“There is no guilt to suffer from. I am there for every school event, every bed time, every day getting ready for school, if they’re sick they have a parent to be home with them”
This week I have the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Pearce; a mother of three who is an author, blogger, speaker, artist, copywriter and teacher. Her most recent book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood has just been a number 1 Amazon best seller in the UK and the US and she is a sought after speaker on the topics of creativity and women’s wellbeing.
When I asked Lucy about her dream job, she replied that she’s currently doing it, but that she’d love to “have a housekeeper. And a bit more money. And a great assistant!” Wouldn’t we all!
I have three kids aged 8, 5 and 3 and we live in a little pink cottage in the village of my birth in East Cork.
Now could you tell me a little about your job – what do you do and for how long have you been working at this?
How long do you have! I don’t have a “job” or “title” I have many! I am the author of four books for women on health and wellbeing, the most recent of which is The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. I am also speaker on creativity and women’s well being. This month for instance, I was speaking on two online summits – Look and Feel Great for Mothers and the Red Tent Summit.
I am also the contributing editor and columnist at Juno, a natural parenting magazine based in the UK. I run two blogs and contribute guest posts to others including Rhythm of the Home and Tiny Buddha.
I am blogging consultant and copywriter for Darina Allen, and teach blogging at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Oh, and I am also a professional artist! Phew! See I told you I did a lot!
What kind of hours do you work?
Since September my youngest has been at playschool, so I get three mornings a week and two full work days. I do an hour or so on Saturday mornings and bits and pieces throughout the day and evening.
My work is my passion and my life, I would be doing it if I wasn’t paid to – I love to read – and I have to do that to research my books and as a book reviewer for Juno and my blogs. I love to write and paint… and now I get paid for it. I love to meet interesting women, and that is part of my work. I adore food and food writing and am lucky enough to work alongside our country’s best known food writer. All my work adds such richness to my life, in more than the financial ways.
Long ago my husband and I made a clear decision for passion and quality of life over money, so we’ve never had big overheads forcing our decisions. We’ve lived on a shoe string for years as I’ve built up my work, and it’s starting to come good now which is thrilling!
What kind of childcare do you use?
I share work and childcare with my husband, it’s something we’ve always done, except when the younger two were being expected and were breastfed babies, and then my husband took over the earning reins, though I was still doing a lot.
We’ve never been able to afford childcare, so it just hasn’t been an option. But also because of my kids personalities I really couldn’t see it working. We’ve always been very grateful for the free pre school year.
Are your children in school and has that made balancing work and home easier or more difficult?
I find it easier with them being at school, it really takes the pressure off. When they’re at school my focus is my work, not the house, not being mum. Then when they get home I have more energy to share with them.
In my heart I’m a home schooler, but I know I’d go bat shit crazy if I did it in real life, I need to do my work too much. So we focus on home education outside of school – going on trips, walks in the woods, growing stuff in the garden, and lots and lots of creativity.
Our kids don’t do afterschool activities or many play-dates and I’m really glad, I never envy the mums who are constant taxi services for their kids. We hang out at home, or go to the playground together, visit a family friend, or just make stuff at home or veg in front of the TV. We live on a great estate, so the kids have loads of playmates they can call on whenever they want, and in the summer they all ride up and down the cul de sac on their bikes or draw in chalks on the pavement.
On a practical level, what do you find most difficult about balancing work and home?
In truth we have it pretty well organised. My husband and I are earning and parenting equals and each have our strengths around the house. It has taken us nearly fifteen years to get there, but we make a good team, and the kids know that we both value our work and our parenting equally.
What works best is for the person who is working to be fully out of the house, so that they are totally off duty in terms of parenting. I have a freezing cold studio at my dad’s pottery to call my own.
We’ve always been messy, so kids just add to the mayhem, but because one of us is always home with them, we get to keep up (just) with the cooking and cleaning. We don’t have paid childcare, but we do have a cleaner for two hours a week. She is our sanity, and when we earn a bit more I long for a housekeeper every day!!
And psychologically, do you find it challenging or stressful to work outside the home – do you suffer from working-mother guilt?
There is no guilt to suffer from. I am there for every school event, every bed time, every day getting ready for school, if they’re sick they have a parent to be home with them.
I am a much better human being as a working mum than I would be as a full time stay at home mum. I know because I’ve tried it.
However, when a big project is on, like the launch of my last book, or an exhibition, or Darina suddenly has lots of work she needs doing yesterday, I can be distracted, short tempered and tired, I really struggle with anxiety and get really exhausted. I apologise to the kids and explain why I am feeling this way and the time frame for the event. It’s not perfect, but I really try hard to pace myself well and plan my time carefully. My work, most of the time, helps me to keep my anxiety and depression in check, but when I have a launch or interview it can really get me unbalanced. The kids are great, I’ve explained this part of me to them, and when they struggle with anxiety or worry then they can be open about it too.
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?
That’s what I’m doing now. I talk a lot about it in The Rainbow Way and will be going into it in much more depth in my next book. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all plan – it’s totally about finding the balance which works for ALL the individuals in your family as best you can.
If you could do any job, what would it be?
I am living my dream life – I love my work – love creating, love connecting with women. But I’d have a housekeeper. And a bit more money. And a great assistant!
Do you think there’s a glass ceiling for women, or is it a perception based on the fact that mothers often look for flexibility or part-time hours, which in turn limits their opportunities?
I am my own boss, so no. The limitations are early on in terms of having to slow down for pregnancy, with struggling with post natal depression, with extreme sleep deprivation and breastfeeding which all took a lot out of me.
Do you have three top tips that you could give any mother returning to work, to make her life easier?
Look really closely at your priorities, at the costs and benefits, both financially and emotionally.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Look beyond black and white – there is not just work or staying home, being creative or being a mum, there are a whole rainbow of possibilities just waiting for you and your family to weave them in a way that meets all your needs.
Thank you Lucy for taking part in this interview. It’s very inspiring that you’ve found your dream job and that you can do it without the need for childcare – that’s something many of us dream of; we just need to find some as yet undiscovered creative talents I think!
Lucy H. Pearce is author of four books:
- Her most recent book is The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. This positive, nurturing and practical book will help to empower you to unlock your creative potential within the constraints of your demanding life as a mother.
- Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle, has been called “life changing” by hundreds of women around the world.
- Reaching for the Moon is her popular, soulful guide to the menstrual cycle for girls aged 9-14.
- Moods of Motherhood – a compassionate journey through the emotional weather of motherhood.
- Contributing editor at JUNO magazine, creator of The Happy Womb.com, she blogs at Dreaming Aloud.net.
Kindle versions of Lucy’s latest book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood are currently just 99p from Amazon until the end of January.
The best price on paperbacks is from The Book Depository, which has 29% off and FREE worldwide shipping.
To hear an interview with Lucy on Cultivating Creativity check out this podcast. http://jamieridlerstudios.ca/creative-living-with-jamie-lucy-pearce
For more on the book see the website. http://therainbowway.weebly.com/