"I want to be a mother and I want to work and I don't feel you should have to choose"
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Businesswoman Rachel Kavanagh on what being a mum to Rhys, almost 4 and Esme, 15 weeks old, has taught her
Having children has taught me patience
I had Rhys when I was 27-28 so I was quite young. In your naievty you think they're like an accessory you can bring everywhere with you; you think that one baby can't be that much work and it will slot into your life. I think that was a massive shell shock, that it literally turns your life upside down. Obviously in a lovely way, but in the sleep deprivation way and in your priorities, everything changes. Your day-to-day structure that you've always been used to is turned on its head.
With my second baby, I'm more relaxed
With Rhys, my first, everything you could throw at me happened. He was premature, he stopped growing at 34 weeks and was delivered at 36. There were a lot of complications such as a weak heart. He had severe acid reflux until he was about one so he vomited everything we gave him. It was one thing after the other. He was very slight and skinny; didn't sleep and didn't eat - he woke six or seven times a night for an hour at a time, until he was two. Now he's just a dream - he's a gorgeous child, really funny and sweet and affectionate and he's just enamoured with his little sister so it's all gone very well.
I believe in discipline
I think it's something that gets left by the wayside with helicopter parenting. My husband and myself are both extremely aligned on that but I'd say I'm more of a disciplinarian. Manners are the be all and end all for me. But I suppose because I had Rhys when I was young, I've a very easy-going approach with him as well. He has a sense of humour; we like to laugh. We sit and watch Disney movies and have popcorn.
The words 'I'm bored' aren't allowed in our house
Whenever I said 'Oh, I'm so bored' I got rapped on the knuckles for it by my parents. Because no child should ever be bored. Kids have the most amazing imaginations and keeping Rhys stimulated and always being out and about and enjoying himself is so important to us.
Confidence is one of the best gifts you can ever give a child
If you don't have it, it's something that will eat away at you for the rest of your life. A sense of humour is also important because it's good to have a lighter view on the world and be able to really have a laugh - it may be the Irish in us. Kindness as well - a child shouldn't be mean or not share or be cruel to other kids. They would be the big qualities I hope both of them will have and I will do everything I can to instil that in them.
Women need to be each other's best supporters
There's a good age between Rhys and Esme of four years and I had one mother say to me 'Why are you waiting so long?'. I explained I'm building my career and she asked why was my career more important than having children and giving your child a sibling. I thought: I don't judge you for staying at home and not going to work because that's your choice and it's never for a woman or a man to comment. But I feel that other mothers can sometimes be your worst critic and I do feel myself making allowances for that and explaining that I've shorter working hours or that I spend a lot of time with them at the weekends… I want to be a mother and I want to work and I don't feel you should have to choose.
Looking back, I'd advise myself 'Don't read the books'!
I read every book front to back and all have different views on how to put children into different routines. And then I had the premature reflux baby who didn't sleep and no book was able to tell me what to do with him. The reality is you just don't know what you're getting until you have the baby and if you've all these preconceived ideas in your head, it becomes even more stressful trying to figure it out because it doesn't match any of the things that you've read.
Rachel is the managing director of beauty subscription company Glossybox, www.glossybox.co.uk