Industry: Hospitality & Entertainment
How would you best describe yourself?
I'm hardworking, happy, enjoy interacting with people, & love to have a chat & a giggle. I feel people sometimes take advantage of my good nature.
How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?
It has taught me that work isn't the be all & end all of your life.
My child is my #1 now. Right now I'm not feeling like I want to increase my work hours much, as my son is developing so quickly. I don't want to miss anything!
My son's ability to pick things up very fast amazes me.
I've discovered that if the house doesn't look neat & tidy or clean all the time, that's okay too.
I found I need a regular outlet for myself each week. For that, it's going to PIilates twice a week, & at least one other fitness class. If I don't do that, I feel like I get cabin fever! I'm a bit like that as well if I don't get out of the house at least once a week.
When I was at home post-partum for the first 3 weeks & couldn't drive, that drove me crazy. I missed my freedom to jump in the car & drive somewhere.
I am very surprised that my son decided to sleep through the night from 12 weeks (sorry to all the other Mums who are battling to settle their little ones!) My son loves his sleep, and it's totally normal for him to sleep 10-12 hours a night.
What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?
Have kids earlier than what I did, if you get the chance. I never met my now husband until late in life, and wished I'd met him sooner. I really feel the pressure to have a 2nd baby ASAP! Don't obsess over trying to fall pregnant, it will happen when you least expect it.
What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy / leave / returning to work? How have you overcome this?
My biggest challenges was actually getting my Post Natal depression & anxiety under control, with the help of a pyschologist. I was prone to a few panic attacks when my son was a lot younger, & seeing someone about it has made a world of difference. I also take an anti-depressant tablet.
I make sure I take time out to look after myself, with things like a massage every couple of months, & regular date nights with my husband.
My other challenge has been getting to work on time!!! Something always happens when I try to leave the house.
I didn't want to go back to work at first, but am now enjoying the balance of work/life. I didn't return to my full time position, but instead preferred to go back on a casual basis with a few set days when I work.
I love the fact my son gets to spend one day per week with his grandparents on both sides, and also he hangs out with his 2 yr old cousin as well. They get on well together & love catching up.
My other challenge was also learning to open up & be honest with others about Motherhood. When I did, I found it wasn't just me that was dealing with Post-Natal depression & anxiety about returning to work, some of my close girlfriends went through the same thing. I feel as if society really throws a blanket over the panic, depression, & anxiety post baby; that is, you're expected to be "over the moon" about Motherhood, & so happy, but for some Mums, it's the complete opposite.
Having a baby can be very socially isolating, I know I felt like this in the first few months. I would wonder what my work colleagues were doing, or what my friends were up to. I felt like feeding was a battle in the beginning, & would never end.
There were also times I wondered if life would ever 'be normal' again. I've no idea on reflection what 'normal' is now. I know that having a baby totally changes your life -- you just look at things in such a different way. I never used to be a very emotional person - but now I cry whenever I see a baby on television!
When I returned to work, I found out that a colleague who was pregnant lost her baby very unexpectedly at 39 weeks. That was a total shock, & very sad. I constantly look at my son and think how lucky I am to have him now, & I am reminded of her loss every day. It really makes you appreciate the little things.
I also never let my husband know I was really unhappy & depressed - that was a bad thing. He didn't have any idea about the battles that were happening inside my head. Once I did let him know, he was a terrific support to me.
I try to let my son's carers (grandparents) initiate what he eats / drinks when he goes to their homes to be looked after - I got quite obsessed with sending food each week....they eventually said 'stop sending it' as he wouldn't eat any of my food!!
I try to leave all my work "at work" & try not to talk about it too much at home.
Trust your gut feelings....you're usually right.
Take any advice family or friends give you about raising your child 'correctly' with a grain of salt. if they give you any lectures, just smile, nod & say 'okay.' You are their parent, in control, not them!!
Be kind to yourself.
Repeat this daily: I am a Great Mum. I am a Great Mum.