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Working Mums: Your Career And Beauty Questions Answered

Missed our Q&A with businesswoman and beauty guru Tracey Woodward? Catch up on her advice here

We all have those overwhelmed moments. The ones that leave you doing your best headless chicken impression while you try to balance your job and motherhood.

That’s why we asked Tracey Woodward, mum of two and commercial director of iconic beauty brand Urban Retreat, to do a Facebook Q&A with us. With over 25 years experience in business and as a panellist on our Working Mums Club, she’s perfectly placed to share her advice.

From skincare suggestions to how to get noticed at work, find out what she had to say.

Q: How do you keep a separation between work and home life? I often feel I'm checking my email when I should be doing something with my two year old, and fielding nursery crises when I'm in the office.

Tracey: It’s never easy but it is important to have some balance. At home, try leaving your phone in your bag – I've actually got a friend who keeps hers in the microwave as it stops all signals and nothing can get through.

As mums we are designed to carry guilt, so we just have to set ourselves targets and acknowledge that sometimes everything happens at once and you deal with it one task at a time.

Why not try keeping a little diary and note these situations, reasons and feelings with the outcome to reflect on afterwards? I used to do this at night just before bed. I would keep a notebook and empty my thoughts before sleep. When I look back at them 10 years on, I realise it wasn’t that bad but because as mums we try to be everything to everybody, we feel like we are failing – this is definitely not the case!

Q: I need a foolproof way to be presentable on a school run because I always looks haggard! What should I do?

Tracey: Short hair? Invest in a really good hair gel. For long hair, a pony tail pulled back with a strand of hair wrapped around the band always looks good.

Moisturise and invest in a really good facial primer or flash balm to tighten and give you a refreshing glow. The mums I admire the most are the ones that have not dressed up – jeans and a simple sweater always look fab.

Q: After having my son two years ago, I’m looking to train to be a makeup artist. I live in central London and would love to know your tips.

Tracey: Look at the big cosmetic houses, such as NARS, Laura Mercier, MAC and Bobbi Brown and apply.

As you’re London-based, the London College of Beauty Therapy holds some amazing courses. Good luck!

'Jeans and a simple sweater always looks fab'

Q: I've not gone back to work after having my baby but now want to try something completely new. Where do I start?

Tracey: Make a list of all the things you would love to do – this is your opportunity for a new adventure. What interests you? What would work in your new life? Could this be an opportunity to retrain?

Try and identify your hidden talents and ask your friends and family for their ideas. How exciting! I truly believe that change is good.

Q: I used to go for facials all the time, but money's tighter now. What are your best DIY skin tips?

Tracey: Invest in an exfoliator and buy yourself six white flannels to cleanse (this is my ultimate luxury – having fluffy white flannels for my face only). I love the Dr Nick Lowe products and always use his cleansers and moisturiser.

Still try and have a facial every six months if you can, but if not, make sure you create a regime at home that you can stick to. My mantra is when I remove my make-up I am taking off the stresses and strains of the day. It’s important to have something that allows you to let go.

Also always use a cream at night and a moisturiser that contains no less than SPF 15. Finally, don’t forget hand cream – Dr Nick Lowe has a great one – or for ultimate luxury, try La Prairie.

Q: I’m a mum of two and set up a business earlier this year making a baby product. How do I get my product out there?

Tracey: You need a plan! In the industry, they call it a DECK and it’s like a summary or pitch of your idea – this includes your customer demographic and any research you might have on the industry you are hoping to join/supply (most statistics are available from the British Library).

You should create a realistic three year P&L (profit and loss) and then a two/three-page marketing strategy and a three-page overview of the product language thus creating a brand – who it’s for, what it’s for, why you need it, when you'll launch it and how you use it. Once you have got all of this together, you can then decide what your next steps will be.

Q: I want to cut back my hours but I'm nervous to ask my boss. What's the best way to approach him?

Tracey: Formulate a plan. You need to present a clear plan of action detailing how, why and when you need to change your working hours – be clear and research whether any employees within your area have done this and how it’s worked for them.

Also investigate the possibility of job sharing. Once you have done all of this you need to make an appointment and formally discuss your future. Make sure you go in with clear reasons for why you are making this request.

Q: I was in line for a promotion in the hairdressers where I work but when got pregnant had to put it on hold. Now I’m back, how do I get noticed again?

Tracey: You should remind the company that you are ready to take on additional responsibility.

Being a mum takes immense organisational skills

Being a mum takes immense organisational skills – you need to remind everybody around you of this.

And don’t forget to always look the part!

Q: I’m eight months pregnant with my second baby and have really bad stretch marks. How do I prevent more appearing and diminish the ones I already have?

Tracey: It is important to moisturise every night – definitely try Mama Mio Skincare Tummy Rub. I also ate lots of foods that were rich in omega oils.

I have stretch marks and my husband always says that they are the reminder of the fabulous babies I have made.

Q: How do you balance your professional & personal life? You seemed to have so much control over it!

Tracey: I don’t always have control but I do try to plan ahead. I also book treats to look forward to – cinema/theatre tickets or a holiday. It’s important to reward yourself, no matter how small, to remind yourself how hard you work.

I am very lucky I have a wonderful husband and a fabulous PA who keep me grounded and organised. I do occasionally have meltdowns but life is never perfect and as they say the only people with perfect lives are the ones you don’t know!

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