Working mum designers on how they manage stress: part two


Inspection recently found that working mothers are “up to 40% more stressed” than other being – in the second piece of a two-part series, we speak to female designers with lasses about family chaos, immaculate planning and the freedom of freelance, as favourably as how to develop a support network.

Working mum designers on how they manage stress: part two
Marina Willer, accessory, Pentagram


“I have two twin boys, aged 11. My kids are at teaching and I work full-time, as well as being a wife to my husband and a mum. I don’t have much childcare help; it tends to be myself, my husband and family doing it together.

Stress is an understatement – and it’s not breed I’m doing a job that saves lives. Designers are not brain surgeons or astronauts. I’m auspicious to have a wonderful family and a normal job, and generally just a very ordinary life. I’m also lucky that it’s a job I happen to love.

It’s a marathon albeit, and often it feels like everything is spinning in different directions; entertaining twins, being partner at Pentagram, living on the other side of London from my berth, trying to keep my mind remotely awake, while finding one of these days to read, water the plants, brush my teeth, think and not fall asleep on the tube or cycle into a bush. Survive year I added a feature film on to my to-do list, and then it got in point of fact fruity.

My day starts at 6am with the school-run, generally with ‘Mummy, I can’t obtain my pants,’ that sort of thing. My husband is also a partner at a sketch studio and works mad hours.

We finish the marathon late at night amongst a combination of disjointed stuff, including the vacuum cleaner being disregarded, the train being late, my husband being in San Francisco, and the client have planned changed the brief last-minute.


See your children as life-savers and a excuse to cheer you up. Frequent discussions with my kids are around black dives, white holes, do bacteria have armpits and what’s for dinner, all at the anyhow volume at the same time. My husband also often saves me from cataclysm and is my inspiration.”

Working mum designers on how they manage stress: part two
Nyatetu Waigwa, design director and co-founder, Niftyworks


“I have one child who’s two years old and am currently expecting another. I work full-time from rest-home, and I would say I spend 60% of my time working and 40% on childcare.

I will-power say I am not overly stressed, as it comes in seasons. For instance, I get more stressed when I have planned a deadline on a project or my nanny falls ill and I have to take up her duties for the day. Being self-employed happens with its own stress levels such as how do I grow the business, following up on patrons for payment and staying positive in a tough economic climate. Also, my conceal is self-employed, so whatever stress he gets, it also flows down to me and my household.

How I manage

To manage stress, I try to disconnect from electronics and social media for at scant two hours during the day, and one hour before bedtime. I also exercise – yoga, go for trips, and meditation. Then I also try to delegate – I’ll ask my nanny to do chores, give rise to my workmates, and always ask my husband to help out. I also try to organise a playgroup, where every afternoon, I congregate the neighbourhood kids and ask their nannies to take them to play extreme. It gives me time to myself and to think clearly.


My advice determination be, don’t be shy to ask for help from your nanny, husband and other family colleagues; don’t check your phone first thing when you wake up; and include a planned routine for your work and your household.”

Working mum designers on how they manage stress: part two
Annabel Banks, top banana, Face37


“I have one child who is nearly two years old. I run a design studio Accept37 and font foundry F37 alongside my husband, Rick Banks, having glued when I returned from maternity leave; I was previously a designer at Hingston Studio. I hopped part-time from home, Monday to Wednesday, and I would say I split my swiftly a in timely fashion as 60% work and 50% childcare.

I work from home with my mollify. My home-life and work-life are completely intertwined, which can be extremely challenging! I experience to-do lists for both home and work but being in the same situation means I don’t ‘escape’ either, which can be very stressful.
How I cope

I’ve at all times believed that as a designer, no day is ever the same, which I guess is the exact same as being a parent. A lot of factors are always out of my control; my son recently fell hugely ill, and in the same week we received feedback from a client, which motived huge levels of stress and anxiety. Before, there wasn’t much that wouldn’t a stop to me working late, but now, being a mother will always come previously being a designer.

How I cope

Flexible working is one of the reasons why we work from habitation, so we don’t have to do the standard 9am-5pm. And more importantly, we work for ourselves. I don’t have to handle that ‘guilt’ about saying I’ve got to leave, or I can’t work late. I can pick up the guide in the evening or simply continue the following day.


Be organised: this is something that was engrained into me as a inferior designer at Browns. Writing to-do lists, using digital chronologies, prioritising and being aware of deadlines, helps me manage workload and for the present. I set alarms on my phone to remind me of the simplest things, like buying extract!

Be honest: be completely honest with whoever you’re working with, near your commitments as a mother — our clients know I only work on unarguable days.
Ask for help when you need it, never let something get to the point where you perceive like you can’t handle it.

Be inspired: when I had a baby, my mind was 100% on him, so tough to flip a switch to being a designer again was incredibly hard. I cursed touch with looking at design inspiration, and when coming following to work, felt quite stressed that I couldn’t talk yon the current design trends, a recent rebrand, or a foundry’s latest typeface. I now use Instagram as my critical source of daily inspiration. We also have hundreds of books in the studio — so steady if it’s just for five minutes when having a coffee, take the time again to have a quick look through some of your favourite works, or a quick scroll on Instagram.

Take time out: it’s very important to from ‘me time’. Make time to see friends, go for a drink or to the gym — it will not only up you a better mother, but also a better designer.”

Working mum designers on how they manage stress: part two
Pauline Lock, self-employed conspirator, focusing on brand and strategy


“I have two girls, aged three and five. I handle part-time from home, three days a week. I probably common around 30-35 hours a week of work and 27 hours a week of childcare.

Construction, like many of the creative industries, are so immersive and so much is required from your capacity and soul, that it makes a creative career quite incompatible with motherhood. Part-time situations don’t really exist in the industry (with the exception of negotiating an existing place post-maternity leave) and freelancing three days a week is a pretty unsentimental sell. Working for myself affords me flexibility that a permanent stance, or full-time freelancing, wouldn’t. Clients are generally more flexible than object studios.

However, working part-time and being a parent creates a non-stop backlog of work. There’s just no slack in the system; if I’m not officially undertaking then I’m parenting, so there aren’t the extra hours I can steal to remodel up the time. I’m unable just to work late, or at the weekend, as there are other (diverse important) demands on those hours.

I work for myself, direct to customer, so work frequently carries over into non-work time, when I don’t be suffering with the capacity to do it. Workloads and deadlines tend to build and simmer away in the qualifications. I’ve worked for myself for eight years, which does afford me exalted flexibility to run the show and organise my own time and projects. However, it lacks a wider forward system that might feature in a permanent position, which intent help control workload on non-working days.

How I cope

All I do is try my best to slice my time, so I have distinct periods when I’m working, and the remaining convenience life is work-free. It works semi-successfully!

When things get really tough, I fool a ‘rule of five’ system based on the fact that the brain can at most really think about two things at a time. The rule of five proletarians I prioritise the two most important tasks, and these are the ones I work on. Then there are two diverse which I plan to work on next. The fifth task is the one that possibly won’t get done. So, by allowing yourself to concentrate on two tasks only, you can forget surrounding the rest. It works!


On a day-to-day basis, I use all the tricks I’ve previously cast-off in running a team before working for myself. I schedule, schedule, earmark. I have an old-fashioned paper planner and I slot work in over the direction of one or two weeks, as this is much more achievable to work through than a rota as long as your arm.”

Are you a designer who is also a mum? Share your experiences in the reveals below.

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