Office Mum stories – Tina Murphy

“ … Now, I work much MUCH more than full-time! I’m always working! I don’t think I have a day completely off in the last 2.5 years, even when I go on holidays I always work a couple of hours a day.”

This week I meet Tina Murphy, founder of Run with Tina and Slim with Tina, and single mother of one daughter. 

0150433When I asked Tina if she experiences working-mother guilt, she replied

I actually don’t. I refuse to feel guilty because, what good would that achieve?”

To see how she avoids feeling guilty, and works around the clock running her own business, read on…

Hi Tina, lovely to have this opportunity to interview you for Office Mum – could you tell me how a little about your life – your daughter and your work?

I have a three-year-old daughter, and I own a company called We provide ‘learn to run’ courses for women who do no exercise and want to get fit and active. PrintWe have courses in Dublin, Cork and soon Limerick and hopefully other locations as well as online, so I hire fitness instructors to do the classes for me. We also have just started to do other fitness courses and provide these courses online and I’ve launched a weight loss programme called Slim with Tina as well. I’ve been doing this for 4 years, but only  2.5 years as a serious business where I hire others. Before that I was self-employed, teaching classes myself, whereas now I’m pretty much office based, just seeing a few private clients regularly and covering classes when needed. 

What kind of hours did you work in the past and what hours do you do now?

In the past, when I was self-employed, I probably worked almost full-time, when you add up all the classes, clients and admin. Now, I work much MUCH more than full-time! I’m always working! I don’t think I have a day completely off in the last 2.5 years, even when I go on holidays I always work a couple of hours a day. BUT, that’s the great thing about my job, I can actually go on holidays when I want and for how long I want and I can take time off during the day to take my daughter for lunch or swimming every now and then and then I work again when she’s asleep. Also, when you do what you love and do it for yourself, it really doesn’t feel like working! I really work because I want to, not necessarily because I absolutely have to.

What kind of childcare do you use?

I have an aupair who is an absolute life saver, I couldn’t survive without her. Once or twice a week my daughter goes to a child minder for five hours. Sometimes she comes to the office with me or to meetings or a class – she’s very used to that so it’s never a problem, she thinks she’s helping me and loves it! Sometimes she goes to her granny for a day too. In January she started Montessori!

Is your childcare solution working well for you?

Yes. I’m a single mom so having someone live in is the best solution for me considering my hours – I can have clients at 7am or 8pm so I need a flexible solution

On a practical level, what do you find most difficult about balancing work and home?

Having enough time to do everything! And sleep!! There’s just not enough time but I feel I’m doing a good job juggling it all. I am useless at making time for myself other than for working, that’s definitely something I’d like to change. I don’t think I’d know what to do though if I had a day off… Housework, especially cleaning, used to really stress me out and trying to do it on Saturdays was not fair on my daughter so I got a cleaner to come in every now and then which is a big help and takes away a lot of stress as now I can spend Saturdays with my daughter doing something fun instead of mopping and hoovering. I only wish I could have her every day!!

And psychologically, do you find it challenging or stressful to work outside the home – do you suffer from working-mother guilt?

I actually don’t. I refuse to feel guilty because, what good would that achieve? I also think that I’m setting a good example for her by working hard and doing something I love. I’d love to inspire her to do what she’s passionate about and go after her dreams and I want to show her that it’s possible. I think there’s no solution that’s perfect but if you make the best out of your situation, there is no need to feel guilty because what choice do you have. And I definitely want to work, I need to work! I wouldn’t want to be a full-time stay-at-home mother, I don’t think it’d suit me.

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’m not sure. I’m pretty happy with my situation at the moment though if I wanted to, I’m sure I could find faults in it, as it’s never perfect. I think you’ll always have to make sacrifices. I love to have the flexibility I have at the moment but that means I often work really late into night after I’ve put my daughter to bed and/or get up couple of hours before her so, needless to say, I’m wrecked but I’m happy and pretty content with what I have.   I think working for yourself really suits mothers as it allows you more flexibility but at the same time, it’s not necessarily the easiest option so it wouldn’t suit everyone.

If you could do any job, what would it be?

The one I do right now! I hope that in the future I’ll be able to hire some more senior people to take over some of the responsibilities I have so it’ll be a bit less pressure on me alone but even with that, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Do you have three top tips that you could give any mother returning to work, to make her life easier?

I’m so bad at giving advice because everyone’s situation is different… but…

1. Relax – don’t try to be perfect and don’t compare yourself to others or what the ‘experts’ say you or your kids should be doing; I’ve luckily always been good at this and it’s saved my life! Don’t worry if the house is a mess or you have dinner at the living room floor or your 5-year-old sleeps in your bed or goes out in her superhero costume; as long as you eat, sleep, wear some clothes and are happy, who cares! The kids will grow up and move out eventually 🙂

2. Get a cleaner or any other help you can get and afford, even just occasionally, so that when you’re off, you can spend the time with your kids. Or, if it’s very messy – go out for the day and have fun, the cleaning will wait!

3. Eat well and exercise – you’ll have more energy and can survive with less sleep and you’ll be better able to handle stressful situations. If you don’t have time for exercise, just make sure you get enough fresh air and some activity, even just running around the park with the kids.

Tina I found this so inspiring – time and again, reading interviews with people who run their own businesses, it’s clear that doing what you love makes a huge difference psychologically. And certainly it seems to contribute to avoiding working-mother guilt. It sounds so busy all the time, but your passion for what you do comes through very clearly. Thanks for taking part, and wishing you continued success with your business – and possibly taking a day off sometime 🙂


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