I had a baby at uni while studying drama and theatre, and though this didn’t define me, it did completely change my life. Getting through everything that went with having her so young, meant that I came out the other side with enough resilience, positivity and resourcefulness to create three successful and award winning companies.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in your industry and being a parent for you?
For me, it’s the constant childcare challenge. Whenever I am in my element – working and creating, I generally have to be away from my little ones. I want them to be safe, happy and content and receiving the best possible care. Working long and often tricky hours makes finding this sort of care very difficult, and I have to put them first, which means that I often miss out on amazing opportunities.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
At uni it was a real mixed bag. Half of the individuals I came into contact with (lecturers, students etc.) were disappointed and almost offended by my situation while others met this disgust with as much kindness and support as they could muster. There was help at the uni to find access to learning grants but other than that, I felt like I was the first person to fall pregnant at that uni – they didn’t really know what to do with me!
At work as a teacher I didn’t feel that I received any support. My pregnancy was a burden on the school and I felt I had to leave permanently.
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Access to information regarding my return to work/uni – in both situations there was none. Also access to childcare.
Do you think trading to be an actor made you think differently about your preganancy/recovery?
Being surrounded by the thing that made me happiest always helped to lift my spirits on the hardest of days. Keeping mobile also helped with pregnancy aches and also with my recovery.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
Make sure that you are as informed as possible regarding rights and time frames and right everything down. Reach out to organisations that can advocate for you, and don’t let your voice go unheard – no matter how much tiredness makes you feel like giving up.
If you were expected to move postnatally for your studies how did you approach your recovery?
Again, all of these decisions were left to me – I was responsible for my own recovery, and considering how young I was, I really didn’t know anything abut what was happening to my body; what was safe and what wasn’t.
What changed most for you on your return?
The responsibility I had towards my daughter meant that I worked even harder, with much more focus and determination. I wasn’t just having fun any more – I was building a life and a future for us both. I had to become very resilient and resourceful in order to balance training and parenthood, this also meant that no minute away from my baby was ever wasted or taken for granted.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Yes absolutely – I find that I am now much more receptive and appreciative of the ideas of others. I look at things with different eyes now.
Does your work help you in your parenting?
Absolutely – I am known as the creative Mummy – apparently my children always have the best World Book Day Costumes! I am very patient, and again receptive to my children’s thoughts and Ideas. I also make sure that art is a huge part of their life – specifically performing.
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in your industry / art form?
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
I am currently building a flexible childcare company, that will bring the highest quality childcare to any venue – I am hoping that this will help parents in a similar situation to the one that I faced.