You were motivated to create Careforkids.com.au following your own frustrations in finding quality childcare for Nina. How has the service been received by parents?
The response has been terrific really - more than 500,000 parents visited CareforKids.com.au in 2006 and this online community is growing every day.
Do you think the Federal government is doing enough to support women who wish to return to work?
No they could definitely be doing much more - tax deduction on all forms of childcare would be a great start.
Were you happy with your own choices for Nina's childcare?
Yes I was, but I did find it took a lot of time and research. And, as a first-time parent, it was very daunting in terms of understanding the options and what would best suit Nina.... each child's care requirements can be quite different and when it's your first, it's hard to know what those requirements are!
What's your top tip?
I think the best tip for any mum is to make sure they take time out for themselves. It may be just a few minutes each day alone, a coffee break or it could be a walk. Just some ‘me' time to help keep sane and calm...
Can you tell us about the last big belly laugh you shared with Nina?
We often share a laugh as she has a wicked sense of humour. Our last laugh was about her body and how she will look as a young woman. It was very funny, but I don't think the finer details should be shared - it's a mother-daughter thing!
If there was something you would change if you had your time over, what would it be?
Good question. Delegate more and don't tell your partner you can cook or clean - I've told my daughter she shouldn't tell a soul.
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?
I think Professor Fiona Stanley has got it right when she says that we have missed something in the current economic debate. It's not just about having a competent workforce for future prosperity and to support an ageing population. We should be developing early environments that are nurturing and supportive of families to ensure that children reach their full potential.
As she says, "[Children] are not just our future workforce, they're our future leaders, our artists, our innovators, they'll shape the culture and society in which we live. If we invest in our kids and our kids' education and wellbeing, we have a great future ahead of us."
How do you and your partner/husband keep the romance alive?
After more than 20 years' of marriage and working together you do need to work on this one. We do share a good laugh together often and we have a night out once a month which Mark actually plans - it was my Xmas present ....
What chore do you simply despise?
Oh, that's easy. It's ironing, for sure.
What is that you love most about being a mum?
I'm still in awe of the fact that I have been able to create this person: this feisty little redhead! What I love most is our time together. When we are walking home from school we share an ice cream and we just talk. You see things through her eyes and it gives you a whole new perspective on life and the world around us.
Is it possible to have it all? How well do you juggle your work/life balance?
Depends on what you class as having it ‘all'. I don't think it's really possible - something will eventually give so, personally, I decided what/whom my priorities were and juggled things from there.Someone described the working mum's life to me the other day as being like a game of Kerplunk! It's true really. If everything is going well, then it's all good, but if one thing gets out of kilter, it's Kerplunk!
Do you think your daughter would prefer you spent more time with her?
Is your partner ‘hands-on' around the house?
Yes he is, although there is an imbalance in the ratio of his concept of ‘hands-on' versus mine!
How do you handle it when Nina behaves in a way that is challenging or inappropriate?
Did I mention we have a very feisty little redhead? She is very spirited and this can be quite challenging. Luckily [CareforKids.com.au] run parenting programs for corporate clients and I've learnt a few tips from sitting in on them! Time out is always a good technique.
Do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?
Not really and that's one of the reasons we launched CareforKids.com.au. Both my parents are older, as are Mark's parents, and they live in other states, so that support network just doesn't exist for us and this seems to be a real trend.
What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum?
I think just being incredibly time poor and, in the early days, sleep deprived. My social life has also been decimated, although I‘m hoping to correct that this year! It doesn't help when you also run your own business.
How often do you take time out for yourself?
Not as often as I should. I do try to grab some ‘me' time on the ferry to work each day - just sitting and reflecting on things. I'm also thinking about swimming in the morning. It's currently a toss-up between swimming and more sleep ... and sleep is winning at the moment.
How has the experience of motherhood changed you?
Completely. I feel like I was quite selfish in a lot of ways before I became a mum.
* CareforKids.com.au is now the country's only online service of its kind and includes access to the unique Vacancy Alert service allowing parents to connect to services that have vacancies quickly and easily.