Hannah Hardy-Jones is an experienced HR professional who is now the Founder of the world’s first personal development app for mums called the Kite Program, which focuses on amongst other things, working mum challenges. She has two small children and juggles her business within three full days and most evenings too.
Tell us a bit about you as a mum…
I am a mum to Alice (5) and Henry (2). I work part time (working for myself so this can add up to more than 40 hours some weeks!) and find the juggle of work and motherhood a huge struggle at times. We live in a beautiful part of Christchurch in New Zealand, in a rural town called Lincoln.
My journey into motherhood was not what I expected. I felt really organised and because studied psychology I felt I understood mental illness and naively felt confident that I would be able to avoid any mental health struggles post birth. I, unfortunately, became mentally very unwell after the birth of my first baby and was eventually diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder- a condition I had never heard of. Even though it was triggered by childbirth it is a condition I will now live with for the rest of my life and one I need to manage closely.
I thankfully did go on to have another baby despite my illness and with support, I stayed well and returned back to work after maternity leave when my little boy turned one. I absolutely love being a mum but I also know I need the balance of work to feel truly fulfilled.
Tell us about your current job…
I have recently given up my much-loved role as an HR consultant of a busy women’s hospital to start a new business called the Kite Program- the world’s first personal development app for mums. Kite launched a month ago and leading up to the launch I was heavily involved in the development and design of the App- working across time zones which proved challenging! I can’t say I got a lot of sleep in those final few months. Now my app baby has been born, my focus is on marketing and building relationships with organisations who have a focus on mums well-being and mental health. I am also involved in maternal mental health initiatives and writing opinion pieces in this area, and also have a blog that focuses on my mental health journey.
How easy have you found being a working mum?
There is no doubt about it that being a working mum can be a huge challenge. We have never been fortunate enough to have family living in the same area as us and this has been problematic at times – particularly when the kids have been sick and both my husband and I have had busy schedules that day. It would be so wonderful to be able to call on family for help on those occasions. It has also been a big adjustment for me going from being employed and going into an office each day, to being self-employed and working from home. I am not a naturally organised person so this is an area I constantly work on as it is the difference between coping or unravelling!
I find the hardest part about being a working mum is when I have had to leave the children crying at pre-school. The drive into work is always filled with guilt about whether you’re doing the right thing being a working mum. I also have to stop myself comparing my mothering to that of stay at home mums who have a lot more time with their kids.
How have you found trying to balance being a mum with your current role?
It’s a work in progress. Some weeks I feel like I am on top of it and others feel like a complete failure. I have to stop myself from being on my phone too much around the kids – keeping work and family as separate as I can. Work is often on my mind and I am mindful of being present around the kids as much as possible. It is difficult some days – especially when there is a lot going on at work and my whole business is based around technology and social media.
What has kept you going throughout your journey so far?
The support of friends is really key for me. I have a wonderful group of friends, many of who are also juggling full-time work with motherhood. Being able to share tools and techniques and to keep everything real is so important. Having a judgement free zone where you can be yourself is crucial in my opinion.
My passion for my business and what I am trying to achieve keeps me going, especially on the days the mum guilt rears its head. I also make sure I get as much sleep as possible as I can always cope better when I’m well rested. This means going to bed earlier and turning off Netflix!
What advice would you offer anyone who is about to return to work after having a child?
Having a really good plan in place with your partner or support team is really helpful. When everyone is on the same page when it comes to chores and childcare, it makes it a lot easier. Going easy on yourself at the start is important, and accepting that some days will just be hard, no matter what you do. Self-care is so key; taking a bit of time to look after yourself will make you a better mum in the long run.
What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you about combining motherhood with a job?
Strive for progress not perfection. As a perfectionist this really resonated!
Anything else you would like our members to know about you?
You can download Kite on both the App Store or Google play and my website can be found HERE, where you can also follow my blog which shares my postpartum mental health journey.