How These Working Mothers Achieve Work-Life Balance
I’ve remembered the words of our former Governor-General Quentin Bryce ever since I became a mother: “You can have it all, but not all at the same time." She raised five children and had an admirable career. She was also spot on: you simply cannot have it all at once. Does balance exist? Yes, but you need to work very hard to get it.
For me, motherhood meant I resigned from my dream job at Vogue magazine and said goodbye to everything I’d worked towards for over a decade. It was the easiest decision of my life. The thing about motherhood is, suddenly everything in your life becomes crystal clear.
I launched The Grace Tales—an online lifestyle destination for the stylish mother —six months after my first daughter arrived, and it has grown organically over the past two years while allowing me the flexibility I needed. I can take Arabella, my now three-year-old, to ballet midweek. Or do swimming lessons with both children on a Tuesday afternoon. I just catch up on work once they’re in bed (unless my husband is tempting me with ice-cream and an episode of Homeland, then it’s virtually impossible to carry on working). Arabella also loves coming on shoots with me.
I’m not saying you can’t have a career and be a mother. I still work just as hard as I did pre-babies, but it’s now done on my time. I’ll stay up until midnight working away after the girls have gone to bed or wake up early to post content. For me, having a flexible working arrangement is the only way I feel balanced. I need to spend a lot of time with my kids or else I start to feel disconnected from them. There are many days I feel totally out of balance and often I feel I’m doing nothing right, but overall I feel present with my girls and that makes me feel balanced. Putting them to bed each night, reading them books, taking them to ballet or swimming—all of these things make me feel balanced and happy. Maybe one day I’ll go back to full time work, but for now my “having it all” is spending more time with my kids than away from them.
So how do other working mothers’ manage to achieve work-life balance? We found out…
Grace Alyssa Kyo
“I remember two hours after I had Millie I was sitting in the hospital bed on the BlackBerry emailing people about work. Was I crazy?! I started Nearly Nude 18 months before having Millie, so the fact I got a great head start before having children was very handy. Back then, there were countless late or sleepless nights of working, packing orders and working all weekend, every weekend for years. I had a lot of energy back then and a lot of determination. When the children were first born it wasn’t too hard to juggle things as they slept a lot of the time but as they have grown older it has become harder in different ways. They need more quality time with us, so I try now to never mix work and play. When I do, it all goes pear shaped. I keep work and playing with the kids very separate. This has made our lives so much easier and things run smoothly now I am not mixing the two!”
Grace Alyssa Kyo
“I’m very disciplined with my time. I have a really strict schedule for everything so it all fits! I don’t sleep a lot, but it allows me to fit in as much as I possibly can! I literally make a time slot for all that has to be achieved in a week for the children, my work days and demands. We stick to the schedule! I definitely need to work late at night. It’s the only way it all can get done because when I’m with the children, I like to be 100% with them.”
“I love work, so I just make it work. Plus my husband Mark is very hands on and my family helps me a lot! Each person has a car seat in their car. I’m so, so lucky. My family is very involved in my children’s lives. I work now around my children’s schedules and now as my business is remote, I can work anywhere, with them along the way. It’s very cool.”
Jenna Louise Potter
“I am quite strict with myself about working in the morning while the girls are at preschool for a couple of hours. I need that uninterrupted work time to focus on things that can’t be done on the run (hello spreadsheets!) and do calls. Things like quick emails are done on my iPhone whenever I can grab a few minutes. I work from home so suffice to say that some days run with military precision and others are a total disaster! I also exercise every day, which makes everything seem so much more manageable. That’s my only time for myself and it really helps me to feel happy, productive and in control.”
“I guess I'm lucky with my work that I can pick and choose the jobs I love doing, I think it's very important to love what you do, as you take your energy home with you at the end of day. Now that I'm a mother I know what kind of work will stress me out or make me happy. My agency are absolutely incredible, they totally get it and never push jobs I'm not into. They understand that Lolita is my main priority and always work in with that. I also think it is important to not take on too much, knowing it will stress me out with trying to juggle work life and mum life. I love my job, I love still having my identity and yet can still be a mum. I think it is important for all mothers to be able to have their own thing going on in addition to being a mother/wife.”
Pictured: McVeigh in the new Jasmine & Will Autumn/Winter 2016 campaign.