Emma Walsh

Founder & CEO, Parents at Work

Emma Walsh is the founder and CEO of Parents At Work, a social enterprise supporting both parents and organisations to better manage the challenges that employees face when juggling work and family life.

Parents at Work has recently launched the National Working Families Report 2019 that saw 62 per cent of parents and carers report difficulties looking after their own physical and mental health as they try to balance competing work and family pressures. 

Lets hear Emma’s story about how she manages her own life balance. 

Roles in life and work:

I suspect that I’m like most mothers, I feel I’m a juggler of many things and a master of none! I’m a mother, a wife, caregiver, daughter, sister, cook, best friend, colleague, volunteer, a business owner, coach, you get the picture.
I’m 13 years into parenting and feel like I’ve still got my training wheels on at times, especially now our twin boys, Luc and Ewan have hit the teenage years!  It’s funny and scary. Your own memories of the awkward age come flooding back and you realise in 5 years they’ll be adults!  Then there is Alice, she’s 9 and already an environmental activist, we call her our ‘Greta Thunberg’.  Alice continues to amaze and inspire me with her strength and empathy. Parenting keeps me on my toes constantly and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Running my business Parents At Work feels like my life’s work. Parents At Work – an education and coaching service for working parents, was a seedling of an idea born from my own experience of starting a family wondering how I’d juggle work and motherhood.  We opened 9 months after the twins were born as a social enterprise before I even knew what that term meant!  12 years on and we have supported thousands of working parents from Australia and now globally. I never imagined the business would be where it is now and we have an amazing team of 15 who have built the business with me from the ground up. Not an easy task when you have no venture capital or experienced board, it’s just us doing what we love.

What are you juggling right now in your life? 

Good question!  Ha, how long do you have?  My husband thinks I’m determined to pack in as much to one day as humanly possible. He’s constantly being coaching me to ‘do less’ so I can ‘be more’. He has a point,  which is annoying, because he’s usually right.  I think I suffer from FOMO. There ia always something going on personally or professionally that I love to be involved in.  Saying no is an issue for me.  That said, it means I have an active and full life. I’m never bored and if I could stay awake after midnight every night I probably would.  I’m curious and love learning, I can’t help myself, I’m my own worst enemy.

How do you value your time and manage it effectively?

I need to create boundaries for myself. I’m getting better at this. I tend to overcommit and then wonder why I’m constantly late as a result. You’d think I’d learn but I don’t like letting people down. I love hearing people’s stories and helping out when I can so it means my calendar in always full.

Most business owners work 7 days a week, but I’m fortunate, I’ve been able to protect my weekends and working flexibly and trusting people has been key to making this work. 

How do you separate work and personal time?

Well truth be told I don’t see them as separate. Given I work in the parenting education sector and I’m raising my own family, it’s so blended in many ways.  We’ve been able to travel with my work which has seen our family visit faraway countries like Sweden.  We now make sure that every 10 weeks (at the end of each school term) we have at least a week away as a family.  The grandparents and extended family live in Europe where we base ourselves for 6-7weeks every June/July and work from there. It provides our kids with important family time and an opportunity to live abroad for periods at a time.

What does your support network look like?

I have the most wonderful team and friends who are always helping me out in one way or another.  I’m an extrovert so I love to surround myself with others. My husband is a rock – he’s super organised and takes on the lion’s share of housework and I’m the cook – we divide and conquer and equally pull our weight to make the juggle work.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I’m an eternal optimist – maybe too much at times.  I’m creative and agile so whenever I’m not sure about something, I ask for others for input and experiment and try new things if I feel something isn’t working.  I’m a deep believer in life being too short for regrets or staying stuck in a rut.  I’m also acutely aware of my own privilege – I’m lucky to have genuine, strong and long relationships with loved ones and good health. I’m particularly driven to give back and do what I can to be inclusive and tackle inequality.  If my inner voice is being constructive, I listen, if it’s been destructive, I’ve learnt to not indulge and do my best to ignore it.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

Find your tribe and look to partner with others who share your passion and values – I would not have survived motherhood or in business without the people in my corner. 

Focus on the things that give you energy – energy giving people fill your bucket and sustain your wellbeing.

Find the synergies in what you’re doing – how you’re spending your time and join the dots – it will give that feeling of being ‘in the flow’.

Be patient – investing in great relationships or a business idea takes time and effort. It’s a cliché but true ‘life is a marathon not a sprint’. 

Parents At Work a is membership-based organisation providing work + family education and policy advisory services  to workplaces and individuals.

Their mission is to create family friendly workplaces so that people and businesses can thrive.  

Since 2007 Parents at Work have provided over 100,000 families globally with vital family, career and wellbeing services. They collaborate with employers, policy makers and industry professionals to advocate for improved wellbeing and gender equality outcomes at work and at home by:

  • Developing family-friendly workplace framework and policies
  • Delivering  parental leave and return to work training and coaching
  • Giving employers access to research and thought leadership
  • Delivering roundtables, workshops and podcasts
  • Connecting to parenting, wellbeing and career expert partners
  • Sharing stories, resources and guidance via an online learning platform
  • Showcasing family friendly initiatives to enhance employer brand

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