VIP mum Claudia Keech

Claudia Keech - CEO, Founder and face of motherinc.com.au started her career as a journalist in Perth  launching Western Australia's first colour glossy magazines.

Today Claudia is at the forefront of women's parenting issues. Claudia was honoured with the award of the Medal of the Order of Australia on January 26th, 2009.

After selling these to Channel 9 and moving to the USA she founded Australian America PR an agency promoting all things Australian in the USA.

Foster's Lager, Paul Hogan, Ken Done, The Australian Tourism Commission, The America's Cup and the Australian movie industry were her clients.

Returning to Australia Claudia created and managed PR strategies for Who Weekly, Time Magazine, Australian Style, New Woman, Men's Health and Marie Claire. In 2000, as a single working mother of her four year old son Callan, Claudia noticed the Australian media and Australia generally were not keeping abreast with the massive changes being made by 21st Century mothers.

In 2001 she launched Australia's first online "glossy" magazine for savvy, modern mums at Parliament House. Today Claudia is at the forefront of women's parenting issues. She is regularly called upon as a spokesperson for mothers everywhere. While Editing motherinc.com.au, she has written a regular column for a Sunday newspaper, columns for magazines such as Fitness First, acted as Guest Editor to launch a new print magazine for mums-to-be. She now regularly appears on Television and in her own words has been "Writing a book for the last 3 years - in between juggling family and work"! Her dedication and passion for motherinc.com.au has made it the number one website for modern mothers - in Australia.

You launched motherinc in 2001 at Parliament House. How much has your life changed from then to now?

Dramatically - my son has grown from a toddler to a tween and in the same time-frame I have moved from being a behind-the-scenes spin doctor (my old career), to a newspaper columnist an author and a regular guest on mainstream television, while simultaneously editing a monthly magazine read by more than a million mothers each year! Did someone say mothers know how to multi-task?

Callan is getting close to being a teenager, how different is it being a mother to a tween compared to a little boy?

Vastly - In days gone by it seemed like I had forever to play with this little person who leapt between being cuddly and perfect to a mini-Hulk with a temper to match. Now I am beginning to see glimpses of the young man he is going to be. The desire to be independent and to learn at breakneck speed has arrived. Discussions about his career path are weekly events. We both learn from each other as he brings home new skills, ideas, jokes and information which is now teaching me new ways to look at many aspects of life. He is fascinating and never dull.

You run motherinc from your home. How difficult is it to keep your home life and work life separate...do you find yourself checking emails at 2am?

Yep - I am sometimes the poster girl for NOT working from home! I juggle all my job roles daily, because I have refused to have hired help for Callan, apart from when he was first born colic/reflux (and I needed all the help I could get). Right or wrong I haven't wanted to miss much of his life, which means I have always juggled life around his day, sport, hobbies and activities. This means I end up working evenings and weekends - but then what working mum doesn't, even if that work is housework? I have made Callan's health and happiness my priority.

I have also really enjoyed his childhood and re-lived mine!

Motherinc was one of the first websites dedicated to successful mothers, both the stay-at-home and working varieties. But since 2003 on there has been an invasion in parenting and baby/child related websites on the Internet. What makes motherinc stand out?

Motherinc and motherinc.com.au were launched with a longterm vision to shine a much brighter light on 21st Century women and mothers. We like to be a little irreverent, say it like it is and also provide women across Australia with a voice to make changes to how our country is run. While on one hand we are a glossy online magazine, on the other we have the respect of industry, government, media and of course mums for actually getting involved in what is happening in Australia today for modern women. We have never been about just writing stories around advertisements. We matter and so does every mother across Australia. When motherinc.com.au was launched, our research stated 9 out of 10 mothers felt undervalued. This certainly isn't the case today. I believe motherinc.com.au made the first move to bring essential changes to Australia for modern mothers (and now dads) as a result parenting and motherhood are experiencing a complete BOOM!

You are often called upon to comment on all sorts of mothering issue from how to strike the elusive work/life balance to how to prepare your child for school. Do you feel pressure to be a 'perfect' mother or to 'walk the talk' so to speak?

NO - the best example for anyone is to be real, fallible and to also admit to that. We all learn from experience and I am no different in that respect. My skill is probably the one that lets me tune into other people's needs and to work out what is needed before it becomes obvious. This helps me sleuth interesting stories and topics and to talk or comment on them with confidence.

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

Callan.

How well do you juggle your work/life balance?

Extremely well and total failure. Often the failure is a result of something completely out of my control. A sports injury for Callan or ear infection which suddenly turns the volume up on the stress levels in the home and managing a full time job. It is totally impossible to maintain balance, meet any deadlines and be some sort of motherhood superstar guru when you have a young child in distress - at any level.

There must be times you have to spend away from Callan for work, how do you manage this time away and do you think he would prefer you spent more time with him?

I miss very little! Even my business trips are planned around Callan's life. I could not do that if I did not work for myself, however motherinc.com.au allows me the ultimate family friendly work environment. I would prefer to work less, just because I get little time for myself. But then what mother wouldn't like a little more time to herself?

Who does most of the domestic chores at home?

ME, although Callan can definitely chip in much more these days. It is easier as your kids grow as chores and pocket money become extremely valuable parenting tools!!!!

What chore do you simply despise?

All of them. I am not a Domestic Goddess and never will be!

With your massive commitments, there must be times when you just have to put your hand up for help. Do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?

Yes - HELP! Would be a top selling t/shirt for women to wear frequently. It's just someone has to be around to read it. With no family nearby, I have created an extended family through the mums of Callan's friends and my work colleagues to have someone to ask to help. I am certainly not alone and to be honest this is the biggest issue I face. There aren't many people to ask for help, because everyone has a lot on their plate - not just me.

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

Motherhood has made me look after me a lot better than I used to, because I know Callan needs me around for a long time!

How often do you take time out for yourself?

Not enough. Fortnightly facials and 3 times a week for a walk or visit to the gym is my ideal.

What's your top tip?

Take time out and make friends with other mums who can read the word HELP! Even if it isn't on a t/shirt but perhaps written (invisibly) across your face!

Can you tell us about the last time you had a big belly laugh with Callan?

Daily and several times each day. We also laugh when we are exhausted, about anything at all. I am convinced our bodies releases too many endorphins when we are tired because we just cry with laughter until we remind each other we have reached that level which means - sleep!

If there was something you would change if you had your time over - what would it be?

Nothing at all. Bring on the mistakes, I definitely am a person who needs to stumble and rise again. I have learnt so much, when I have taken a wrong pathway in my personal life or career. It's invigorating to know you can just keep on learning...

If you had just one wish (no matter how fanciful) to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

While modern mothers are definitely recognised today for the awesome job we all do (as do the new breed of dads). I do think the balance for modern mums is still out. We still need more hands-on support from within the community. Many of us, and I am just one, do not have family to call on when the going gets tough. I know the Government spends vast sums of money on single parents who don't work, as well as those with special needs. I would like the Government to consider the parents who do work, who do juggle and who pay their taxes every year. These single or married parents are the bulk who contribute to society to make Australia what it is today and for future generations, we are the people who work hard to provide good role models to our children and to make Australia a better place...but most modern mums are running on empty.

However - I would love to see an extension of the "clinic" days for newborns, where mums go to meet to discuss what's happening and how to support each other. Perhaps a buddy-system can be put in place in those early days. Women really are the best support for each other as mothers and many of us have friends who are just as strapped for time as ourselves. The last person you will impose your needs on are best friends who need just as much support as you.

When I launched motherinc.com.au in 2001 I recognised this need and hoped an online medium would at least provide an opportunity for modern women to connect and support each other.

 
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