Kasia's Story

Kasia Olszko, Mother to her toddler, Jasper is starting out a new venture as a Mindfulness Coach.  After leaving her career in TV and Film production, she is excited and feels a real sense of purpose.  I can see this and her passion to be in the workforce jumping out of her new website, which is rather beautiful I must add!  Kasia is very driven and has a personal desire to make this world a better place.

The Mindful Workshop

have you always worked?  I have worked since I was 14 years old, I am a grafter... before I had Jasper I worked full time as a TV & video producer. I took maternity leave for 5 months and after returning to work I realised that I didn’t want to work full time. I soon learnt that part time in TV production didn't really work for me, this was when I decided to retrain and start a new chapter in my life, it was a perfect time and a move I had been thinking about it for a long time. It seemed like now or never.

how do you feel about your job?  Very excited, I feel a sense of purpose; I really want to reach as many people as possible.

do you think there is social pressure to be a working mother?   In my opinion, pressure if it is external – ignore it, do what it is best for you. We are all different and on a different journey, no point compering anything.  If the pressure is internal, have a closer look. Where is this pressure coming from? Maybe there is a deeper need, maybe it is an expectation, maybe something else but it is key to work out what it truly is, so you can take care of yourself. 

How do you juggle everything? It is hard work, you have to be really organised to make time for everything and not loose your mind. It is also about prioritising, asking yourself what is more important to in each moment. Often I just don't have time to do everything I want, so I need to make sure I make honest choices. 

has becoming a mother changed you?  Massively!  I much prefer my  'newer self', it also proves my long time belief that love is the answer.

 3 words to describe being a mother.  Mind-blowing, emotionally challenging, fun.

how do you manage on the really tough days? I’d like to say I ask for help but it is not true!  I am definitely learning to ask for it more and more. I take a deep breath, accept that this day is going to be hard and try to take it slower, be kind to myself and I will admit, I cry if it makes me feel better.

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum?  I am still as driven if not more but very much focused on flexibility and purpose.  Days are too short and I have no interest in wasting time on things that do not serve me.  Working mothers are really great at multitasking, planning, maximising opportunities and time, this can be very valuable in the work place, as well as at home ;)

do you feel guilty going to work?  I feel ok as long as my boyfriend and I are sharing responsibilities.  It's important for me to know that Jasper is spending time with him as well as the childminder. If I had to leave him somewhere for a whole week I would definitely have a problem with it.  

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum? Finding time and energy to shave my legs! Hehehe :)

whats the most rewarding?  Connection, sense of belonging, experience of pure unconditional love, lots of opportunities to be silly, kissing the softest skin there is, watching him sleep, hearing the word “mama” over and over. Feeling more powerful than ever.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing?  I make time for myself. This might mean going out with girlfriends or having a bath. I practice yoga and meditation, this keeps me grounded and balanced but also helps my body stretched and relax. Physically I more tired then I have ever been. I eat well. I practice gratitude and mindfulness every day. I also make sure we take every opportunity we get to go out with my boyfriend. My relationship is very important to me.

how do you manage your stress?  Mindfulness, Yoga & Self Compassion practice.

Do you have a vision of what you wish for your kids regarding work and home life balance and the roles of men and women in the work force?  I would like parents to have a choice, this to me is the ultimate freedom. Where man can choose to take time out for as long as woman are able to. Where people have a real freedom to share responsibilities, when they are not forced into a situation by their work place. Where employers trust that people can work in a way that suits them personally and be as effective.  I also like the idea of a 4 day week. 3 days for your passions, family, self-development and 4 days at work. When you do come to work though you are fully present, you are working hard and really giving it your all. I am sure we can achieve more in 4 days with this approach than we do in 5, spending 30% of your time thinking or doing other things.

biggest lesson learnt?  Every baby is an individual, a separate human being, so there are no rules, good or wrong ways to do stuff. One advise will work for one child but not work for another. There is no golden rule.  Do what works for you, listen to your intuition, you know everything you need to know and it is OK to make mistakes.  

what are your dreams?  I would love to reach a point when I am truly financially independent. When I can choose how much I work and what I want to commit my time to.  I dream to introduce mindfulness and self-acceptance to as many people as possible. I dream that I can one day find the strength to have one more baby and  travel, travel, travel.

pearls of wisdom?  Allow your partners and family to help, involve them as much as possible. Drop this believe that you will do it best. I know it is hard but it is worth it.  Getting involved makes everyone happy and gives you some very needed space. No matter what, you will always be their mum and by opening up to other points of view you might even learn something useful


Ria's Story

Ria has made a very deliberate choices allowing her work to fit around her family,  alongside unearthing that she gets bored of doing the same job everyday, Ria Butler a total polymath, she does things her way and in a real variety of ways with a varied career.   She has a plethora of skills under her belt including; massage therapy, wellbeing events production, teaching and facilitating.   Having been a actor for over 10yrs, Ria was constantly doing different jobs and thus built up a broad diversity of skills; from sales to support work, from bartending to blogging.  

Mother to Isaac (12) and Leila (10), she realised a decade down the line that no parent is perfect and her dream is to live somewhere hot by the sea and have my grandchildren come visit and make me tea and have a moan about their parents!! 


3 words to describe how you feel about your job. Rewarding Flexible Creative

How do you feel about being a 'working mother'?  I definitely CHOOSE to work. It is so important for me to have a sense of self and purpose outside of parenting. I like to feel I am having a wider impact on my community and my world. Hopefully in turn that teaches my kids to do the same with their passions. I am pretty bad at having an empty schedule, I may moan at times but I actually love being busy and wearing different hats, I guess that comes from the acting, it keeps me sane, allows me to constantly interact with new people and gives me a sense of my purpose. 

Do you think there is pressure to go back to work / be a stay at home mum - either way? There is financial pressure to work. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and deal with the realities of mortgages, impending university fees (it'll come around before I know it!) and my annual need for a beach holiday!! But I'd still work even if I didn't have that pressure. 

do you think working mothers are as good at their jobs as women with no kids in the work force? Absolutely!! I have worked with many amazing mothers, and mothers are constantly developing organisations skills, emotional intelligence, resilience, time management etc...all the things that make great leaders and collaborators. 

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven? I guess I'm not wildly driven, as in, if I'm generally home when the kids get in from school and I can pay for all the extra curricular stuff that they want to do, then that gives me great joy and satisfaction.  I like to be my own boss. I don't enjoy working on dead end projects or things that are not up to standard. Doing a really good job is massively important to me, so I'd say I'm driven in that way. I'm hugely fortunate to have a really supportive husband who encourages me to work in the ways that I like to.

do you feel guilty going to work? Not at all. I think it's great for all of the family to see you working. When my kids were really little, going to work was like having a mini holiday which was good for all of us! 

how do you manage your stress?  Prosecco with friends! 

3 words to describe being a mother. Wondrous Surprising Overwhelming!

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  Time tabling! I manage three people's schedules and the dogs. It can get confusing at times. 

whats the most rewarding?  Spoiling your kids and yourself. 

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too?  It can go too far. I would like people to remember that looking good is about looking happy, having an individual sense of style, being well cared for, having love in your heart and 'letting go'. These things make anyone beautiful. On the other hand, we all have an internal standard of how we want to look and feel. It's important to strive for that for your own self esteem. So 'no' to poster girl but yes to someone who takes care of themselves, gets regular massage, exercises, eats yummy food and does things that make you smile! It has to be YOUR standard not the medias. If you baby is under 5, focus on that, not on your six pack. There is a lot of narcissism about and all of that makes me uncomfortable. I think people often get all that stuff completely wrong. 

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids?  We do stuff that we all enjoy. I am grateful when we are all happy and well. I try to deal with things as they arise. We do things together but also do things one to one as sometimes four people's input can be an overload of stimulus. Remember to pick your battles wisely and try not to shout! 

biggest lesson learnt  Turn things down. Don't try to take every opportunity that's offered. Learn to say 'no'. I'm still learning that one actually! 

has becoming a mother changed you? Can't really remember not being a mother now. I guess the obvious thing to say if that you party less. But I still find time to party. It obviously gives you more dimensions to your perspective. It's amazing! Sometimes I enjoy just getting lost gazing into my children's faces, they are constantly a wonder to me. 

what do you hope for your kids?  I hope my kids follow their passions. Right now, Isaac wants to be a zoologist and Leila a dancer. I am excited to see how those aspirations evolves. I hope that they surround themselves with people that support them in doing whatever it is they want to do. That's it really. Needless to say they both fiercely defend equality.  

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  Do things your way. 



Kirsty's Story

Kirsty is Mother of Lyra, her 5 year old daughter, she is also the founder of Yoga-Luxe, the online store that sells Yoga gifts whilst giving back 5% to charity.  She is a freelance Producer and Yoga Teacher and juggles more balls than a circus juggler whilst maintaining a total 'can do' attitude she is up for new experiences and whatever life throws at her.

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work? Literally the word 'juggling' sums it up, no two days are the same, you can have so much planned and then you're up all night with your child who's poorly so that plan goes out the window. There is always something to do and I've learnt that the hardest thing to do can be to switch off and remember that the world won't fall apart if you don't do that one thing you think is SO important.  

what’s the most rewarding?  The flexibility of it all, I am my own boss, I am responsible for it all. That, for me, is freedom.  

how do you typically split your time? give an example of a day where you are working and have your daughter .  My daughter now goes to school so a typical day is get her ready for school, come home, plan a yoga lesson, do a few hours on marketing for my online business, catch up on errands, eat, walk the dog and then its school pick up. My daughter now gets my undivided attention until she's in bed. I realised I wasn't respecting her or myself by trying to juggle working whilst looking after her.  

tell me about the moment you decided you were going back to work after she was born, were you happy about it?  I put a lot of pressure on myself to get back into work as soon as I could. I had mixed feelings, we had moved cities so I had to start up my yoga business all over again so I was apprehensive but also felt emotional about leaving her. 

Would you feel fulfilled being a stay at home mum if you had the opportunity to be so? No.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too? We all have to take responsibility for what messages we want to take onboard. We are teaching our kids, not just by our words but mostly by our actions. So, personally I think mothers are already under too much pressure let alone having to worry about looking good. Jeez, I had days where I didn't want to go out in case someone saw me, that is not a supportive way to treat myself. So, I changed and made a concerted effort to love me, just as I was, with 2 hours sleep or 10. I'm still the same person inside.

what’s your wellbeing focused around? Rest, gratitude, great food, lots of water and sunshine when I can get it. Oh and yoga, meditation and cuddles of course. 

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? Deep breaths, meditation . Noticing when I am not coping (usually shouting or really not knowing how to deal with situations) and reading up on techniques on how to handle behaviour.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there? Simplicity is key, small steady steps, know that these things take time and ultimately your health is key over all of it, if you are working yourself into the grindstone you can bet your bottom dollar your body/mind will let you know about it. Listen.



Nuala's Story

Nuala Murphy is a 35 year old Taurus. She is also mother to her 2 boys, Henry 2 ¾ and Conrad 13 months, whilst simultaneously running her own marketing firm  (malone.marketing) and still finds time to explore a new tech idea.   Nuala believes that a mother should have the choice to do what she wants, a grounded feminist, her issue is the "Not having the choice", I hear that and ultimately agree with Nuala's sentiment that work, ‘outside of the home’ and ‘inside the home’ both present their own challenges.   I really respect her 'honest, no nonsense' answers in this interview, it's refreshing and hearty, a true feminist with a bull like Tauren core and appreciation for the finesse and softness of motherhood and being a woman.

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work?  Getting the time to spend with my partner.

what’s the most rewarding? Snuggles, laughs, giggles or when they repeat something back to you as a ‘minime’

what drives you? Helping people drives me whether in business OR whether via HappyMummyHappyBaby (MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING APP THAT SCREENS FOR ANTENATAL AND POST NATAL DEPRESSION AND ASSOCIATED ANXIETIES) or lean in.  I want to help people be the best they can be

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed? I spend time at my moms, or I stay in bed. 

how do you typically split your time with your work and kids?  My kids are in a full time private nursery.  Being my own boss means I can help get them out the door and schedule a first meeting for 9.30.  This gives my husband and I the space to have stress free mornings.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers? Women get it from all angles, to be successful mothers, have careers and keep trim and great wives keeping great houses.  My husband and I don’t fall victim to this nonsense.  We work together.

What made you decide to have kids?  Didn’t ever think about being a parent, delayed having children for a few years as my husband and I wanted to travel and get used to living together first. We didn’t live together before we were married.

what’s your wellbeing focused around?  Balance.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? It is important that I am fulfilled as an individual because a HappyMummy has a Happy Baby.  My husband also says that a "HappyWife -HappyLife".

how do you manage your stress? Sometimes I don’t, sometimes I do usually by shopping, going for walks with the dog

what are your dreams? To live a full and healthy life.

how has becoming a mother changed you if at all?  It has made me know that I can do anything at all.  Because being a mum is both the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.

biggest lesson learnt?  A problem shared is a problem halved.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there? Whether you are working or not, cut yourself some slack.  Everyone is a new mom for the first time. Everyone goes through similar challenges, some more than others.  Whether we work inside or outside of the home own your own space and be proud of what you are doing.


Cigdem's Story

Cigdem (or 'C' as i call her) is one of the most gorgeous Dutch women I have had the pleasure to meet, she is stylish, gentle and yet a secret powerhouse, currently working as the Head of Institutional Relations for Europe and the Middle East, she is also mother to her nearly 2 year old son, Mason.  I always see photos of her on Facebook in exotic countries and wonder how she does it, so I thought I would ask her... 

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven?  I would say I’ve become more ambitious and am hungrier for success and professional achievements. Becoming a mother has definitely changed me in the sense that I now have a clear view on what I want. And I’m sure other moms will recognize this: I have become much more efficient in how I work. 

do you feel guilty going to work?  No, while I definitely feel guilty about many things being a mom, I don’t actually feel guilty about going to work, I see it as something you just do. Just like my husband goes to work. In my family there’s always been this extra pressure on us girls to study hard, work on your career and ultimately be able to provide for yourself and not be dependent on anyone else. My mother especially has been my greatest example; she’s always worked and I think growing up with that dynamic, I have found that very normal and not something to question. I’ve always envisioned myself combining motherhood and a job.  Also, I think it’s so important you feel good about where you leave your child. Mason absolutely loves his nursery and key workers. We’ve never had any problems with him having to adjust or having separation anxiety. I think that is key for peace of mind.

have you always worked?  Yes, I’ve always worked. I used to work part time during university to gain work experience. Currently I’m the Head of Institutional Relations for Europe and the Middle East. I manage a team of 8 and we’re responsible for building and maintaining relationships with investment decision makers at pension funds, insurance companies and family offices.

3 words to describe how you feel about your job  Committed, driven, energizing

how do you typically split your time? I really really like routine! I remember when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the bookstore and asked the sales person there for a baby manual. He said he did not have one but he did have something that came close: enter Gina Ford. During the week I have an early start at work, while my husband does the morning shift and gets M ready for nursery. At the end of the afternoon, I’ll pick M up, make his dinner and get him ready for bed. I then have the rest of the evening to do some  work, maybe get a little workout in and relax.

how did your maternity leave work where you are?  I had 8 months of maternity leave (in the UK your role stays reserved for you for one year) which I am forever grateful for. I enjoyed and needed that time with my newborn and for myself to get back to me. I decided to come back just before the summer period, which was a conscious decision. September is when it becomes very hectic and this way I gave myself some time to ease back into it and prepare myself over the summer period.   Upon my return, I was offered a new role where I head up the team I used to be part of and take on a new region (Middle East) as well. This was great motivation for me however it did mean I would be coming back full time and there is a lot more travel involved in my new role.

 I take it that you wouldn't be a stay at home mother? I don’t think being a stay at home mum is the best option for me, personally. I like the routine of getting up, getting ready and heading to the office. After having enjoyed being at home with my baby for 8 months and practically living in my pj’s, it felt good to wake up and have somewhere I needed to be, people to meet, things to do. Also, living in central London, it’s not even a realistic option. This city is so expensive. I guess I like and need the balance. As long as I can have and do both, I’m happy.

3 words to describe being a mother  Fun, challenging, rewarding

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too?  I think there is increased pressure on women in general, I mean just take a look at (social) media. Everyone seems to be living perfect lives. But at the same time I do feel inspired by women who are successful in multiple aspects of their lives. And of course everyone has good and bad days. I think you can only control how you choose to react or how much you let things affect you personally. I used to be a lot more concerned about what other people thought of me or if they liked me. These days I simply do not have the time (or the energy) to even think about things like that.  To me, it’s a lot more important to be able to do all the different things I do, if that makes sense. I love spending time with M, I love going to work and challenging myself that way, I love dedicating some time to work out. It’s what makes me happy as a person and I try not to think about guilt or perfection.  

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  In my case, I travel quite a lot for work and that requires a lot of planning. I’m extremely lucky that my husband steps in when I’m away and supports me in that way. It’s not excessive and only for a couple of days at a time, so doable. But it can definitely be challenging at times. It’s usually challenging when Mason is not feeling well and my amazing schedule goes out the window.

whats the most rewarding?  Just being able to combine work and home life is rewarding for me. And I just really love my job because I work with an amazing group of people I know really well.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing?  For me, what works is to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. And of course I will go all in for a few weeks and then undo all the good with a week living off of stress, sugar and caffeine. But overall when I’m able to work out and take some time here and there for myself, I feel energized and ready to handle everything better.

how do you manage your stress? I absolutely need to get my workouts in! I try and do 20-30 min of high intensity training wherever and whenever I can. If I don’t have that much time, I’ll grab my skipping rope and skip for 10 min, anything to break a sweat and clear my mind. It’s also a great way to fight jet lag or keep up the energy levels when working abroad. And sometimes I love being lazy! Just not having to do anything, baby asleep, watching a movie or a tv show.

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed?  To be honest, I hear Mason’s voice and that gets me out of bed – always, even when I’m not feeling well. And if I’m really struggling I have my husband to fall back on. A while back the three of us got a massive flu and we kept taking turns. That was a pretty intense week actually!

has becoming a mother changed you?  Yes it has, one thing I’ve noticed after becoming a mother is that I’ve become less judgemental of other people and choices they’ve made. I now understand that every parent wants the best for their children, has the same love and the same worries I have. And no parent is perfect. Also, I have so much respect for single parents and I can get very upset when I hear or read about children suffering.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  My advice would be to (and I know it’s hard!) let go and trust everything will fall into place for you.  I remember the first few weeks I used to wake up to M crying and my first thought would be: ‘Oh, he’s still here.’ It was the strangest feeling. Of course I knew he was here to stay but it just took me a while for that to click and become normal to me.  You feel overwhelmed, you think, my life has changed forever, you have a million extra worries and anxieties added to your stress levels but really, with time you realize that not a whole lot has actually changed. You’ve just added to the love and adjusted your normal routine a little bit.  Also, you will probably realize that pre-baby you actually spent a lot of time doing not that very much (how I miss those days sometimes!).






Clio's Story

Clio Wood, (33) is Mother to Delphi (21 months) and also a female Entrepreneur and Founder of &Breathe Postnatal. She is a woman after my own heart, she has an idea and rolls with it.  A total self starter and motivated, she was uninspired with the post natal support to get healthy with her kid around, Clio decided to take matters into her own hands by creating retreats for new mothers welcoming their partners and babies along to. She has created retreats, full of accessible and effective fitness classes, healthy food you could cook yourself and some great treatments, all without having to worry about what to do with the baby.   Hosted in the Manoir that Clio owns with her husband, Bryn, in south west France.  Manoir La Croix de La Jugie it is a haven of calm where you can take time to focus on your fitness & diet, and relax in beautiful surroundings with wonderful therapists and trainers.   Seeing the success of her concept, Clio is now bringing it to London as day retreats.  

3 words to describe how you feel about your job  I love it!

3 words to describe being a mother  a balancing act

what drives you?  Feminism

Would you be a stay at home mum if you could or do you choose to work?    No, absolutely not.  I feel undernourished and frustrated when I don't have an outlet other than parenting.  I think it's due to my terribly short fuse! It's been super frustrating at times and really challenged my perception of my own independence and identity.

Is there pressure to go back to work / be a stay at home mum - either way?  I've learnt that there's pressure every which way as a parent.  Particularly so as a mum.  If you listen to critics, you'll be made to feel guilty about any decision you make!  It's especially unfair that women are made to feel more pressure than men as parents, no-one talks about men juggling work and being a dad, and that's because the expectation is not on them to be the primary caregiver as well as performing at work, and looking good too!

Did your profession change after you became a mother?  Yes, but it's been a gradual evolution.  Before becoming a mum, I was self-employed and I still am.  But previously I was an Interior Designer and had my own upcycling label, Clio the Muse.  I was also transforming our house in France (lajugie.co.uk) into a holiday property and wedding venue.  When I had Delphi, I was looking for a retreat to re-boot as a mum and for us as a family, but couldn't find anything, so &Breathe was born and La Jugie seemed the perfect place to hold it!

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven?  Given what I do, work is enhanced by my being a mum, and I would say I'm still extremely ambitious for &Breathe.  If I were still in a full time office job, my husband and I would have both dropped down to 4 days per week in order to parent a little more equally.

do you feel guilty going to work?  No.

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  The fact that there are no 'working dads'.

whats the most rewarding?  Getting to see my baby and work in a job I love.

how do you typically split your time?   Working from 9am-4pm, which is covered by nanny 9-1 and then nap time 1-4.  I'm lucky she's still a good sleeper!  After that we go for a walk and run errands until suppertime then bath and bed.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids?  Apart from every day eating well and hopefully getting at least one or to exercise sessions in per week, I find it really hard to relax and switch off.  I think this is partly my own personality and partly the fact that I run my own business.  Time away from family is often spent working, so although I'm not devoting time to Delphi, I'm not devoting time to me either!  It's something I'm aiming to do better at - booking a break away on my own (yoga retreat) later this year is a good step!

biggest lesson learnt   That you can't do everything and you should know when to ask for help.  Also that being a mum is bloody hard!

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed?  Thankfully they are very rare these days, but in the old days, I cried a lot!  Things got better when we arranged more systematic childcare and I had some time to recover.  

has becoming a mother changed you?  Yes.  I'm a bit more patient than I was.  And I have developed a capacity for love that I didn't know existed.  I appreciate my own parents so much more now, which is great, but sad that I didn't realise sooner.

what would you like to see the future be for your kids? Equality not only of policy but of expectation for parental roles.  Policies are changing but fathers are still not under the same expectations as mothers to perform a dual role.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  If you have an idea - give it a go!  The worst that can happen is it doesn't work and you try something else...

Charlie's Story

Charlie Fowler is the Founder, creative and managing director of MOA a British natural skin care brand.  She is also mother to Jemima aged 10 years and Zachary aged 7 years.  MOA  - Magic Organic Apothecary, have been recently presented with an award for Best Family Skincare Product, which makes sense as she has her own family and wanted to create something that was great for everyone of all ages, containing only natural ingredients and made with love.   Charlie started her company from her home and is now watching it take off whilst juggling the balance being a mother as well.

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work?  I am very lucky to work mostly from home with meetings here and there. The school holidays seem to come around very quickly which in the past has been a logistical nightmare, wanting to spend time with them and fixing up extra childcare when I need to work… it’s much easier now they’re a bit older.

what’s the most rewarding? The brand is beginning to grow, which is very rewarding, it’s taken a lot of hard work. I’m an illustrator and I design all the packaging, so I am always very touched when people comment on it.  I love the fact my kids enjoy using all the products and seem genuinely interested in any new designs and my potion making. My daughter is particularly interested in it all and I often ask her advise, she really understands what I’m trying to achieve and has some great creative ideas!

Would you feel fulfilled being a stay at home mum?  I sometimes wonder about this. I am at home working most of the time, so I kind of feel I’ve had the best of both worlds and I’ve always been the one to pick them up from nursery or school, which has been important to me. Personally I need to be creative and to work on some kind of project, be it art, design, interior décor or DIY projects!  I’m pretty sure it would have tested my patience being a stay at home Mum with no other childcare at all, both my kids have fiery tempers and they needed their independence too. My son is severely deaf and it was a struggle to get him diagnosed, which didn’t happen until he was over three, I knew something wasn’t right from about a year old, so it was a tough couple of years for both of us. It breaks my heart as he was really frustrated and was quite aggressive at times. He was much happier being around other kids playing, than being around me constantly trying to talk to him. Fortunately he finally got the right help and we really enjoy each others company now.  I love doing cooking and crafty stuff with the kids and being outside amongst nature with them. I’m a big kid at heart and we laugh a lot, I’m very proud they both have a great sense of humour. I don’t think either path is easy, but I just try and make the most of each precious moment, such a cliché, but they grow up too fast!

how do you typically split your time? I went back to work when my daughter was almost a year. I was very fortunate that she loved her sleep, sometimes as much as 2 hours twice a day, slept well at night time too…apologies!  I would literally get as much done whilst she was sleeping. I think I’ve become a lot more efficient with my time since becoming a Mum, as you literally don’t have any to spare! We’d go out in the buggy for a couple of hours to the park, library or to meet a friend. Working around her could be very unpredictable and stressful at times, but we muddled through. Working remotely has been a god send, but it also means you don’t properly leave the office either! With two kids it became harder still, but somehow I kept the juggling act going! There is three and half years between my two, which helped, so she had started school when I went back to work after Zac.

what’s your wellbeing focused around? Spending quality time as a family. Eating healthily (veggie and vegan food),  we usually eat together at meal times, I think I was quite forceful about making them try new things, luckily it worked out as they have quite grown up tastes now and they’re not fussy eaters! Taking time out for a long soak in the bathtub. Going for a walk or run with our dog. Yoga. Herbal teas.  I try and take a small amount of time for something I enjoy, share time with friends and my husband too.  Of course, it is easier said than done sometimes and especially in this day and age we all spend too much time in front of screens, I am trying to avoid this as much as possible!

how do you manage your stress? I practise yoga from home in the mornings and I run outdoors with my dog. If I skip these, it really affects my stress, so I try and make time for exercise in my life, it keeps me balanced. I love gardening in the summer when it’s warm enough to potter around outside in the evenings, it’s so therapeutic.

tell me about the moment you decided you were going back to work  I felt very lucky to have found a job working from home which still allowed me to be with my daughter a lot of the time. When she started at a local nursery, I hated leaving her in tears some days, it took a while, but she settled in. I enjoyed the balance of working part time for the most part. My son went to a child minder with a few other toddlers, which was less intimidating for him, and in some ways I found it easier second time around.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers juggling everything and trying to look good too?  I think this is quite a false message in many ways, as personally I find it pretty impossible to stay well groomed since being a Mum, especially after two kids…therefore I go for a slouchy effortless chic these days!  It’s nice to have an occasion to dress up for once in a while and it’s good to not neglect yourself totally when you are taking care of everyone else around. Balance is key.

any pearls of wisdom? Use your instinct, it will serve you well, you know your child better than anyone! 

Location Guide Guru Clara

Introducing Clara Le and her 2 year old son Bear.  Clara a grafter, she has always worked since graduating and is now a partner of The Location Guide, an independent publishing company based in London specialising in; helping people to shoot on locations all around the world. Since last year most of Clara's time is dedicated on FOCUS, a newly launched UK Location & Production show for the Commercials/Feature Films and TV Industries.  

Clara is one of the most well known and loved women in the international advertising community and always has time for you. She is always one to be seen at Cannes and has been renowned for her parties and ability to network.


3 words to describe being a mother   Amazing – Love - Family

Tell me about your maternity leave As we are a small company and I am partner, I pretty hands on,  I only took 3 months maternity leave, which to be honest when I look back is just not enough. I worked right up until 2 days before I gave birth (yes I know… I’m a bit crazy)  I checked my emails during my maternity leave and made sure the important ones were dealt with by staff and I guess I just had to be more productive within the working hours when I was back at work… I believe that one can work just as efficiently with less hours as long as one prioritises things.. Us women are pretty good at multitasking right?  I have a great partner and mother in law that are very hands on and helped out a lot. At the moment I work from home one day a week and leave the office everyday at 4.30pm so I can get home to feed my boy, bathe him and tuck him into bed.

Would you like to be a stay at home mum?  I think I would like to work for only 2-3 days a week. I love being a mum but I think I would go stir crazy if I didn’t engage my brain with some kind of work deadline.   If I could change something then I would have like to take a year maternity leave with my son because those baby days passes so quickly. Living in London makes it harder to be a stay at home mum with the extremely high cost of living. I do feel guilty many times when I am on business trips or working long hours but I was raised by parents who worked hard all their lives so it is instilled in me to do the same to provide for the family. I think us women should be kinder to one another and stop judging each other. None of us are perfect and we do the best we can. Looking good? I think gone are the days where I spend hours in front of the mirror putting make up in the morning… I am more like wash and go now!

3 words to describe how you feel about your job Proud – Stressful - Happy

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven? I think I am more driven as I now have a little one to provide for… I have to think about his future and it’s no longer just about me. I work more intensely when I am in the office so that I can leave the office at 4.30pm to go home to see my boy. Nowadays, work is no longer 9-5pm, you can work on the train/at home so I will always check and reply to emails after my boy has gone to sleep.  If you provide mothers with flexible working hours to enable them to work without too much guilt then they will work just as hard and well.

do you feel guilty going to work? I do every morning when I look at my little boy’s sleeping face! But then I know he is well cared for by family members and that he is a happy little chappie so I feel better that not strangers are taking care of him.

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum? The working hours

whats the most rewarding? My little family unit

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? Prior to having my son I used to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Well.. since my boy… I just don’t have the same amount of time to go anymore. I try at least to go once to twice a week but it can be hard to do so. I tend to take longer walks now with my boy who is now 2 and has so much energy it’s insane.. we take him out often so he can run amok in the park… which basically means we have to run after him as well… kids definitely keep us young!

how do you manage your stress? I have to remember to breathe in and breathe out…. And try and switch off…

what drives you? Providing for the family

biggest lesson learnt? You are not perfect so do the best you can

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed? Guilty! If it’s over the weekend then I will take out the ipad and put on some cartoons for my boy so I can get a couple of hours extra sleep

has becoming a mother changed you? Yes definitely..for the better… life is just amazing with a little one. It gives you purpose

what are your dreams? Living on an island sipping mojitos sounds pretty good…

what would you like to see the future be for your kids? Living in the UK for many years I can see things are getting tougher for new graduates and people trying to get on the housing market. Cost of living here has become pretty crazy. I hope that things will not go overboard by the time my boy is older. A happy work and home life balance is a must nowadays as what is the point of having a family if you don’t spend time with them?

any pearls of wisdom? Be kind to yourself and to others. 


Jo's Story

I really admire Jo's perspective , self discipline and balance on life,   as mother of 3 (Tzur is almost 6, Noga is 3 and a half and little Lia is just 10 months old)  she also works in strategic philanthropy, at a foundation which strives to improve academic achievement in Israel in mathematics and the sciences.  Jo's role as Director of Grant Operations, ensures the smooth facilitation of the grants from start to finish, while overseeing relationship management with recipients and internal projects. Jo has lived in Israel for ten years, we grew up together in London and since moving she has always worked in non-profit and philanthropic organisations.  I really love that Jo has a 'technology sabbath' every Saturday and refrains from using phones, laptops and entertainment for the day and really just spends it with her husband and kids. We could probably all do with a bit more of that!

Give me 3 words to describe how you feel about your job. Committed. Meaningful. Stimulating

Tell me about your maternity leave  I have always worked full-time, taking 4.5 months maternity leave for each child. I began my current job when my first child was one. It was a step-up in terms of responsibility and scope, but I am extremely lucky that our offices are located really close to my home. The lack of commute makes life much easier logistically, and means I have more valuable time both at work and with the kids.  I consider myself very lucky to live in a country that really values the family. In Israel, women receive 14 weeks fully-paid maternity leave and your place of work has to keep your position open for at least 6 months. My employers have always been very supportive and happy for me as we have expanded our family.  Nonetheless, however supportive the environment, coming back to work after having a baby is hard. After my daughter was born (no. 2), I felt a little displaced at work and it took time and patience and hard work over time until I felt that I was really back on top of things. The tiredness is a killer - waking up in the night to nurse and getting up early in the morning for work. Phew!

do you think working mothers are as good at their jobs? Yes, I think working mothers learn to be very efficient. They will often be torn in several directions, but if they are driven, committed and loyal to their work place, they will find a way to make it work.  For me, there are two essential factors which enable me to work full time and be a hands-on mother to three kids under the age of 6 – one is a supportive work place that understands the needs of its employees and really cares about being a family-friendly organization; and the other is my husband. We share our parenting responsibilities and management of the home equally. Beyond the first year when I breastfeed our babies, there is nothing I can do that he can't do. He is 100% supportive of my career and my ambitions, and he is an amazing and capable father.

do you feel guilty going to work? I did feel guilty with my first two, especially when they were babies for the first few months but I got used to it over time, and with my third, it was a bit easier. I suppose I have come to terms with it. I still missed her a lot, but I didn't feel guilty. And my return to work was much smoother than the last time.

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven? I think I have the same drive to succeed – but family comes first.

3 words to describe being a mother. Joyful. Challenging. Intense.

Would you be a stay at home mum?  Being a stay at home mum isn't an option for me, financially-speaking.  If there were no financial considerations, I would take a longer maternity leave, but I would still choose to work outside the home. A fulfilling, challenging, meaningful career is very important to me – I want to make a small difference to the world in my own way, and this is as much a part of my identity and sense of self as being a mother. At some point over the next five to ten years I would like to be able to work part-time for a while, and be with the children a little more. I do envy those women who can make a living doing their own creative thing, building an independent, flexible schedule which allows them to be around the home more. But the grass is always greener- I'm sure there are different pressures that come with that. 

Was there pressure to go back to work?   The cultural norm in Israel is to go back to work 3.5-6 months after having a baby. My mother was at home with us until we were two or three and I think it’s a wonderful thing, if its good for the parent, but not really financially viable in this day and age for most. I’m sure it must be very difficult to be a SAHM – it requires a lot of patience, creativity, and energy. I have made my peace with going back to work and having my kids in childcare from when they are babies. My husband and I both work reasonable hours, and one of us is able to pick up the children every day from 4pm. I do think there is a lot of pressure to do it all and have it all. I find the  “good-enough” attitude is helpful – not everything has to be 100% perfect all the time. I try to be wise about where to invest my energy, how to prioritise, how to keep everyone happy, including myself. Its a work in progress.  Most people I know (men and women) are busy juggling the joys and challenges of a career and raising a family, and are trying to find the right work-life balance. I feel that over this decade (age 30-40), I need to invest in my building my family and my career simultaneously, and it isn't easy.   

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum? Not enough time, never enough time. Always juggling, multi-tasking, thinking about many things at the same time. The morning rush of trying to get the kids out and to work on time without losing my temper or forgetting something. And of course, I would love a little more time to myself...and a little more quality time with my husband.

whats the most rewarding? I am proud of the work I do, I enjoy being a co-bread winner of the family. I hope I will be an example for my children. 

how do you typically split your time? give an example of a day where you are working and have your kids. My husband and I split the dropping off (around 7:30am) and picking up of the kids (around 4pm). Some days one of us will do both, sometimes we share it. Although I am lucky that I can leave work early to pick up the kids a few times a week, it is really hard to get everything done during such a short working day, and I don't like being the first to leave. I always feel a bit torn. Twice a week I stay later at work but usually still get back for bedtime. In busy periods, I go back to work from home in the evening, after they have gone to bed, for a few hours.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? Exercise. I aim to work out three times a week - at the moment I run and lift some weights, usually in the evenings, after they have gone to bed. I need that for myself, it is essential for my well being. I try to eat healthily, and get enough sleep, although I almost always end up going to bed too late. I think overall, we spend quite a lot of family time together, and this is good for all of us. As modern orthodox Jews, we observe the Sabbath, so every week, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, we have a built-in quiet, family day. We go to synagogue, have meals with friends and family, spend time together hanging out in our pjs, reading and playing with the kids. This day also helps maintain our family well being, and I find it liberating to have a day completely free from phones and laptops, which we don’t use on the sabbath.

what are your dreams?  Career-wise, perhaps far in the future, I'd love to see if I have it in me to do something creative or therapeutic, perhaps something with my hands - to be more independent and active (not desk-based). I have no idea what that could be. In terms of life in general, I dream of health, happiness, inner quiet, and travel. And a big back garden ; ).

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  When you go back to work after having a baby, go easy on yourself, trust your instincts, have faith in yourself - you can do this. It gets easier : ))



Introducing my next interview with Marketing Director and Scorpio, Amber Isaacs.  Amber is part of the core team at TOKYObay,  a family business that creates  designer watches and accessories.  Dory,  Amber's Mother, founded the business with her friend Jun from Tokyo in 1991.  They both had a similar aesthetic with Dory bringing more of a fashion element and Jun's experience in product design. Using Jun's contact with Japanese manufacturers, they began designing a watch line among other product lines (sunglasses and clocks) that integrated both their backgrounds and expertise.  Interested to hear how Amber experiences her balance in life now that her daughter Olive is 7 years old, I asked her about her journey of motherhood, whilst being the integral element to her family's livelihood and creative craft. 

What’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work? I think for me the challenges have changed as Olive gets older. When she was a lot younger I struggled with the guilt of leaving her as it felt at times I was choosing work over her. As she gets older it’s more about being present and transitioning from work brain to being a mum again.

what’s the most rewarding? Being able to put my creative efforts into something where I feel accomplished…this inevitably spills over into how I am as a mother.

how do you typically split your time?  I normally am in at work by 8:30/9am and work till 3:30pm when I go to get her from school. My parents live here in SF so I have an amazing support with my mum picking Olive up a couple days a week and bringing her back to our place.  This allows me to have a couple full 8 hour days to stay a bit later if I need. It also gives my mum some extra time to hang with Olive.

tell me about the moment you decided you were going back to work after she was born  I chose to (and was lucky enough to be able to) stay home with Olive until she was 2 years old so was totally ready to get back into working. As my background in London was in fashion PR, my parents asked me if I would like to help out TOKYObay part time and it seemed like the perfect way to dip my toe back into it while having flexibility. As Olive got older, I gradually added more hours and my job morphed into marketing and creative, helping to promote & streamline the brand's look and feel.

Would you feel fulfilled being a stay at home mum if you had the opportunity to be so? Right now in my life I don't think i would be. I get so much energy from being challenged in a work environment and the exchange with like-minded people. I would miss that. I also think it allows me to be a better mum as long as I'm not spreading myself too thin when trying to balance both. I think for me, my fire gets fed by being with Olive but also doing a variety of things outside of being a mum.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers? I think it's very hard not to play the comparison game. There is a lot out there around successful, beautiful, stylish women that make it look effortless but I think there is always more to the story. Everyone has their struggles and insecurities. I think women generally put way too much pressure on themselves. There are now so many different ways we are bombarded with information & images of what others are doing that it can be hard to rationalise through the noise. I would love to see more honest commentary out there with how women manage their day to day between motherhood and work...and not just the dirty diapers and lack of sleep but the struggles emotionally, how it affects their relationships with partners and with friends.

what’s your wellbeing focused around? Running, meeting up with friends and lazy weekends with the fam.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? I think it's a balance of making sure you carve out specific times in the week for alone time and integrating a wellbeing into your home life. Olive and I will stretch together , dance and cook meals which all tie into my idea of well being.

how do you manage your stress? Probably not as well as I'd like! Running and exercise help me a lot to stay calmer and balanced.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there? Try to quiet the 'mom guilt' if you can by giving yourself permission to do things you like doing.  Ask for help if you need it!

what drives you? Trying to be a person I think Olive would be proud of.

how has becoming a mother changed you if at all? I feel more rooted, grounded than I've ever felt. The small stuff just doesn't affect me like it used to. I can get ready in less than half the time I used to! Also I feel like I have more patience and empathy towards people in general.

biggest lesson learnt? My mum is amazing! I finally truly understand what she had to juggle to raise my sister and I while building her business.


Amber and her husband James, daughter Olive, sister and parents 

Amber and her husband James, daughter Olive, sister and parents 

Brilliant Bethany

Living in London, Bethany realises the importance of two incomes and was always going to return to work after her dream of becoming a mother was fulfilled, with her darling children Elspeth (4) and Arthur (2). Hyper efficient and a much sought after Producer, Bethany juggles life as a freelancer whilst raising her kids and believes that mama's are more efficient in the workforce than most due to their time being so limited and stretched and is the alpha-female of 'multitasking'.  This is the woman who answered work emails on honeymoon, travelled to work in early labour and wrote handover notes between contractions, she completed this interview within 20 minutes of sending it to her, whilst bathing her kids and listening in on a conference call! EPIC! 

had you always planned on working after you had your babies? Yes, we have to living in London.  When I was newly pregnant I told HR I'd likely take maybe six weeks off - I always worked so hard, I couldn't imagine being off work for more than a fortnight. 

did your profession change or mould after having kids? Yes. Ad agencies are not at all parenthood-friendly and I find myself now working in online content / direct to brand

how has becoming a mother changed you if at all? I'm more balanced in my approach to life, with a more mature sense of what's really important

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work?  The guilt. Guilt everywhere, all the time

what’s the most rewarding? the rare days when I feel like I'm doing it all to a decent level

how do you typically split your time? At the moment, up at 6 to get myself ready. Kids up 6:30. Try to spend some time with them while getting them to nursery which means leaving home 07:55. Currently I get home long after they're asleep, and work until about 11pm. This will change in September when I'll need to leave the house at 07:35 to get one to school breakfast club before dropping the younger at nursery. One place I work at, accepts me heading home in time to see them 6pm to their 7pm bed-time. I like working there. 

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers to look good?  Sod trying to look good! I used to plan outfits in advance, to wear something fun and daring. I'm older now and have spent too long dressing according to what shows the vomit least

what’s your wellbeing focused around? There is no wellbeing focus, really. My husband is my best friend and a good week is one when I've had a little time to sit with him and just talk, rather than fire essential housekeeping items at each other while dashing about. It doesn't happen most weeks. I love to cook healthy food for the family though, which is a wellbeing thing for us all.  I used to go to Pilates once a week but I no longer work somewhere which lets me fit that in. Often the best bit isn't even the class, but walking there over the river at fuck o'clock in the morning knowing I'm doing something purely for myself

how do you manage your stress? I've learnt to enjoy it, and I lean on hubster

any pearls of wisdom? Accept that there is guilt and carry on

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed? I don't allow these. I actually don't accept them as an option and that makes it easier. The main thing is, I've learnt not to hope; don't hope for a good night's sleep and then there's no disappointment

what are your dreams? Grandkids!

biggest lesson learnt? Beware the second burp. It is not a dry one.

Interview with Claire Norrish

Inspiring Mamas who have made it work.

Strolling around with my now 2 kids, I have noticed myself looking at other mothers I have known for a while or new ones I encounter or just see through researching online and I find myself asking the same questions. 'How do they do it?',  'When does she have time to...',  'I wonder if she manages to look after her own wellbeing', 'Does she have help?' ...

Welcome to the start of a new selection of interviews with women to get to the heart of their innovative, creative and successful careers as well as juggling motherhood and their own wellbeing.

Sharing some of their trade secrets, I hope to help empower other mums and women to have the same balance.  If not balance then an attempt to create some kind of flow between motherhood, creating an impressive work portfolio and wellbeing.

My first interview is with a woman who I have had the pleasure of working with for 3 years now and she has been responsible for generating some of the most awesome Press for me.  Independent publicist and founder of Claire Norrish PR specialises in health and wellbeing luxury brands, expert and non-fiction books www.clairenorrish.com.  Read my interview with her to discover how she has managed to grow her own business whilst growing her son at the same time... 

who are you?  Claire Norrish (am about to reach a big scary landmark birthday so currently 49 forever)

who are your kids?   One son, Jordan Issa John age 17 and named after an African Chief in Malawi (his former home)

what’s your profession?   Independent publicist

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work?  I made a decision 15 years ago to work independently from home so that I could be around for my son.  This meant I could always pick him up from school in the early years and be there for him.  Even now at the age of 17 I still work from home and love it when he comes back from college for lunch in the middle of the day. My work can be really full-on and intense though sometimes as I do PR for a lot of high profile health and wellbeing books for Ebury Publishing so sometimes it’s hard as I get so involved a campaign that I find it hard to get away from my home office.  Before I know it it’s dinner time and whoops I haven’t organised food!

what’s the most rewarding aspect of working for yourself?  Being able to see my son's lovely face the minute he get’s home and the flexibility of being able to occasionally do things that involve him during the day - as a Mum as I can literally work on the hoof providing I’ve got my iPhone with me.

tell me about the moment you decided you were going back to work after he was born, were you happy about it?  Because of the freelance aspect I was really happy to as I genuinely love my work.

Would you feel fulfilled being a stay at home mum if you had the opportunity to be so?  Looking back to when he was really young I am not sure that I would want to - I prefer to have a mix of motherhood and work

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too?  Stay healthy, be kind to yourself and don’t set the bar too high.  I think there is a lot of pressure on new mums these days via social media to be doing all the ‘right’ things - Instagram although informative and interesting as a creative forum can also be a place that breeds anxiety to new Mums who are constantly bombarded with images of women ‘having it all’ and juggling careers/motherhood/social life/exercise and more.  The bottom line is that the early years of being a mum are such a small window time-wise and they whizz by so fast -  cherish that time, enjoy it and don’t worry about what other people think!

 what’s your wellbeing focused around?  I’ve done yoga for years and recently gone back to Ashtanga as I really like it’s energy. I think the trick with exercise it to keep changing it. So for example last year I was cycling everywhere for a few months and now I’m just doing 20 minute runs 3/4 times a week.  Love dipping into Pilates as well whenever I have time.  Plus doggie walking of course and dancing at parties!

how do you manage your stress?  I try not to get stressed but of course it creeps in every now and then. I would love to study meditation and learn more about it, as I know it’s amazing for managing stress.  I thought Andy Boddicombe’s app Headspace was brilliant when it came out a while back and we have a Buddhist Centre close to where I live that I keep meaning to go to to investigate meditation. I did PR for a great book by the Psychologist Dr Kelly McGonigal called the Upside Of Stress - and found out that actually the right kind of stress can be actually quite good for you - keeps you on our toes if you know what I mean.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?    Dont’ be afraid to divide your time as you see best and don’t feel pressurised to go the extra mile career-wise.  Just do as much at work as your lifestyle allows and know that your time as a mum is precious and you can never get those early years back with your child so give your employers boundaries and be firm about what you can and can’t deliver.