First, let’s start at the beginning. What are mornings like?

Frances, founder of Abel: When I’m at home and things are relatively “normal” my life is actually very routine! Both my husband and I have busy jobs, so our life makes the most sense (and as a result has the most space) when we’re sticking to a structured schedule. So, my days start early, I’m up at 6 am or just before and have breakfast at home with the family before biking into work – normally in time for a 7 am call with our team/partners in either Europe or the USA.

Marta, Office Manager: My mornings start at 6 am, I’m usually woken by my dog Tahi waiting to be let outside. First thing after that I switch on the Moccamaster. Next, I prepare my daughter Anouk’s lunch and breakfast and maybe I’ll prepare lunch for myself and my partner Doug too. Then it’s coffee, breakfast, shower and off to walk to work by 7:30 am. Time and organisation is so valuable to my life, if I have spare time I’ll do the online food shopping or some other life admin before I leave the house. 

Elise, Operations Manager: My day usually begins around 6.30am. I’m either woken up by our wake-up light (we have a strict rule of no phones in our bedroom!), or more often by our little boy. It’s easily my favourite part of the day when he joins us in our bed around 6.30. After some cuddles and playtime, I head to the shower to get ready for the day. My husband is usually quicker, so he takes care of making breakfast. We try to set aside one day a week to have a coffee together as a family in a local café before work, a tradition I “stole” from Frances actually! Because I’m in Europe and the rest of the team is in NZ or USA, I also start some days a week with a 7am meeting.

What is a daily ritual that helps you find balance?

Marieke, Commercial Manager: That morning coffee (although I recently made the switch to tea – I’m pregnant with our second and weirdly don’t enjoy my coffee anymore!) and walking the dog – it’s nice to have those little breaks in the day. 

Marta: I’m not sure if this counts as a ritual but a daily walk; either my walk to work or an afternoon walk with Tahi.  Being a mum involves a lot of managing other people’s moods and needs, so some simple alone time is really essential to recentre myself.

What does time for yourself look like these days?

Frances: A weekend yoga class and if there’s time, a coffee with a friend before or after.

Marieke: Most Friday’s Thysa goes to daycare in the morning and during those hours I try to do something for myself which can be anything. Now that I’m pregnant again I book a prenatal yoga class most weeks.

Marta: Carving out time for myself is not something I am very good at. But for a treat, I’ll go for a sauna with friends at Tory Urban Retreat or attend a yoga class at Space Studio, I always leave both those spaces feeling better than I did walking in.

Children can be utterly (and sometimes savagely) honest. What is a time when your child(ren) dropped a truth bomb on you?

Frances: I recently tried on a new dress I’d got for a special occasion. Rufus came upstairs and when I asked him what he thought, his answer was, “You look a bit weird to be honest.” Not what I wanted to hear. 

Marta: Whenever Anouk calls me or Doug out for being on our phones. This one is especially brutal as there really is nowhere to hide and it highlights all the double standards parents have about screen time.

What is a tradition or concept you hope to pass down to your children?

Frances: Dave and I are really strong on communication in our relationship. We “dialogue” every Sunday evening, a communication technique we learnt years ago before we got married at a couples retreat. The basic premise is you listen, mirror and validate the other person’s thoughts and feelings. It’s something we’ve just recently introduced to the children. We don’t do it every week with them, but when we feel like there’s something they need to share in a safe place, or when we’re feeling like life has been a bit busy and disconnected. It’s amazing how they have responded to this style of communicating and really feeling like they’re heard. I hope it’s something they will be able to use in their own relationships as they get older.  

Marta: Sitting down and sharing food together as a family at the table, whether just the three of us or as a larger group, eating together connects us. We regularly go to my mother’s house for large family dinners. These used to be every Sunday but are less often these days -I think this is definitely a tradition rooted in my Polish heritage and something I would like to be hosting one day for Anouk when she is older.

Marieke: Family holidays in Friesland. My grandparents bought a little house in this Northern province of the Netherlands over 50 years ago where we spent our summers. Everybody was always welcome to stay with us and I have made countless happy memories there throughout my childhood and beyond. I love to share this special place with my kids!

What is something no one told you about motherhood that you had to learn yourself?

Marta: You will never ever get your sleep back! Sleep aside though, I think learning to listen to and trust your instincts. 

Marieke: How generous and supportive other mothers have been on the journey. They are eager, willing, and excited to share anything and everything. Living abroad, far away from our family, the genuine, authentic support from other moms felt refreshing and came as a pleasant surprise.

Elise: That nothing in your life will ever smell as good as your newborn baby.

What is the biggest lesson in motherhood that you’ve learned so far?

Marta: To let go of expectations.

Marieke: Don’t be fooled – no one has it all together all of the time.

Elise: Many aspects of motherhood tend to fall into place with just giving it time. Don’t try and force things too much.