New beginnings for Laura Woods
If you'd asked Laura Woods six years ago if she'd be working weekends, her answer would have been succinct and instinctive: "Hell no!" But like an increasing number of Irish mothers she is back in the work force on a part time basis.
And for Laura that's going to mean working weekends. Now, after a few years of intermittent work following the birth of her two sons, Ben, 4, and Alex, 2, the eloquent blonde is going to be returning to a more permanent role on our screen, as the face of Saturday AM and Sunday AM on TV3.
"I feel I've hit the jackpot in some ways because this fits what I need right now. There's a huge amount of women in their 30s and 40s, and like anywhere, if you employ women in that age bracket some of them are of course going to want to go off and have children. I've been in a freelance capacity with TV3 for the last four years and they've been amazing."
For Laura, the desire to devote more focus to her career came gradually. "When baby number one was born, I really wanted to enjoy the time with him. So career took second place for a while. There is no room for chasing that lead or writing up the proposal for a new programme when you've a baby to mind. But then, a few years later the thoughts start to creep in. I love working, to be honest. It's nice to have camaraderie and get satisfaction out of a job well done. And the adult company is nice too! This gives me a great balance and I've got a lot of experience on air now."
In fact, that experience has now been more than a decade-and-a-half in the making. While completing her sociology and French degree in Trinity, the Foxrock woman got a job as a continuity announcer with RTE. It was the springboard to a decade of fairly continual presence on screen. Woods co-anchored RTE's coverage of Live8 in 2005, and the now defunct lottery shows Fame and Fortune and The Trump Card. She would later move to TV3, and worked for Midday and Ireland AM - which she describes as "an incredible machine."
Laura says it's the "natural inclination" to ask mothers about their family-work balance but her husband, Mark Aringo, is equally hands-on with their two boys. Laura and Mark met after they were set up by friends of theirs who felt they'd be perfect for each other. Or so the official story goes. "Actually I like to joke that [my friend] only put me in touch with Mark because with a last name like that he came first in her phone book; he was the first guy to hand", she laughs. Mark is an architect, and Laura says they "definitely married for love. One of the many things I love about him is how passionate he is about what he does."
The supposed pressure of getting back into shape after maternity leave wasn't something that really bothered Laura, and she's open about her own weight fluctuations. "To be honest with you, my weight has yo-yo-ed a few times over the last few years. And I guess there have been some comments online.
"But right from the start of my career I didn't believe in conforming to a certain size or a certain look. I remember once wearing a V-neck top on RTE and someone photoshopped it with arrows, saying 'you're going to hell.' It really made me laugh, to be honest. It was water off a duck's back." On days off she goes completely casual. "I would have the tracksuit on and my hair in a bun. You kind of need a low maintenance look when there are paintbrushes being used as weapons in your vicinity!"
She may have more to worry about with the early weekend mornings. "I'll manage those too" she laughs. "Two young boys get you up very early, believe me."
Laura Woods is one of the new faces of weekend telly on TV3. 'Saturday AM' and 'Sunday AM' starts on August 29 and 30 at 9am on TV3.'