For this week’s ‘Keeping Time’ feature, we spoke to the wonderful Hong Kong based co-founder of Atelier/Child Jessica Baird Walsh (who has just given birth to a beautiful baby girl Paloma May) about how she makes it work. By Georgia Macmillan
JESSICA BAIRD WALSH
Co-founder Atelier/Child, mother to Winter (4 years), Arella, (2 years) and Paloma (newborn).
What are your tips for keeping the household running on time?
Our house runs much more smoothly if everyone has a clear idea of what is happening ahead of time. If we have an early start or something in particular we need to be at, I give the children plenty of notice about what we need to do to get ready and what I expect from them. I find they are generally really happy to help get organised if they feel included in the planning. We have to be out the door for preschool at 7:30 on weekdays. I now have a rule that before bed, the girls must choose and lay out their clothes for the next day. It sounds ridiculous but I have two very strong-willed little girls. Both insist on choosing their own clothes and before we implemented this rule it was world war three every morning! On a day-to-day and week-to-week basis we have set playdates and activities locked in so that I know when I can work and when we have free time together.
Do you work to a tight schedule?
It really depends on the day, on the girls’ activities and on what the demands of the business are at any given point. 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!
What do you do to make the day easier juggling motherhood and work?
Normally I 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’ve just given birth to a baby girl so my exercise routine has been put on hold for a while!
Do the children help out?
It delights me to see my children taking pride in doing things on their own, so I try to encourage that wherever possible. My girls are only four and two but I do expect them to help with any job I think they can manage. Winter is pretty self sufficient with dressing and getting ready, provided she knows what is required. In terms of chores, I get them to tidy their room before school and Winter has recently started making her bed in the morning. Both girls are expected to help with picking up clothes and putting them in the washing basket, tidying toys and shoes, setting the table and clearing their plates. It is the girls’ responsibility to check they have everything they need – a snack and some spare clothes – in their bag for school before we leave the house. If we are going to swimming or another activity, I ask them to pack the items we need and then do a quick check before we leave to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything important.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the juggling act?
Yes! What mother doesn’t?! Whether you are working full time for yourself, full time for someone else, part time or being a full time mum there are never enough hours in the day.