Life after kids is never quite the same, it can take you down a completely different path to the one you thought you were on. This certainly held true for Georgie Abay who left her job as deputy editor at Vogue to focus on her own business The Grace Tales, an online publication that inspires women all over the world through honest conversations with famous and everyday mothers. Today, Georgie is on the other side of the interview speaking with us about her own experience of becoming a mum and all that goes with it.
Photo by Julie Adams
Who makes up your beautiful family?
Before we had kids, it was my husband Mark and I, and our two dogs - a dachshund called Bonnie and a West Highland Terrier called Charlie. They were our babies – at least, I thought they were. Then our real babies arrived- 6 year-old Arabella and five-year-old Lottie.
What does your perfect Mother’s Day look like?
Most people say cuddles in bed, which are lovely of course, but to be honest, I’d like an uninterrupted sleep-in. No kids. No dogs. My husband gets up early and keeps the kids out of our bedroom – a rare occurrence in the morning- and then comes in around 10am with coffee and an almost croissant. My favourite breakfast. We all eat in bed, and crumbs and mess goes everywhere but it’s special, happy family time.
What do mums really want for Mother’s Day?
Obviously there’s the material things – we’d all love something new and shiny I’m sure (Loewe basket bag please, if you’re reading girls). But really, all mums want a break. I’d say silence is probably top of most lists.
How do you find balance while juggling children, career, relationships, household and everyday life?
I take it week by week and regularly all the balls I have randomly flying in the air, drop. Late last year, I called one of my dearest friend’s in the world and asked her what her birthday plans were: “oh it was two weeks ago”. She is literally on the top five friends list I love more than life itself. Then I forgot my godson’s birthday. Diaries and I aren’t that compatible. But it comes down to having too much on – which I regularly do - and when you’re growing a business, it’s hard to slow down. Opportunities arise and you need to take them. I didn’t expect to spend the latter half of last year working on an almost 300 page coffee table book but how could we turn that down?
The most important thing is to not beat yourself up – something I struggle with. You can’t do it all, and you can’t do it perfectly. I love the maxim “done is better than perfect”. I do my best. And I have a couple of things that help: 5am wakeups – I get my best work done in the morning or else exercise which clears my head and sets me up for the day. I do the grocery order online. I empty the dishwasher at night if I can so the mornings run more smoothly. Lunches are made at night. And I try not to have too much ‘stuff’ in the house – the more clutter, the more stress for me. I also have a wonderful husband who cooks – I lost interest after my first daughter was born and I discovered my life was now spent washing and wiping benches – spending more time in the kitchen wasn’t exactly appealing. I still don’t know how to tackle my inbox. Any tips? My unanswered email list leaves me feeling rather stressed.
Do you ever wonder how some mums make it look so easy? Have you talked to other women about how they manage the juggle?
It’s not easy for anyone – at least, I’ve never met anyone who finds it a breeze. It is undoubtedly easier for mothers who have babies who sleep in those early months. I had two girls who didn’t sleep through the night for over a year and fed every two hours for months on end. That was hard. And it was hard hearing mothers say their babies slept through at six weeks. How does this happen?!
We all do it differently but ultimately, to manage kids and work, you need support. The more support you have the better. But the flipside of that, is unless the support is your family, it’s costly and unless you’re in a profession, which pays you well and is willing to give you a flexible working arrangement, something has to give. It’s why so many women drop out of the workforce. It’s why I left my job as the deputy editor at Vogue to focus on my own business – I needed more flexibility and it wasn’t financially viable for me to continue after I had my second child. We all have different needs and aspirations.
Motherhood is never predictable. What have been some of the more surprising or funny parts of motherhood for you?
Funny – dying my hair permanently pink by accident. I’d been sent some shampoo and conditioner by a PR and didn’t read the label (I had two very young children – who has the time?). I lathered up my hair in the shower with the purple-coloured shampoo (not an abnormal colour for blonde hair) and started to notice drops of colour falling to the floor. Hundreds of dollars later at the hairdresser, and I was back to blonde. Surprising – my waters breaking while getting a manicure and pedicure, six weeks ahead of my due date. I’ll never forget that surprise.
What influence has your own mother had on the way you parent?
Ah, she is literally the best person on the planet. I speak or see her every single day- I’d be lost without her and I regularly tell her this. She’s strong, determined and has always taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to and that I should never compare myself to other people. She’s wonderful.
Photo by Julie Adams
Has your relationship with your mum changed since becoming one yourself?
I need her more than ever before – just when she thought she’d got rid of me! I get so much support from her – both in practical and emotional terms.
Do you have any family rituals?
We go to the local flower markets together every Saturday with the girls. And a few times a year, we get up super early and go to the wholesale flower markets. We took the girls last time at 5am!
What advice would you give to new mums?
Gosh, where to begin. Or maybe where not to begin. We’re given so much advice, aren’t we? It’s hard. It’s magical. It’s life-changing. It’s frustrating. It’s wonderful. Perhaps that if you’re ever feeling like it’s too much, you will feel like ‘you’ one day very soon – hang in there.
What are you reading right now?
Our new coffee table book GRACE MOTHERS Letters To Our Children, by myself, Julie Adams and Claire Brayford. It’s a collection of over 60 letters, written by women around the world, to their children. The foreword is written by one of my role models, the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce. It’s a dream come true and something I’m extremely proud of. You can purchase it here.