Motherhood is a full time job - sometimes on top of another full time job.
Kate Shally is a marketing manager for L’Oreal Paris skin care – she has a two-year-old son called Harry, and is expecting her second child later this year
“There really is no average day for me at work, it’s a lean, hands-on team, so I find myself involved in everything from the very strategic and creative to the very basic tasks! Presenting internally and externally, leading my team to manage our brands’ advertising and hectic media plans, and ensuring they’re well represented in trade make up the bulk of what I do every day.
My career has always been important to me, and inherent to my sense of self. I love the challenge, sense of community and buzz that I get from my job. It also makes me really cherish evenings and weekends with my husband and Harry; family time is sacrosanct! I’m lucky to work at a career and for a brand that I love which is also a flexible and empathetic place to work for someone with a young family.
The [biggest struggle of my day] is the dreaded crèche drop off! It can be very challenging when they’re out of sorts. Walking away from your crying baby in the morning is absolutely heart- wrenching and feels very unnatural. However most days it works well, and I go to work happy in the knowledge that he’ll be busy and well cared for during the day.
The way I look at it is, raising children might feel like it’ll be forever, but in fact my children will only be really reliant on me for a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things! When that time is up and my children are grown, it’s important to me that I’ll still have my career, friendships, relationship and interests intact, because I won’t have neglected them while raising my family.
To me it’s important to walk the walk of gender equality. I want to be a living example to my little girls or boys that you can be both a caring mother and a career person. My mum set an amazing example for this, she totally broke the mould and supported our family while Dad attended college in the ‘70s and ‘80s, she then took some time out when myself and my sister were little, and subsequently returned to the workforce at 50! at was always really inspiring to me.”
Edel Hunter opened her own hair extension studio in Greystones, Co Wicklow last year. She has two boys – Charley, 9, and Jamie, 4
“On an average day I take clients for their hair extensions and maintenance, and each client can take two to three hours each. I don’t normally take a lunch as I prefer to keep going and get home to the boys. I find it less of a struggle with the boys if I’m up early and prepared for the day. In the business I’m in, I aim to look presentable and my best. This can take time in the mornings so I feel planning is key. I normally start getting ready before they wake up as they are quite demanding and in no hurry!
I do my hair and make-up as quick as possible between helping them get dressed and making breakfast. It’s always best to expect the unexpected, so I try allow extra time in the morning for this. There is always the school book that can’t be found last minute, the badly timed tantrum, or the day I misplaced the car keys. My priority after getting the boys prepared for school is to ensure I am on time and prepared for my clients for the day, I feel punctuality is extremely important in the beauty industry. Sometimes all it takes is one appointment to be delayed to have a ripple effect throughout the day, so good time management is vital to balancing being a working mum.
I’m very lucky to have a good support network, my mum and mother-in-law thankfully help to mind the boys so I can go to work. I do understand how lucky I am to have this. As I’m self-employed I have the benefit of working my own hours, within reason. I don’t miss any shows or football, I can take them on holiday or schedule days off in summer to take them to the beach, so they don’t feel they are missing out on anything.
It’s really important for me to stay working along with being a mum. I’m lucky that I really love my job, it doesn’t feel like work as I take pleasure in what I do. I work on a one to one basis with my clients which I really enjoy – I say to them, “When I go home, my real job starts.” I work to give my boys the best I can with the help of my husband, we work together as a team. With two boys it’s non- stop, so it’s important to me to have that time too. It’s all about finding the right balance.”
Stephanie Borri is a marketing manager with L’Oreal Paris Cosmetics, and has two boys aged 5 and 2
“The struggle of being a working mum is trying to push back this always-on guilt; [you’re] guilty for
not being at home enough with your little ones, and guilty for not being at work enough. There is a constant tension and a constant clock in your head. But to be honest, this couldn’t work without my partner in crime, their dad! We both work and we are a team. We help and support each other and when he has important meetings, I make myself more available for the kids to allow him to push harder at work and vice versa.
The benefits are endless… it’s chaos to find your own balance but when you have it, you feel so much more confident. You’re able to climb mountains! Joking aside, organisation and anticipation are my best pals – but also you have to learn to be not perfect, live the moment, be grateful and just happy.
I love my job and my company, and I love to know that my kids are happy in crèche or school without me. We all have our lives during the day and we are super happy to be all together back at home, chatting. For now, this life fulfils us all. Lets see what future will bring!”
Michelle Feeney is a PR maven and CEO of fragrance brand Floral Street, available at Arnotts – she has two children
“My son Harry is 24 and my daughter Emma 14 years old. I raised my son in NYC as a single mum and Emma was born in London. I am up at 7am to make breakfast for everyone, I try and practice yoga every day when the family leave and before I start my day proper. I am lucky that I run the entire business from home which means I can integrate family life and work more easily. As a start-up business each day is jam packed full with a variety of exciting tasks – Floral Street is growing on a global basis, so my mind has to be agile as I flip between projects.
At one point I am talking about the counter design at Arnotts and the next moment the focus is how we will launch the brand into Australia in October. Almost every evening we as a family sit and have dinner together, I believe this is the most important family gathering. We all talk about our day and discuss current affairs. Breaking bread together keeps us on track as a family no matter how hectic life is!
The biggest challenge for any working mum is feeling that you are compromising on part of your life and therefore not doing a good job at everything, however, I have realised I need to go easy on myself and not sweat the small stuff. A balanced life is a myth, but I can choose how I balance each day and what is important.
Being an inspiration to your own children, demonstrating to them work ethics and how to put ideas into practise. My husband Mark, is the founder of Mountain Warehouse, so our dinner table is always full of discussions about business both Kids have great ideas and challenges. Also working alongside your children is a real bonus – my son Harry is now doing a lot of our creative work and that has been brilliant we are learning to respect each other as talented individuals.
For me personally, I am the best mum I can be when I have work in my life. I like the diversity and the creativity of combining work and home, equally I know I am very grateful that I have both!
Aoife Murtagh is a PR and Trade Marketing Manager at L’Oreal Paris alongside Stephanie and Kate, and has a boy, Caolan, who is one and a half
“Going back to work initially is hard – dealing with a new routine and trying to settle a baby into a new childcare environment is tough, particularly in the early weeks. I was leaving a crying baby and rushing to get public transport straight into work with a lump in my throat and going into a busy, demanding day. I don’t think I envisaged it would be as much of an adjustment in the first few weeks as it was in reality, but we all survived and my baby doesn’t want to leave his pals most evenings now! It becomes the new norm quickly, and we all found our groove again.
I think you can also lose a little confidence or spark after being in a different environment while on maternity leave, the home and the workplace have different challenges but you soon slip back into your stride in work. The flip side is I am really efficient now – I’ve a new reason to work hard and get out on time as often as possible.
There is always guilt, I didn’t believe it until I had Caolan. It’s hard to get a good balance at times, some weeks you feel amazing and that you have it all worked out, other weeks it’s tougher, especially when you want to be all things to all people. Finding the time for a bit of the ‘old you’ can be challenging too, spontaneity goes out the window a little. After work activities, fitness, catching
up with pals often get put on the back burner when it’s busy so I’ve found it really important to plan ahead, be super organised and make sure I get things in the diary early.
I learn a lot from the two other working mums on my team. I get to see lots of great places through work and experience events I have a genuine interest in too, something I’ll enjoy telling Caolan about when he is older. I really wanted him to see both his mum and dad could fulfil their ambitions in the workplace and at home and pass our work ethic to him, my mum worked while I was little and it really gave me great confidence and a belief that I could succeed.
I think the world has changed and the traditional family has changed, I always knew I wanted to go back to work – will I ever find the perfect balance, who knows, and will there always be a guilt, most likely, but I hope in the future society will have moved on and women will be supported for their decisions, whatever they may be.”