Belinda is the definition of hard-working. With three children, she’s the ultimate juggler, successful and driven. She returned to work 12 months after her first and six months after her second and third child. She recently moved from Melbourne to Wagga and in her spare time—we don’t know what spare time—helps her husband run a farm and has opened a hair, make-up and beauty bar.
Tell us briefly about your career journey.
I actually didn’t do that well at school but I knew I wanted to go to university and I was determined to make a career for myself. I was brought up to believe that if you worked hard, opportunities would present themselves. Plus, people like to work with and do business with people they like, so if you are a good person, and actively contribute to the culture of the organisation then you will be a valued member of the team.
In one word, I would say my career has been—entertaining!
How did you find returning to work?
Just before my first maternity leave was due to finish, I was presented with a new job opportunity, so when I went back to work after 12 months maternity leave it was to a new role, new team and new organisation. It was super exciting but also hard work as I had to prove myself again.
When I returned to work after my second child, my manager called and asked to meet the Friday before I was due to return to work. She said she would come to my neighbourhood and we would meet in a local coffee shop. Alarm bells were ringing; I was certain I was being made redundant. Off I went with sweaty palms only to be told that changes in the business were imminent and that I would be receiving more team members and more responsibility. So again, I was super-excited but also a little apprehensive about getting my head around the new elements of my role.
You returned to work after six months with your second child and your husband took parental leave. Tell us about this.
After my second child, I had six months off work and my husband and I decided that I would return to work full-time and he would stay home for six months. It was the best decision as it really allowed him to appreciate the other side, spend time with the kids and be part of the parental leave journey.
Why do you think women’s confidence often suffers when they are returning to work?
I think many things can contribute to this. It can be that they don’t have a supportive manager and/or team members around them. However I also think it’s that women don’t back themselves and their decision making, therefore they constantly second-guess themselves. This is a major confidence drain. I also think that mothers tend to think about the future too much and therefore they don’t live in the present working day—‘I can’t take on that, I am going to have another baby in 12 months’, or ‘I can’t take on more responsibility because I have to leave at 5PM to do pick up.’ Working mothers put up a lot of boundaries when nine times out of 10, they are the only ones thinking it.
How has your family life and career changed since you moved back to Wagga?
I don’t believe my career has changed at all. My career is as meaningful as ever, I am challenged and I work with highly experienced and capable people. I am determined to break down the myth that you can’t have a great career and live in regional Australia. You can.
Our life is similar to in Melbourne, we still both work full-time but we don’t sit in traffic or on public transport to get to work. Taking that out of your day makes things easier. We have a great home and our dream farm. It just wouldn’t be possible in the city. We both grew up as country kids so having our own patch of dirt is a dream come true.
What do you most love about being a working mama?
I love that I get to be a mum but I also get to have a career. Your career is an interesting thing—it’s yours, no one else’s and you are in control of it. It is like your education—no one can take it away from you. So whilst I love sharing my life with my family and friends, I also like having something that is just mine!
I hope that I am a role model to my children—I want them to see that you can have children and have a career at the same time.
If I could go back and change anything about how I managed my career through parental leave, it would be …
I would have tackled the mother’s guilt that I had after my first child head-on and a lot earlier. For a while, it really crippled my decision- making. Once I got past it, I never looked back.
What has being a working mama taught you?
As bizarre as this sound, it has taught me that I need to make sure I get the right amount of sleep. When I don’t have sick and teething kids, I need my sleep and if I am tired then the whole house doesn’t seem to work. So, I need to factor that in and take myself off to bed at 9PM (or earlier) if that’s what it takes. One of my friends doesn’t ring me after 8.30PM as she knows I will be asleep!
What do you still dream of doing?
Many things. But for now, I am happy being back working in agriculture after many years in the city. My hope is that I can use my skills and background to contribute to and enhance the agricultural industry for the better. Australian agriculture is amazing and progressive, and our primary producers are critical to the future of our country. I am passionate about thriving regional and rural communities. So, right now, my focus is on this.
Do you still spend money on yourself or does it all go on the kids?
Bit of both really. I like spending money on the kids but I like buying myself things as well.
How do you unwind on a Friday night?
Glass of wine and cheese.
- Favourite time of the day is … 8PM.
- Instagram sites that inspire you … The Style Bar Wagga
- I’m happiest when … I am with my husband and the kids at the farm.
- I’m addicted to … Country Road Spend & Save.
- Favourite wardrobe staple for work … black pants.
- Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend … jeans.
- My role model is … I honestly can’t pick one. I’ve been surrounded by amazing men and women my entire career and I still look up to all of them.
- Heels or flats? … flats.
Belinda is a General Manager and mother to Alice (6 years old), Hattie (4 years old) and Edward (2 years old)