If there’s one thing that motherhood has taught me, it’s that this elusive balance we all talk about doesn’t really exist...
Something has to give. For me, it was a career in magazines. So now, I juggle a business from home with caring for my two toddlers who are in preschool three days a week. Over the last few years, I’ve learnt so much about life. I’ve learnt that as a parent, worrying is just part of the job. That I should have slept more before I had kids. That your family and friends are all that matters and finally, that a career change is exciting and should be embraced. You don’t have to do the same job your whole life. So here’s my thoughts on everything from my career to motherhood to the safely of my girls. Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo Videographer: Brooke James
I studied media and communications at university then did a semester abroad at The London College of Fashion. I started from the very bottom in publishing and slowly worked my way up the ladder. At the beginning of my career, as an editorial assistant, I did everything and anything that was asked of me. I’d get people Diet Cokes, tape shoes for fashion shoots, do coffee runs. When you’re starting out, you can’t be precious. A can-do attitude goes a long way. I’m a big advocate of working abroad. For me, it is the reason I ended up as the deputy editor at VOGUE. When I was looking for a fashion writer position, it was before the boom of digital publishing and there were only a handful of jobs in Sydney. So I moved to Dubai and was lucky enough to end up working on the launch of Harper’s BAZAAR Dubai under the then editor Rachel Sharp. Three months after I returned to Sydney and I landed a job as the fashion news editor at VOGUE. I loved my career in fashion magazines and will treasure the trips I did overseas. It really was a dream job.
On my career after children:
When I had children, I felt very differently about my career. I never thought I’d fall out of love with my job, but that’s exactly what happened. I’d sit at my desk wondering what I was doing there. I’d sit in meetings pining for my daughter. I’d often miss my daughter’s bedtime. I felt like I was missing out and I craved the kind of flexibility that simply does not exist in the corporate world. So I left to focus on The Grace Tales and now run my business from home. I haven’t regretted my decision for a minute. Motherhood really changes everything – life is never the same. While it’s daunting changing your career, my advice to anyone looking to do it is just to take the plunge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I started The Grace Tales as a passion project. It was just a hobby and something I did at night or when my baby was napping. I’ve always loved telling stories about inspiring women and I’m so passionate about creating great content. After my first daughter arrived, I lost interest in fashion magazines – I couldn’t relate to them. I wanted to read a publication that spoke to me as a style-conscious mother. At the time, there wasn’t anything in the market. We shoot all our content and we don’t pull images from other sites. We photograph women all over the globe from LA to London. It’s an exciting time for the site and we have some big changes happening over the next few months.
My entrepreneurial beginnings:
When I worked in print, I could have done my job with my eyes shut. I loved my job and I was comfortable. It’s different in digital media. It’s new to everyone so we’re constantly having to up-skill and things change at a rapid rate. It’s very overwhelming at times – online has an insatiable appetite for content. It’s hard to keep up with how much content needs to be produced – lucky I’m so passionate about producing it. It’s challenging running your own business but the flexibility that I have is invaluable. I work around my girls. They always come first and work needs to fit in around them. What I’ve realised lately is that there are only so many hours in a day and I can’t do everything – I’m learning to be ok with that.
On keeping a routine:
I’m a big routine girl. A routine is essential for my sanity and also the security of my girls. They’re still little (2 and 3) and need to be bathed and in bed by 7pm each night. Then it’s our time to switch off, unwind and watch some TV. I used to work a lot at night, but have gotten better at turning off the computer for the day after the girls get home from preschool. That said, I do often work while also watching TV at night! I work a half day on Thursday and don’t work Fridays – it’s our day together. If things are busy, I’ll just catch up at night. It’s a juggle, but it works (most weeks!). Since becoming a mother and returning to work, my social life definitely isn’t what it used to be. I’d love to be out more, but I get too tired and then everyone suffers. So I keep life pretty quiet. I love Sundays – it’s always a quiet family day.
Gosh, where do I even start? On the weekend, my daughter Arabella told me I was “the best Mummy in the whole wide world”. My heart melted. I am not a perfect mother (no one is!) so to hear her say those words to me was just so sweet. It’s the little magical moments like that which make it all worth it. And there are magical moments each day. And then there’s the tantrums. They’re hard to deal with. We woke up this morning to her having an epic meltdown because her sister was wearing the bracelet she wanted. I have two toddlers and they push me to breaking point all the time. Luckily perspective is a great thing – a situation is never as bad as it seems and tomorrow will be another day.
On the safety of my children:
Like any parent, the safety of my girls is all I think about. I worry constantly about them. My biggest fear is car accidents. It’s terribly distracting when you’re driving and your kids are screaming in the back or asking you to pick up something they’ve dropped on the floor. We use the new Maxi-Cosi convertible car seat, the Moda. There are a number of reasons I love it (the fact that it’s so stylish is just a bonus!). It features Air Protect Side Impact Protection, which is specifically designed to shield a child’s head from side impact forces through the precise release of air. The Maxi-Cosi Moda also uses ‘Cool Baby’ wicking fabric that draws the moisture away from your little baby, meaning that this car seat will stop your little one from getting too hot when they are strapped in.
On having premature babies:
Both my girls were premature. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. It has changed me as a person and I get emotional when I think about those early days in the special care ward. It really is all about perspective. Things could have been much worse. If anything, that experience just reinforced to me how important your family and friends are.
On how to succeed:
Determination is everything. It’s how I landed my dream job in magazines and how I’ve build The Grace Tales into the site it is today. You’re going to get told ‘no’ so many times, but it has never bothered me. If anything, hearing ‘no’ just makes me more determined to succeed. There are lot of people out there who aren’t always happy when you succeed – it’s about finding positive, likeminded people and sticking together. I bounce ideas off my girlfriends daily. My definition of success has changed a lot in the last few years. For me, being able to do a job I love and spend a lot of quality time with my children is success. Some weeks I feel more successful than others! It’s certainly not easy.
My biggest career lesson:
Be nice. Having spent so many years working in the fashion industry, I have worked with some very difficult personalities and gone through periods in the early days where I was bullied. Some females seem to get a thrill out of bullying. There’s nothing as endearing as kindness. You can be both firm and kind. I’m lucky that I now work with such talented, lovely people, most of whom are mothers.
My approach to health and wellbeing:
I didn’t exercise for about four years and recently joined the gym. It has been the most incredible thing – there’s obviously the physical benefits of exercising but the mental benefits are phenomenal. I feel happier and less anxious after I exercise. I wish I started sooner. It’s all about making it a priority in your life. It really is so important, especially for mothers. When it comes to my diet, I do have a slight sugar addiction – something I’m working on. I also need to start eating breakfast (coffee doesn’t count!). To celebrate Maxi-Cosi’s new Moda convertible car seat, we’re giving away a Moda. All you need to do is like both Maxi-Cosi Australia’s Facebook page (here) and The Grace Tales (here) then post one of the images of the Moda in this post to Facebook tagging Maxi-Cosi Australia and The Grace Tales and tell us what car trips are like for you and your family. Winners to be drawn on the 10th October. In association with Maxi-Cosi