WITH IRIS DE KAN OF
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
When it comes to motherhood, we can sometimes feel as though we’ve absolutely got this… But more often than not, us mamas are unfairly falling victim to our own doubts about what it means to be a good mother and whether we’re rising to the challenge.
“Am I doing this right? Will I mess this up somehow? Did I prepare myself enough?”
Those seeping uncertainties are not a reflection of who you really are, though. Whether you’re juggling jobs, day care and what seems like a million arduous tasks in between or simply, and without reason, comparing yourselves to the other mums who seem to have nailed it… The truth is you are ALL doing a fantastic job, are ALL on the same boat and should feel incredibly PROUD of making it this far with your beautiful littluns!
This month, we booked some time in with airline captain and new mother, Iris de Kan of mumazed to chat through all manner of things work, daughter Kiki, home life and hopes for the future…
First of all, is motherhood everything you expected it to be? What has surprised you most about it?
Motherhood is so much more than I expected it to be. I think I massively underestimated the fact that all of a sudden there’s this little person depending on you for everything. It’s such a big responsibility, it sometimes scares me; especially because I’ve no idea if I’m doing the right thing most of the time. The thing that surprised me most is the intensity of all the emotions that come with being a parent. I feel everything so strongly with Kiki. Pride, fear, love, anger; She frustrates me more than anything at times, but I’ve never before felt the kind of love I feel for her.
Kiki is beautiful! Tell us a little bit about her?
Kiki is a very strong willed, stubborn, confident, sensitive and sweet 2 year old. She’s quite intense and will happily chat away and show you her favourite things all day long. She absolutely loves to be outside and is very fond of horses and rabbits however, she’s not your typical ‘girly girl’… Football definitely comes before dolls! She’s a lot taller than the other kids and has a very strong personality. So in a nutshell, she’s just like me when I was a child. Although that excites me, it also worries me because I don’t want her to make the same mistakes as I did when I was younger, and I’m also concerned that I won’t be able to protect her against everything and everyone as she grows up.
Only 3% of pilots are female; it’s a hugely male orientated industry, and now you are a captain – we admire you for pursuing this field! What made you decide on this career?
I knew I wanted to be a pilot from the age of six. My father used to fly over our house as a passenger in small planes and we’d stand in the garden excitedly waving up to him. I lost interest a little during my teenage years but once I finished high school, I decided that flying school would be the best option going forward. Although it was the first step in becoming a pilot, I didn’t particularly love it! Flying solo in a tiny plane over Portugal was not my idea of fun but I made the decision to stick it out and persevere which I’m so thankful for because my first flight as an actual airline pilot was the most wonderful flight I had ever been on. I really love my job now and I can’t imagine doing anything else. The fact that the majority of my colleagues are men doesn’t matter to me at all; in fact, I quite enjoy working with men in general! The culture in my company is incredibly encouraging of females pursuing a career as a pilot, I feel very much appreciated by my colleagues.
Being able to travel all over sounds like a dream (even if only for work)! But are there any cons?
It sounds a lot more romantic than it actually is. My airline covers European destinations mainly and we get an average of thirty minutes on the ground between landing and take off! Occasionally we’ll stay somewhere overnight but even though that doesn’t happen very often, it’s exactly how I like it. I would find it an absolute nightmare to be away for more than one night in a row multiple times a month. I want to be a hands on involved mother to Kiki and it would be close to impossible that way.
When the juggling of a hectic work schedule AND home life with a little one starts to get tough, who do you turn to for some support?
My fiancé, my parents, my sister… Luckily Kiki’s father works from home so I know she’s being looked after well when I’m away. It really helps me massively, knowing that she’s in safe hands when I’m in the air. He is a brilliant, caring, loving father and I am so lucky to have found him. I find that if I’m a bit stressed or down it’s mostly late at night when I get home and everyone is asleep already. Just going to bed so I can handle ‘problems’ well rested is mostly the key. When I’m tired I can’t rationalise things and everything seems much bigger in my head than it actually is.
I Facetime my parents everyday and they are a great support to me as well. However they are very Dutch and direct so they will always make sure to tell me the truth, even if it’s not what I want to hear!
Do you have any words you live by?
‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ and ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’.
I have words I love to live by but I don’t always practice what I preach, simply because I am human too! I noticed for example that I easily judge people I hardly even know and most of the time I’m totally wrong about them – something I hate when I’m on the receiving end. I am in general a very bad judge of character. Most of the time it’s me thinking someone is lovely and nice and they turn out to be the opposite. But it also works the other way around and then I feel horribly guilty! At the end of the day I’m just winging it. Life in general. I do my best. That must be good enough.
What do you think is the most important thing to teach our little ones from day dot?
That they are loved. I tell Kiki I love her about 100 times a day and I want that to be something she never ever questions. I was raised in a very loving way, it was basically the theme of my childhood but that doesn’t mean Kiki will in turn, always gets praised or that she can’t do wrong and make mistakes. Loving your child is seeing them for who they are – they don’t have to be perfect, and taking note of their imperfections or ‘not so nice’ traits is just as important in the process of growing up. To help them to be aware of these things is a sign of love too and in some cases even more so.
What does sweet Kiki think about her mummy flying a plane all over the world?
She sees me putting my makeup on and says ‘mummy working?’ She isn’t a big fan of me going away because she realises that this means she won’t see me again until the next morning. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll understand how it benefited us as a family unit. I’m providing a better future for her and am showing her that it’s important to always be able to look after yourself; to never have to depend on anyone. We are very fortunate and she gets to live a privileged life. As she grows older, she’ll get to understand just how lucky she was and why it was so important for her mummy to work.
Have you mastered the perfect work-life balance? And if you do find any time for yourself, what is your favourite thing to do?
I don’t think I have! When I’ve got a work-free day I love to have people over but I’ve noticed that it’s taking its toll on me a bit. Being a captain of an airplane comes with big responsibilities and if I’m not 100% fit I can’t go to work. If I have a cold, I can’t fly because there’s a chance I could damage my ears. In an ideal world I would go to the gym three times a week and look after myself better but when I’m at the gym I feel lost and just want to go home to my family. I really think that there’s room for improvement when it comes to looking after myself.
I hardly ever have time to do anything for myself at the moment, but that’s not because I don’t have the opportunity. All I’d need to do is ask Eds and he will be absolutely fine with taking over at home. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t really know what to do with myself either! I used to go for lunch, shop, go to the beach. Now I just want to do those things with Kiki and Eds. Another point that needs working on haha.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future, both work wise and for the family?
We would love to eventually try for a sibling for Kiki. Now is not the time, career wise, so we’ll start trying in a year or so but if it was totally up to me I don’t know if I would choose to go through it all again. I found it quite hard and overwhelming, the whole birth thing but I do know how amazing it is to have a sister and I want to give that to Kiki too. We’re also getting married the year after next, which is very exciting.
For the rest, my hopes and dreams are very much a cliché. Health happiness and love for everyone I know and love. Work wise I hope to be able to stay in my current job with my company until I retire. But aviation has changed so much since I started working as a pilot, I have no idea what the future holds. I just hope I can keep everything as it is for us in general. We’re incredibly happy the way we are right now.
And finally, do you have any advice for hard working mums who are struggling to keep both worlds happy?
Take every day as it comes. If I look at my week ahead and see what has to be done I can end up feeling completely overwhelmed and I’ll tell myself that it’s all impossible to get through. But when I take things day by day and cut everything into chunks it becomes much more manageable. It’s OK if something doesn’t get done. It can be done the next day. Prioritise. Don’t forget you cannot make anyone happy if you are not happy yourself. Ask for help from whoever offers it. It’s ok to ask for help. You are not failing. You are doing a brilliant job. Oh and don’t forget to breathe…
Get the Look