Having worked in marketing for 14 years and called London, Adelaide, Melbourne and now the Gold Coast home, jet-setter mum Sally lets us in on how she juggles family and career. We love Sally’s refreshing honesty about her challenges with breastfeeding and caring for a newborn, and we are seriously envious of how she smashes working full-time and being a mum to three year old Max. Sally’s organisation and routine are amazing and the best thing is, she has shared it all with us!
Can you tell us about your career journey?
I’ve worked in marketing for nearly 14 years now, starting my first marketing role in London working for an online retailer. After a two-year stint, I returned to my home town of Adelaide, working in professional services before again moving into a retail environment. After living in the bright lights of London, I decided Adelaide was far too small and made the move to Melbourne where I continued to work in retail marketing. I met my now husband in Melbourne in 2009, and in 2012 we moved to his home town on the Gold Coast.
I have worked in the tourism sector ever since—it kind of goes with the territory! I now head up the marketing department at ULTIQA Hotels & Resorts. We operate apartment-style accommodation and have six properties across the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne. The business is currently in a high acquisition phase and it’s an exciting time to be working for the company.
Having a child can really affect your sense of self. How did you find the transition into parenthood?
The transition into parenthood for me was a shock! Nothing can prepare you for a newborn and I found the first six weeks particularly challenging: lack of sleep, lack of routine, hormones, etc. I also hadn’t had a lot of experience with babies and I’d never even as much as changed a nappy. It was a steep learning curve to say the least. Breastfeeding just didn’t work for me and after an excellent nurse at the hospital told me she was only able to breastfeed two of her four children, I made the decision to switch to the bottle and never looked back. There is a lot of pressure on new mothers to breastfeed, and as the saying goes, ‘breast is best’, but I refused to feel guilty about it. In hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made as it meant that my husband or other family members could give Max a bottle while I slept.
I avoided pre-natal classes and mother’s groups like the plague and anything else that remotely involved sitting around talking about birth, poo and vomit. Instead I turned to my friends who had children for sage advice. I also remained close to my girlfriends sans kids, and relished in the conversations that revolved around fashion, interiors, their dating woes and anything unrelated to children at all for a dose of escapism!
Your gorgeous son Max is almost three now. What was the most challenging part of returning to work?
I decided to return to work when Max was six months old, and although I was looking forward to getting back into a working routine, it did come with its challenges.
I initially retuned to work four days a week which I think really helped with the transition for the whole family. I was lucky in the fact that my mum cared for Max two days a week (and still does)—this meant the mad dash to childcare was only for two days a week. Once Max was around 14 months old I returned to work full-time.
My husband travels extensively for work and in the early days when I first returned to work, I found getting ready for work to be a challenge. I’d often have to put Max in a baby seat in the bathroom while I showered, and then get him ready and into the car for the childcare drop-off.
One of the most challenging parts of being a full-time working mother is the sickness that comes when you start childcare. I distinctly remember once when Max was about eight months old and had some sort of gastro, my husband was away and one night I was feeding him his milk, he vomited EVERYWHERE—all over the carpet, the couch, himself and me. I was so tired and just sat there for about five minutes crying along with him! I’m not going to lie, it was a low point. I look back now and laugh!
How do you juggle motherhood and a busy career?
- Organisation – number one … anyone who knows me will tell you I am OCD organised and this is the key to keep the plates spinning!
- Routine, routine, routine – I am a stickler for this and generally (all going well) our weeks run like clockwork. Having a set routine allows me to stay on top of things, and I am a firm believer that routine is excellent for kids—they like knowing what is coming up next. Max is religiously in bed at 7PM, soon followed by me!
- Meal prep – I spend a good two to three hours every weekend in the kitchen meal prepping, which involves prepping every dinner for each night during the working week, making batch frozen meals for the freezer, pre-making sandwiches to freeze and morning tea for Max to take to childcare.
- Family – my mum lives close by and cares for Max two days a week which is a BIG help. There is no way we would have the levels of harmony in our household if it wasn’t for her help.
- Online shopping – every week I order my groceries and opt for click and collect. This allows me to gather the week’s groceries at lightning speed! Every Saturday morning I visit the fruit shop, the butcher and collect my groceries in under 30 minutes, leaving the rest of the weekend for more interesting things.
- Flexible employer – when I returned to work, I negotiated starting and finishing earlier and generally I work from 8AM to 4PM. This allows me to collect Max and be home eating dinner with him around 5PM. He is then fed, bathed and we are relaxing on the couch around 6PM. I personally love eating early and I think it is beneficial for our health.
- Sleep – I am certainly not a person who can operate on five hours of sleep a night and have always gone to bed early. If I don’t have enough sleep I am not a very nice person and therefore I prioritise this. Generally speaking, I am in bed by 8.30PM or at the very latest 9PM—even on a weekend. Sad, but true.
- Saying no – unfortunately my social life has taken a bit of a dive since becoming a mother, and I often say no to social events which are on during the week and will run very late. I am fine with this and figure as Max gets older I’ll regain this area of my life again.
- Outsourcing – I am a big believer in outsourcing as much as you can afford—cleaning, gardening, etc. I have a cleaner come to the house once a week and this means the time I would have spent cleaning the house can be spent with Max. There is nothing better than coming home to a clean house!
- Girlfriends – nothing better than catching up with my friends. Some are working mothers like me, some are married and childless while others are single. I love talking to them all on a regular basis and seeing what they are up to and having a good old laugh at what life is throwing us! This absolutely keeps me sane and it’s good to know everyone experiences the juggle.
Do you ever miss your pre-mum life?
I used to, particularly when I first had Max. I often wanted to jump in the car and drive off and escape. I certainly miss the abundance of time I had and the weekend sleep-ins, but mostly I miss the time I had to myself which is very limited these days. Now that Max is more independent, I find the whole mum thing a lot easier. He is at a great age too and even though there is the odd toddler meltdown, on the whole he is a lot of fun. It’s quite fascinating to see the world through Max’s eyes—everything is new and exciting, as are all the things us adults take for granted.
What’s the one thing you would tell your younger self?
Listen to all advice and criticism that comes your way, but know when to ignore it completely.
Favourite time of the day is … 5AM.
Instagram sites that inspire you … uber rich, glamorous Europeans rocking killer outfits.
I’m addicted to … online shopping—the postman and I are on first name basis!
My role model is … strong, independent and smart women—of which in my life there are many.
Heels or flats? Heels.