Emma Ross (aka Mamalina in the social media world) is a content manager at YouTube by day and a vlogger by night. We met through our day jobs and bonded immediately over our passion for content, social media and our working motherhood status.
1. Describe a typical day in your life. Jack usually wakes at about 6.45am at which point we press play on our Sonos which is set to automatically play nursery rhymes in Jack’s room. Jack seems to love them and they usually give us 15 mins more in bed – a lifetime for any parent. Once we have dragged ourselves out of bed, between myself and my husband Sam, we just about manage to throw our own clothes on, get Jack his milk, get him dressed, teeth brushed (his only sometimes) and one of us will drive him to nursery, then drive to the station, park the car and then jump on the tube to start our non-parent working day. Office. Emails. Meetings. Phonecalls. I leave work at 5pm to collect Jack. Going into his nursery and have him greet me is the best part of my day, every day. We then amble out to the car, drive home, sometimes stop off at my parents who live across the road for a tea. Jack will have a light dinner, I will bathe him (and sometimes jump in too), milk, reading and bed. I might then get half an hour before Sam comes home to relax or catch up on social media, or if I’m cooking I will get going with that. Sam and I always eat dinner together every evening, and preferably something freshly made. On the odd occasion, we‘ll get a takeaway but we tend to save those for the weekend and besides, I love cooking. Then we might unwind reading the newspapers or watching a small bit of TV but more often than not, it’s already gone 10pm by this point, and bed beckons.
2. How do you juggle work and family? What’s your secret? I always leave the office at 5pm on the dot. This is a non-negotiable for me and really signals the end of the working day. My free time is now so sacred that I am really quite regimented about this – and it seems to work. I also now charge my phone overnight out of the bedroom, which I love, as it helps me really disconnect at the most important time – sleep! I also only work four-day weeks with Wednesdays as my day off which really breaks the week up and allows me to reset by resuming being a mum.
3. What do you find most challenging about being a working mum? When things go to plan it s still really tough and tiring being a working mum. But it’s when things don’t go to plan that it’s really challenging. Like if your little one is unwell and needs collecting from nursery in the middle of the day, or it can just be as simple as loads of unexpected traffic to get to the nursery which means you can’t attend a meeting first thing. I also do miss Jack and can’t pretend that I don’t worry that I am missing out a little bit on his childhood.
4. A lot of us working mums feel like we need to do it all. We’ve chatted about this several times before. Do you think we’re too hard and should be kinder to ourselves? I definitely think women want it all. I think that women are becoming more and more ambitious – which is a good thing – but I think that women also need to realise that we simply can’t do it all – or rather, I prefer to reframe it as we can “do it all” but something will give. I prefer thinking about things that way – it seems more positive! I think we need to be kinder to ourselves. Yes, by lowering our expectations a little, not least because if we try to do it all something will give as I’ve said and this will have a knock-on effect. So weirdly, I think women can actually be quite selfish wanting to have it all.
5. What is the one lesson you’d like Jack to learn from you? Maybe one is too harsh. Let’s say three lessons. That’s a tough question! I think doing things in moderation is important. So do them – but don’t do them too much! I would also love him to travel a bit, to exercise and to love well. Most of all, I want him to feel comfortable in his own skin which I think comes from those above three things.
6. You vlog and work for YouTube. When Jack’s older, would you introduce him to vlogging? I would definitely introduce him to vlogging as I think it is such a creative pursuit. And I am confident he will be creative – but it may be in another area, such as music or dance or street art. Who knows!
7. Did you have expectations of motherhood before you had Jack? How does that compare to reality? I actually didn’t have many expectations which I think helped. I didn’t read any books and it all sort of just happened! Maybe that sounds naïve but sometimes I think it’s better to not know too much. (I do wish maybe I’d been a bit better prepared for the birth and clued up on that) I think some women (me included) get a shock at how hard motherhood can be and that’s because in our Western (privileged London) society I don’t think we’re good at coping with things that are just plain difficult – which I think motherhood can definitely be.
8. What do you do to keep yourself sane? Yoga! Yoga is my religion. Yoga, and getting outdoors. When we had Jack ,we moved out into the suburbs. At first I missed the buzz and the coffee shops. Now I love the peace, green and space. And guess what, people in the suburbs drink coffee too.