Yummy Mummy: the working mum’s survival guide

How to thrive when you're juggling roles

The ultimate ‘Yummy Mummy’ surely has to be Angelina Jolie – with six kids (3 adopted), she is without question one of the most beautiful women in the world, a successful actress and now a movie writer and director. How does she find the time? (See below, to see if you qualify as a Yummy Mummy).

No one tells you before having a child that, once you have one, you will spend the rest of your life feeling guilty. No matter how much you do, you always feel you could and should do more. I’m quite sure men don’t feel this burden of responsibility in the same way we do. We, as mums, have many roles within the family: mother, wife, housekeeper, chauffeur, cook, entertainer and nurturer. And that’s just a few of the hats that the modern mother wears. Add to all that the responsibility of a day job outside of the home – whether as an employee, a freelancer or a business owner – and it could be the drop that overflows the cup.

I belong to the generation of women who were given the opportunity, particularly by our mothers, to be educated and brought up to believe that we could have it all. Unlike our mothers, who gave up their careers once they were married to take on the full-time role of looking after the family, we could have the career, the marriage and the kids. But perhaps we, and our mothers didn’t consider the high price we might have to pay and the sacrifices that we would have to make to have it all.

The term Yummy Mummy is another reason to feel pressure: not only do you have to wear all these different hats and wear them well, but you also have to look like a movie star at eight o’clock in the morning while dropping the kids off at school. So is it any wonder that we are suffering from a severe dose of stress as we contemplate how on earth we will have the time to get that badly needed manicure, waxing or haircut?

Talking to another busy mum recently, I explained to her that the only thing I was missing in my life was an extra eight hours each day – to get through all the commitments that need my attention. But I consider myself one of the lucky ones, having home help and a supportive husband who does his share, but even still it is a difficult task to balance the time between work and family.

I have friends who have thrown in the towel on full-time employment to spend more time with the family while juggling the finances to live on a lower budget.
Flexibility in working hours seems to be an essential requirement for career mums – who need to have the freedom to be able to pick up the kids some days from school or to show up at the extracurricular activities. However given the difficult economic situation globally, business owners do not have a lot of room for manoeuvre to offer flexible working hours.

Here are some tips on how you can survive and thrive as a working Yummy Mummy:

  1. By nature, women need the support of other women in the community, so build your network of friends who can help, encourage and support you when you need it.
  2. If you are a new mum then you will need time to adjust to your new life – take the time to get used to your changed circumstances before putting yourself under additional stress, like losing the pregnancy weight or getting back to full-time work before you are ready.
  3. Exercise is one of the best antidotes to stress; the hormones released after a good workout can keep you feeling good all day long and help you to cope better so, no matter what, you need this time for you, to become strong so you can do a better job taking care of everyone else.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When it is all getting too much, invite your mum over to mind the kids or hire a babysitter to give you a break – you are only human so take the help on offer or hire someone if necessary.
  5. If you are feeling very stressed with work and motherhood, take some time to consider your options. It could be that you need to take a career break for a few years, particularly if you have a couple of kids who are very young. Or look at part-time options or freelance work from home.
  6. Ask your boss if it is possible to work flexible hours for a period, and perhaps doing some work from home could make a big difference to your quality of life.
  7. Having a successful relationship – first, with your self and secondly with your partner – makes all the other aspects of your life easier, so the first priority is to take care of yourself regarding diet, sleep, fitness, health and beauty. After that, you need to come up with some ideas for you and your loved one to spend quality time together.
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff – there will have to be some compromises, so you need to figure out the important stuff from the irrelevant…. and let go.
  9. Quality not quantity could be the good way to release you from the guilt of the time you are missing with your little ones, so plan the time you will spend together – and make it memorable.
  10. Loving yourself will make it easier for you to love others … and when you love and respect yourself, it’s amazing how the other people around you will treat you with the respect and love you deserve.

If you answer yes to at least 3 of these questions, then you are a Yummy Mummy too.

  • Do you lunch at least twice a week with other yummy mummies?
  • You shudder at the thought of washing and ironing for the family, but you can make great cupcakes?
  • You go to Pilates 2 – 3 times a week and maintain a cute figure?
  • Taking care of your kids is only one part of your extremely busy and interesting life?
  • You shop for new designer clothes weekly, usually buying to your heart’s content on net-a-porter?