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Meet The Panellists: Tracey Woodward

Tracey Woodward, commercial director of beauty brand Urban Retreat has two children Josh, 21 and Ava, 11

Going back to work after mat leave with my first was a real emotional tug. I was 25 and ambitious, so I only took four weeks maternity leave. With Ava, I was 35 and way more confident so I took six months. At the time we were opening the East Dulwich Deli Cafe in Harrods. Thankfully, my mum has always been there to help me with childcare.

Note To Self: Always wear wool or something that can dry fast under a hairdryer. I learnt the hard way after going through a big meeting with leaking breastpads!

Get organised. That’s the best bit of advice I could give mums going back to work after mat leave. Plan what you’re going to wear, get your hair done, do some feel good things for you before you start back. Organise your baby food, toys and baby products into cotton bags to serve as a kit for every day.

Look for the good in every incident. A friend once told me when it’s bad, it never stays the same and when its good, it never stays the same. The point is that everything changes with children.

Being a working mum makes you appreciate your children. Yes, you’re sad when you miss moments of their lives and it’s hard not to beat yourself up about that. But you also get your independence – and so will they.

Becoming a mother has been therapy for me. My kids mean everything to me and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Mum Me-time is a must even if it's an hour a day. I treat myself to a blow dry at Urban Retreat, lashes extensions with flutter lashes, and brows with Farida. Heaven!

Women put unrealistic expectations on themselves to do everything perfectly. I do it all the time. It’s important to recognise it and move on. Perfection is just not possible and even if you have support, it’s still tough.

The best bits about motherhood? All of it! Like all things in life it will have its ups and downs, but there is nothing better than a smiling face to greet you at the end of a tough day. I like to think my parenting style is open, progressive and nurturing. Our kids do seem to be confident with great social skills.

Family life and how we live it in the UK needs a shake down. I’d like to see a review of maternity/paternity leave to try and get parents back into work. Every element needs looking at.

Being time poor is the biggest challenge about being a working parent. And constantly feeling like you’re stretching yourself. On the plus side family life is amazing and work is helping to make a better future for us all.

If you find comfortable shoes always buy more than one pair! You’ll regret it if you don’t. For working mum wardrobe staples I love Winser London – easy pieces to wear to work and for a glamorous night Maria Grachvogal.

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