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Balancing Motherhood and working as a Flight Attendant

October 6, 2015

In this blog post I answer the question I get asked every time I tell someone I am a mother of two and an international flight attendant –‘How does that work?’

The truth is it’s a really great balance.

Being a shift worker means I have a bi-monthly roster that includes 3, 4 day trips. Approximately 14 hour flights each way. This means that I get a couple of days to myself each month (a 5 star hotel room to myself is bliss), and then get to spend the majority of my time at home, which is more than someone who works 9-5 would get to do. It is busy and tiring but I love my family and my job, so I make it work. I’m no different to all you mums out there – we do what we need to in order to keep our families healthy and happy.

Here are some insights into how I juggle everything and some tips that will hopefully help you going forward:

SUPPORT NETWORK is my number one tip. I am grateful to have an amazing network around me and I utilize it. My husband Ben is amazing – he works 9-5 in a busy job but still manages to be home every morning and night, running the house and getting the kids organised while I’m away. Big shout out to Ben! My mother-in-law Pam is also incredible, helping with school and creche drop offs and pick ups, along with after school activities.

If you don’t have a support network think about how you could build one. Start researching the crèches in your area well in advance and add your name to waiting lists. Also, join mother’s groups in your local area so you meet people in similar situations to your own. That way you can help each other out when you need it.

TIME TO MYSELF is so important. While my daughter is at school and son is at crèche I seize the free hours I have to myself by doing things I enjoy such as blogging, sleeping/ resting or treating myself to a massage or facial. If the sun is shining I have a rest in my hammock or spend time at my local beach. All of the above gives me more energy and clarity to be a better mum. I like to refer back to the safety demonstration on the plane when I talk about this. Look after yourself first before helping children. It is so true and as parents we can use that in all aspects of our life.

INVESTING in products and services that make my life easier and will help me in the long run. Something I believe is worth its weight in gold is a good mattress – mine is invaluable in ensuring I get a good rest before crewing a long haul flight or chasing around after small children. I am one of those people who needs a decent night sleep to get on with the day.

Also, recently I was introduced to the vacuum of vacuums – the Dyson DC50. Lets be honest, if the house is organised and looking tidy we are generally more relaxed. The Dyson is the smallest upright vacuum cleaner on the market and stores away really easily. It’s light to carry which is a god send as my body strength is just not the same after having kids and it makes vacuuming so much quicker. I’m not an engineer but it does lots of fancy stuff that my old one couldn’t do. Most importantly it sucks up large quantities of dust quickly, leaves my floors looking cleaner than they have ever looked and it’s super straightforward to empty when it’s full. It’s so easy to use that even our kids have been getting in on the action – they think it’s fun! I guess it’s the modern design? This leaves us more time to get out enjoy life. If you are in the fortunate position to do so I suggest you invest in the Dyson DC50. Definitely weigh up the cost of your time and energy. We also have assistance with our garden every now and then and a lovely house cleaner who comes to help out once a fortnight.

EATING WELL is important for me. Not only to get the vitamins and minerals I need to get through a long day with the kids (or a long shift at work), but also by adding variety in what I eat makes my day more interesting. Doing what I do for work means keeping hydrated is also critical, which I do by drinking a litre of coconut water on my drive to work. I also like to bookend my day with coffee at the start and wine at the end – everything in moderation right? Food is fuel and we mums must run on something other than love and sloppy kisses!

NOT COMPARING myself with others is my final tip. We all have our own things going on, be it diets, exercising, volunteering, etc. Do what you can, don’t get caught “keeping up with the Jones’”, it will only end in guilt and disappointment. For example, I am more of a jarmie than gym gear wearer at school drop-off – it saves time and is liberating not being like everyone else! I don’t get out of the car so nobody notices. Focus your energy instead on your family. Disconnect from toxic and draining conversations and people and try to keep positive. Don’t get caught up in any of the outstanding debates of breast over bottle, stay at home over working, etc. Walk to the beat of your own drum and do what is right for you and your family.

So this is how I balance motherhood and working as an international flight attendant. I hope you can take something out of what works for me and implement it in your life. The one measure I use for how successful I am at life’s juggling act is the happiness of my family and so far I am doing well!

How do you make it work? I would love to hear in my comments section.

Note. I was gifted a Dyson DC50 to review. My opinions expressed are 100% true.

Photography ( beach) Anya Maria Photography www.anyamaria.com.au

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  • Reply
    October 7, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I find it hard to get me time not having any family around. I am putting the kids in creche today so I can start training for Swim to Rotto and to be honest with you I am a bit nervous about it!

    • Reply
      Mum With Wings
      October 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Hi Anne, The first day is always hard. I definitely had some separation anxiety when I left my daughter there for the first time. Once i realised that she loved it and the teachers were great and she was having interaction with her peers and learning her concept of the world was going beyond her family unit. I was so much more comfortable. I think finding a centre that you are really confident in is the key. Good luck with your training. I hope you enjoyed some time to yourself. Thanks for taking time to comment here. Jade

  • Reply
    Bec @ Seeing the Lighter Side
    October 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    My husband is likely to be an airline pilot within the next few years (he currently does GA, based locally) – this will be really useful for him, thank you. It’s one of the things we’re a little concerned about – how to make it work as a family with extended periods away from home.

    • Reply
      Mum With Wings
      October 13, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Bec, Thank you for taking time to comment. I will never forget a pilot who is also a dad telling me that being away is hard, but being home for things during the week like sports days at school was really awesome and he would be the only dad there as the others would be at their 9-5. I am a lover of shift work. I would much rather go to work get it done and then get a few days ( or weeks in my case of being part time) off. On the flip side I do see flight attendants who are on maternity leave and married to pilots struggle as they are away so much. I hope you can make it work. Focusing on the perks of the job and what it can give your family in travel opportunities is always a good incentive.

  • Reply
    October 31, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Jade, so glad to have found your blog. Currently, I’m with a domestic airline mainly flying turnaround flights, married with 2 kids. I’m going to embark on a new journey, flying international. I have my concerns/ worries but after reading your blog, it definitely helped me in some ways to make my decision easier. Thank you. ?

  • Reply
    April 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Love reading how other flight attendants juggle being a mom! Love the flexibility the job allows.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Jade
    I’ve been flying domestically for 14 years and although my husband and kids (boys, 5 &7) don’t know any different, I definately feel shift work has many more advantages for a working mum than 9-5.
    I am like you- I LOVE shift work- when I have too much annual leave and fall into a 9-5 pattern I feel exhausted (!)
    I love having midweek off to get shopping and chores done, and be available for school assemblies and appointments. Instead of working all day and then coming home and dealing with the kids, house, meals and cleaning and only having weekends off, I get to have blocks of days at home too then when I am at work it’s either for the whole day or for a short trip and my husband takes over. I like to pre plan meals and have a good stash of pre cooked food in the freezer so when either of us are too tired to cook or one of us is alone for the night with the kids it’s easy to have a meal on hand to just reheat. I also think a great organiser calendar is essential- diaries don’t work for me (I always have good intentions then lose focus by the second month) and it’s too hard if I’m flying for my hubby to text me asking what time or where an appointment or event is.
    To the lady, Bec worried about her husband flying in the future- obviously I work with lots of pilots who have kids too and I would say generally it’s also true for them. Probably the biggest issue, when he gets a job with an airline will be getting a position in your home base, or being able to relocate the family as short haul commuting is hard – but if he can fly out of your home port each shift you will find it works really well- the beauty of shift work regionally/domestically is that some days are long, others are very short and he will be able to be home and having days off midweek which is lovely when the kids are at school or daycare and you can have some couple time. Lunching together once a week is really nice and as we don’t have many options in the evening for a date night (without hiring a babysitter) we enjoy our day dates!
    Def have your own support network built though- I’m not lucky enough to to have much family support but I have found when he boys were younger Family day care worked really well for us as opposed to normal day care (hours and flexibility wise) and routine as always is essential for the kids. Best of luck to your hubby with his flying career!

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