It is common knowledge that mums, whether they are working or stay-at-home, have a tough and often thankless job. With this in mind, the Nursery School Guide has decided to interview some of them, to hear their side of the story! We ask them all about the highs and lows of life in the fast lane and how they keep life in balance. And where better to begin than with the Nursery School Guide’s very own mummy! Marina Byrne opens up about how she keeps the flow in her household, with two businesses, two children and a husband!
1. Tell us a bit about your family and what you do?
I have three children- Louis (age 8) and Leo (age 5), who are both at Wetherby Pre-prep in Pembridge Square AND my Nursery School Guide (3 years old ish). I live and work in Notting Hill, which is great, as I can do the school run and still be in for work at 9am, or be available for a quick “I’m stuck on my homework” dart home and back to work again. My husband works in the city and leaves very early in the morning so it is important that I can race home at a moments notice. I run an Education Consultancy with offices in London and Beijing and am just about to open a children’s retail/education centre in the beautiful Parkview Green in Beijing.
2. How do you handle being a mummy with a busy career?
With difficulty. I am always running and it is a constant juggling act. I think many working mothers would agree that there is always a sense of guilt or failure. Working Mummies are expected to manage all the jobs a stay at home mummy would have to deal with and still complete a full day’s work. It feels impossible every day but every day it works and I would not change it for the world. Each day brings a new challenge, which makes every day exciting! I am lucky enough to work with amazing people and am surrounded by a fantastic and supportive team so “work” is often fun. Finally, my boys are proud of their Mummy and that makes it all worthwhile.
3. Being a busy mum, you must have a secret snack that keeps you calm…
Chocolate and Japanese gummy sweets always cheer me up, though I am not sure if the sugar rush keeps me calm. Rather the opposite. The healthy answer is nuts and raisins.
4. How do you feel about having to leave to China every month or two?
I always have a panic before I leave. I get exam jitters 24 hours before I fly and I always cry in the car when I leave the children. Once I have checked in I shake it off and start to look forward to another adventure in China. Let's face it, I am incredibly lucky to travel to such a fast moving and interesting country and still have a wonderful family and home waiting for me in London. I get the best of both worlds, East and West.
5. Have you always been very organised and able to multi-task?
I am not sure if I am organised but I can multitask and I think I must enjoy it or I simply wouldn't do it.
6. What advice would you give to young women and men, wanting a career AND a family?
You need to adopt a certain sense of ‘irrational optimism’, in the early stages. In order to succeed in anything, you need to believe in yourself and block out the ‘nay-sayers’. Many women across the world have successful careers and children but you need to be prepared to work hard and adapt.
7. Do you often get the chance to have a ‘girls night’ with friends?
Very rarely. I recently went to the movies with my best friend, Catherine, and we joked that the last time we had seen each other, for a girlie night out, was in November. She is also a working mother so scheduling a night when we can both get out is hard.
8. Would you suggest a nanny or day nursery?
I have a live in nanny and my job would not be possible without her given how much I travel. However, a day nursery suits some families and their children better. It all depends on the needs of the family and budget.
9. What do you do at weekends?
Weekends are all about family and my kids. We always do something special. Pyjama days are a hit in my house. When the weather is bad we all cuddle up and watch family movies. I also LOVE cooking and am well known for my cookathons. I take great pleasure in cooking for my family and my friends.
10. How did you motivate yourself to start a business with young children?
I started the business with my best friend and he gave me the motivation. It was fun and a challenge and a fun challenge is all the motivation I really need.
11. If/when your business became hugely successful, what would you do?
I would love to have more children and have always wanted to adopt.
12. Are there any tips on early education that you would give to new parents, who are just starting out?
Be prepared, do the research before your little one is born so you can enjoy the baby bubble when he/she arrives. I had a blue file and a pink file at the ready when my son was born and the blue file was thrust in my husband’s face the minute Louis arrived. My husband sent all the forms and cheques that day, leaving me to relax and enjoy my newborn baby.
13. How does your husband help you maintain your ‘super-mum’ status?
It would not have been possible without him. He has given me the freedom to embark on this adventure and is a super dad when I am away. He really is an amazing Daddy! Thank you Jules.
14. What is the most exhilarating thing you have done in the past 6 months?
Swimming in bioluminescent water in the Cayman Islands with my son Louis. Simply amazing! And negotiating a deal to set up a new children’s retail and education centre in Beijing.
15. If you could give one piece of advice to someone, what would it be?
Cherish your family and your friends and enjoy all your moments with them. The people in your life are what’s most important. They form part of all your memories and moments, so look after them!
16. Children’s favourite spot in London?
Mummy and Daddy’s bed!
17. What do you think you would be doing right now if you hadn’t embarked upon your business ventures?
I would definitely be working. Perhaps in events or fashion, I have no idea. I would have found something to do; that is for certain. I need to be busy.