Back to work, babies and beauty
Written: May 2007
Most mornings at the Whitelock house go like this: Samantha wakes up, spends a little time playing with baby Bella, hits the shower, tosses on the clothes she set out the night before and heads off to work as a travel agent in Sydney. Breakfast is wedged somewhere in between bed and the door but, as for eye make-up and blow-drying, are you kidding?
Samantha is just one of the 38 per cent of Australian mothers with children under one that the Family Assistance Office estimates have returned to work in the last year. And when Bella's dad also returns to work after three months of paternity leave, she'll also be one of the many women squeezing childcare into her daily routine (not to mention the budget).
Ah, the Routine. It's master to every new mum, especially those juggling a baby and a job, and a beauty regime is often the first thing it bumps into the too-hard basket. "I've never been that big on make-up but it all went out the window when Bella arrived," says Samantha. "I tried to keep up cleansing and moisturising, but pampering time is so hard to find that just a shower is a treat these days!
"Going back to work and having social interaction outside of home has helped me keep a sense of separation; of me as Mother, Wife, Employee and Friend, but it's also meant that when I do have spare time I think of finally cleaning the kitchen rather than putting on a hair treatment."
Even the most dedicated beauty buff can be thrown for a loop by motherhood. "No matter what anyone tells you, you cannot imagine how much time a child takes up," stresses magazine beauty editor Kate Lovelace. She went back to work when her son, James, was 11 months and says, "My beauty routine is probably a quarter of what it was! Plucking stray eyebrows daily, laying in the bath with a mask on… no more! And I definitely wash my hair less as it's more practical to wear it pulled back.
"Some days, if I'm not seeing anyone, I might not even put any make-up on," she admits (beauty editors everywhere just felt chills up and down their spines). But the biggest adjustment her baby brought is one Kate shares with most mothers: "I have so little time to do things like exercise and things just for myself."
Though it's not just a matter of time restraints and practicalities versus pampering – babies change a woman's priorities. "If I had more time to spare, I'd want to spend it with Bella anyway," reasons Samantha. "It's not about me anymore and I wouldn't want to miss anything while I was putting on mascara or something."
Family might always come first, but it's vital for all mums to take time out for small indulgences highlights Claudia Keech, mother and CEO/editor of. "Even when money is tight, it's important to spoil yourself somehow... It might just be a cosmetic that you have circled in the department store but haven't bought because it seems indulgent, but it's all worthwhile for your family if you look after yourself.
"A happy, healthy and laughing mum is heaps better than a grumpy, tired, worn-out looking version.
"All mums are still women who want to look and feel great… It is important to still feel as sexy and beautiful as you want to be – it's such an amazing time in your life and it feels fab to get out and about with your baby without looking trashed all the time."
So unless you're a celebrity yummy mummy type with an entire staff to help hold the fort, how do you manage a baby, the boss and beauty? With a timesaving trick or two. "I used to take ages to get ready to go out – applying all the right creams, the whole ritual – now I can do it all in 10 minutes," confirms Kate.
"It's amazing how having a little person tugging at your ankle or running off with your make-up can do to speed you up. My husband can't believe how quick I am these days."
Quick and easy beauty tips for mums on the move
Indulgence doesn't have to be expensive – Sure, there's nothing like a luxury lippy for your confidence, but there's something to be said for a cheap thrill too. Not least that you can have more of them. We love little cosmetic confections by e.l.f. for $2.95 a hit.
Smart skincare – "Just basic skin routines should be maintained," advises Claudia. "When you do finally re-open your make-up bag, [you'll find] simple products do the job without too much hassle."
The secret is to streamline your skincare with multi-tasking products. Elizabeth Arden's Green Tea 3-in-1 Cleanser/Toner/Exfoliant ($29) takes care of all three must-dos in seconds and Avon Solutions Moisture Shield Tinted Cream with SPF15Kosmea Rosehip Oil ($21.95): "I don't have time for different products, so I just apply pure rosehip oil al ($19.99) offers hydration, protection and a sun-kissed glow in one. Kate also recommends l over my face."
Multi-tasking make-up – When the clock's ticking, a lip and cheek stain is a lifesaver. We like Aveda's Uruku Lip & Cheek Crème, ($29.95) for translucent, natural-looking colour you can apply with your fingers on the run.
All about eyes – Let's be honest, you're not really in charge of sleep these days, are you? In Essence's Express Eyelift ($59.95) contains vitamins A, E, F, chamomile and mallow to soothe tired, puffy eyes as well as a complex of vegetable-derived peptides to smooth lines. If you want an instant lift, Vital Eyes ($85) temporarily tightens the skin to leave you looking wide awake in seconds.
Shower power – You're looking for products that trim down the total time you spend in the bathroom. Actress, model and mum Chloe Maxwell says, “After showering I always had to moisturise - I couldn’t go without. But the new Palmolive Pure Cashmere Shower Cream [$6.49] has allowed me to have a shower without needing to moisturise afterwards! I never thought it would be possible, especially with my dry skin."
Kate has discovered the wonders of razors with built in shaving cream. "I like the Schick razor [Intuition Plus, $11.95]," she says. "You can really shave your legs quickly with that."
Tints – A maintenance-free colour lash tint is a surprising time saver. Just think how the time you spend applying, removing and clearing up smudges of mascara adds up. The 1000 Hour Eyelash & Brow Dye Kit ($17.95) takes a tiny ten minutes and lasts for up to eight weeks.
Pick-me-up pedis – Invest in a salon pedicure every so often. They're durable and half and hour in one of those massage chairs is just the kind of treat you deserve.
Get buff – Perfectly polished talons aren't really practical when you don't have the time to tend them, so grin and bare it instead. A few seconds buffing on the bus will keep your nails neat and glossily respectable, without all the hassle of varnish. Try the Fluffy Duck Buffer ($9.95).
Salons with benefits – Search out a mobile beauty service that can come to your home or, for real time out, find a salon that also offers a crèche. Nicole Gunnis runs the salon in Paddington, Sydney, where time-poor mums can have full service pampering, including hairdressing, while children relax in the Yummy Mummy crèche. "All you have to do is rock up with your child," she explains. "When clients leave us they feel relaxed and look fantastic, [with a] positive frame of mind – and their sanity back!"
Minute masters – You don't need hours a week to give yourself an intensive treatment. ModelCo Heat Caps ($26) take one hot minute to draw out impurities, slough dull skin cells, soften the complexion and infuse it with the antioxidant benefits of green tea. Redken has a range of silkifying, shine-enhancing treatments that coax frazzled locks back into condition in five minutes. Try All Soft Silk Fuel for dry/brittle hair, Extreme Deep Fuel Durable Strengthening Treatment for chemically-treated and damaged tresses, or Color Extend Highlight Colour Reviving Treatment to preserve a new hue. Each treatment delivers five separate weekly doses for $25.95.
Some for you, some for me – Keep your skin as soft as your baby's bottom by sharing Junior's products. The new Johnson's Baby Soothing Naturals range comprises a nourishing lotion, cream and wash that you'll both love. The range hits shelves in March. Until then, check out the Arnaud Baby Me bundles of joy.
Cut styling time – Ask your hairdresser for a low maintenance style that you can literally wash'n'wear out the door. Don't, however, skip regular trims – you'll pay for it trying to disguise split, frayed and untidy ends later. Streaks and highlights require less salon time than block colours, but if you're committed to a full head of colour, Restoria Colour Renew ($16.99) can help you keep roots under control for longer.
Exercise cheats – Early or lunchtime gym classes are all well and good if you're near a gym and can afford membership. Otherwise, the former Celebrity Overhaul fitness guru, P, suggests:
• Exercise is just movement after all, so just MOVE! Walk over to talk to your colleagues rather than pinging them an email, take the long route to work by parking further away or getting off the bus two stops early, and swap the lift for the stairs.
• Make a 'date' to exercise, lock it in and make it unchangeable. A walk with a friend at lunchtime is great for both your body and stress levels.
• Involve the whole family in active weekends. Pop your bub in the pram and go for a Sunday morning walk together – family time can be fitness time too.