Beth Steele

Children: 2

Industry: Government

How would you best describe yourself?

I’m a bit of everything to everyone! I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old, and am currently on maternity leave (due to go back in 3.5 weeks. I also study at uni part time, and enjoy going to the gym. Somewhere in there I find time to read (even if it’s only two pages before I’m zonked out for the night) and spend time with my husband (just!).

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

I didn’t realise I was career driven until I was on maternity leave with my first child. I struggled immensely with the adjustment and realised just how important my career is to who I am and what motivates me. When I went back to work I finally felt like myself again! But I struggled to see others that had harnessed opportunities in my absence, and the whole “it could have been me” thing. Fortunately I had a supportive team and manager and was able to secure a promotion before going on maternity leave again.

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

It changes EVERYTHING so work out which parts of your life you need to be happy in yourself and come up with strategies to make them work post-kids. I don’t think I was prepared for how much everything would change, and how much I would have to change to make my new life work.

What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy / leave / returning to work?  How have you overcome this?

My biggest challenge on maternity leave has been feeling like my entire life revolves around my kids and I’m not accomplishing anything meaningful. The first time I went on maternity leave I feel like I had a bit of an identity crisis (who am I other than a Mum?). Second time around I returned to my studies sooner and joined regular mums and bubs gym classes. It’s allowed me to keep my mind busy and focus on personal goals (getting back into shape!) so that I still have a sense of purpose outside of being a Mum.

What strategies / initiatives do you use to help you manage the juggle of being a Working Mumma and family?

Organisation is key. At the start of the week I plan what we will eat and when I will fit exercise and study in. I always have some frozen meals, and have go to simple meals for the nights when we get home later. I also refuse to bow to the infamous Mum guilt! If my kids have scrambled eggs or weetbix for dinner after a daycare/work day then so be it - they’re fed. If I need my son to watch TV so I can finish an assignment, that’s OK too. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and we don’t need to feel guilty about that.