Tanya Kovarsky is a freelance writer, editor and blogger (Rattle and Mum and Dear Max) based in Joburg. Coming from a background of magazines, Tanya began freelancing about two years ago in order to be able to spend more time with her four and a half year old son, Max. She likes pink stuff, gadgets, lipstick, sneakers, tech and running long distances (like Comrades!)
Describe a typical working day for you?
No day is ever the same, especially since I have joint custody with Max’s dad, who I’m still very close to. However, an average day starts with me waking up at around 5.05am, 5.10am, 5.15am and 5.20am to four alarms, before finally getting up to go and run 10km. I’ll come home, dress Max if he’s not already dressed, shower, get dressed and prepare us both breakfast. I then take him to school, which takes around 20 to 25 minutes. After that, I’ll either go home to work, to one of my favourite ‘coffices’ to work, or to an event. I fetch Max around 12.30 or 1, depending on his extra murals. I’ll then take him home or to a friend for a playdate. After that, I’ll work at home or attend an event. Many nights my work will continue.
What does your job entail?
It’s difficult to define as what I do is quite broad, but my job involves blogging for my site Rattle and Mum, managing social media for some clients, and doing freelance writing and editing, which differs from month to month. I also do digital and writing training. Although it’s not entirely ‘work’, I often attend launches and functions for my blog.
Who looks after Max?
Max is at nursery school half day, and we have a helper who watches him in the afternoons. If I can’t fetch him owing to work commitments, he’ll either stay in aftercare until I can fetch him, or go to a friend for a playdate.
Who does the cooking and the cleaning?
I’m very lucky to have a full-time domestic worker.
What do you like the most about your current set-up?
I’d say the flexibility, but it can often be a burden as well – sometimes routine and consistency are wonderful too.
What do you find the most difficult about your current set-up?
The difficulty of getting work done at home when my son is around (through no fault of his), and the high expectations I set myself as a flexible working mom trying to fit in work to support us, as well as be a daily present and active mom since I work flexibly. I remember being in the 9 to 5 role, which was more difficult in many ways, but easier in some – I had a fixed salary, didn’t have to chase work, and my work for the day ended when I left the office.
When do you spend the most time with Max?
Do you have any family rituals?
Max and I have a strong bedtime ritual – we read a book that he’s chosen, and afterwards I sing a bedtime song that I learnt at summer camps, and which I’ve been singing to him since he was born. It’s the only time I ever sing – I have a terrible singing voice. Fortunately my son is forgiving!
Do you find any time for yourself?
All the time! I guess it’s facilitated by Max’s dad looking after him too, but even when we were together, I realised that to be a decent and functional mom I needed some me-time – whether it was an undisturbed bath, or running races or getting my hair done.
Do you look at other working parents and wonder how they do it?
I try not to do this – I never know other people’s setups entirely, and comparing and trying to emulate others makes things even harder for me. This is not to say I don’t get inspiration from other moms who balance well; rather I will try and do my best for our setup, knowing that everyone’s situation is different.
What advice do you have for other moms on how to juggle all these important roles?
I think the ‘juggle’ is easier when we define how long we need each ball in each hand. I think that guilt, as inevitable as it is, throws juggling off centre, along with comparison to others, and all the ‘I should’ statements we tell ourselves. Don’t get weighted down by the balls, and be kind enough to yourself to let go once in a while and drop them for a bit to pat yourself on the back, and exhale.