Absolutely, without a doubt parenthood changed me. I didn’t know I could love two little humans as much as I do. It’s quite overwhelming at first, and very soon after both our boys were born, I couldn’t really remember what life was like before their arrival.
I know I worked very long hours, studied at night and partied on the weekends.
Up until 12 months ago I was working as a marketing manager for a large company by day and blogging late at night, averaging 18-hour days and six hours sleep. Despite having an incredibly supportive boss and workplace, it all became a little too much to juggle. I decided to take a long-term career break and work from home on my own business to allow me to spend more time with my family.
I’m not sure if I am any less busy, but I’m following my creative heart and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Now I work really long hours at home, blog at night and long for a sleep in and quiet time with my family on weekends. But hey, the chaos is fine – life is never boring, that’s for sure.I started eat read love about five years ago as a personal online place to capture my great food, reads and travel recommendations for friends. It then became a blog and five years later I’m still blogging and hosting creative gatherings and events. The eat read love Pop-Up Dinner Series and Kinfolk Dinners have been amazing to be a part of.
I’ve met some amazing and inspiring people along the way, and I’m proud to have established a lovely little creative community. It’s a lot of late nights, hard work, emails and reaching out to people, but in the end it’s all worth it.
Being a mum is definitely harder than I thought it would be. There are challenges every step of the way. Whether it is recovering from a Caesarean and trying to feed a newborn when you have no idea what to do, or juggling work, school drop-offs, homework and deadlines, I have many ups and downs along the way. Nothing could have prepared me for those first months as a new mum – I had no idea what I was doing and sleep deprivation can make you a little crazy.
As the fog lifted and I started to find my rhythm, I loved it. I found going back to corporate work with little two babies incredibly hard. Juggling the deadlines, long hours and then coming home to start your day again with the kids – that was a tough few years.
My Instagram feed definitely doesn’t show the large piles of washing taking over the lounge room, the bags under the eyes and the chaotic house.
What’s surprised me most about becoming a mum is the unconditional love I have for my children. My husband and I didn’t know just how much we could love and want to protect the boys. This goes for the extended family as well – seeing the grandparents with the boys as babies and now as little school boys, you realise the joy is shared with everyone. I also didn’t realise how many things could be crammed into one day and how many different roles I could play – mum, wife, colleague, boss, creator, blogger, friend, event manager, taxi and cleaner!
When it comes to juggling my own work and motherhood, I find that if I travel too much for work, get too busy with events and rush the kids, then everything falls to pieces.
If I give my kids a bit more time just to slow down and ‘be’, that helps everyone. A good support network is also crucial to surviving parenthood.
My husband and I are lucky to have moved into an old-fashioned neighbourhood where we borrow food across the back fence, mind each others’ kids and help each other out – after all, they say “it takes a village to raise a child”. I can honestly say that without my amazing mum and mother-in-law, neighbours, school mums, close friends and patient husband, I would be a bit of a mess. I wish I could say I’m super organised…but I would be lying (ha ha).
At the age of 99 my beautiful nan told me to slow down and enjoy it as it goes too fast.
When I was growing up my dad always loved photography and now I find myself taking photos of flowers just like him. We used to read books about Michelangelo’s Italy and Mum and Dad took us on loads of family road trips. My mum was always styling up the house and redecorating, so I guess I got a little flare from each of them. I was always encouraged to follow my passion for art and travel.
We take the kids on a lot of trips when I am reviewing hotels or travel destinations for eat read love, but I do need to separate work and home life. I have a home office/creative space to work in, which is a little haven just for me away from the hustle, the chaos, the soccer balls, surfboards, wrestling and paper planes. I find it really hard to work on anything creative when the boys are home, they just want me to be with them and I want to be with them, so I feel torn. I wait until they go to bed and start again.
My goal right now is to have less emails and better organisation. I want to be a position where I don’t have to work at night time, and switch off the computer well before 11pm!
My advice for aspiring creatives looking for balance between parenting and creativity is to just do it – start writing, start taking photos, start networking. It takes time, but if you do what you love and follow your heart it won’t really feel like work.
It has taken me almost 20 years to have the courage to do what I am doing now, but I’m so glad I did and I’m sure my kids will benefit from seeing me work on something I love.
What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative who is also a mother?
I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to get to do what I love every day and spend time with my children. I am also extremely grateful to have met so many amazing and supportive mums who have helped me along the road. Now that I have a little more time and both my boys are at school, I hope I can now help out other new mums as they start this journey and share some support and comfort along the way, just like I had given to me.
Natalie Hayllar is the 40-year-old mum of Oscar, 7, and Elijah, 5, and the founder of leading lifestyle and travel blog www.eatreadlove.com. She also hosts her own Pop-Up Dinner Series and Kinfolk Dinners in Sydney.
Natalie works for the One Fine Collective team on the One Fine Baby fairs, as well as managing marketing and social media for a number of boutique travel and lifestyle clients. Follow Natalie’s journey on Instagram.