Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Work.Life.Balance? Meet working mother and author, Kelly McKain

Welcome back to the interview series with wonderful working mothers.  First of all, apologies for the absence last week - I wound up a contract and it was a rather manic time.  This is the 8th interview in the series, and the title has changed from "How Does She Do It?", which sounded like a bit of a manual for working mothers, to it's new name, "Work.Life.Balance?",  which is really more about what  the interviews talk about more and the key things we focus on as women - juggling our wants and needs for career, creating lives outside it, complete with children, relationships, and if we can at all, achieving balance.

This week, meet Kelly - Kelly McKain is the author of over 40 books for children and teens, including the Totally Lucy, Pony Camp Diaries and Rainbow Beauty series. She lives in Haslemere, Surrey, with her husband and two exhausting adorables, Holly (4) and Freddie (2). She enjoys yoga, walking on the heath, walking in the woods, walking round the lakes... (you get the picture!), swimming and sitting in whirlpools or steam rooms claiming to be 'thinking'. 

What are the greatest challenges in being a working mother?

I started to write this answer and Holly (4) yelled up the stairs for me so loudly/urgently I assumed a trip to A&E was on the cards - only to find that it was because Freddie (2) wanted another Fruesli bar! 

I guess this is a challenge for freelance/home-working mothers - if the children are there and you're doing things you feel like you should be giving them attention, and if it's costing a fortune as they're at nursery you feel panic at not working if you even dare to put the washing on for a few minutes. 

I used to feel that way but I'm trying to get out of the habit now and see everything as much more fluid.

What is your personal top tip to making it work - OR what should you really avoid as a pitfall

For things to avoid, see above - avoid tying yourself in knots about what/when is work time and what/when is family time and all the other stuff in between and trust it will all pan out in a brilliant way and all get done. 

What do you love most about being a working mother?

I love the flexibility in my particular job, both in terms of when/where/how I work and in working mainly from home.  But I love the other side of it too - for example I've just been away doing an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival, so I enjoyed a night in a hotel by myself (i.e. bath, yoga, room service, nice fluffy towels and everything stays where you put it, heaven!), a bit of shopping, some free tickets to other performances and some Lush goodies in my own event too. Then of course I came home and insisted to Matt that I was exhausted from working on the weekend - hee hee!

Describe your perfect day

Any day when I wake up feeling positive, engaged, excited and that the world is full of ideas and possibilities. You know what they say, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it... But if it could involve large amounts of Earl Grey tea, chocolate cake, angelic children and some kind of spa, that would be extra-fabulous!

When in doubt, what is your killer outfit or beauty trick?

To be honest, when in doubt... cook! That's always been my motto.  I find that doing something creative but non-writing related really gives me a boost, and by the time I go back to my desk, that tricky plot or character problem has usually solved itself too.  And I play an uplifting song or two before I have to do something or go somewhere for that extra boost, then I feel good in anything.

Anything else you'd like to talk about to Mama and More readers?

Here is a quick synopsis on a new series of books that Kelly has written, called the Rainbow Beauty Series, aimed at girls 9-13.  Look out for a review on the first book in the series, Peppermint Kiss here on Mama and More, and giveaway of the series to follow.

"Pamper yourself with this sunshiny new series about friends, family, first crusges and following your dreams!  Join Abbie and her family as they start a new life, set up a natural beauty business, Rainbow Beauty, and heal their hearts too."

And finally, 
Cupcakes or Cocktails? Cupcakes. Primrose bakery chocolate ones. 

Handbags or Shoes? Shoes.  Marco Tozzi brown leather slouch rocker-cowboy boots. 

Paperback or Kindle? Paperback. Currently The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. 


(Kelly has kindly offered some signed books as competition prizes for readers of Mama and More - click here for the competition post)

The interview series "Work.Life.Balance?" is live every Thursday.  Please feel free to explore the archived interviews with other working mothers right here, and if you would like to take part I would be delighted to hear from you, so please do get in touch.


  1. AMAZING interview, I agree with everything and it's so true about cooking, such a release like painting forget time and worries! I love Kelly's advice on us stopping tying knots in ourselves on when we need to be having family/work time. So freeing reading this! Thanks so much for sharing your fabulous series xx

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! And glad to have linked up with your wonderful women series of interviews too, brilliant energy!

  2. Another great interview - have pinned onto my Mommy Time board - Alice @ Mums Make Lists #pocolo

    1. Thanks Alice, will pop across and follow your board, sounds great

  3. Ha, that whole thing about thinking the world has come to an end because your child is shouting so fiercely for you is so familiar... it is moments like those when you're trying to focus on worky bits that can be a little frustrating!! Fab interview xx

    1. So true! Isn't it funny how these little people who can't even vote yet actually rule the roost!

  4. I've very much enjoyed your series of interviews so far. Interesting to read how Kelly McCain handles working at home with young children.

  5. Always love your interviews - Kelly was very concise with your And Finally questions :) May have to have a chat with you at some point - I have an idea for some childrens books aimed at age 2 to 5, maybe Kelly could point me in the right direction! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x


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