Mama Interview – Helen Bryce, Guilty Mothers Club

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MAMA INTERVIEW

Helen Bryce

Guilty Mothers Club

I’m Helen, 36, from Manchester. We moved back here a few years ago but it is where we both grew up. I have 3 children, Mabel (6), Wilf (5) and Hettie (3) and THE most supportive ace husband. Don’t get me wrong we get on each others nerves a fair bit and having kids certainly doesn’t make anything easier but I think we’ve retained a sense of humour which is cool. He shares my feminist opinions but also brings me down to earth when I get carried away (I’m a massive dreamer and bit of a risk taker).

Since May this year I have worked full time on Guilty Mothers Club, my background is in the corporate world designing and delivering leadership training and development amongst many other HR roles. I say full time, actually I work really flexibly. I take afternoons off, I don’t miss any school stuff, sometimes I work evenings but more often not. I’m an early person so would rather be up at 6 and finished by lunch and get the same amount of work done. I really wish more people were able to work in ways that fit their lives, I don’t believe we would lose any productivity, in fact I think it would go up, not to mention well-being and happiness too.

Gazzy is currently on a year-long career break as a stay at home Dad. He isn’t being paid, we are living on my income topped up with money we saved for about a year prior to enable this to happen. We are pretty skint to be honest (relatively, I am VERY aware of how lucky we are) but have swapped money for time and it was the best decision ever. It’s been an eye opening, fun, wonderful 6 months so far and I feel exceptionally grateful every single day. Even if I do sometimes miss having a takeaway!

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1.One word to describe working motherhood?

Constant juggle (sorry that’s two)

2.One thing you enjoy most about being a working mother?

Adult conversation!

3.One thing you’ve found toughest about being a working mother?

Keeping boundaries

4.One thing you wish you’d known when you first became a mother?

That every single phase will pass even though it feels so overwhelming at the time

5.One thing that surprised you when you became a mother?

Weirdly pre children I used to think I’d find the lifelong responsibility suffocating, now I panic that time is going too fast!

6.One thing you’d like to start doing?

So much! I’d like to start more creative hobbies, I am a serial fickle crafter with many half-finished (often fairly shit) projects around the house.

7.One thing you’d like to stop doing?

Biting the end of my pen when I am working. This sounds gross and it is, sometimes dribble drips onto my pad – haha.

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8.One way in which your aspirations and goals have changed since becoming a mother?

I don’t think they have changed really, they’ve probably been dampened at times due to a crappy employer, feeling overwhelmed and fairly unsupported returning to work after mat leave and trying to re-align everything. Accepting that there is plenty of time to work and cherishing the long days at home on mat leave was a challenge to be honest, I am bored easily, like to learn constantly and fairly ambitious. I think I’ve got slowly better at this though. I’ve got better at not chasing the ‘end game’ and recognising that right now is the whole point. The journey is actually the main event. That’s just hard some days when you’ve got someone hanging on to your leg whinging and another asking for their bum to be wiped whilst attempting to make tea.

9.One thing you do when you need more energy?

Meditate. And drink lots of strong builders’ tea.

10.One top tip for managing your time or productivity?

Know what your one goal is for the day and focus on that when your energy is at its highest, don’t allow anything to take you off course or distract you until your best work is done.

11.One item you couldn’t do without?

My phone. URGH. My flaming phone after what I just said. But it is how I hear about what Gazzy and our littles are up to when we’re apart and the way I hear from my favourite people and take photos and….

12.One activity you most love doing with your kids?

Crafting

13.One great shop for kids’ clothes?

Erm, ask Gazzy, haha

14.One talent you’re proud of?

I’m really optimistic and enthusiastic, constantly. I can also get my legs behind my head. Or I could a few years ago. Would it be wrong to check this now whilst sat in Pret writing this???

15.One great family midweek meal you rely on?

Build your own roasted veg wraps with goats cheese or humus, for some reason building your own makes peppers bearable.

16.One great kids toy everyone loves playing with?

A jigsaw

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17.One book you’d recommend, either for leisure or for business?

Too many to mention but Brene Brown is one of my faves so any of hers

18.One thing you have to say about work/life balance?

It doesn’t exist, ‘balance’ is an annoying word that suggests one gives at the expense of the other, like an elusive golden egg, focus instead on flow and what is right for you, right now.

19.One thing you’d love to achieve work-wise in the future?

I’d like to write a book (not necessarily about working mums, I have a fair number of kids fiction stories written down too – haha)

20.One thing you’d love to achieve in your family life in the future?

We’d like to go away for six weeks next summer on a road trip.

21.One thing you’d like to see change for working mothers?

I can’t do one on this – flexible working options as standard, shared childcare responsibilities would make such a difference (so extended and well paid shared leave), better maternity pay, stopping maternity discrimination, ah the list goes on…

22.One crucial piece of advice for other working mums?

You are bloody amazing, don’t forget that, with more skills and experiences and capability than ever. Ask for / demand what you are worth because more than ever we need girls to run the world.

23.One thing you’d love to ask other working mums?

What would have made the biggest difference to you when returning from maternity leave?

(All pictures taken by our very own Anna on one of her Day in the Life shoots)

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