This week’s That Mama is Emma Dale, mum to Charlie and William, and Managing Director of Prospect Resourcing, a global PR and Communications recruitment business. She gives us her tips on balancing motherhood with a full-on career, the family rituals she loves most of all and her top picks for a date night dinner.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Delegating to my husband, helper, good friends and work team. In my position as MD of a global recruitment business, I just need to focus on bringing in revenue and making my consultants successful therefore admin is handed over to my amazing assistant Karen. It’s easy to get distracted when everyone wants a piece of you but when it comes to work, I need to be fairly ruthless and focus on clients and candidates.
I’ve always been a morning person so I am in the office just after 8am and choose this time to focus on important work issues, whilst I’m at my most efficient. I try not to book meetings after 6pm as I’m not at my best and prefer to be at home helping my two boys, William and Charlie with their homework and enjoying family time.
I wish I had more time for…
Me and my husband Keir! It’s hard enough finding time for yourself – however when you spend a lot of evenings networking or entertaining clients and candidates, catch ups with the hubby are all too brief midweek. I also wish that I could see more of my kids’ after-school activities. They love it when I’m there but it’s just not possible to do regularly. Having said that, I’d never miss sports day or Mother’s Day – those are sacred!
I always feel saner after….
A glass of red wine! Or once I’ve completed four crucial tasks that day.
Favourite activity with the kids in Hong Kong?
Hiking – this is when we REALLY talk. There are no distractions, so I tend to find out more about my kids’ thoughts and feelings.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong?
Pizza Express in Stanley just works for us. We know the team there, so they look after us and entertain the kids.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We have been to Laguna in Phuket several times with family and friends. The restaurants are good value and relaxed, the beaches are clean and the locals are so friendly.
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
Ocean Park! Although thankfully I think they are now growing out of it a bit… well, that’s what I’m hoping!
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Regular date nights – it’s too easy to crash in front of the TV or laptop and not talk properly.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
Spices in Repulse Bay due to its close proximity to home; Enoteca on Elgin Street for the atmosphere and prosecco; and Cafe Grey Deluxe for a special occasion.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I’ve been working in PR and Communications recruitment for over 19 years and met my-now business partner 15 years ago. We set up Prospect knowing that we both wanted to have kids and therefore needed it to be a lifestyle business. We took it in turns (literally!) to have babies and take time out of the business, and both always agreed to work around the children. You never fully step away when you are on maternity leave when it’s your own business, however Colette and I have always tried to allow each other sufficient time with our babies and cover each other as necessary. Now that our kids are older, I must admit we do tend to work fairly full-on hours, but we don’t feel as guilty now that our kids are in full time school. Colette runs the UK business and I run Asia, so we support each other remotely with regular phone calls.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
As a mother, work means the same to me as it did before – it is important to do something that you enjoy. The PR industry is fascinating and I never get bored of the people I deal with.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and working other mamas in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is full-on and it’s easy to get sucked in and continuously react to client demands around the clock. However, most people do understand when you are unavailable due to family commitments, and respect you more for having a balance. It’s important to have a cut off point when you just say ‘no’.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Don’t let your life change dramatically just because your kids have come along. Get some balance and remember that your husand, work and friends can still fit into your life as a parent.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Don’t try and do it all – it’s not possible! Focus on a few key things and do them well.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Sleeping – my brain is too active with thoughts of work and playdates it seems!
My most humbling mama moment was…
Being at home for the boys’ first steps – I wouldn’t have missed that for any client!
What’s your favourite family ritual?
I work from home on a Friday allowing me to pick up the boys off the school bus at 3.30pm to spend the rest of the afternoon with them- we don’t do anything desperately exciting, but its great just hanging out together at the playground, beach or pool.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about…
The never-ending family and work to-do lists.
Bedtime is always smoother when…
I’ve got home before 7pm and had a proper catch up with the boys rather than going straight into homework and bedtime chores.
Even when my child has a family of his/her own, I’ll still…
Be there whenever they need me.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Time for a decent manicure!
My favourite moment of the day is…
When Charlie and William burst into our bedroom to say ‘good morning’… whatever ungodly hour it is!