Kidspot.com.au asked six Aussie super mums how they juggle their careers with their families.
Joanne Bowskill is a Sydney-based businesswoman and mum of three children aged 7, 9 and 11. She and her business partner run Get Kids Cooking, which has been featured on Channel 10’s Shark Tank. She makes things work by writing lists, sharing a calendar with her husband and setting reminders on her phone. She also has a planner on the wall her kids can use to keep on track of what’s going on.
“Every Sunday night we make a list of what we want to achieve that week. I think the beauty of our relationship is we’re very flexible. We just go with the flow”
“You have to be incredibly organised,” she told kidspot.com.au.
“I think mums feel they have to do everything themselves, but picking and choosing quality time to spend with for your children is important. You can spend hours and hours and day with your kids, but if you’re not engaging with them, it’s not rewarding.
“I find having an au pair who drops them off and picks them up, gives me an extra hour a day to work. They wash the children’s clothes, unpack the dishwasher and prepare a meal for the evening – it’s about delegating the tasks that aren’t high priority.”
Andi Lew is a wellness presenter and best-selling author with six books to her name. She lives in Melbourne and has one son, who is about to turn eight – but said she’s never used childcare.
“What I created was ‘framily’, which is friends who become family. I used modern-day communal living arrangements – I’m not talking about hippies, I’m talking about finding someone you love and care for as a friend and living together as housemates, with a child. I’ve been a single parent since he was two and a half,” she told kidspot.com.au.
She’s also a big advocate of technology detoxes, which she said are critical to boosting productivity.
“It’s all about having a digital detox for a consciously chosen period of time … [Ask yourself] what can I do to totally be in my present moment and really connect with myself, my child, or nature. Then, when you do go back to tech, you get to become more productive with that time.”
Bridie Nolan is a Sydney-based barrister and arbitrator, who began her own practice 12 years ago when her first child was born. She’s now raising five daughters - including 18-month-old twins - and two stepsons, and has become an expert in micromanagement.
She has an executive assistant, who organises every aspect of her work that’s not fee-earning. She also employs an au pair, a nanny who looks after the twins, and a cleaner who comes twice a week - although she takes care of the groceries herself, complete with an “obscenely overloaded trolley”.
Bridie’s take-home tips are to prioritise, communicate and ask for support.
“Don’t always try and multi-task, you will be beating yourself up for being sub-standard at everything. This includes making time for yourself and making sure you get enough sleep,” she said.
“Your children will not remember the lifts to school and the home-made cupcakes for the cake stall. They will remember the bedtime stories, and the time you spend just chatting before bed or on Sunday mornings over breakfast – time you have because someone else has folded the washing.”
Mim Jenkinson is a Newcastle-based blogger, content editor and freelance writer who has a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.
“They’re both in childcare full-time, my business has become crazy over the past 12 months, but because I work from home I have heaps of flexibility to take them to appointments or whatever. My husband is self-employed as well,” she told kidspot.com.au.
Mim started working full-time on her blog, Love From Mim, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and couldn’t continue her regular job - and after a two-year battle, she just got the all-clear.
“As long as it never comes back, it’s been a very positive experience in lots of way. Had I not been forced to leave work, it would’ve taken years for me to take the leap [into blogging],” she said.
“I feel guilty every day about sending my kids to day care, because as soon as they go you get a pang, but I love my job so much. I feel like I’m a really good role model for my kids as well and I’m doing my best to keep our finances on track. We’re not rich. I like that we’re teaching them a good work ethic.”
Lauren Brant is a former Hi-5 entertainer who appeared on Channel 10’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, and runs her own clothing line for kids. Six months ago she welcomed her first son, and she told kidspot.com.au she’s enjoying being a full-time mum.
“Every Sunday night we make a list of what we want to achieve that week. I think the beauty of our relationship is we’re very flexible. We just go with the flow,” she told kidspot.com.au.
“The other night I was up working at midnight and I had to feed him, I thought maybe I should get someone to look after him for a day so I can get things off my list, but to be honest I’m so not ready for that. I’m personally responsible for every single thing he needs, I know everything he’s eaten, every poo he’s done. The idea of handing him over makes me a bit nervous!”
She said she’s realised the key is to not worry about being perfect.
“Once you get into the groove of it, you can look at having a clean house, but for now the most important thing is to look after yourself and your baby. These are moments you’ll never get back.”
Emily Tomini runs the blog Loved by Emily. She lives in Perth and has a daughter who is almost two.
“I just work around my daughter. My mother-in-law will take her for a couple of hours each week, and I get a lot done then, but I do most of my work when she’s asleep,” she said.
“She gets my attention when she’s up and awake, but with blogging I can set my own schedule and my own deadlines. Financially, it doesn’t make sense for me to put her in childcare while I’m working from home - as long as I’m still meeting deadlines, I’ll keep her home with me.”
Her top tips are to draw on your resources, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“My family and friends have always put their hands up, if I’ve ever needed anything. Also, I’d say put the effort into planning your week ahead. I sit down on a Sunday and plan meals and what appointments I have that week, just juggling to get things done successfully.”
*Comments have been edited for clarity and length.