How does she do it? is back for the weekly interview with a wonderful working mama. Last week Beauty Entrepreneur, Deborah David talked here about how she keeps the balls in the air as a single mother, while Diana Beaumont, a Literary Agent was the first to kick off this series of How Does She Do It interviews here, recounting her tips as a working mother of twins.
This week I am delighted to interview Elisabeth Staps, a Dutch supermama, whom I have often wondered how she juggles it all. Elisabeth has a demanding job in International Trade and Economic Development. She is married to her hotelier husband who she met in high school - although in her own words "we are no high school sweethearts". She dubs her two lovely children her "royal couple".
Plans for holiday travels to far-flung destinations have now given way to working out how to cover childcare for teacher study days at school, or business trips abroad that she and her husband often have to do. She is amazing at arts and crafts with the kids, and then once they are tucked up in bed enjoys a glass of wine in front of the fireplace. On rare moments of calm, she appreciates the small things in life, like a dew drop on a leaf and sometimes just reading the gossip instead of the world news.
1. What are the greatest challenges in being a working mother?
The balancing act. And that is not work-life balance; work is part of my life and I am not happy without and – it sounds like a cliché – would not be a nice mother without it. It is more the balance of all those parts of me as a person, as women nowadays put too much pressure on having to do it all; my needs (if I still remember), partner, mother, professional, friend, sister, daughter etc.
The trouble is, we all have to be wonderful at it, which of course one never can achieve. But finding that balance, between independence and being cared for, between nurturing your own potential or your loved ones, between doing everything you have to do and actually getting some sleep. And then not forgetting the tax man etc.
2. What is your personal top tip to making it work - or what should you really avoid as a pitfall?
Don’t feel guilty all the time! Giving 80% is always far more and better, as coming from you! You are a fulltime working woman and a fulltime mother (just not spending the full day with the kids).
As a pitfall – and I am preaching to myself as well – be careful not to forget about the person you are and your needs; time for yourself and your needs, and time with your partner.
- Also, have great fall-back childcare – even if not always needed, but to give you peace of mind in case something goes differently than planned.
3. What do you love most about being a working mother?
I love being able to do both; to be challenged and acknowledged for my talents, and have that other kind of energy and enthusiasm to engage in play and craft with my children (which I would be drained if I were full time with the children). And if not travelling, I get to drop the kids in the morning myself and pick my boy up from nursery in the afternoon, which I cherish.
4. Describe your perfect day
A sleep-in, reading stories to the children in bed, a nice breakfast (preferably made for me instead of by me), and then my own time with a book, a museum in my new city (I haven’t seen much of Antwerp since moving from London last year!); a good shopping spree, and then finishing the day with family games in front of the fire and a nice dinner for two.
5. When in doubt, what is your killer confidence outfit or beauty trick?
High heels, hair up, and good lipstick!
Cupcakes or cocktails? – definitely cupcakes (especially home-made and decorated)
Handbags or shoes? - shoes if choosing for pleasure… I am quite pragmatic. My handbag for work is my walking office and at home needs to fit nappies, wipes, some food for delays, change of clothes in case of accidents and toys to keep them busy. But come to think of it: my youngest is almost potty-trained; without the needs for that nappy gear, I should buy myself a new handbag!
Kindle or paperback? – preferably a well-bound hardcover with the smell of ink, cracking open when new and crisping pages with every turn of the story. Although, on business travel I prefer my iPad Mini as an e-reader