VIP mum Melissa Doyle

Everywhere we look Melissa Doyle is there. The cover of the Women's Weekly, the face on Sunrise greeting us every morning, as well as through numerous television specials produced by the network.

 

Mercedes Macguire talked to Mel about her life and her recent book The Working Mothers Survival Guide.

Your first book is The Working Mothers Survival Guide. Did you draw a lot from your own personal experiences when writing it with Jo Scard?

Absolutely! We are two working mums who are trying to juggle it just like every other working mum out there. But we also spoke to lots of other women who have slightly different challenges or experiences. Some are CEO's or lawyers with high pressure roles and long hours, one mum faced the challenges of working on the land, we spoke to mums who worked night shift after their babies were asleep, others who cleaned during school hours and some who started their own businesses from home so they could manage it all in a way that suited their new family best.

Do you think mothers face too much pressure these days to juggle several roles perfectly: mother, worker, lover, friend etc?

I think we really only face as much pressure as we put on ourselves - but having said that we can be our own worst enemies. We work our buts off all day then come home and want to put a nice meal on the table, spend time with our friends, still make biscuits for pre school and have a tidy house. Sometimes we have to let a few things go.

How well do you juggle your work/life balance?

Depends on when you ask me. Some weeks are better than others! Sometimes it all goes to schedule, on other weeks our entire routine is thrown out the window and it all gets a little chaotic. But as a family we try to remember what is important and that's each other. If its been a particularly busy or stressful time at work, nothing is better than clearing the diary and just sitting in the sandpit with the kids. I need and want that time with them as much as they need it with me.

You have to be up very early in the morning, how do you manage with the early hours?

It works out really well. I'm up at 3.30am and home by lunch time most days which lets me spend the afternoons with my daughter and then pick up my son from school. We do afternoon activities together - be they sport or just chilling out at home. The kids and I eat dinner together every night at 5pm before we all crash into bed at 7.30pm. At least my hubby has no one fighting for the remote control.

There must be times when you've been up with the kids through the night then you have to get up and be bright and chirpy for the cameras when it's the last thing you feel like doing. How do you cope with these difficult moments in the public eye?

My husband is wonderful. He has got up at night far more than I ever have. It was harder when they were little ... but we all do what we have to do!

Being a career mum, you must find it necessary to hold up your hand and ask for help at times. Do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?

I think its so important we all put up our hands and ask for help - whether we work or not. Being a parent, particularly for the first time, can be really challenging. Its all new, and some days you wonder what on earth you are doing. I also think the more we ask, the more our friends will ask and we can all help each other. I love being able to mind my girlfriend's kids if she has to work, or go and have her legs waxed. There is nothing wrong with creating our own little village or network. Its good for my kids to see that we all help each other out.

What is it that you love most about being a mum?

Every single moment. I just adore my kids for who they are. They are both lovely little people who make me smile and make me very proud. I just really enjoy being with them.

There must be times you have to spend away from Nicholas and Talia for work, how do you manage this time away and do you think they would prefer you spent more time with them?

When I am not working, I am with them. They have always had a mum who works so they know no different...but they also know they come first. I don't think they miss out on time with me by any means. Of course if I travel I miss them and my husband. But when I am not working we are a family like any other. Weekends are full of sport or taking the dog and bikes to the park. Our weekends are sacred.

Who does most of the domestic chores at home? Is John 'hands-on' around the house? What chore do you simply despise?

I couldn't do it without the love and support of my husband. We are a team and both do our share. We've slipped into the fairly traditional roles where I cook and grocery shop, he mows lawns and takes out the bins. Of course there's a lot more to it than that, but we have found a rythmn that works for us. I hate ironing so John does it after I've gone to bed ( and he's so much better at it than I am anyway!).

Life with children can be fairly chaotic, how do you and John keep the romance alive?

Seeing him as a dad made me love him even more! Sure we'd love the odd candlelit dinner out - but to be honest nothing makes me happier than a Saturday night at home all together, take-away thai and some quiet time as a couple.

What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum? How has motherhood changed you?

I wish I had more time for myself. Between family and work there's not much left ... but by the same token it's a choice I've made and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've never been as busy, but I've never been as organised either! I have learnt to make the most of my days, organise myself, always make two lasagnes and freeze one, hang out a load of washing in the dark, and prioritise my time.

How often do you take time out for yourself?

Probably not often enough ... but time will come when my kids are older and both at school. At the moment when I'm not at work I'm with them, and that's how I want it.

What's your top tip?

Build a sandpit! It's the best fun we've all had!! There is no where better than under the shade of a tree on a hot summer day.

Can you tell us about the last time you had a big belly laugh with Nicholas and Talia?

Every single day! From playing eye spy in the car on the weekend when Talia would say the letter "w" and the answer would be 'mermaid" to Nick leaving his plastic dog poo on the carpet and killing himself laughing when I blame Rex. They both have wonderful humour and make me laugh every day. I am keeping a little diary for them both so one day they can read some of the hilarious lines they have come out with.

If you had just one wish  to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

Workplace flexibility. If you trust your staff to get their job done then let them work it in a way that suits their family. Some might want to start earlier and be home earlier, work from home or knock off at school pick up time and then make up their work after the kids are in bed.

 
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