A tipping point for all mums, whether they’re in the workforce or not, is that dreaded night before reminder that tomorrow is costume day for Book Week and the shops are closed. Or it’s the email you skim read and tell yourself you’ll come back to and suddenly you’ve missed parent-teacher night.
What too few women openly admit is it can be hard keeping up. My children have grown up with me working as a TV reporter, foreign correspondent and war correspondent. Now, as they’re in high school I am Founder and Managing Director of my own PR agency, Adoni Media, which has offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given, and it is as relevant in business as it is in keeping up with school rosters and home duties, is to respond to emails when you read them.
Some other key lessons I’ve learnt:
Set boundaries between work and home
Keeping work and family time separate is always a challenge. Responding to emails or making phones calls might not seem like you are bringing work home, however, it can have more of an impact than you might think. How many times have your children been talking to you and you’ve been looking at your phone? It’s not always possible, especially in the media world, but make an effort to keep phones away from the dining table and to talk as a family about what is happening in their lives as well as what is going in ours.
Organisation is key
Motherhood, or parenthood, especially when working is largely a logistical operation. My week consists of countless meetings, phone calls, and often interstate travel. There will always be a reactive element to what is happening at work and at home but wherever possible we plan and try to have a routine. The children have responsibility for certain chores and we do our best to have maintained a diary of who has to be where and when and what, if anything, is needed to avoid those unexpected late, night ‘oh mum I need cupcakes for class tomorrow’ announcements.
Me-time is important
Prioritising me-time does not mean you are being selfish or a bad mum. In order to stay on top of your workload and give your family the time and energy they deserve, you need to look after your own well-being. It can mean taking time to enjoy or rediscover a hobby, organising a massage or something as simple as a quiet cup of tea (or strong coffee) before the school and work rush begins.
As a working mum, there is often an unattainable perception that we have to know everything and be across everything. It is normal to feel stressed and have bad days, we can’t do it all, and that’s okay. Never be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with people who inspire and support you. I’m incredibly lucky to have a great team of professionals around me that I can count on no matter what and a partner and children who are there catching and throwing as many balls as they can to keep us all as balanced as we can be.
Leisa Goddard is the Managing Director of Digital and PR Agency Adoni Media. Leisa has more than 25 years of experience working and presenting news and current affairs for Australia’s three commercial television networks including time as a foreign correspondent and war correspondent. Her award-winning agency has offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.