My Family Time: Cecilia Robinson

01:05, Oct 18 2013

If being busy was an Olympic sport, Cecilia Robinson would be a gold medalist. But running two successful online businesses - Au Pair Link and My Food Bag - as well as being a mother to one-year old son Thomas doesn't leave much space in the diary. The 28-year-old, who came to New Zealand from her native Stockholm in 2005, talks about how she juggles family, career and life.

"I met my husband James, who's from Wairoa, my first night in New Zealand. I'd worked as an au pair in the US and saw the need for a service here that connects families with au pairs. I started the company in 2007 and we are now the largest au pair company in Australasia, and one of the largest in the world.

I went on maternity leave in 2012 and after a week at home, knew I wanted to do something else. I finished writing the business plan for My Food Bag four hours before I went into labour.

But juggling two businesses with a new-born hasn't always been easy. James also works in the business and we've made a conscious decision to spend as much time as possible with Thomas.

That means working from home in the morning and not leaving the house until about 9am. A couple of times a week we go to the gym at 7.45am; I'm not really a gym girl but when Tom was born we decided to get healthier and achieve a better work/life balance.

During the week, Thomas and his au pair will come into work for lunch or I'll head off to one of his activities like Gymbaroo. I'm usually home by 3 or 4pm and I have a rule that I try to spend at least five hours with him a day. He goes to bed at 7 and then James and I will have dinner and usually work late into the evening.

This is probably the busiest I've ever been and there's rarely downtime or 'me' time but I feel incredibly lucky to have a healthy, happy family and two innovative businesses. We decided early on that we needed good routines in place for Thomas and to ensure that our house runs smoothly.

Our focus is our son and doing things with him, such as feeding him dinner or giving him a bath. Thomas comes first with both of us, so if he isn't well one of us will go home to be with him. I'm usually home first which enables James to stay longer at work, but when he gets back I ensure he gets quality time with Thomas and isn't dragged into doing household chores.

I'm also big on 'To Do' lists and use my Outlook Calendar for everything from managing my days to ensuring bills get paid. We also have a family calendar which features everything that needs to happen that week, as well as daily and weekly tasks on the fridge.  For me to stay sane, we need to stay structured and organised as a family.

The best part of my life right now is enjoying both my family and my career. The worst is that it never stops! There's always something going on either with our businesses or our son. I often feel as though I'm not enough and everyone wants a piece of me. But I have to remind myself that we've come a long way and have a long way to go and I'm really looking forward to the challenge."

- As told to Sharon Stephenson

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