I love to sleep and could fall asleep pretty much anywhere at any time of day or night if given half a chance.

Finish this sentence: This time next year, I’ll be…
busy running antenatal classes and events for women across London, alongside running a successful online platform with a range of antenatal and postnatal courses. I also hope to complete my doula mentoring programme in 2021. And spend more time by the sea. 


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