Alycia Johnson

Children: 1 Industry: Marketing - Aged care

How would you best describe yourself?

A thirty-something wife, mum, and daughter. An enthusiastic marketer. Nutella addict. A bit of a perfectionist. Podcast listener. Loyal friend. Dedicated employee.

How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?

Before having my son, I would work long hours without question, constantly think about projects or deadlines into the evenings, and rarely switched off. Thanks to parenthood, I’ve now got boundaries between work and personal life. When I’m at work, I’m at work. On my “days off”, I’m an all-in mum and focus solely on parenting. There’s no longer guilt associated with personal time. Things that used to cause me stress and anxiety in the workplace, now seem so insignificant, and being a parent has actually made me a better worker. I was surprised at how much I missed working when I was on mat leave. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 months at home with my baby, I quickly came to realise that working is part of my pre-mum identity and something I really enjoyed. I learned that just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you can’t or still want to have a career too.

What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?

Contrary to what people will tell you, becoming a mum won’t mean your career will be completely erased. Good companies are out there, and they are supportive of talented, experienced people. You can develop both personally and professionally from becoming a parent.

What has been your biggest challenge in motherhood to date? How have you overcome this?

Returning from mat leave was tough. Our son had quite a few health issues resulting in multiple hospital trips, pediatrician appointments, and many nights with zero sleep. Pre-covid, my previous workplace didn’t support flexible working and had the old school office work mentality. This, coupled with general mum guilt over childcare made those first few weeks hard. I had to quickly learn to let go of the guilt and be as open as possible. I made calls to childcare to check-in when I was anxious. Communicated that my son's health was my first priority and eventually ended up finding a different workplace that was supportive of working parents and flexible working arrangements.

What are your strategies to manage the juggle of career and family?

The shared parenting load. If one does childcare drop off, the other does the pick-up. If one packs the bag, the other does the washing. If one cooks dinner, the other reads a bedtime story. Also sharing sick leave days when our son is unwell. This made a huge difference in the beginning when I was resuming my career after mat leave.

What do you do for self-care?

Alone time doing something for me (and not just a solo trip to the supermarket). Whether I watch a tv show, catch up with friends, go for a walk, dinner, or pilates - just having an hour or two to myself once a week and choosing what to do with that time helps me refill my cup.