Children: Two (aged 7 and 4)
Industry: Self-employed, marketing and communications consultant at illumify Communications
How would you best describe yourself?
I am a mother of two balls of energy who both love to give “sloppy kisses” and “hugs until your head pops off”! I am also a career driven woman who supports businesses to work through what makes their consumers tick, and what and how to best communicate their strategy. I feel more ‘at home’ in hiking boots than high heels, although my collection of the latter is rather quire good. I am a lover of travel, time in nature and impromptu singing and dancing around the kitchen with the kids (…and sometimes alone too!)
How has becoming a parent changed your perception of work and career and what surprised you the most?
There are three main things I hadn’t expected:
How much I wanted to be at home (and be present) with my children whilst still continuing to grow and develop my career. These two desires played havoc in my head in the first few years as a parent. I couldn’t part with my ambition simply because I became a parent. At the same time I craved the time and space to be present with my children. I am grateful I have now entered a space where I have both.
The stereotyping I initially experienced when re-entering the workforce after maternity leave. I now actively work to change this pigeon-holing by proudly sharing that I’m a working parent, how I manage the juggle and how I work flexibly and successfully. I want to be part of the change!
Motherhood has given me real perspective. No longer do I ‘sweat the small stuff’, which at work can mean my professional approach is much more balanced (if a promotional email goes out in the afternoon instead of the morning because there has been an approval delay its not life or death).
What advice would you give your younger self about starting a family?
Looking back I was too hard on myself, so if I had the chance I would tell my younger self:
“You are going to be an amazing Mum to two very lucky children. While you will listen to everyone’s suggestions know that the most important person to listen to is yourself - trust your own gut feeling. Remember to surround yourself with people who lift you up, this will be so critical in motherhood.”
What has been your biggest challenge so far across the stages of pregnancy/leave/returning to work? How have you overcome this?
Pregnancy – I loved it (and the boobs 😊) Even through complications with my second pregnancy I look back at this time with such loving memories and much excitement.
Maternity Leave – While maternity leave with my firstborn was filled with glorious walks through to the local parks and lots of cuddle time (reflux baby) I still missed my job so I decided to go back to work one day a week when my son was eight months old. My employer created a new position so I could do this – I was very grateful. With my second child I took two years off (I also finished my Post Graduate in Management during this time).
Returning to work – Expressing milk in the disabled toilets wasn’t one of my most enjoyable moments! I had to turn the shower on to drain out the battery-operated pump that echoed throughout both the female and male toilets. The most frustrating part about returning to work was the perception that a part-time employee only works to half of their strength. This is far from the truth!
What strategies/initiatives do you use to help you manage the juggle of being a Working Mumma and family?
My parents and in-laws always tell me to ‘just ask’ when inquiring if they would mind our children. My ‘asking’ has always come with guilt attached to it. Over the past couple of years I have finally come to my senses – when they say ‘just ask’ they mean it! I now lean on their help during school holidays and for ‘down time’ without guilt attached! We are very lucky to have two very active sets of grandparents. My husband and I hate cleaning (we suck at it!) so we have a fortnightly cleaner. I also do my weekly food shop online, although I still somewhat suck at meal prep!
What do you do for self-care?
Last year I heard Kemi Nekvapil speak at a conference where she shared that ‘When you say yes to someone else, make sure you aren’t saying no to you’ – this one statement resonated with me deeply and has helped me recognise that its ok to slow down.
During the pandemic I began ‘podcasting by while dog walking’. I have come to really enjoy this time because a podcast can transport me to an overseas destination or I can gain insights from other small business owners all while walking around my local area!
On the rare occasion (pre-covid) I take myself out to breakfast once the kids are at school / kinder. I linger and read the newspaper while sipping a cup of coffee (or two!).
An evening with close friends, talking over a glass of wine is also a huge favourite of mine. This comes back to what I would tell my younger self, “Remember to surround yourself with people who lift you up.”