Natasja is a woman, mother, partner, friend and entrepreneur.
She is the founder of Work and Wellbeing, an organisation that helps individuals, companies and entrepreneurs develop their talents and grow via coaching, workshops and other inspiring activities.
You have 2 children: 7-year old Michelle and 5-year old Sebastiaan. How old was your first child before you returned to work?
I worked throughout my first pregnancy and even after birth. I only stopped when Michelle was 2 years old. I started working again when my second child Sebastiaan was 3.
What was your job at that time?
I ran my own jewellery shop online. The work was nice and was a good fit for my lifestyle as a new mother. It gave plenty of flexibility and the opportunity to work from home most of the time.
How did things go when you returned to work after the birth of your second child?
Things were fine initially. However something happened in 2014. I broke my jaw while I was running. That accident was a big wake up call. I couldn’t eat for 6 weeks and even worse, I couldn’t talk for about 2 weeks. And believe me, that was challenging for someone who loves to chat as I do (laughs).
During that time I was forced to keep quiet due to my medical condition. That allowed me the chance to think broadly over my work and life in general. I had always thought I was happy yet, deep inside I wasn’t fully satisfied. Why? I suddenly realised I was not using all my talent and potential to their fullest.
And how did your career change after that wake-up call?
I decided to become an entrepreneur and help other people unlock their talents – regardless of their education, background or any specific skills. I believe each of us has been gifted with some unique talents that need space, time and nurturing to come out and be fully expressed. When we are able to express our own talent, work becomes a joy and something that supports our well-being and life in general.
How do you manage your time around work and family?
I have a babysitter to help on Mondays so I can work all day. The rest of the week is organised around my children’s school schedule. I get a lot done when the kids are at school. There are a few breaks during the day when it’s time for school drop off and pick ups. And on Friday I have a full working day because my partner is at home. He takes care of our children.
What have been your biggest challenges as a working mum so far?
Coping with the huge amount of things that needs to be done in one day! Not only work related things but also the endless list of household activities. And sometimes, when the children are sick, I work in the evening and the weekends just to keep up.
Making time to take care of myself is also a challenge but I’m getting better at it. When I take care of my needs, the right balance simply happens and everything else flows more easily.
What are your biggest joys?
Helping at my children’s school and simply being there for my children while still being able to work on my own business.
You mentioned self-care earlier. How do you unwind and take care of yourself?
I have a secret formula – well, it works well for me so I’m happy to share it with you (laughs). Here it is:
Once a year I book a weekend only for myself (for example I went to London last November);
Every other month I eat dinner with a friend;
Three times a year I go on a romantic weekend away with my partner;
I run and walk to the sea and woods regularly. Did you know that walking and running helps relieve stress?
I say NO often;
And when I’m tired I simply go to bed and sleep.
What is one piece of advice you like to give to other mothers who are considering to return to work after a career break?
Take care of yourself. Nothing is perfect and finding the right balance is always a juggling act. Remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t pretend that you have to do everything. So If you need to work hard for your career, make sure you do less at home. Use your energy wisely.
What is one wish you’ve for your life? And for your career?
My wish is to be successful in what I do so I can help more people around me. That goes for my family, friends, clients, colleagues and anyone else I meet on my path.