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Mother’s Day 2019: Can Working Mums Have it All?

From leaking boobs in the office to embarrassing your kids with store bought baking, Pead mums have had their fair share of mum mishaps. And they are not alone. There are currently around 352,700 working mothers in New Zealand and we hazard a guess that they too have some spectacular stories to share.

For Mother’s Day, we quizzed our Pead mums on what it’s really like to maintain the elusive balance between work and raising little (and not so little) people.

Juggling work with motherhood is undeniably hard. But it is also a privilege. And as we have learnt from the mums at Pead – motherhood has also helped them in the workplace by arming them with new sets of skills and superpowers.

Anna Farrera – Group Account Director

Kids: 4.5 years and 1.5 years

What’s your mum superpower? Mad multitasking!

As a mum, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without? My washing machine. Imagine doing it all by hand. Much respect for my grandmother’s generation and their daily workload doing all their chores by hand.

Describe your ideal Mother’s Day… it would be a mix of ‘me’ time and family time with my boys and wonderful husband. A massage or facial would be bliss, followed by a lovely lunch and time on a beach somewhere.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mums in the workplace right now? Speaking personally, it’s the expectations we put on ourselves to be on top of everything all the time.

What wish do you have for working mums in the future? More acceptance of flexible working arrangements and for these to be the norm so women can have their career and manage their family responsibilities too. Pead has a fantastic approach in this regard and it’s something I am grateful for.

How did you find the transition back into work after children? Coming back to work after my first baby was challenging as I had to learn to adjust to the demands of the workplace and home – I couldn’t do all the evening events I used to and it took time to adjust to being comfortable with that. Second time around the transition was much smoother and I was able to return to work on a part-time basis and increase my hours when I felt comfortable.

How has becoming a mum changed you as an employee?  I’ve matured since having children. You learn not to sweat the small stuff – little people teach how to keep it real. I hope I now bring more humility and drive to be the best I can be, at work and at home.

What are your thoughts on the ‘motherhood penalty’? I think this has really started to change – it hasn’t affected me and I’m grateful for that. It wasn’t necessarily the case 10 or 20 years ago.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other mums? You can do it all – have a successful career and be a wonderful mother – but make sure you make time for you and don’t feel guilty about it!

What’s your biggest working mum fail? Leaking boobs in the workplace. I can recall multiple occasions – always embarrassing!

Your message to other mums this Mother’s Day… You are amazing. You’ve got this!

Spring Zhu – Financial Controller

Kids: 10 years

What’s your mum superpower? Don’t think I have a mum superpower. I’m not good at anything that a normal mum wouldn’t be good at. I cook, I play, I’m patient just like other mums – I think it is my daughter who has the superpowers! (editors note: we think Spring’s superpower is humility!)

As a mum, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without? My cell phone – it has all the reminders for my daughter’s after-school activities.

Describe your ideal Mother’s Day… a day out with friends but without kids!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mums in the workplace right now? Finding enough time to spend with our kids. As a working mum this is something I face every day.

What wish do you have for working mums in the future? Other than working flexible hours and locations, I think as mums we need to learn how to communicate with the kids and help them understand why mum needs to work rather than spending more time with them.

How did you find the transition back into work after children? I’m quite lucky that my mum was able to help a lot with caring for my daughter after I came back to work full time. This made the transition much easier for me.

What do you hope your daughter will learn from you? When I work at home, I often sit next to my daughter while she is reading or studying. I want her to know that you can be good at both work and being a mum, and you don’t need to sacrifice your own career development to be a mum.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other mums? Make sure you ask for help or talk to someone. You don’t always need to take on everything.

Your message to other mums this Mother’s Day… enjoy the special day and make sure that you pass on the kids and all housework to Dad!

Deborah Pead – CEO and Founder

Kids: 30 years and 29 years

What’s your mum superpower? My ability to smell anything unwashed – no matter where it’s hidden. And my ability to fix problems.

As a mum, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without?  My Husband. Parenting is a joint responsibility.

Describe your ideal Mother’s Day: A great meal – where I don’t have to cook or clean up, followed by a foot massage.  

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mums in the workplace right now? Time – always stretched on time. But modern and more flexible workplace practises are now more considerate than ever before. Good workplaces recognise that the happiest of mums and the best of colleagues are the ones that have the flexibility to balance motherhood with work.  

What wish do you have for working mums in the future? I wish for all employers to recognise that not all mums want to be full-time stay at home mums or full-time working mums. Strike a balance and you will get the best of both – a great colleague and a happy mum.

How did you find the transition back into work after children? I had no option. It was the ‘80s and I had my own business, I was back at work within two weeks. My husband pulled his weight and in-house nannies are great!

How has becoming a mum changed you as an employee? More understanding, greater empathy and I’m the one who nags about keeping the office tidy!

What are your thoughts on the ‘motherhood penalty’? It exists in certain industries – but not at Pead PR. The mums who have returned to work are at a senior level and are motivated to come back quickly. The ones who have taken off more than a year will battle to re-enter and that’s a calculated risk. But the motherhood years are so minimal in the light of a full career and those few years part-time or flexitime or even off should not define a woman’s place or status in the workplace.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other mums? You can have it all – just remember to breathe… and pick your husbands well!

What’s your biggest working mum fail? Buying restaurant food for “take a plate” day – it embarrassed my kids to no end that I didn’t make it or bake it.

Your message to other mums this Mother’s Day… every day is Mother’s Day – enjoy every day!

Gemma CopasOffice Manager/EA

Kids: Stepmum to 12-year-old and almost-mum to a new-born!

What’s your mum superpower? Creativity! Keeping my inner child alive is what has helped me bond so well with my stepdaughter.

As a mum, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without? My bath!

Describe your ideal Mother’s Day… I encourage my stepdaughter to spend Mother’s Day with her mum, so I focus on my mum and mum-in-law on this day (until my baby boy is born). I love to cook for them, bake cakes and spend quality time with them – letting them know all the ways in which I am thankful for them.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mums in the workplace right now? I think many of us experience feelings of guilt for missing out on milestones. I only work part-time so that I am available for my stepdaughter after school, however, I plan on returning to work after my boy and I can imagine feeling quite left out from his little achievements each day.

What wish do you have for working mums in the future? I think we need to relieve ourselves of the guilt we feel for being away from our children. A career serves a purpose to feed the bigger picture of your family’s life and future, and a mother’s independence away from her children provides just as much happiness and fulfilment to a household as a stay at home mums would. Don’t compare yourself to any other woman or situation.

How has becoming a mum changed you as an employee? It took me a year or two to find my feet when I became a Stepmum, I tried different tactics and avenues to get different results, I didn’t push or force a bond, I let time bring us together naturally. The experience taught me a whole new level of patience and understanding, which has made me a better more empathetic employee.

What advice you would give to other mums? Stop trying to be perfect, listen and learn the right questions to ask. ‘How was your day?’ only ever saw me receiving a one-word answer. Once I started asking more specific questions (e.g. ‘Who did you play with at lunch?’ or ‘Did you have to speak in front of the class today?’) I started getting more descriptive answers and my stepdaughter wanted to open up more.

What question (if any) are you sick of answering about being a working mum? None. I think mums sharing their experiences is the only way we can learn and grow.

What’s your biggest working mum fail? So far, I have managed to balance work-life with my stepdaughter as I only work part-time, but I know there will be plenty of fails once I have my son and go back to work.

Your message to other mums this Mother’s Day… use the day to reflect and appreciate your children and be proud of yourself for all that you do for them on a daily basis, big or small. Happy Mother’s Day!

Fiona Hanlon – Senior Account Director

Kids: 15 years, 17 years and 19 years

What’s your mum superpower? Having a high bar for what teenagers might do!

As a mum, what is the one thing you couldn’t live without? My sister.

Describe your ideal Mother’s Day… wake to flowers with a cooked breakfast and newspaper and heartfelt messages from my children. Then yoga and a massage followed by a late lunch with my mother and family somewhere delish. A glass or two of wine… then a movie!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing mums in the workplace right now? Being available to your children and your work colleagues – a constant juggle of priorities and guilt!

What wish do you have for working mums in the future? That the working year better reflects the school year – term time and holidays co-ordinate and everyone understands that for two weeks every ten weeks you are juggling children at home and trying to have quality family time!

How did you find the transition back into work after children? Guilt-ridden and tricky. I always felt like I had two jobs – neither side acknowledged the other! That’s changed at Pead plus my kids are older, but they still need mental availability and parenting. You need to be sharper and more deliberate when they get older!

How has becoming a mum changed you as an employee? Recognising what’s important becomes much easier – I know when to sweat it and when not to. I now have more patience and a deeper understanding of how to develop confidence and self-esteem in others.

What are your thoughts on the ‘motherhood penalty’? Very real and one that I feel affected my career trajectory. Almost 20 years ago, the motherhood penalty for me meant losing my job. No maternity leave accommodated.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other mums? Be there for your children after school for the debrief at least a couple of times a week – this is when kids want to talk about good and bad things that have happened, and you get to parent them and help. The drive to the activities is not wasted taxi time either – it’s debrief time about what’s going on in their school world – use it!

What question (if any) are you sick of answering about being a working mum? I’m never sick of sharing anything that helps other mums or colleagues understand this is hard but a rewarding course of action.

What’s your biggest working mum fail? I once missed the emails about one of my kid’s sports team enrolments which meant he missed out on making the team! The person in charge had zero sympathy and no amount of apologising helped. The response was ‘you must pay for the luxury of working and having another life’. Your message to other mums this Mother’s Day… Happy Mother’s Day – you’ve got the power.

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