Ever wonder how you can balance it all as a mum? This is one interview in a series talking to mums who have found a way to make it work. Meet Vanessa Roberts, office manager and mum of 2.
Vanessa manages an office and her own home with the help of a flex time schedule, family pitching in and a perky attitude. Serious about creating a happy household and fond family memories, she takes care to make every moment spent with her daughters count by squelching daily frustrations and re-energizing with pedicures and pizza.
1. What do you love about being a mom?
I love the joy that comes from watching this person that I created blossom into a thriving, strong, vibrant member of society. I love the unconditional, never-ending font of love that springs from them for me, for their dad, and for everything around them. I love the way then need me and give me purpose.
2. What do you enjoy most about working?
I enjoy the adult time it gives me and the way working makes me stretch my brain in different ways than I do with my children. I like the quiet of my office and that being apart from my kids makes me more patient and appreciative of them than I think I would be if I were with them 24/7.
3. What’s your biggest challenge in juggling both?
I’ve struggled with being able to find child care that is both affordable and top quality. For a long time I couldn’t afford to work because the jobs that were available to me paid almost as much as putting both my kids in childcare. I’ve had terrible experiences with daycare, but I’ve also found a terrific one. It’s a huge leap of faith to choose a person to spend more time with your child every day than you do.
4. How do you deal with it?
I have been fortunate enough to have family to lean on for two days a week so I can afford private care for the other three days. I cried myself to sleep for weeks before I worked out my current situation. I was miserable and afraid of where I’d have to leave my baby, but now I am confident every day that she is with people that love and cherish her and will help her grow.
I’m also lucky to have an employer that allows for flexible hours so that I can spend as much time as possible with my daughters. I work five days a week, Monday through Friday, but on Mondays and Wednesdays I leave the office at 1 p.m. and get to meet my oldest daughter at the bus stop and help her with her homework.
5. How do you re-charge?
I like to get pedicures. In my younger, single, childless days pedicures were a necessity but now they are a treat I indulge in once every couple of months. As a family, we recharge by having “movie night” where the kids pick a movie and we order pizza and eat ice cream all piled together on a blanket on the living room floor.
6. What advice would you give other women considering being a working mom?
I would tell them not to feel guilty because there are all sorts of mothers and teaching your children to be responsible, contributing members of society is a valuable lesson. I would also tell them to cherish the time that they do have with their kids – to leave work problems at the door and even if the evenings are full of chores like homework, dinner, baths, to spend every moment while you do them showing your children how precious they are to you. Stay calm when you start to get frustrated. Take deep breaths when you want to yell. You have these few hours to create a happy household and every moment you are with your kids is a potential memory that they will carry with them forever.
7. Who inspires you?
My kids inspire me to be a better person. When I speak harshly and see their faces fall, I want to be kinder. When my daughter says we have to recycle to save the earth, I want to go through every rubbish bin on my block to sort out the plastic and the paper. When my daughter asks me what a diet is, or why it hurts people’s feelings when we call them fat, or why other mummies are skinny and I’m not, I am inspired to be healthy, live a long life, and teach them to make good decisions and have a positive body image.
8. What one thing can you not live without?
I absolutely cannot live without my smart phone. Any moment I have to spare is spent on that mini computer. I run my life from it. If I forget it at home – I don’t care if I’m 30 minutes away from my house or only five minutes from my destination – I’ll turn right around and go get it.
9. If you had an hour of time to yourself, how would you spend it?
Sleep. Or, play on my phone. Can I have more hours please?