Lillian Maingi-Barasa is the editor of a Beauty and Fashion Magazine called Salon Business Solutions. She also runs her own communications consultancy outfit.
Lillian is mother to three girls aged eight, three and one and half years. She refers to her daughters as ‘The Power Puff Girls’. MUMMY TALES talks to Lillian about her life as career mum.
How has been your motherhood experience?
It has been great no doubt. Granted, there are a couple of challenges that come along with motherhood, but they all add to the greatness of the experience. Amidst all the challenges, the bodily changes and the immense responsibilities that parenting brings, I see it as a God given opportunity to prove that I am worthy of his trust to take care of his angels (my power puffs).
Describe your typical work day
My day begins at around 6.30am when my two youngest daughters zoom into my bedroom for catch up time (I operate a morning open-door policy as this allows me to spend some quality time with them before I leave for office.) I then feed them breakfast before preparing for work.
My office hours are flexible and I am not required to be in the office between 8am-5pm like most people. I get to the office at around 9am and my exit hours are never defined. Sometimes I leave early while other times I leave late at night, especially when we are preparing the magazine for press.
However, I try as much as possible to be home before supper so that I can catch up with my eldest daughter, who is in Standard 3. I check her homework, sign her class diary, then sit back and listen to all the cases of who broke whose toy, who rode whose bike and other such related tales that children love narrating to their parents.
I always ensure my daughters are all asleep by 9pm and once this is done, it is time to put up my feet and catch up with what has happened in the country by watching the news bulletins. This is also the time my husband and I get to catch up.
I am always in bed by 10.30pm.
While at work, how often do you call home to find out if ‘everything is ok’?
Of late I don’t call home every now and then to check on how they are doing like I used to. I guess I have fallen into the system of trusting that they will be fine because I pray before leaving the house for work.
Describe your weekends
I don’t have a routine for my Saturdays because depending on what is scheduled for the day, I will either be working, attending a friends’ or family function, or I will be in the salon with my girls. Sometimes we spend the entire Saturday in the house trying out recipes or just watching cartoons. Other times we spend the day at recreational centers, especially those that have bouncing castles and swings. My typical Sunday begins with church, then lunch at a restaurant before the family returns home to rest.
How do you balance your work life and family life?
My family is my number one priority. I do not take in extra work and I don’t go home with my office. Even my boss knows I do not pick official calls once I leave the office. I have also had to put on hold a number of personal development undertakings because I want to be there during my kids’ formative years. These are some of the sacrifices that a mother has to make.
It also helps that I stopped trying so hard to be a superwoman or supermum. I just found that things fell into place somehow.
Do you ever get ‘me’ time?
I do, but it does not come automatically. It has to be carefully planned and executed. I for example catch up with my friends on Friday evenings for a few hours. Sometimes I lock my bedroom and let the girls know mum is resting. Thankfully, they respect my space when I tell them I need it.
Have you ever considered being a stay at home mum?
Yes. I was one for a whole year. Like I said, I put my family first before anything else. My last two daughters follow each other closely and it only made sense to be at home while they grew. I believe every woman must take a compulsory break from her working years and touch base with herself and her children.
This break was greatly beneficial to me because I was able to closely monitor my kids’ growth and development. We have such a tight bond such that it sometimes makes their father jealous of us. The break I took also helped me train my househelp well, teaching her how to do things in the manner I wanted.
I also rediscovered my calling as a wife and mum (sometimes in the rat race we loose this very important calling and assume we are only good as co- providers in the family).
What is the fun part about raising girls?
Girls are thrillers. From their rivalry to trying to play mummy to ganging up against each other, they are a fulltime commitment. I especially love it when they decide to put up fashion shows for their mummy, using all my lessos and scarves to dress up and display their creative designs. Even my youngest girl is forced to balance on mum’s heels! My power puff girls love having their pictures taken as they conduct their fashion shows. I would never know how to raise a boy.
What dreams do you have for your daughters?
I first and foremost want them to grow in the full knowledge of the power of God. I strongly believe they were born to be great women and I will support them in their respective career choices. I am their number one fan and they know that.
Any major lesson(s) you’ll be keen on imparting on your girls?
Yes. They will have to know that not all boys are as good as their dad and their uncles. I also want them to know that it is normal to grow breasts and to undergo monthly periods.
Most importantly, I keep on telling them they are powerful beyond their imaginations and that they deserve every opportunity to excel in this world. I also what them to learn about the value of hard work and money management. Each of them has some duties in the house and they all have a piggy bank. When they do their chores well, I prepare for them their favorite meal, as well as hug them for a job well done.
What are some of your best moments as a mother?
The joy of watching each of my girls grow from infancy to where they are today is priceless. I am a very hands-on parent and I record each of their milestones in my heart. I strive to be there for them always.
Another favorite moment of mine is when I return home in evening at the end of a hectic work day, only to be received by their innocent faces smiling brightly at me. At such moments, I forget all work related troubles, and the office fatigue I have with me gets out of the window.
Another highlight, like I mentioned, is when they decide to treat me to a fashion show.
Your lowest moments?
I hate it when any of my kids is unwell. It makes me feel very helpless. My lowest moment has to be the time my firstborn was admitted in hospital for two weeks in January this year with Malaria. I would have traded anything to ease her pain but all I could do is wait and pray. I went for three straight nights without sleep, just watching the drips and drugs get changed by the medical team.
How is your husband where raising your children is concerned?
Our roles are very distinct. I have never found him changing diapers or attempting to feed the kids. But he will always accompany me to the clinics and tuck them into bed every night. He is in-charge of their medication (when they are unwell) and he plays with them more than I do. Of late, he is learning to live with their noise.
What is your experience with housegirls? Any advice to fellow mums regarding housegirls?
Housegirls are a mixed package. I never had any problems with the nanny’s who raised my eldest daughter in her early years. She was raised by only two housegirls until she was four years old.
However, the coming of my second born ushered me to the world of unreliable and unpredictable housegirls!
In the last four years, I must have had over ten housegirls. Some did not know what they wanted, others did not do their job to my satisfaction while others simply could not cope.
But I have been blessed with one who came in last year January and she is still on. She manages my kids like a professional.
- Housegirls are first and foremost human beings. Treat them with respect.
- When you employ a housegirl, always keep in mind that her number one responsibility is your baby. Your house and laundry can be handled later. As long as your child is well taken care of, quit the cleanliness fussing. After all, she was not the one in charge of your other duties before she came in.
- Please do not lock up juice and margarine in the cabinet. She will eat your baby’s food. It’s amazing how we do not trust them with our property yet we leave them with our most treasured possessions (the babies)!
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