Today we’re introducing an exciting new monthly regular : Family!
Penned by the wonderful Emma Eldridge, we hope this Q&A column will give an inspiring insight into the ways in which Australian creatives find their own balance between work, creative output and family life. The juggle is real!
Fittingly, our first chat is with TDF’s founder and editor Lucy Feagins – although, her one-year-old daughter, Minnie, may have stolen the limelight in these sweet captures by Eve Wilson!
Starting and sustaining a family is an experience that’s both unique and universal. As a newish Mum, I often wonder how families I encounter in the real and online worlds ‘make it work,’ and while I’ve done my fair share of reading – attachment and Montessori theory, positive psychology, oh my! – what’s resonated most is advice from Mums and Dads I love and admire.
With this new feature, we invite you into our favourite families, uncovering how they go about building a meaningful life with their tikes.
First up, our fearless leader and Mum to Minnie, Lucy Feagins.
Congratulations on Minnie’s birthday a few weeks back – you guys have survived and thrived! One year on, what advice might you have given your pregnant self?
Thank you! 12 months in, I’m out of the fog and feeling somewhat on top of things. I was so anxious before Minnie was born due to my relationship with time – I never have enough of it, I finish every day with a half finished ‘to do’ list. I was so busy already, I couldn’t see where my baby would ‘fit.’
What I’ve learnt is that it just works out. The space in your schedule isn’t there waiting for your baby to arrive, but the time you need reveals itself once they do. Strangely, I feel like I have more time than I used to. I wake up earlier (thanks, Minnie) and am more decisive and efficient than my pre-baby self. I do feel stretched for ‘brain space,’ but not time.
If I had to give advice to my pregnant self I would say that you can have a baby and run a business, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. People would say things like, ‘your priorities will totally change, you won’t want to work so much’ or ‘your brain won’t ever be the same.’ For me, this didn’t happen – I was relieved to find I do have pretty much the same brain!
For me, becoming a Mum has been rich and rough in equal parts. What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of your new reality?
Sleep disruption. We’re over the worst of it now, but we did go through a five wake-ups a night phase. But it was weirdly manageable; I was amazed to learn just how much sleep deprivation the body can tolerate. To be honest, you hear so many horror stories as an expectant parent, so I try to make a point of being positive – my mantra is ‘it’s totally doable.’
You returned to work part-time several months after Minnie’s birth. How have you been supported to do this; what does your ‘village’ look like?
After two months off work, I started doing three days a week – this increased a few months later to four, and now I’m back full-time. This has only been possible because my husband Gordy also works for himself, and we committed up front to co-parent all the way; we’re also lucky to have family support. So Minnie has regular days with Grandma, Gordy and a babysitter, and two days in childcare.
Before Minnie arrived, I was very much aware of having some plans in place to ensure The Design Files would continue to thrive. TDF is very reliant on me – I am closely involved with every decision we make, each project and piece of content we produce. So I bolstered our team; when I was six months pregnant, I hired a part-time photo editor / graphic designer (up until then, I’d been preparing the visual assets for the site myself), and not long after Minnie was born I hired someone to handle our advertising and partnerships.
It took me over three years to muster up the courage to hire these two people, three years of thinking ‘how will we afford it?’ and ‘how will someone else be able to do the tasks only I can do?’ Expecting a baby is the most extraordinary motivator for taking action!
Juggling mum / work / wife / family and friend / self time is not for the faint hearted. How do you work towards balance (if such a thing is achievable)?
I think balance is a fallacy; it’s unnatural to achieve a sort of equilibrium all the time. Having said that, I think whether you’re a parent or not, feeling balanced is really about being mindful of running your life purposefully and not letting the ‘busyness’ run you. I am really prone to that; I have to purposefully catch myself, to recalibrate and prioritise when work starts taking over.
Coming home to Minnie is the best thing for brain balance. As soon as I walk in the door, the stresses of work fade because I am so excited to see her and cuddle for a few hours! So, in that respect, having a baby has actually brought me more balance. I don’t think about work 24/7 anymore.
Can you give us a glimpse into how your day with Minnie starts and ends?
Minnie wakes up at around 6am and one of us stumbles across the hall to her room. Then she comes into bed for a snuggle and feed – which conveniently gives me 10 more minutes of snooze time (probably bad, I’m sure you’re supposed to give breakfast before boob at this age, but anyway!). After that it’s tag-teaming with my husband until 8am when Minnie is handed over to my Mum / the babysitter / childcare, and by 8.15am I’m out the door.
I get home from work at 5.30pm, and have about an hour playing with Minnie before bath time and bed at 7pm. After she’s safely tucked in, Gordy usually cooks and we eat dinner. I always go back to my laptop for a few hours of work in the evening, and go to bed at midnight – but not without sneaking in to admire the little one sleeping blissfully by the light of my iPhone!
Moving across time, what kind of adult might you like Minnie to grow into?
I selfishly hope Minnie is a bit like me when she is older: hardworking, independent, creative, and determined.
My memories of childhood are all about encouragement; anything I ever showed an interest in was encouraged and supported, be it learning the saxophone (which I was hopeless at), being in the school play, or running for class captain. My parents were my constant cheer squad. I hope Minnie feels equally encouraged and supported by us, and dives head-first into every opportunity without inhibition.
Children’s clothing store: Pretty Wild, I’m a sucker for a Liberty print.
Nursery item: Kido Store Caravan cot.
Activity or outing: The new Pauline Gandel Chidren’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum.
Dinner destination: City Wine Shop or The Builder’s Arms. At present, we only go where we can sit outside – I’m not game to be ‘that person’ with a pram / hyperactive baby inside a busy restaurant just yet!
Bedtime story: The attention span needs a little work, we’ve been stuck on Spot the Dog for a while now.