Hello Lara, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do, how old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?
Daily I run a business Scentered.me keeping much in the heart of personal growth and development whilst restoring lifestyle balance for those mad enough to be juggling all. I have indeed recruited the best possible partner in the world, he was warned when we were married, I am indeed relentless in my desire to do all, try all. He is the family rock allowing me the freedom and flexibility to do a great deal of what I choose to do, whilst frankly he does and has always supported all that we try and achieve. Communication undoubtedly helps, and yes I plan, I write lists and I learn not to over complicate nor get frustrated as he always puts his girls first.
I have three girls. One at Leeds University as a new entrant, finding new budgeting "interesting,". One 16 year old who is creatively focused. She informs me I should Whatsapp any comms as email is dead? Plus a 13 year old for whom I taxi drive to all sorts of sports happily each weekend catching up on normal life. Time does indeed pass by fast but I do live by my belief that a present happy Mum is much preferable to another type leading an unsatisfying life. It is hard to find the balance but worth the effort and for this I am enormously grateful to those whom wisely warned me not to miss the critical moments.
1. One word to describe how being a WoMo makes you feel?
2. What’s the funniest experience you have had juggling kids and work?
I am torn between chucking pumped breast milk from a taxi stuck in a jam on a motorway in France, and the time I left my daughter aged 10 days locked in the office one evening. I remembered as drew up outside our house 6 miles away, on summer evening, and drove back to find her still sleeping in the car seat just inside the locked office door.
3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?
Find even the smallest times for yourself, even on the smallest budget you can find time to walk and breathe and time to smell the roses…even if you are running between everything you are doing keep a smile on your face and know that you have a more interesting life than most.
4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?
At school I studied Margaret Thatcher and her ability to run the country on 4 and a half hours…I remembered that during the times when I started the business, sometimes driving in the dark and very cold winter mornings to London in my Ford Fiesta 1.1 at 4.45am to beat the traffic. It is not an exaggeration to say my screaming first baby probably pushed me the hardest, breast feeding through the night and keeping up with the business during the day.
5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?
That I have huge reserves of energy and that prioritisation by profit matters, that profit is not always by any means about money and whilst I have made many mistakes the importance of putting family first has kept me happily married, and my children, I hope, will have every chance of being contributors to society.
6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?
Don’t miss out on the important family matters and on everything else push the boundaries, learning to enlist, ask for help and say no more often than yes.
7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?
I do not do guilt. I have worked really hard to feel that there is no value in the negativity of feeling guilty about the decisions and choices I made and continue to make. When I am feeling as if everything is out of sync
I have learned to stop, breathe, have time out and rethink my lists and priorities, sometimes even literally taking a holiday break to get back great perspective, even if it means time away from those I love.
8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?
No question, board every time.
9. If you asked your child / children what your job is, what would they say (exact quotation if possible)?
My children are 19, 16 and 13 and I have a relatively well-known role in the Enterprise community, despite turning down major TV programmes in the past.
10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?
I am literally wracking my brains. My journey has been really incredible. I recruited exceptionally well in the husband stakes. I have always been a sales person and been able to make my own money. I had quite a lot of clarity over the fact that I was not very keen on small babies and therefore hired a trained professionally qualified nanny three weeks after I had my first child. Kate our nanny stayed for 11 years and is a dear friend, without her I would have been toast. Equally though Charlie and I never had Kate live in and one of us would always be home for the children after 6pm – when I was in the country that was me. Weekends were very precious family times, I loved.
11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?
When we sold our company we were able to travel the world for a number of months. Affording that time and the freedom we have built for choices for the rest of life is an achievement. It is not, and was never about the money, it is about being able to have the choice to afford the best possible education for my children, which is the gift my parents gave my brother and I.
12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?
You will be remembered for the mother you are but also that you should wring all you can out of life to have experiences, to continue to grow and to work with all sorts of interesting people around the world. Follow your passions and do what you love in life.