How I juggle my separate lives

Visa Europe head of policy and issues Amanda Kamin is one of 15 women being mentored as part of PRWeek's Mentoring Project. She writes here about she combines the life of an 'always-on' comms professional with being a mum.

How I juggle my separate lives

I live two separate lives in one body. It’s not a case of paranoid schizophrenia. It’s a daily miracle, but one which is now rather commonplace. I’m a working mum, and I’m fully committed to both halves.  

I love what I do – it’s interesting, stimulating, challenging and rewarding. It never even occurred to me to consider watering down my ambitions once I had children. Now that I have kids, they drive me even harder to achieve my goals – all four of them (little boy, baby girl, cat and dog). While I’m not the cookie-baking type, I am the type of mum I always wanted to be – warm, child-centred and easygoing.  

When I’m at work I sometimes forget I have children, and when I was on maternity leave I liked to call myself the ‘executive mum’. I would race around town pushing a phil & teds pram with a Bluetooth headset on so I could take care of admin while on the move. I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire.

I’ve developed my own ways to thrive (and sometimes just survive) in both my worlds.  I hope they’re of use to someone else and I’m still open to further improvements so do share back – #prweekmentoring (@Kaminamanda)

Help for the 'work' me
•    Agree parameters that define urgent, reputation risks. Which are truly business critical and require immediate attention? – e.g. do they focus on a known ‘hot’ topic, involve a key stakeholder, top tier media, etc.

•    Learn from the lawyers. The closer they are, the easier it will be to spot potential pitfalls, address them together and move on with delivery.  

•    Develop relationships across the business. Informal networking is the best kind – so finding time for the running club, working mothers' lunch, chat while the kettle boils, will pay dividends when you need cross-departmental support.

•    Keep a big agency culture when going in-house. Time is valuable, so maintain a mental ‘billable hours’ calculation. Give key projects the focus they deserve and resist being consumed by pop-up requests. Add value to your ‘clients’ in each interaction.  

•    Take every opportunity when starting out. Ten years ago I was taking notes on late night conference calls just to get near an account I desperately wanted to work on. Now I’m the client.

Help for the 'mummy' me
•    Buy presents in advance, in bulk and for all potentialities. In my closet you will find boxes of wine for dinner parties, posh candles as a gift for friends hosting tea, boxes of chocolates for pregnant friends who can’t drink wine, baby girl and boy outfits and birthday presents suitable for all ages.   

•    Buy extra school uniforms. There are five school days and not much time to do laundry, so buy more than you think you need. Take away the hassle of finding a clean jumper during the hectic morning routine.  

•    This is hands down the best practical tip I’ve heard in ages. Ready?... Buy a cheap dressing gown. Wear it until the second before you leave the house. Have no fear cuddling your grimy baby!

•    Chart for the front door. Last Friday when I forgot to dress my son in his PE uniform (and was feeling rather guilty), one of the other mums suggested I get a whiteboard for the inside of our front door, showing what’s required each day per child.  

•    Buy cake sale donations from Sainsbury's. Baking is not my area of expertise, so I will unashamedly contribute store bought goods. The school’s objective was to receive donations so let’s not get picky.

Kamin is being mentored by Mary Whenman, MD of corporate, financial and public affairs at Weber Shandwick. Read more about the PRWeek Mentoring Project here.


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