The great big secret to balancing motherhood and a career is that there isn't one.
No one has the answer to managing it all perfectly, no one ever feels like they've 'solved it' and many of us are still looking for an answer that will instantly wave away the guilt and worry.
But while there is no secret, there is a knack. And we must be aware of using other women's achievements and measuring them against our own (perceived) shortcomings.
Looking at the life of Sadie Macleod, it seems perfect.
The founder of Hip and Healthy, a successful online publication which sells luxury fitness-wear, is mother to seven-week-old Max and runner of 10k a day. Heck, the woman even makes her own green juice.
But Macleod's success between work and home is hard won. Strict email and phone bans after 9pm. Early starts to fit in her run.
Here, she tells us how she treads the line between work and motherhood.
When and why did you decide to set up Hip and Healthy?
I used to work at Conde Nast Traveller magazine and when I was there my boyfriend, who is now my husband, got granted a sabbatical to Hong Kong. I was granted time off from work and went with him.
While I was in Hong Kong, I did a lot of research into other health and fitness publications but found there were no good ones to speak of. I had a lot of time on my hands so, using YouTube tutorials, I taught myself to build a website.
What’s been your biggest challenge in business so far?
The biggest challenge has probably turned into the biggest strength now.
Back when I first set up Hip and Healthy, health and fitness wasn’t actually that cool in the UK. We had this pub culture so I’d turn up at the pub and wouldn’t drink that much because I’d be going on a 10k run the next day. All of my friends would be like ‘oh you loser’. And it was very much like that for a long time.
The attitude towards fitness has completely changed in the last three years. Health and fitness has gone from strength to strength and there are far more actresses and models being honest about their workout routines, how they stay in shape and what they eat. It's become cool!
How did you juggle your workloads between Conde Nast and Hip and Healthy?
I had this ridiculous schedule where I’d get up at 5am, check my emails for Hip and Healthy, run into work, work at Conde Nast for the day, run home and check my emails again.
Hip and Healthy went from being very small to something that had a fair few contributors and quite a lot of readers in a short space of time. At this point I began earning money from it. I was enjoying Conde Nast but nowhere near as much as Hip and Healthy, so I decided to make it my full time job.
I started looking at other revenue streams and a really clear one was trying to bring stylish fitness-wear to the UK. I left Conde Nast, hired a girl who’s still with me today and we scoured the world for really stylish fitness-wear. We found a handful of brands and set up the online store, and since then it's really taken off.
Have you faced any obstacles in terms of your gender?
I haven’t at all and I think that’s down to the industry I’m in. Nearly all of the people I work with are women. The nature of the industry is that it’s very female led.
I think that when we get together and collaborate, women can do such great things.
Describe a day in your life…
I like to get up really early. I get up at about 6am, put my sports kit on and then I’ll go and do an 8-10k run first thing in the morning. I’m a huge running fan and being pregnant for the last 9 months has killed me because I've not been able to.
After my run I’ll make a green juice, which is always a bit of a faff. Then I’ll check my emails and Instagram. I’m a bit of an Instagram fiend, I’ve got to try and wean myself off it because I’m obsessed.
Then I’ll have breakfast which will be something really easy to make like a bowl of muesli or some porridge - and I'll head off to work.
I have to be completely honest, I don’t work late. When I was at Conde Nast I always tried to get home on time because of the fact that I had Hip and Healthy to work on that evening. I sort of maintained that schedule so I’ll leave work at about 6.30pm.
Do you have any rules regarding work/life balance?
I have a tendency to check my emails at home, but when 9pm comes around I have a computer curfew which is the best thing ever. I implemented it about a year ago when I worked at Conde Nast because I used to get so stressed out at night.
Now I just turn my phone and computer off at 9pm and then I’ll watch TV and just relax. My husband usually works very late as he’s a lawyer so there’s like a one in five chance that I’ll see him. Then I head to bed at about 11ish.
How do you let off steam?
Quite often I’ll do a yoga class in the evening to wind down. I should really practice what I preach a bit more in that I don’t do a huge variety of fitness workouts. This is purely because I’ve been so busy that I just stick to what I know. I think that’s a rut which a lot of people get into.
Running is my main way of letting off steam. When I run I can think and be creative. In fact I get all of my best ideas when I’m running. It also really relaxes me.
I also have baths and read magazines and do all of the girly things that are just so cliché. I really do love a bathtime ritual.
What health foods do you love at the moment?
I’m finding fennel tea incredibly cleansing at the moment and great for my digestive system. I’m also obsessed with avocados. Who isn’t? They’re great in so many ways and I eat at least one a day.
Supplements-wise, I like adding Spirulina to my green juices. It’s great for boosting energy.
Another thing I love is bee pollen granules. I’ll have that in my porridge and smoothies quite a lot. It’s incredibly immune-boosting and antibacterial. Interestingly, it’s also a really great protein as it’s full of amino acids. The taste is quite strong though.
How do you juggle your work/life balance and motherhood?
My son Max is seven weeks old so I haven’t had much of a chance to practice yet. I’m not taking maternity leave which I wouldn’t advise to anyone, but that’s just what you have to do when you run your own business. I’m really lucky with the fact that I can bring him into work because it’s my office.
All of this stuff is very new to me and if I’m completely honest about it, I think I was unrealistic in how hard it is having a newborn. I thought that he’d just fit into my life and that I’d carry on as normal. But you can’t schedule babies.
If there was any advice I could give to new mothers, it would be don’t make any promises or set any targets that are unrealistic. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do anything. I thought I'd be back to work full time now, but I’ve still not managed to do an entire day in the office.
What goals do you have for the next year?
In terms of my personal life, I’d say to workout what this work/life balance is now that I’ve got a family. I think it’s going to be important to not work as much as I have done.
Finally, what advice would you give to other women for living well?
It’s so cheesy but really try and love yourself, and love what you think is your flaw. Love what other people tell you they love about you. Start thinking more positively about yourself. If we all started thinking positively about ourselves we’d be so much happier.
My one practical tip: have a daily green juice. Oh and move more, we could all do with moving a bit more.