Kathrine Peereboom is a world-leading disability and vulnerable persons advocate and founder of Spectrum Support.
Spectrum Support provides education and training to law enforcement and first responders across the country. Her work has attracted global awards for her extraordinary achievements.
“Juggling motherhood with three special needs children and being a busy entrepreneur is certainly challenging but very rewarding,” Ms Peereboom said.
“I was an established corporate professional before meeting my husband and becoming a mum.
“Motherhood is something I always dreamed of and we have three amazing boys who certainly keep us on our toes.
“When we discovered our boys’ disabilities, heading back to work was not a possibility for me.
“The boys face many challenges and finding appropriate care, education and managing all of the weekly therapy appointments meant working a 9 to 5 job proved to be too difficult and was simply not achievable.
“I have always had an interest in starting my own business and pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities.
“I wanted to build a business that will do good across the community while also providing a future for our family. I began researching the links between law enforcement and the autism community.
“I discovered quickly there was a huge opportunity to support both sectors.”
In 2017, Kathrine Peereboom established the charity organisation Spectrum Support and her work has been recognised both nationally and internationally.
“I am very proud of our achievements but I still have much more to do. Over the last two years, I have been building a new business centred around technology to provide increased visibility for first responders and on how to support people with special needs.
“This will be launched in the coming months,” Ms Peereboom added.
“Over the last few years, I have had to find ways of managing all of my commitments.
“It may not be conventional but I’m sure every business owner will attest to thinking outside the box when you are starting any new venture.
“When I started my businesses, I made sure that I operated the business around my family. I didn’t receive or start making calls until the boys were at school or taking a nap.
“Once they arrived home, I didn’t start work again until they were in bed. I now work with different time zones and have 6 am or 7 am meetings several times a week, so we schedule ahead of time to determine who attends the meeting and who cares for the boys.
“I made everyone aware, from clients, colleagues to suppliers, that my boys come first and if the school calls or there is an issue with their health or safety, that I would drop everything and have to go. Everyone understands that this is how I operate and everyone is very supportive.”
Ms Peereboom has shared her top tips on how she manages to create a balance in both her professional and personal life.
- Find your passion
“Find something that you are passionate about and identify your niche. Have clarity on your ‘why’ and be crystal clear on what you want for your business and vision,” Ms Peereboom said.
- Release the guilt
“You are allowed to pursue your dreams and be a mum simultaneously. Stop beating yourself up, reserve self-judgment and think about the bigger picture,” Ms Peereboom added.
- Include your support network
“Speak to your partner, family and support network. Whether you realise it or not, you will need them for a variety of reasons at different times. It is important to have people around you trust and can rely on,” Ms Peereboom said.
- Keep things in perspective
“When you are starting a business the days and weekends can be long with little rewards in the beginning. Stay focused and remember why you started in the first place. Kissing my boys at bedtime each night gives me perspective,” Ms Peereboom explained.
- Take breaks
“If you are feeling overwhelmed, tired or defeated, learn to rest, give yourself permission to have a break, but bounce back and never quit! Taking a break enables you to refresh and re-energise,” Ms Peereboom emphasised.
- Failure is OK
“Failure is okay. Your dreams don’t have an expiration date, so take a deep breath and try again,” Ms Peereboom said.
- Plan, schedule, get and stay organised
“Your work time is precious and when you are building a business it may not be as predictable as it would be if you worked in a traditional workplace. Make the best of the time you have available. Be smart with your time, be super organized.” Ms Peereboom added.
- Ask for help
“We live in such a resource-heavy world. Connect to online like-minded groups, find suppliers that bolster your vision and delegate the work at home – if you can. Reach out to people for help when you need assistance. It is critical that you learn to ask for help. Help comes in different ways, learn to understand how others can support you in your journey while remembering to thank them along the way.” Ms Peereboom said.
- Hold yourself accountable
“When working solo, it’s easy to let weeks or months go by without hitting some of your targets and goals. Finding another person who you trust and reach out to regularly to discuss your progress (either phone, in person or over Skype) can dramatically keep you on track,” Ms Peereboom emphasised.
- Support your health and mental wellbeing
“Take time to ensure you are a priority in your own life! It’s a huge one! You can’t give if the tank is running empty! Make the effort to take care of yourself including your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing,” Ms Peereboom said.
Spectrum Support is a national organisation committed to improving through training, education, awareness and support for the quality of public and private services provided to, autistic Australians and those living with other special needs.