“When I went back to work after having the twins I found that venture capital and looking after twin girls were not compatible!”
This week, I hear from mother of three Anna Frankland, as she explains how she transitioned from working in venture capital in Sydney to setting up her own Pilates studio, Reform Pilates, in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
I have three children, twin girls aged 5 and an eight month old little girl.
And now could you tell me a little about your job – what do you do and for how long have you been working at this?
I own a Pilates studio called Reform Pilates which overlooks Dublin Bay in Blackrock in Dublin.
Prior to this I worked in venture capital. When I went back to work after having the twins I found that venture capital and looking after twin girls were not compatible! We were living in Sydney at the time and had no family support (and no idea how invaluable it is!)
I opened the studio three years ago, three months after we moved home. I had been practising Pilates for 8 years prior to this having sustained a back injury when training at elite level for triathlons. I found Pilates brilliant for rehabilitation and also during my pregnancy and post childbirth. I was hooked and decided to train for one year as an instructor while we were still living in Sydney. I also worked in a number of different studios over there and saw an opportunity to take their best practices and open a studio in Dublin.
My job now involves teaching group (pre and post natal, over 50s and beginners and intermediates) and private classes (mostly for injury rehabilitation) as well as all the various functions involved in running a small business.
What kind of hours do you work?
At the moment I teach around 14 hours a week and spend evenings ‘running the business’ once the kids have gone to bed. I have just found a live out au pair who works for me two mornings per week so that I can free up some of my evenings. It’s not working out that way….yet!
And presumably you have the flexibility to work from home, for the admin?
Yes I run the business from home.
Do you have to travel for work?
The only time I travel is to go abroad for workshops or conferences. I love travelling for work as I always learn a lot so I am looking forward to doing more when Phoebe gets a bit older.
You mentioned you’ve just found an au pair – do you have any other childcare?
My oldest two girls are in school and I feel very lucky to be able to collect and drop them 95 percent of the time. I have the live out au pair who comes and helps out two mornings per week so that I can teach or get some admin done. The rest of the time I rely on my husband, my parents and my in-laws to help out as needs be.
And is this childcare solution working well for you?
Yes. It is. It has taken me a bit of time to get used to having an au pair but now I love it. I feel very lucky that I don’t need to have Phoebe in a crèche or the girls in after school so that I can work.
Does having the girls in school make balancing work and home easier or more difficult?
Having the girls in school is brilliant! I don’t feel any guilt for having someone else ‘look after’ them. They love it so it works for everyone.
On a practical level, what do you find most difficult about balancing work and home?
Most definitely setting parameters for myself so that I manage my time effectively and give everyone the attention they need. I always feel that I am chasing my tail and find it very hard to switch off from running a business. I also find it hard to make time for myself despite knowing how important it is.
And psychologically, do you find it challenging or stressful to work outside the home – do you suffer from working-mother guilt?
I mainly feel guilty for having to work from home at times when the kids are around in the afternoons (take calls, answer emails etc) and for often rushing them around so that I can get out to work in the evening. Having said this I really enjoy my job and realise that the kids benefit from having a happy, if slightly frantic mother! It is also good for them to see what is involved in running a small business especially as they get older.
Do you think there’s an optimal solution out there – a perfect balance that enables a mother to have a fulfilling career while being there for her children?
The optimal solution is different for everyone, however, it is very hard for most people to even try to start to achieve. I think that the State should be more supportive of both working mothers and fathers to enable them to spend more time with their kids in the early years as in Scandinavia. I also think employers need to start thinking about what is best for working mothers particularly while their kids are young to keep them motivated and prevent them from dropping out of the corporate world as happens so often.
If you could do any job, what would it be?
The one I am doing, with a little more time to spend on it without sacrificing time with my kids and husband!
Do you have three top tips that you could give any mother returning to work, to make her life easier?
– Decide what you want to get out of your job and make it known to others
– Set yourself clear parameters in terms of your time commitment
– Give yourself time to adapt to being back at work and don’t be too hard on yourself
Anna, thanks for taking part – I’ve only ever known you as a Pilates teacher so it’s fascinating to get this insight into how it all started!
I am inspired hearing how you moved from a corporate job to setting up your own business and doing something you love – that’s my favourite kind of story. There has been a trend throughout this interview series – the women who work for themselves are very, very busy day and night, but always seem particularly happy and fulfilled, which of course makes sense. And I like what you said about your daughters learning about what is involved in running a small business – what a great example to set.
I completely agree with what you said about wishing the state would do more to allow parents have more time with children when they’re small – it’s such a short and precious time, yet so many of us are back at work after just a few months. And yes, employers don’t always work proactively to retain women after they have kids. Giving a blanket “no” to requests for flexibility, or sidelining women who are working part-time is a huge factor behind women reluctantly dropping out of the workforce.
Anna, thanks for taking part and I wish you continued success for Reform – I was addicted to Pilates after just one class when I started at Reform last year, and would hugely recommend it – quite apart from improving core strength, it’s an hour out from the chaos of everyday life!
Some more information about Anna:
Anna first discovered Pilates in Sydney when recovering from an injury sustained from triathlon training nine years ago. Prior to her discovery she spent most of her time training and competing in triathlons at a national and international level. She holds a Diploma in Professional Pilates having trained in both Studio and Mat Pilates with Polestar Pilates, an international training body with headquarters in the US. In her previous life Anna worked for many years in the Dublin & Sydney venture capital industry, investing in, and mentoring, start-up companies across a broad range of industries. Anna has three children, twin girls aged five and a baby girl of 9 months.
Contact details for Reform:
Phone: 087 671-9670