We celebrate women in business for all they achieve and do, but there is always a struggle behind the busy women who are also Mums. I've asked 2 fantastic business women from my hometown of Navan, Co. Meath, Clare Tully owner of Jackanory Children's online boutique www.jackanory.ie and Andrea Farrelly, owner of Skin & Bodyworks, Advanced Skincare & Massage Clinic based in Navan, Co. Meath, just a few questions on how they juggle it all.
1. What do you do for a living? I own Jackanory.ie, an online children’s boutique that I opened in 2018. It’s a store for parents, by parents, where you’ll find many of the best children’s brands under one roof. The boutique is a curated mix of clothing, accessories, baby essentials and gifts. With two kids under the age of 3, I know that parent’s are looking for quality, practical, durable products for their little ones. They want to spend their hard earned cash on less fast fashion, and more sustainable products that can be passed down from sibling to sibling, cousin to cousin, friend to friend. All of the products and brands at Jackanory are ones that I use for my own family, so I can stand behind them. I’m also proud to stock lots of Irish and women-owned brands.
2. What does a typical weekday look like for you? Mornings are spent making breakfast, packing lunches and juggling nap times. I usually catch up on my email and social media during nap time. My little boy, Jack, is in preschool in the afternoon, so that’s my opportunity to pack up orders and catch up on admin. I drop off orders for shipping before picking him up from school. Afternoons are the usual busy mix of dinner, play and bath time. Once the kids are in bed, it’s time to catch up on social media for Jackanory, work on any new projects, update the website and ordering in new stock for the store. I try and switch off for an hour or two at night too and relax with my husband.
3. How do you organise your life as a career woman and mother? For the home, I try to be as prepared as possible. I’ll pack changing bags and school bags the night before and leave clothes out for the next day. Meal planning also helps make the day flow a little better. It’s still chaos most of the time though! Jackanory-wise, I set goals for the month and break it down each week. I’ll keep a running to-do list on my phone. Sometimes real life gets in the way, but I find that having things written down makes it far more likely that I’ll get them done. I think there are two sides to the coin, but overall, it’s harder. Lifestyles are so much more complex nowadays, and there is enormous pressure on families from a cost of living perspective. Commutes, cost of childcare, and expectations are all contributors to making it so much more difficult to balance working and parenting. However, it’s worth recognizing that there are more opportunities than ever for women in the work place, that didn’t exist when our mum’s were raising their families. There is also a lot more opportunity and support in place for women taking the plunge to start their own business.
4. Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working mum nowadays? The biggest challenge in my career came when I went back to work after having Jack. I worked in a corporate setting, in a job that I loved. I completely underestimated how much my priorities would change after having a baby, and thought I’d slot straight back into my job. I had been very career driven, but found that I didn’t have the same passion for my work. I really just wanted to be with my little boy, so I decided to stay at home with him. A few months later, the idea for Jackanory started to form so I really do think that by trusting my gut, I found the right path for myself and my family.
5. How do you manage your busy schedule? I mostly work at night when the kids are in bed, or in pockets of time when they are napping throughout the day. I try my best to be present with them when I’m at home. I’ll make a list of what I need to do each day and prioritise it to make the most of my time - packing orders is always first on my list! Juggling Jackanory with my husband’s schedule and the kids can be tricky. We use a physical calendar by Bold Bunny and everything is on it - playdates, doctors appointments, work meetings etc. It means that I can plan when I can do pop-up shops, take a half day to catch up on admin or attend events.
6. What has been the biggest challenge in your career since being a mother? It is so important, and I love that wellness and mindfulness for mums is such a hot topic at the moment. If I don’t take time for myself, I find that every other aspect of my life suffers. I lose focus on work, and patience with the kids. I try to make time each day for myself. Sometimes this is going for a walk and listening to a podcast, or sometimes it’s reading a book and having a coffee while the baby naps. I don’t think time for yourself has to be an event, but just something that takes you out of the pressures of family and work, and lets you focus on something you enjoy.
7. How important do you think it is to have some time to yourself and what do you do when you get it? My top tip is to go easy on yourself. You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t do it all. If you need it, ask for help. Allow yourself to say no. If you can afford it, outsource it - whether that’s hiring a cleaner at home, or outsourcing your bookkeeping at work.
8. What is your top tip to other busy working mums juggling a career and a family life? My top tip is to go easy on yourself. You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t do it all. If you need it, ask for help. Allow yourself to say no. If you can afford it, outsource it - whether that’s hiring a cleaner at home, or outsourcing your bookkeeping at work.
1. What do you do for a living?
I am the owner of Skin & Bodyworks Advanced Skin Care and Massage Clinic based in Navan and I'm a mum of 2 boys aged 6 & 2 and wife to my 3rd child Eddie 😂
2. What does a typical weekday look like for you?
Military operation ....
Wake at 6.15am (2 days a week Monday & Saturday its 5.30 for a PT session at 6am)
Breakfast and lunches for myself and Boys. Showers, get dressed and out the door for 8am ish
Drop boys at mams for 8.30ish then into work for 9am
Wednesday & Friday 9am Gym session then into work for 10.15
Monday - Friday I am working in or on the salon until 6pm (I usually get 30-60 mins lunch these days but have been known to work through lunch break for a client) then panic stations to get to my mums to pick up the boys. (Thursday its 9.30pm finish and Eddie picks up the boys this day) Then its home to Ashbourne, get home around 7ish and its typical few hours of homework, food, showers for boys, jammies, story and bed for the boys for about 8.30ish.
Most evening when the boys are in bed I will catch up on some work and try tick off some of my list of things to do. Its hard to complete these tasks during the day when I am with clients so I am usually up until 11ish doing some bits (with Love Island in the background LOL!)
I try to take Saturdays off as kids have sport and try to switch off as much as possible from work but its pretty hard. I am definitely a workaholic. Only for the kids I would probably be in the salon everyday till late LOL!
3. How do you organise your life as a career woman and mother? Its a bit chaotic to be honest, and can be stressful, I rely a lot on lists. At work I surround myself with amazing people, My team are awesome and I am lucky and blessed to be able to say that. I know that when I am not there whether I have day off or I am on holidays my team are looking after the salon as if it was their own. As a mother I suppose its all about routine, as chaotic as it is it is routine and its the same most days. I am very lucky that I have my mum and dad looking after my boys for me. I don't know how I would mange without them to be honest. If I get stuck at work there is never an issue, if one of them are sick sure mums house is their house and they get looked after so well, I nearly want to go home to mums when I am sick. I'm very lucky to have great family support and sure the husband is not too bad either, still trying to get him to use the washing machine but otherwise he's come on leaps and bounds with cooking and cleaning.
4. Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working mum nowadays? Its full on, but being a full time stay at home mum is full on too. I don't think I could be a stay at home mum I have massive admiration for all those mams who choose to do it. I don't think being a working mum is any harder than it used to be I think it has always been and will always be extremely busy, we have 2 full time jobs in all fairness, That's a lot of working hours.
5. How do you manage your busy schedule? Lists!!! and a Life/business coach. This is something I have only started to do in the last 12 months or so and I highly recommend it to anyone. She helps me to organise my work making my life a whole lot easier. 6. What has been the biggest challenge in your career since being a mother? The guilt is always a challenge, Guilt at working too much and not spending enough time with the kids, Guilt that I should be at work on a Saturday when the girls are busy, Guilt that I am looking at emails and messages on my phone when the boys are trying to do something with me. My biggest challenge is finding a happy medium and the perfect work/ life balance which I have been searching for for nearly 6 years now.
7. How important do you think it is to have some time to yourself and what do you do when you get it? It's extremely important, My gym sessions are my therapy I have them scheduled in every week and I won't give them up for the world. I know to a lot of people this is not having time to your self but to me this is more satisfying than having a massage even though I do love a massage and try to get them when I can.
8. What is your top tip to other busy working mums juggling a career and a family life? Surround yourself with good people, people who care about you and only want the best for you, friends, family & work colleagues. They are the ones who pick you up when you need it and just go easy on yourself, you are awesome! Just remember the house doesn't need to be cleaned after your 10 hour day, leave it, it will be there tomorrow and go enjoy the cuddles and kisses and the bedtime stories.
Thank you so much Clare and Andrea for being so open and honest about juggling a career and family. If you enjoy the blog please like, comment below and share.
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