Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka, inspires thousands of followers and fellow parents with her honest accounts of 'Parenting the S**t out of life'. Mum to Mae, she told us how she manages her work/life balance.
Tell us a bit about your family, your career and Mother Pukka.
It’s just my husband and Mae. Plus her Godfather Uncle Mark, who is essentially part of the familial woodwork (he keeps Mae in dinosaur costumes). In terms of my career, I’ve actually just quit as senior copywriter at The L’Oreal Group to start my own thing and see more of Mae – working just wasn’t working.
But my writing career started back in 1991 when I started reading teen rag Bliss Magazine and thought, ‘I like words, I want to write some of those.’
It led to an internship at Heat Magazine where I met H from Steps (a career high); I then bagged a job as a reporter on Practical Caravan (is there ever an impractical caravan?) and ended up being their tow bar expert before slipping onto Horticulture Week and learning how to spell ‘fuchsia’.
It was then to Dubai, a Swarovski-encrusted dictatorship where I wrote about shoes and handbags for Grazia; before heading to Amsterdam where I was the Vice Editor at Time Out Amsterdam – I would pitch up to sex parties and write notes, before interviewing the founder on his or her favoured lube.
Now I’m a mother, vlogger, blogger and copywriter – who knows where that will end up.
What tips would you give to Mums to help them enjoy maternity leave and their new mama life?
It’s about small wins – a cuppa here, a solo toilet moment there. The biggest mistake I made was trying to prove to the world that I hadn’t changed while I was on maternity leave. I had a real identity crisis as this small snuffling urchin took centre stage Looking back I wish I’d just gone with it – staying in pyjamas until 5pm, embracing the milk stains – it takes time to build up another human, so give yourself time. Oh and never set foot in Topshop Oxford Street with a 6-week-old. Traumatic times.
It can be hard to find a balance between family life and work, and there's often an element of sacrifice, whichever route parents choose. How do you get the right balance?
I’d love to meet the mama or papa who think they have the right balance. Project procreation can be a cruel mistress – it pulls the rug from under your feet. I think the focus for me is to laugh more than I cry. If that balance is off, I need to shift something. Most recently that was quitting my job. I think we’re bolder, braver and more able to not give a shit about what the world thinks as a parent, so that’s always in our favour in our quest to find this elusive balance.
There are so many bloggers, vloggers and instamums these days. Who are your favourites to follow?
The ones I love following have become friends. It’s people like Clemmie Telford from Peckham Mamma, Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers. Plus this new kids events company CRAFTD, who always brighten up my day with their Instagram feed.
All Mamas are amazing, but is there anyone you find particularly inspirational?
Steph from Don’t Buy her Flowers. She always has time for people – and she’s the busiest woman I know.
Where do you like to hang out in London with your family?
The John Madjedski Garden at the V&A. It’s London’s grandeur without the hordes of people. Plus there’s a shallow paddling pool for the summer and amazing coffee. So many parent wins.
What’s next for Mother Pukka?
Fighting for flexible working in global brands. Pushing for lower daycare rates in the UK and building a platform that champions parent-run businesses one Instagram post at a time. My office? My ketchup-smattered kitchen table. My colleague? A cantankerous two year old prone to epic tantrums. Wish me luck.
Read more inspirational INTERVIEWS with fellow fantastic mums.