Mamamia co-founder and creative director Mia Freedman talks Work Strife Balance.
Mia Freedman’s new book, Work Strife Balance, is an interesting read about her high-flying media career, life and family. With personal stories ranging from a major career setback and building her own start-up, to dealing with everything from bulimia and anxiety to internet trolls, Mia offers plenty of down-to-earth advice and from-the-heart insight. Her son, Luca, even wades in with his own take on her parenting skills and her mother, Kathy, on the role of feminism in her life. Mia’s basic premise is there is no such thing as work-life balance and that striving for that elusive state is the #1 mistake women make. Here, she joins us to answer a few quick questions. (Author picture: Cybele Malinowski)
Why do you think work-life balance ever became a thing?
It began as corporate speak and the idea behind it was good. That we shouldn’t lean all the way into work at the expense of having a life. But unfortunately it’s been taken very literally by too many of us to make us feel that if we don’t have this mystical, elusive balance ALL THE TIME, we’re somehow failing. It’s become yet another bar women are measuring ourselves against and then feeling like we’ve failed. Like the thigh gap. The truth is that there are times in your life when you want to and have to lean into your work and other times when you want and need to lean in to other aspects of your life. Maybe your children, your health or mental health or your aging parents. Life has a knack for throwing us off balance and that’s OK. Balance, frankly, is bullshit.
What have you learnt about yourself in your 40s?
Everything. Well, actually I learned a lot in my 30s because I had therapy which I highly recommend if you want to enjoy your 40s. Which I am. I learned that I have had generalised anxiety disorder my whole life. I learned I needed medication – and other things – to manage it. I learned that your kids need you more not less as they grow up. I learned that I was finally done having kids in the most bizarre and tragic way. I learned that my female friendships hold me up and complement the emotional support I get from my husband. I learned to expect less from myself and more from my husband than most women do. And I learned to start calling myself a media company owner and be proud of that. That’s just the start. This book is about how I learned all those things and how women can apply them to their own lives.
Was there a story you wanted to include in the book that you didn’t?
The hardest part about writing personally is that unless you live alone in a Mongolian Yurt, our stories and our lives overlap with other people’s. It’s not just my story it’s the story of my husband and our kids and my friends and their lives and the people I work with … but mostly I’ve found ways to include everything I wanted to. My favourite chapter is actually the one I didn’t write. My son wrote about what I’m like as a mother. How I’ve raised him – for better and for worse. Lots of people are saying they learned so much about parenting by reading that chapter.
Have you ever considered writing a novel?
Only for the briefest of moments and only because it would be a way to write all the things I want to but can’t because they involve other people! Fiction has its benefits. Some of my closest friends like Caroline Overington and Holly Wainwright write fiction and I genuinely don’t know how they do it. I need to be grounded in reality to write. I’m wayyyy too intimidated to write fiction.
This book is for every woman who’s been told success is as simple as Lean In, Say Yes, Live Your Best Life, Beat Your Fear, Follow Your Dream… and then feel #soblessed. It’s for guilty friends, bad mums, crap wives, imperfect feminists, rebellious daughters and any girl with a big mouth and at least one foot in it. It’s for any woman who’s ever asked: ‘Am I the only one who isn’t quite coping?’
Here is Mia Freedman’s low road to the top – a fearless, hilarious, inspiring and surprising collection of modern misadventures to read, relate to and rejoice in, then share with all the women in your life.
Read an extract from the book here.
Mia Freedman is the co-founder and creative director of the Mamamia Media Company, Australia’s largest women’s digital media and podcast company. The former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and TV executive is the host of two podcasts, makes regular appearances on TV and radio, and is the author of four books. She is married with three children and lives in Sydney. Work Strife Balance is released today (Macmillan Australia).