Charlotte Philby is an award-winning journalist and mum of three. She’s also founder and editor of Motherland, a digital platform creating insightful, intelligent content for modern mums. If you haven’t read Charlotte’s ‘Death to the Supermum’ article yet, we highly recommend you do. Just as soon as you’re done with our interview which covers creativity, work-life balance and the vital importance of a good glass of vino. What inspired you to create Motherland? I was working at a newspaper having just had my second child when I started to get the feeling that working for others was becoming a false economy. I was working so hard to be productive, paying almost as much as I was earning on childcare and the commute and it was all for somebody else. I concluded that by putting my energies into something I really wanted to do, I could divide my time in a way that worked better for me as a mum and a writer. There also appeared to be a lack of smart, honest online platforms for mums out there; so that’s where the idea for Motherland came from. For a lot of women Motherhood seems to be a really creative time – has that been your experience? Yes, I think when you become a mum you experience a real sense that suddenly your time and energy is so precious. And in those moments of clarity, you start to explore new horizons, working out what you do - and don’t - want to do. It drives you to seek out work that isn’t just financially rewarding, it’s fulfilling too. Has becoming a mum changed your outlook on life? Oh, it changes EVERYTHING. I used to be one of those people who at the drop of a hat would go travelling or embark on a new adventure, but you have to rein yourself in a little and be prepared for other things to take a back seat. On the other hand, it’s crystallized things that I do want to do and made me see that my time to be productive is finite so just to get on with it. You also learn to really appreciate and enjoy the smaller moments in life (sometimes!) We loved your Death to the Supermum article (among many others). How do you cope when the pressure to ‘have it all’ becomes too much? Well I do drink a lot of wine (laughs), but I think it’s an ongoing process. There’s a ‘cult of busy’ in our modern world, which can be brilliant in one sense because there is the opportunity to try many different things, but it’s important to remind yourself that you needn’t constantly have your foot on the accelerator. You can’t do everything at once. One thing I’m working on is how to say ‘no’. In this day and age of inspirational Instagram quotes saying ‘grab every opportunity’, it feels quite against the grain. But as a former colleague told me, it’s important to know your 'yes’ in order to understand your ’no’. It’s about cutting out the stuff that won’t get you where you want to go. Primetime dramas with a G&T or glass of wine always does the trick too! Ha, what are you watching right now? I’m literally watching everything, but last night I watched an episode of Marcella; the new drama starring Anna Friel. It’s so, so good. Lots of mums dream of leaving the day job and finding a better balance, what would you say to them? I think there’s an idea that when you start your own business and become your own boss, you can automatically create more time to spend with your children. That definitely can be the case but it’s really important to set out time for work and time for play and then stick rigorously to those: organizing childcare if you need to. Because when you’re working for yourself, and from home, it’s hard to know when to stop and switch off. You have to divide your time otherwise you end up trying to do everything at once and while you might be spending more time with the children, it’s not always quality time. That said; I’m pretty terrible at all this. It’s something I’m working on. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing parents today? One of the biggest is the combination of lack of quality, affordable childcare and the nonsensical business culture that’s preventing men and women from achieving the balance they need. Flexible working hours and remote working should be encouraged more. It’s really sad for both businesses and parents that a lot of women, and men to a lesser extent, are being pushed out of the workplace because childcare costs make going to work a financial impossibility. Conversely, it’s a good time for people setting up their own businesses and working freelance. It’s an interesting time of changing attitudes. What does happiness look like to you? Well we’ve just published a podcast with Ruth Whippman author of ‘The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making us Anxious’. Prior to this, my husband and I were discussing moving the country or changing the way we work, but actually I’ve realized that what Ruth says is right - happiness is just those small moments when you’re totally present with what’s going on. You’re with friends and family, in the moment and truly enjoying it. You were the first of your friends to fall pregnant. How did it affect your friendships? It was tricky. Obviously I had my mum and older family friends who had been through pregnancy before, but nobody my own age. It was unsettling for me and my friends, but also amazing in a sense that we went through it together. They were all majorly supportive. I still have and treasure my old friends - many of whom still haven’t had kids - but I’ve also made friends with other mums through antenatal classes and nursery and school, which has provided a daily support that I couldn’t get otherwise. Sometimes it’s a relief to be with other mums who won’t be offended when you have to cut a conversation short in a café to save your kids from another inevitable hot-choc related disaster. What’s the best piece of parenting advice you’ve been given? It’s not to read all the books. Just trust your instincts. The parenting industry is so lucrative now, with every aspect of raising a child, dissected. But people have been giving birth and raising children since the dawn of time. There’s no right answer or one solution fits all. I’ve had to adjust my approach with each of my children, so the idea that there is a uniform answer for everyone is just nonsense. What has your mum taught you about motherhood? I’m an only child and my parents split when I was young, so mum taught me about perseverance and being supportive - because she’s incredibly strong. She also taught me that children need boundaries in order to feel safe and know where they stand. What’s next for you and Motherland? Well in terms of children, I’ve definitely had enough (laughs). Three is plenty! On the career front, I’m planning to continue with Motherland. So look out for more events, podcasts and articles. I’m also starting to write a novel, so that will be my new challenge. I’m just figuring out the time to write it.