This week at Life + Style, we’re exploring the age-old notion that being able to obtain a healthy work/ life balance is pretty much impossible. Especially with a demanding job and an even more hectic home setup looking after multiple kids and everything in between.
And though it’s no easy task, it is in fact doable. But better than that, we’ve found that mastering the relentless act of juggling work and home life can actually be… enjoyable!
How, pray tell, do we know this!? Well we had a chat with scientist, content creator and all round super-mum to Dots & Ralph, Lydia Rowley who spills the beans on how to tackle that ever daunting quest to manage work, parenting and other life stuff.
Think nap-time admin and day-before checklists! Over to you, @liddierowl…
So you’re a scientist? Tell us a bit more about what it is that you do?
Yes! My degree was in Biochemistry – put simply – the chemistry of life. My PhD is in molecular biology (the study of life on a molecular level). After my studies I worked in laboratories researching neurodegenerative disease (most commonly Alzheimer’s) and Type II diabetes. When I became a mum I took an extended break from the lab and I tutor young scientists online, from A level to PhD level. It’s the perfect fit for my life right now, but a return to the lab could still happen…
When did you decide that this was the career for you?
I always wanted to be a medical doctor as a child, but the more I studied, the more intrigued I became about the molecular mechanisms underlying disease. That fuelled my desire to research. Once I started I never looked back. Science is so underrated at school and I love to inspire the next generation of young scientists!
What does a typical week day look like for you?
Early starts. School run. Mornings out at the park or farm with Ralphy, we often meet friends. Nap time is admin time for me. Then the afternoon school run. When my hubby gets home, we tag team and I log on to teach/work while he looks after the kids. Then it’s bath, books, bed. Then usually more admin. Eat. Sleep. Repeat!
Do you have any tips on how to organise your day-to-day?
Well. Our days start early here. The kids like to rise at 5-5.30am. Lots of coffee is required! I always try to stick to a routine and write lists of what needs doing that day (and what can wait!). After the kids bed time, I spend my evening prepping for the next day – packing lunches, planning outfits, working (I’ve never been very good at relaxing!!)
I always try to stick to a routine and write lists of what needs doing that day…
How do you make time for yourself to relax and recharge?
I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty rare that a truly “relax”. Even when I do run myself a bubble bath, the little ones dive in. Cooking good food whilst sipping a large g&t is my way of unwinding once the kids are in bed!
How important is it to instill a sense of ambition and self belief into your children?
The most important thing for me is that the children do something that makes them happy. If it’s science or medicine, great. If it’s fashion or beauty, great. Do what you love, and enjoy it! I believe in instilling a growth mindset in my kids – if they feel like they can’t do something, let’s learn how. If they feel like someone is better than them at something, let’s learn from them. If they feel like something is too hard, let’s practice – it gets easier. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want, with a little hard work!
How do you spend the weekends with your little ones?
Outside!! Whatever the weather you’ll find us at the park, farm, in the woods. I always find kids enjoy the simple things in life the most. Watching them enjoy nature, pick berries, splash in puddles – life’s simplest pleasures – gives me a new perspective on life too! It’s the little things.
How do you make sure that your children know that no matter how busy life gets, you’ll always have time to listen if they have a problem?
There’s always time for a snuggle and a chat in our house. Dots likes to have down time after pre-school. She’s an introvert (like me) so her way of unwinding is a quiet chill at home (with mummy and Ralph). I find we have our best conversations in the car, she opens up more. I try to take her for little girly trips to the coffee shop or park when Ralph is napping on a weekend, and check up on how she’s feeling. I think making one on one time with your kids is really beneficial, where possible.
I think making one on one time with your kids is really beneficial, where possible…
What is your secret to being able to dedicate an equal amount of time to your work and home life?
Not much sleep!!! Joking aside, I think in motherhood you have to dig deep. You find energy reserves that you never knew you had, and you just do what you have to do. I often dread logging on to work after a day looking after the kids, but I always enjoy it, it’s like switching into a different dimension – and it actually feels pretty relaxing!
I don’t believe that you can do it all, something’s always gotta give. My house often feels like a state, and I often feel like I’m running on empty, but I know these years will fly by and I’ll miss the chaos!!
How do you plan to spend the rest of the summer?
The beach is my happy place. We go to Cornwall every summer with family. And this summer, we’re going camping in the New Forest. I can’t wait to unwind and explore with the kids.
And lastly! If you had one day completely free of kids and work with the opportunity to go anywhere and do absolutely anything, what would you do?
Oooh. Now there’s a question. Barcelona is my favourite city but I’d probably be pushing it to get there and back in a day so I think I’d go to a spa. Full body massage. Good brunch. Cocktails. Ideally a roof top with sunshine!