Zoe Foster Blake: "Working from home means I do neither parenting, nor work, very well"

Kinderling News & Features

Via Instagram @zotheysay

“If you are fortunate enough to have a career you love, then I reckon you should probably take care of it, just like anything else you love.”

It wasn’t until I read this quote from Zoe Foster Blake that I realised how long I have been waiting to read it.

Zoe shared this nugget of truth on her Instagram account yesterday after signing a lease on an office space. As she goes onto say,  this was a big deal because like many parents with the option, she’d been working from home in a bid to “do it all”.

Today I leased a nook to work from. A proper, dedicated work space. No more working from cafes! No more telling my son, “If mum can juuust get this bit of work done, we can play!” No more trying to make unsuitable areas of the house (dining table, daughter’s room, garden shed) into a work zone! I used to take pride in the fact I’ve written novels at rickety little tables I found on the side of the street, or at my kitchen bench, but I’m done with that narrative (as it were.) Also I am getting old and my back hurts and I need a proper desk and chair and probably some ugly ergonomic keyboard. Of course, working from home is a privilege and luxury. I know how lucky I am not to have to do the 7am-7pm, suit-n-commute. Working from home while my kids are so young and squishy is something I cherish. However, I now acknowledge that working from home means I do neither parenting, nor work, very well. Because as long as I'm being interrupted by adorable little people, I’ll allow it. They’ll be 14 one day and think I’m a loser: why would I knock back a cuddle when they think I’m wonderful? Alas, a productive day this doth not make. Trying to keep everything balanced is one thing; strapping on skates then throwing oil on the floor is quite another. And as an author on deadline, and someone trying to do Good Stuff with @gotoskincare, I need to treat my work with respect. To be a professional. To honour it, and give it my focus, just as I do with my family and my pet lizards, Knuckles and Biff. If you are fortunate enough to have a career you love, then I reckon you should probably take care of it, just like anything else you love. My goal is to leave behind the staccato, unfocused, half-arsed half-worker half-parent I currently am, and morph into a smug pig who elegantly compartmentalises work, family and writing appropriately. HAHAHAHHAHA! As if. I am totally just gonna lie here eating Redskins and reading Babysitters Club all day.

A post shared by ZOË FOSTER BLAKE (@zotheysay) on

Working from home isn’t always the solution

Now you wouldn’t call Zoe’s a regular ‘day job’; entrepreneurial dynamo feels more accurate when describing a woman who runs a skincare company, has authored several books, produced an award-winning TV series and designed a fashion range - all while being mum to two very young kids, Sonny, 3 and Rudy, eight months.   

As Zoe goes onto explain, by working from home she was attempting to cover all her bases; throwing everything together and hoping with the very best of intentions, for the very best outcome.  Until the day she realised it was all – understandably -  a bit bloody hard:

“Trying to keep everything balanced is one thing; strapping on skates then throwing oil on the floor is quite another … ,” she wrote.

“Working from home is a privilege and luxury. I know how lucky I am not to have to do the 7am-7pm, suit-n-commute. Working from home while my kids are so young and squishy is something I cherish. However, I now acknowledge that working from home means I do neither parenting, nor work, very well. “

It’s OK to make your work a priority

The missing ingredient as it turns out, was being able to draw a line in the sand; compartmentalise her work and family life for the sake of her own sanity.

“I need to treat my work with respect. To be a professional. To honour it, and give it my focus, just as I do with my family and my pet lizards,” Zoe wrote.

Amen to that. Respect is exactly what is needed. It takes guts to admit in this time of conscious parenting where it’s easy to confuse "being present" as being "always on and available to everyone" that what you do for work is actually a hugely important part of who you are as a person.

And important work requires time, quiet, space and very often, coffee. 

The 'right thing' is always what works best for you

I too love what I do for work, I too love my children.  Yet since becoming a mum five years ago, I have struggled to find a meaningful way to balance these two parts of my life. I’ve gone from full-time to part-time work, changed jobs, added jobs, committed to stuff I never should have,  grieved for projects I simply have no time for, and spent countless hours agonising over the elusive "right thing to do". 

Turns out the ‘right thing’ is just the thing that works best for you; and if that means an extra day at work because there's a project you want to pour your heart and soul into, then that my friends, is exactly what you should you do. 

Or, as Zoe puts it: “My goal is to leave behind the staccato, unfocused, half-arsed half-worker half-parent I currently am, and morph into a smug pig who elegantly compartmentalises work, family and writing appropriately. HAHAHAHHAHA! As if. I am totally just gonna lie here eating Redskins and reading Babysitters Club all day.”