At just 24 years old, Mia Freedman was the youngest editor-in-chief that women’s magazine Cosmopolitan had ever seen.
Since then her career has risen to even greater heights. Now, with a husband and three children, she’s become a powerful advocate of women’s issues and has built her own thriving family business – women’s website and blog mamamia.com.au
When she’s not writing or on the public speaking circuit, Mia also makes time to advocate for Lifewise – a consumer awareness initiative for Australia’s life insurance industry.
Time management and achieving work/life balance seem to be a struggle for many of us. So we thought Mia would be the perfect person to talk to about balancing the stresses of self- employment and the pressures of parenting.
You started a successful career very young. How did your priorities change when you became a Mum?
Being a Mum changes everything. My first boss said to me, ‘Being a Mum will make you a much better editor’. I didn’t know what she meant at the time, because I was only 24. But she was right in that it gave me perspective, it made me much more effective with my time, and it helped me prioritise. I think if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. I find I’m most efficient when I have a lot to do.
How do you find the balance between working on Mamamia and spending time with your family?
I had a bit of a revelation a couple of weeks ago when I felt balance for 15 minutes! So it’s not something where you go, ‘Oh, I’m balanced, phew.’ It really is a week-to-week, day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour proposition – this idea of balance. And so much of it is working out whose needs are most important: is it your staff, your kids, is it you, or your partner – in that moment?
Have you found working for yourself has had a positive impact on your stress levels?
When I worked for a big media company and my husband worked for himself, we always joked that I slept better than him, because at the end of the day, work wasn’t really ‘your’ problem if you didn’t run your own business. But when it’s you as the business-owner, there is no luxury of that, and
that weighs on you much more heavily.
But what alleviates that stress is having the flexibility, for example, to work Fridays from home and be with my youngest son, and on Mondays work a shorter day because I drop the kids off at school and I pick them up.
Does your busy lifestyle ever drain you creatively? If so, what do you do to inspire yourself?
I get most of my ideas when I’m on the treadmill or in the shower. I have to exercise every day. I get a pad and pen next to the treadmill and I can just think. Maybe it’s the serotonin levels that help provide those ideas.
What made you decide to start up Mamamia?
I was really sick of working in management and working for a big company. I wanted to be creative and more hands-on myself. As a consumer and a content-provider, having worked in magazines and then TV, traditional media wasn’t meeting my needs. My own life was also moving much more online, so I wanted to work in the field that most interested me.
I’ve also always created communities of women, whether it’s been online or on TV, and I love the idea of doing that in a more democratic way online. With old-school media, you create something and then put it out there, and that’s kind of the end of it. Whereas online, it’s about starting a conversation. For example, some of the comments we get on Mamamia in response to a story posted (which can be up to 1,600 comments) are as integral as the post itself.
If you had a robot to do one task for you each day, what would it be?
Cooking! Meal preparation and cooking, I absolutely loathe. But I’ve started to make green smoothies for breakfast for my husband, my older son and myself. The little ones have cereal. So breakfast I can just manage. But I can’t even be bothered to think of something to have for lunch.
I just find it such a distraction.
What advice would you give other working mothers who also want to pursue a career?
You have to pace yourself. You have to accept that guilt is going to be your constant companion. And you have to make sacrifices. Whether it’s fair or right, it’s just reality.
What are your three proudest moments to date?
I’d have to say my children. I’ve got three kids and they’re the best thing I’ve ever done, if you could call them achievements. I’m very proud of them. I’m also really proud of Mamamia and what it’s becoming. I’m also very passionate about my work in the body image field and what it’s done
to raise awareness about issues for women, and increasingly for young men.
For more information on Mia, visit her website, mamamia.com.au and for information about her involvement with Lifewise, visit lifewise.org.au