Is ‘balance’ as a busy mother a myth that needs busting? Accredited nutritionist, author, magazine columnist, whole-foods cook, and mum of two Jacqueline Alwill is definitely a perfect candidate for this very question! Jacqueline’s specialties include family and early childhood nutrition, gut health and functional food. She works closely with many organisations and companies such as Woolworths, Remedy Drinks, and Healthy Care Vitamins. Jacqueline is also author of the book ‘Seasons to Share’.
In this interview, we sit down with Jacqueline to find out all about being a working mother. We talk through parenting during a pandemic, and what a happy, healthy lifestyle really looks like. We also find out her thoughts on whether or not ‘balance’ as a busy mother is a myth that needs busting…
“Sometimes I am great at it and other times it slips – but again it’s not about perfection, rather just making sure a couple of boxes are ticked.”
Making time for the things that matter.
Jacqueline, we know as a busy mum of two, just how valuable your time is! Tell us, in your opinion what do you think is the key to finding and making quality time with your family?
Family is my number one. My work and everything else will always be there, but the time spent with kids as they grow passes SO QUICKLY. I don’t want to miss any of it. Creating the time and ensuring we connect and aren’t caught in the ‘busy’ of life is vital. It is even simple things like sitting down for dinner together at the end of each day, chatting or even playing a game of UNO together. (Hyper competitively I may add!)
What do you wish other mothers talked about more openly/more often. What truths from a working mum such as yourself, did you wish you heard before becoming a parent?
That sometimes it’s just really hard. Truth. Mums wear a lot of hats in day. I know many out there feel like they have to have themselves ‘together’ even if they’re battling and they don’t want to share that. The truth from this working mum is that It’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok not to have it together and it’s ok to ask for help.
“It’s ok not to have it together and it’s ok to ask for help.”
The ‘comparison’ trap for women online.
What would you like to say to other women, who may be comparing themselves to the ‘Instagram’ version of other women online.
Instagram is a show reel of other people’s lives. It’s not reality. Honestly the best thing you can do if you feel you’re starting to compare is actually get off social media completely. Just focus on being present on your own life. That’s all that matters. Not what others are doing, but the happiness in your own.
For those mothers who may be struggling to keep it healthy and balanced for their family, what advice would you give?
Prioritise your health first because if your health takes a dive you won’t have anything to give. Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup. Also again, don’t try to be perfect with diet and the family, kids will rebel. The 80 / 20 rule is best for everyone I think. Eat a yummy whole-foods diet 80% of the time but leave 20% to play – gelato, pizza, whatever floats your boat. Life is to be enjoyed not to be restricted constantly. Everyone stays happy and healthy that way!
“Eat a yummy whole-foods diet 80% of the time but leave 20% to play – gelato, pizza, whatever floats your boat.”
Busting the ‘balance’ myth.
In your opinion, is ‘balance’ as a busy mother a myth that needs busting? When it comes to being a busy mum, do you think that ‘balance’ can really be found?
Ha – NO! Balance really doesn’t exist, but your mindset can change how you feel within. If you are constantly rushing / not making time for you then you’ll feel really out of whack. You don’t have to do it all and I know many mums feel like they do. Do it well enough, but not perfect and don’t keep saying yes to absolutely everything and putting yourself last. Remember you can’t help / look after others unless you pop your own oxygen mask on first.
“Don’t keep saying yes to absolutely everything and putting yourself last.”
How do you manage your time, to make sure that you are progressing in your career as well as prioritising your kids/partner?
Sometimes I am great at it and other times it slips – but again it’s not about perfection, rather just making sure a couple of boxes are ticked. I look at my calendar over the weekend and make sure I’ve got the priorities for the week ahead ticked and scheduled in and I look at time blocking tasks too. Work, home and activities, I find this helps a lot.
What do you think are the key elements to maintaining strong relationships, whilst also focusing on career development?
Touch base with people regularly, even just messages to let people know you’re thinking of them are kind and fosters healthy relationships. Don’t let people feel second best to your career pursuits, create the time to be with them. Walks, yoga, a coffee to touch base, buddy training, they’re all wonderful ways to be with others and connect.
Finding inspiration when working from home as a busy mother.
Tell us about what inspires you.
Nature – always. Also because we spend so much time outdoors as a family so I see things with our time together and in our surrounds that lifts and inspires me. My head feels clearest and happiest.
How do you manage when you’re feeling a lack of motivation/inspiration?
I generally just try to get out of the environment that makes me feel dull. Working from home can be a challenge like that too. I think that’s why we prioritise our weekends away so much, so that the inspiration just doesn’t die. That there is life and great things to look forward to all the time.
When it comes to spending quality time together, do you think creating family memories is important?
Absolutely! Some of the best memories just come from the simplest of activities. Ours are probably the after school summer swims. I love to watch everyones energy shift and the endless smiles for all are just the best.
“Some of the best memories just come from the simplest of activities.”
The Verve family photography experience.
Tell us about your session at Verve, and what this experience was like for you as a family.
We had such an incredible experience with Verve. From the minute we walked in the door it was relaxed and lovely. This was so important for us, especially with the kids because it definitely shows in a photo. Our youngest Elke (who was 8 months at the time of the shoot) was in her element! Our photographer Luca was amazing with her too.
He knew how to make her giggle and smile even when we weren’t right next to her and that was a true sign she felt at ease too. The shots of Jet (our 11 year old) are AMAZING. I can’t even begin to describe. They captured both his innocence as a kid and also his growth into a beautiful young man all in one.
I loved that the studio set up was able to change (light and dark) so there were lots of insane options in the final photos. Everything was just wonderful. It was such a fantastic experience.
Why do you think family photos are important?
These are important memories of different times in your life. Everyone has a camera (on their phone) these days sure, but they don’t quite compare to someone capturing you all together. It’s truly special to have a portrait.
“We had such an incredible experience with Verve. From the minute we walked in the door it was relaxed and lovely.”
Parenting during a pandemic.
How has journeying through Covid together as a family changed you? Has it helped bust the myth of ‘balance’ for your family?
As a family we definitely slowed down and made sure that we all understood what was most important as individuals. We looked at how we each contribute to that as a collective. We also now really appreciate as different restrictions in life ease, how small things make such a big difference.
How do you think the year 2020 affected the way we see quality time with those we love?
2020 was a year that really did remind a lot of us how important human connection and quality time is to us on so many levels. Most of all, our emotional and mental well being. When you don’t / can’t have something, you crave it. Because of this, I think we all realised that when in iso we just wanted to be with those we care for so much. Therefore, we reviewed how we create that time, making it a high priority.
“We all realised that when in iso (isolation) we just wanted to be with those we care for so much. Therefore, we reviewed how we create that time, making it a high priority.”
Looking into the next 12 months…
With all the changes happening in the world- what’s truly important to you, for the next 12 months?
I have another baby due in July this year, so it will be about making the most of the ‘quieter’ moments whenever we have them now. I know come July with the new born bubble, things will undoubtedly become more hectic! As a family, we are really focused on travel and getting out and about on our weekends whenever possible, We love doing different things or getting out of Sydney. It really builds experience in life and that quality time together too.
We want to give a huge thank you from our Verve Portraits team to the wonderful Jacqueline for so generously giving us her time for this ‘Is ‘balance’ as a busy mother a myth that needs busting?’ Interview. We know so many will benefit from her valuable experience and insights. To find out more about Jacqueline, head to her website thebrownpaperbag.com.au.