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Moms Doing It For Themselves: Tammy Darcy

Tammy Darcy started her family at 19, but that hasn’t been a hindrance! Instead, she has worked hard and set up www.shona.ie, The Survival Project for Girls - which aims to encourage confidence and improved self-esteem in young girls from all walks of life in Ireland. We chatted to her about how she’s managed to do it all!

Tell me a bit about your background:

I had my first son at 19, so at the time education wasn’t much of an option for me. At 25, I enrolled on a BA (hons) in Human Resource Management, and then went on to do an MA in Business Management. I’m currently studying an MA in Education, but I’m doing this one very slowly! I always had an interest in social enterprise and always wanted to create some sort of change in terms of the culture that many young girls experience, so I launched www.shona.ie in September 2016. At the moment I manage to balance it with my full-time job, and now I’m starting to get more help, so it’s not all on me!

Did having children change how you felt about your career? How so?

This is a hard one to answer because I started my family so young and I’ve never known any different. I suppose I felt that I didn’t have many options available to me. I was never in a position to travel for work, and always had to manage childcare. I would say though that starting my education a little later made me realise its importance, and I will probably always be trying to learn something in some capacity. Starting a family so young was a challenge, but I also know that by the time they’re all grown up, I’ll still have plenty of time to do my thing.

What changes did you make to make your career work for you?

I have a really great job, with flexible working hours, so I’m very lucky. I also try to schedule school visits and meetings around the kids and their needs. I’m very reliant on my calendar and just take one day at a time. I also have the world’s best husband, and we manage everything together.

How did you feel when making these changes?

They were are not really changes so-to-speak; it’s what we’ve always known. As a family, we are all very active, with busy schedules My kids all take sport very seriously, and it takes up all our evenings and weekends. But we all support each other. When one of us has a big match or event, we travel en masse and cheer each other on.

Did you receive support from your employer at the time?

My employer is amazing, and my immediate boss has been brilliant. I have learned so much from her about how to manage difficult situations, how to deal with stress, how to make sure that as a woman, your voice is heard and your contribution is recognised. She has been a mentor to me, and understands that family will always come first.

How did your partner support you through this time?

We would never be able to make this work if we didn’t treat each other as equals, support each other, and work together. We tend to divide and conquer, so while I’m going in one direction with one kid, he’s going in the other. We have very different personalities, and I feel that kids are the best of both of us.

What worked and what didn’t work along the way?

Our kids are very different, so I realised early on that they can’t all be parented in the same way. Their personalities are so unique and they have different challenges, so you have to just treat them as the people they are. Also, we learned very quickly that we just can’t keep up with some of our friends in terms of having a social life. We just don’t have the energy!

Considering your happiness levels before making a switch to now - how have they improved / decreased?

I have never been happier than I am now. Life is very busy and we work very hard, but our children are (touch wood) healthy and happy, and that’s the main thing. Most importantly, they idolise each other, and are very very close, and I hope it stays that way as they go through life. Siblings are so important, it’s a very special relationship.

How do you rate your work / life balance?

At the moment, it’s tough, as I’m doing two jobs, but I’m making it work as best I can.

Three bits of advice for working mothers?

  1. We are way too hard on ourselves. As mothers, most of us, whether we work at home or out, are constantly wracked with guilt. When I’m in work I feel I should be at home. When I’m at home I feel like I should be with the kids and not doing housework. When I’m out with the kids, I think about the laundry pile at home. I think that will be the case until we figure out how to clone ourselves.
  2. Make sure to look after yourself. I go the gym every morning before work, and for me, it makes me feel good, gives me energy, and helps me with stress.  Also, I recently started getting my nails done every few weeks. A few years ago, I thought it was a crazy extravagance, now I think it’s a necessity!
  3. Give your kids some self-reliance - don’t wait on them hand and foot. We make sure our kids know how to take care of themselves, make their own lunches, clean their rooms, so they view us as people and not servants. Much as I would love to raise kids who can’t manage without me, and rely on me for everything, my job is to raise them to do things for themselves. We all pull our weight in our house!

Would you like to be featured in this interview series? Send an email to our Editor on mairead.cahalan@eumom.ie and tell us a little bit about your career, how you manage to balance your work and life balance and let us know if you've made any drastic changes to facilitate your family and career.

*Lead image credit: John Murray Headshots


About the Author

Lucy Earley is MD of artisyn.ie, (former editor of Salon Magazine) and is a freelance writer, interviewer and editor. She's a delighted convert to the maternal side following the birth of her daughter, Lara, in August 2014

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