This month’s That Mama is life coach, career advisor (and much more!) Grace Clapham of The Change School. Here’s how she’s manages work-life balance.
From the start, ‘That Mama’ has been a series looking at how various women manage the always tricky proposition of work-life-balance. While trying to be the best team we can be at Sassy Mama, we’ve worked with Grace Clapham and her partner Solonia Teodros at their awesome company The Change School, where they often coach mamas who are struggling to return to the workforce to help them redefine their identity.
Last year Grace gave birth to her super adorable daughter, Naia, and we were so curious to find out how she was navigating parenthood and working life. Not surprisingly, Grace has blazed on with not one but three different businesses (did we mention she also doesn’t have a helper?!). Read on for some truly invaluable wisdom, mamas, and find out if Grace’s approach to coaching mamas has changed since she became a mother herself…
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I’m a multi-hyphenate. Title agnostic nowadays because I continue to wear different hats. My first hat empowers individuals to carve their own path, to be BOLD and stop following the herd so that they can create a life and business that is aligned with their values. I do this through public speaking and through one of my companies, The Change School, where we work with individuals moving through a career change and crossroads. We work with people to embrace change, navigate change and thrive in change through online programs and tools.
My second hat, Agent Grace, focuses on building communities, on helping brands navigate new markets and building strong brand strategy so that they can move confidently in the right direction to build powerful businesses with impact + reach.
My third hat is working with women to hustle to their own heartbeat. I work as their co-partner and catalyse women who want to launch a side hustle and move from corporate employee to badass boss.
I’ve come from a family where my father wore many different hats so I feel it’s in my blood.
My family are spread across the globe; our house used to be like a hotel with people coming in and out and we loved it…most of the time. We are all very close with our larger family and I really am so grateful for that. We are all pretty weird and that’s awesome.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
Pre-baby – I was very much focused on The Change School and trying to raise investment but had some major changes. I had also started coaching more women who wanted to launch their side hustle or a business. I would also occasionally advise brands who wanted to launch into the SEAsian market or transform their business.
Post Baby – still very much the same, although I took a little hiatus as it was harder than I imagined! Now we’re continuing to grow The Change School and getting it back to growth.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having your daughter?
I wanted to jump into work immediately but unfortunately things didn’t work out for me that way. So it ended up taking me longer than I expected because we had a few difficulties in the first 5 months with my daughter. We had no full time help (although my mother was a godsend for the most critical months), so I had to juggle life and work as many people in other parts of the world do.
I really had a lot of internal struggle at the start because I wanted to work, I love what I do, and I just had so much I wanted to do but not enough time to do it all.
After month 5 things started to get easier (although my daughter was a terrible sleeper so I felt like a zombie most of the time!), and I was able to get into more of a natural rhythm. I was also lucky to have found a great co-working space for parents called Trehaus (We <3 Trehaus! –Ed.) and that really allowed me to feel “normal” again and get into the swing of things.
How do you maintain an identity separate from your child?
I’m was pretty strong minded about not losing my identity. Pre-baby we (at The Change School) worked with a lot of mothers who were looking to get back into the workforce (and who had lost their identity). I also grew up with a mother who gave up her identity and her life to raise three children. So this kept me well aware of what I didn’t want to do.
From the get-go when I found out I was pregnant I was certain I didn’t want to stop what I was doing so I think my work really allowed me to maintain this separate identity.
How has having a child changed the way you define work?
To be honest it hasn’t. I think what’s changed is more just trying to work smarter, not harder, although this was something I was keen to do before, I just didn’t really follow through with it as much before because I had so much time.
After having my daughter I became even more mindful of where I spend my time or how I spend my time.
At the same time earlier this year I set the intention that I’d like to reconnect with many more of my friends and people in my wider network, because for the past few years I was really focused on my work and trying to grow a business – which we are still working out all the kinks and the joys of being your own boss, trying to scale a business etc.
Has becoming a parent affected how you coach mothers trying to re-enter the workforce after a break?
To be honest since having a child I’ve only worked with three mothers and I don’t really think it has changed, because I feel the women that I seem to attract are pretty set on wanting to keep doing what they love. If anything I feel that it’s allowed me to really help focus the women I work with on doing the things they want to, to become who they want to become and reach for the highest level/ potential of themselves.
What’s the #1 piece of advice you have for mamas contemplating a career change (or any sort of major life change)?
Don’t let fear or anything else stop you from moving forward in reaching your vision. Keep your eye on your vision and get the support and systems to make it happen. Change is a process, enjoy the journey.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Keep it simple stupid, create systems and think ahead. I’m pretty good at doing a few things at once, but to be honest, I’ve always been one to change my routines and rituals pretty regularly as I get bored otherwise with the same rituals and routines. Oh, and leverage – anything you can to help you optimise what time you have.
I wish I had more time for…
Reading, creative thinking, my yoga and mornings.
I always feel saner after….
Going for a walk.
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
I live near Bukit Timah, I love the neighbourhood and the community in our area.
Favourite kid-friendly activity in Singapore?
This is not my forte! Going out with other mamas and their kids so the mamas can hang. My husband tells me we need to do more kid-friendly activities but I’m pretty bad as my daughter just comes along with us most of the time.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
I don’t really break it up in kid-friendly or family-friendly. We just take Naia with us and make it work.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
We’ve had such a crazy year but I think the biggest thing is just making some quiet time for us to hang on the balcony or going for a walk – I really enjoying going on a motorbike ride with my husband.
Favourite date night restaurants?
We’ve had very few date nights as we don’t have any help and my daughter has only started sleeping through the night recently so our favourite date night is takeaway and the couch!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Don’t listen to any advice – just go with the flow. I’m all about just-in-time learning.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Everyone focuses so much on the pre-natal and labour phase but really think about the post-natal and post-baby life, even though you might not be able to really imagine what it will be like. Thinking about post-baby includes your support systems, your sanity checks (read – time out for you, selfish is more than OK!), how to divide who’s doing what, etc.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
30-minute, one-pot meals so I had more time to do other things!
What’s your favourite family ritual?
I love going for morning walks with my little one – it’s what we’ve done pretty much every day since she was born – and bath time. I’m really looking forward to creating more rituals when Naia gets a little older.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Depends on the night but usually anyone of these:
When I can get back to sleep?
….or how much time I have before my daughter wakes up
….if I should write a book
….what else I can do…
My favourite moment of the day is…
The morning…definitely, but our balcony also gives a pretty good sunset view and I love sitting there with a beer or a glass of wine.
Thank you so much, Grace, for sharing your working mama wisdom! And many thanks to Katie Martin-Sperry Photography for the gorgeous snaps!