Neena Mairata began presenting World News Australia bulletins in 2008. A highly experienced journalist, having worked as anchor, reporter, producer and assignment editor, she chats to Essential Baby about managing motherhood and work.
Neena Mairata, an SBS news presenter, began presenting World News Australia bulletins in 2008. A highly experienced journalist, having worked as anchor, reporter, producer and assignment editor, she chats to Essential Baby about managing motherhood and work.
Neena, how many children do you have and what ages/sex are they?
I have 2 boys, Elian is 7 and Ishan is 5
What has surprised you the most about becoming a mother?
The amount of "time" and tasks I am able to fit into a day. I often sit and think about how before I became a mum.
I was under the impression that I was achieving so much, in terms of quantity during the course of any given day. Now I manage to do all that and even more.
Did you take much time away from work when you had children? Why/why not?
When I had my eldest son Elian, I stopped working to care for him full time.
When he was 14 months I fell pregnant with Ishan and worked part time 2 days a week until he was born. I resumed full time employment when my youngest child was 18 months.
I felt that as a first time mother I needed to concentrate on doing one thing well, rather than struggle to excel at work as well as being a parent.
Logistically, how do you manage your work and childcare?
I have a very supportive husband, who works “normal hours” and is therefore able to be there for the kids before and after school.
I work across a range of shifts and am sometimes required to go in to work unexpectedly or on my scheduled day off. Forward planning is difficult, but I try and do the best I can, sometimes surviving on very little sleep.
What is the hardest element of being a working mother?
Trying not to feel guilty when I am not able to tuck them into bed for extended periods because I work nights mostly and when I am not able to attend school related events due to work commitments.
What do you think about 'me time'? With demanding hours as well as small children, do you manage to get it and what do you like to do?
I realise the importance of “me time” – I firmly believe that to be able to function to my fullest capacity as a mother I need to be happy and rested in order to carry out my duties, however designating a particular time or day just to attend to my needs often seems overindulgent. I constantly think of how I could be doing other things that could be beneficial for the family.
Now that the children are older I feel less guilty about going for a massage or pedicure or window shopping. I usually get to do yoga about twice a week, it helps me de-stress and if all else fails there is always reading before bedtime or relaxing and having fun with the Nintendo!
Have there been times when you’ve thought ‘this is just too hard!’ and considered giving up your work to become a full time mum?
The days when I do feel like that are few and far between but a good night’s sleep and a fresh perspective on the situation often fixes it. I do enjoy my work immensely and for now, I feel I am able to juggle both.
I realise that my children will need more guidance and attention as they grow older, so maybe in a few years time, I will have to re-evaluate their requirements and assess the need for me to feature in their lives as a full-time mum.
What is the one thing you miss from your 'pre-children' life?
I don’t really miss anything, having them in my life has been so fulfilling, I don’t have a desire to hold on to anything from my pre-children life… (except maybe less noise in the house when they argue).
As a mother, what do you think you're pretty good at?
I am very receptive to the children’s emotions and feelings. I am an excellent multi-tasker and am good at planning, which means I am able to ensure that no matter how monumental the tasks, I always get them done on time and according to schedule. I also love cooking and baking and so the kids always have pretty delicious and elaborate meals.
…and what are you terrible at?
I could probably exercise more patience. It’s my greatest weakness. And I would love to be able to worry less about issues that are far beyond my control.
Ideally, how do you want your children to describe their childhood days in years to come?
It would be great if they could look back on their early days and think that they were brought up in a loving and secure environment, that they had fun and that they enjoyed being around their parents and to always be assured that they could trust us and come to us in times of need.
What are the qualities most important to you that you’d like to pass onto your children?
Tolerance, discipline, dignity and most importantly always treat others with respect
What is the nicest thing about motherhood?
To receive a hug from them…their grubby little hands around my neck, it’s a panacea for everything.
Also listening to them comment on issues/ideas from their perspective, sometimes they can say the funniest things yet behind the reasoning, you know there is logic. Kids are very insightful individuals.
Neena, finally a question all mums must face - what are you feeding your children for dinner tonight?
Rice served with herbal chicken soup, stir fried beef with soy sauce and peas and potatoes and chinese broccoli in oyster sauce.