VIP mum Hazel Theocharous

Hazel Theocharous, aged 36, quit fulltime work in order to spend more time with her family. She has since created her own concierge/lifestyle business that aims to help busy individuals improve their work/life balance.  She is married to interior designer Aggi, and has one son, James.

Assisting U 2 Connect helps individuals organise everything from a child's birthday party to buying their dream home. Have you always been super organised?

Yes.  I have always created 'To-Do' lists, even when I was studying.  I find it easier to write a list at the beginning of a day or week and tick off everything as I get each task done, rather than trying to wrack my brain wondering if I have forgotten to do something!

In trying to better manage other people's lives, do you ever find your own work/life balance gets out of whack?

Sometimes, yes, it does get out of whack. But I also continue to use my 'To-Do' List trick to juggle my business and my personal life and, because of this, I still manage to help out at my son's school, get my business needs out of the way and all of our bills paid and filed without pulling my hair out.

You were inspired to quit fulltime work in order to spend more time with your family? Have you succeeded in achieving this?

Yes. I feel that I have managed to achieve this.  My son is now much happier that I have time to help out at his school and be home to do things with him after school.  My husband is also loving it, having me around a lot more.

Is it possible to have it all?

I would have to say that I think it is possible to have all that you want, but it does take a lot of balancing and the ability to say 'no' to some things.  Once you have worked out a routine that works for you, then it certainly makes a work/life balance extremely possible.  I have found my work/life balance and my family and I couldn't be happier.

January is traditionally a time to set goals. What was your New Year's resolution?

Simply to maintain my work/life balance and continue to make my business a success.

What's your top tip?

Obviously, the first thing is to keep a 'To-Do' list. But, as far as parenting goes, I would say that you must follow through on whatever you say to your children, especially with boys. Boy, oh, boy, once they reach the age of five, they are on top of everything you say and remember everything!

Can you tell us about the last big belly laugh you had with your children?

A recent giggle we had was at a Teddy Bears' Picnic.  We were with friends and James and I went on a child's-sized Jeep. The Jeep would have fit two children easily, but as an adult, I had to sit up right on the back.  Well, James thought that was just great! He was driving and had his foot to the floor.  I had to help him steer, but he thought it was the best thing he had ever done.  We both couldn't stop laughing, but I think I was the only one with shaky legs when we finished.  We laughed about the experience over and over again for the next week.

If there were something you would change if you had your time over, what would it be?

I don't think I would have gone back to work when James was six months' old and I would have pushed more to work part-time hours.

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 would wish that every workplace had its own childcare facilities, whether that be onsite or offsite.

How do you and your partner/husband keep the romance alive?

Unfortunately, this is one thing that seems to have been lacking in the past few years.  However, we're starting to go out and have a drink (or two) once a fortnight - which is our time out and it gives us the opportunity to talk about something else rather than our work or home life.

What chore do you simply despise?

Ironing!

What is that you love most about being a mum?

I love James cuddling up to me and telling me he loves me, and running to me when I pick him up from school or a friend's house.  He is so special to me. I didn't think that I would ever have a child and from the time I realised that I was pregnant to now, I wouldn't change anything.  He is the most precious person in my world.

Do you think he would prefer you spent more time with him?

Not really. I don't think I could possibly spend any more time with James than I do now.  He has a smile on his face when he realises that I will be helping out at school and when I take him swimming or to soccer.

Is your partner 'hands-on' around the house?

I guess you could say 'yes'.  He helps with the cleaning and if I really don't want to do the ironing, he will take on that chore, too.

How do you handle it when your children behave in a way that is challenging or inappropriate?

If we are at home, James knows that he needs to take time out and think about the way he has acted. I usually put him on his naughty stool for five minutes. I also have found that giving him one chance when we are out and telling him that if he breaks that chance, he will not be able to come out again, or there will be other consequences (such as not going to the next birthday party). These methods usually do the trick!

Do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?

Yes, although I have sometimes found that something that works for that person, doesn't always work for me. I have turned to my Mum and Aunt on several occasions though, and they have been a tower of strength when I have felt things have been tough

What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum?

Just being able to take myself off for a walk if I want to.  I love walking, but it is hard to get time out to do that.  My son always wants to come too, but that doesn't give me the time out that I need!

What helps do define you as an individual?

I love reading, writing children's books (which still need to be finalised and published) and walking.

How often do you take time out for yourself?

I try to take time out at least half an hour each day.  When things are hectic, or my husband is away, this is not always possible. But when it is, I like to go for a walk or just curl up on a couch with a cup of coffee and a good book!

How has the experience of motherhood changed you?

I would say it has changed me in a positive way. It has also made me stronger and I don't get as upset over the small things as I used to.

 
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