Celebrity mums might have it easier on the money front, but they still struggle with the same guilt as their non-famous counterparts. Here, six famous mums tell how they manage motherhood and work.
1. Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Honorable Woman star has two daughters, Gloria Ray, 4, and Ramona, 9, with husband actor, Peter Sarsgaard, and says “It’s really hard having children.” On being a working mum, the actor says, “Growing up in Los Angeles, I was surrounded by plenty of working mums, including my grandmother, a paediatrician, and my mother, a writer and producer. This seemed very natural to me. I just thought, “Well, that’s what mums do. They work and raise their kids.” I was brought up to believe I could do anything I wanted professionally and, of course, be a mother at the same time—but I’m finding that it’s complicated. It requires a lot of thought and planning, and I haven’t figured it out yet.”
The hard working pop star, who is married to FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique, says her son Milan, born in January 2013, has taught her many things – including the need for punctual, flexible and organised – three things that don’t always happen together easily. ‘I try to take him everywhere I go, just to be with him and nurture him as much as I can,’ she says on ensuring her work schedule fits around her little boy.
3. Victoria Beckham
Running a huge fashion empire and raising four children is, “A huge juggling act when you are a working mother and looking after your family” says the wife of soccer superstar David Beckham. Mum to sons Brooklyn, Romeo, and Cruz and a daughter, Harper, the former Spice Girl relates to the guilt working mums feel. “Millions of women around the world are doing this every day, but it’s not easy and, yes, you feel guilty every time you walk out of the door to go to work.”
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
The Academy-award winner and founder of goop.com, says the key to being a working mum is to: “Schedule your time well and be present by focusing on the task at hand.” She also suggests that to avoid junk food-filled weekends, “Plan a rough menu for the whole weekend and get the food in on Friday. Stores and websites that deliver make this a dream. Having all of the ingredients means I’m prepared even when I don’t think I am. Also, the school run is a great time to return calls (in whichever direction the kids are not in the car) so don’t forget your hands-free device,” she adds. Paltrow has two children, Apple, 12, and Moses, 10, with former husband, Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin.
5. Kate Beckinsale
The 43-year-old Underworld star has a 17-year-old daughter to her former partner, actor Michael Sheen. She recalls of those early years with Lily Mo, “Any working mother will tell you that what kind of falls by the wayside, you know, are the hours of sleep that you wish you had. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed, but I did sometimes feel like that exorcist lady!” On having more children with her current partner, film director, Len Wiseman, Beckinsale says she’s undecided.
6. Uma Thurman
The Kill Bill star has revealed her former husband, actor Ethan Hawke was not supportive of her playing the role of working mother and that, in spite of her determination to prove him wrong, she found it incredibly difficult. “(He) claimed I couldn’t be a full-time mother and actress. I always insisted I could. But I found couldn’t. I really try to give all of myself. I wouldn’t even read a script that wasn’t shooting in New York because I needed to be home,” Thurman says of the eternal pull between work and motherhood. She has a daughter, Maya, and son, Levon, with Hawke, and a daughter, Luna, with ex-husband Aprad Busson.
7. Nicole Richie
Mum to daughters Harlow, 8, and Sparrow, 7, the fashion designer says,
“I think it’s a global struggle and all women are constantly trying to find a solution between work and family. I’m like any other working mother trying to make things work and dealing with this situation one day at a time. Fortunately, I have an amazing family and they’ve all been very supportive, my parents live only 10 minutes away and my husband (Joel Madden) and his twin brother help me when I need it.’ In an open letter to working mums, women’s leadership coach, bestselling author and media commentator Margie Warrell has this advice to all women who think they’re not doing a good enough job.
The mum of four readily admits that, “Mother guilt became a constant companion until one day I realised I didn’t have children in order to spend my life feeling forever inadequate. I wanted children to enrich my life, not enslave my conscience.” Accept trade-offs are inevitable and remind yourself why you made the decision to work, regardless of if that decision is based on money, personal satisfaction, or to continue the career you worked hard to establish before you had children. Accept that your children are better off for your decision.
Banish the word should from your vocabulary and don’t buy into sanctimonious idealism designed to make you feel guilty from the world of parenting bloggers and the Mummy Mafia. Consider the fact that, up until recently in human history, it was normal for women to either farm their offspring out to nannies or governesses so they could continue to be ladies who lunch, or to have so many children that the associated housework ruled out any possibility of quality time with one, let alone all of your offspring.
Lower the bar to good enough, Forget the glossy veneer of motherhood perfection you’ve been fed by people you know and the media. Stop trying to be perfect. Your kids need food, love and shelter. And a mother who’s happy and healthy can provide it in spades.