Emily Jade O'Keeffe
102.9 HOT TOMATO BREAKFAST PRESENTER/ WRITER/MARRIAGE CELEBRANT. MUM TO MILLIE VALENTINE (4). Emily Jade O’Keeffe remembers her one and only pregnancy (so far) with joy. Dealing with fertility issues, EJ says her and husband Gerard were “thrilled and thankful” to be pregnant. With one child, and the hope of more fading, EJ admits that raising an only child comes with its own share of terms and conditions. “We are dealing with a little girl who is totally doted on by everyone around her. For her it is wonderful, but she doesn’t hear ‘no’, or have to share, or learn compromise with other siblings. So she can seem spoilt when she is in a bigger gathering of kids. If they want to play with her things she can get overwhelmed by sharing, or if she wants to do an activity and they don’t, she doesn’t cope well with the alternative. We decided to do respite foster care to give her a chance to know what it is like to have siblings, and also to help other little people in need. It really does seem to be working out for everyone.” What parenting tips did your mum give you? She gave me so many. She was what she called a ‘professional mother’ and is now a childcare worker. As a mother of five, she chose to be at home and early on decided to view motherhood as a career in order to bring her the right satisfaction. So she advised me to not look at motherhood as either a step back or a hold on my career when I had to go on maternity leave, but instead view it as a different career choice and learn and grow from it and embrace the change. She then taught me to be super-organised each day because the more organised I was, the more time I actually had to play with Millie. Mum used to have all the washing done, the house tidy and dinner prepared before we all even woke in the morning. I don’t know quite how she did it, but then she had all day for us. Do you think your mum had it easier as a mother in her generation? I thought she had it harder with no dishwasher, not as much flexibility in the workplace for mums, not as much money, higher interest rates etc. But she thinks this generation has it harder and when I spoke to her about it, I tend to agree. Mums are now expected to be able to do so much more - work full time and then still be perfect mum with perfect lunch boxes, houses, wardrobes and workout routines. We then constantly compare our mothering choices and life to eachother because of social media. We are overloaded and I, personally, am almost burnt out. It wasn’t until I pulled back on a lot of things that I started to enjoy being a mother. What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a mum? That while I am here to teach Millie about life, she is the one who teaches me. How do you look after yourself while also looking after your kids/family? I hire help. I will forgo new clothes for a cleaner. I’ll forgo dinners out for a guy to come and do the gardens. If I have to worry about those things, my husband and I don’t get a break on the weekends, so we got help and that makes us both so mentally happy which makes the household happy. How would you like your kids to describe you? The same way I describe my mum - the best mum in the world. If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell the brand new-mum version of yourself? That breastfeeding takes longer than you think, so make sure you have Netflix.