“I usually collapse in my pyjamas by 8.30pm… I flake out on front of the TV, watching soaps…taking off my make-up and putting Sudocrem on my spots.”
This week’s interview is with Lucy Kennedy; TV presenter on The 7 o’ Clock Show and mother of two. She talks about childcare, trying to do everything, working mother guilt, and dying her own hair.
Thank you Lucy for taking part in this interview series – so let’s start with the basics – could you tell me how many children you have and their ages?
What kind of hours do you work?
My hours are about to change, but in general I can do the school run with my work hours – I can drop Jack in the morning. I’m a typical mum, like everyone else, trying to do everything. The kids get up at about 7.20am for breakfast, then I ask them to get dressed – about six times – then I bring Jack to school, and until recently, I kept Holly at home with me till about 10.30, then dropped her to crèche, and into TV3 for 11am. But that’s all going to change from next week!
What kind of childcare do you use?
Jack’s in school and Holly is in crèche. Then I have a neighbour who looks after them in the afternoon – she bridges the gap between 3 o’clock and me getting home at 5 o’clock. That’s how it has been until now – when my show was at 3.30.
So I’d get home at 5, exhausted, and take a deep breath at the door, then come in to be mummy.
But yes, like all mothers, I try to do everything. Which could mean making spaghetti Bolognese at 7am or defrosting something for later. We sit together for dinner at 5.30, then it’s bath-time, and bedtime, then they’re asking for hugs six times, another wee – the usual bedtime messing.
I usually collapse in my pyjamas by 8.30pm. It’s not a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. I flake out on front of the TV, watching soaps or Netflix, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. I sit there taking off my make-up and putting Sudocrem on my spots. My husband looks at me and says, “Are you really the girl on the TV?”
I’m trying to go to bed early but end up pottering around at night – finding ironing to do at 10 o’clock – there’s always something. It’s the usual thing – I’m the taxi, the doctor, the nurse… As women we do extra, don’t we, because we’re control freaks!
On a practical level, what do you find most difficult about balancing work and home?
It can be difficult finding the energy to do everything. And the guilt – I’m still not used to the guilt. Especially if one of the kids is unwell and I have to ask my mum to mind them, and really I just want to be there myself.
So you suffer from working-mother guilt?
I think we feel guilty if we work and guilty if we don’t work.
I didn’t work for a year and half after Holly was born and then I felt guilty if I couldn’t buy her things. You can’t win.
The second we give birth, we give birth to guilt!
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?
I think the optimal solution is 50:50 – working half the day and being with the kids for the other half. And actually with my new hours, because the show is moving to 7pm, I’ll be able to collect the kids from school from now on. It’ll be easier for things like parent-teacher meetings too. And I’ll have them after school for an hour, then the childminder will come to do 4pm to 6pm, when I go to work. My husband will get the shock of his life when he has to do bedtime on his own every night.
As much as I love my job, I love my kids more, and I want to be there to put them to sleep. I plan to finish work at 8 on the dot and be home by 8.20 every evening – my husband is going to make sure they’re not quite asleep, so I can kiss them goodnight. I’m also hoping to do a four-day-week – I’d love to have Fridays off.
Do you manage to get any time that’s just for yourself?
Generally I’m low maintenance – I do my own tan, I do my own nails, I dye my own hair. And I don’t need a lot of time on my own. I love being with my kids, I know that sounds a bit Enid Blyton, but yeah, that’s my favourite thing to do.
And what do you do to look after yourself and stay fit?
Like lots of working mums, my lifestyle choices are not great – I grab a banana at breakfast time, then I’m starving twenty minutes later and end up getting a breakfast roll or something. Then I’m picking all day. When we have a cooking slot on the show, I end up finishing the food afterwards – I love food. I finish the kids’ food when they eat, then I eat with my husband when he comes home, then I snack at night – I love cheese and a glass of red wine.
But I’ve looked after myself better than every before over the last six weeks, training with a personal trainer and using Forza supplements and eating healthily. They’re not a miracle – they’re not diet tablets, and they don’t work on their own – you have to eat well and exercise too, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
If you could do any job, what would it be?
This is it – this is my dream job. I didn’t find it till I was twenty-eight. I’ve spent my life talking, and now I get paid for it. I used to be an air-hostess, and I was the least glamorous air-hostess you can imagine, people used to say, “Would you not put on a bit of lip-stick even.” But I loved speaking – I always wanted to be the one who does the announcements on the flights! So when I got a job on TV, my colleagues were all like, “Finally!”
Do you think there’s a glass ceiling for women?
Women can do anything they want. I love seeing mums succeed – we can do anything. That’s what I’ll be telling my daughter.
Lucy, thank you for speaking to me about balancing work and home – it’s very refreshing to hear how your home life is very like mine and so many other working mothers. I can definitely relate to flaking on the couch in pyjamas by 8.30!
What you said about guilt really struck me – feeling guilty for working, but also feeling guilty when you were off and couldn’t buy things for your daughter. I think you’re right – no matter what we do, we always feel guilty about something. Sometimes, when I’m speaking to mothers, they say they don’t feel guilty. But a few minutes later, they mention feeling sad or anxious about missing out on time with their kids – it’s the same thing, just different words. We all feel it I think.
I’m with you too on the optimal solution – mine would also be 50:50. I think it varies from family to family, but personally I love the idea of working half-days. Though preferably with no commute. And holidays off. And the ability to drop everything if someone is sick…We did say optimal, right?
Thanks again Lucy for taking part, and for being so absolutely lovely! Good luck with the new time slot and I hope you get that four-day-week.
I spoke to Lucy at the launch of a supplement called Forza. She has just taken the six week Forza challenge, during which time she lost 10 lbs, through a combination of healthy eating, exercise and supplements.
Is paternity leave on the way to Ireland? And if it is, will Irish dads take it? To hear from real dads in Ireland, Germany and the UK, see Is Paternity Leave Finally Coming to Ireland? by me, for HerFamily.ie