Hopscotch Heroes is all about celebrating women who successfully balance work, life and everything in between; we've featured bloggers, authors, leaders, business-women and mumpreneurs and here's where we get to pick up some valuable tips on how they manage it all.
In April we felt it only right to hand over this space to a business-woman, intrepid traveller, lover of Bikram Yoga (having been coached by the man himself in Tokyo!) and mum of four young children. Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause please for this month's Hopscotch Hero - Marianne Azhari. Get ready for some seriously impressive advice from one seriously impressive lady:
I was born and raised in Dubai; my mother is Palestinian and my father is Syrian. Having graduated from the American University in Dubai majoring in Marketing and Advertising, I worked in Dubai after my graduation and then decided to gain some international experience and work abroad. I moved to Australia for two years, then Japan for four years, then France for five years and have now been living back in Dubai for the last three years. Phew!
I met my husband in Tokyo and had two kids on two different continents but I felt that, given my history, they weren't being exposed to any Arabic language or culture. This frustrated me and made me decide to move my family back to where I started - Dubai - where I gave birth to my final two (twin boys Kenan and Liam) who are now 18 months old. So I am enjoying living my dream of having a big family yet maintaining the development and growth of my career. It's a busy household!
Having worked my way up from an intern position to heading up major accounts for some huge multinational names like WPP, British American Tobacco, P&G and Grey Worldwide working in Tokyo, Paris, Geneva, Sydney and Dubai, I am now Regional Managing Director of an international creative production agency in Dubai called Williams Lea Tag which is a subsidiary of the courier company DHL. Responsible for growing the team and the business in the MENA region, we service international clients such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nivea, HTC, Regus and Hilton and I have a team in Dubai, a production team in India and I report to the head office in London.
I face many challenges – endlessly day and night. It is not at all easy even if I fake it! I feel I am forever coming up short when it comes to doing enough, giving enough and being enough for my four kids. Not mentioning my husband, my boss, my aging parents, extended family, my friends or even myself. In fact, my biggest challenge is wrestling with constant guilt! Guilt became a constant companion until one day I realized that I didn’t have children in order to spend my life feeling forever inadequate. I wanted children to enrich my life, not enslave my conscience.
So a few months ago, I decided it’s time to reclaim my right to enjoy my kids, and uncover the destructive forces that are driving this guilt. So here is what I have adopted:
#1: I lowered my bar to ‘good enough’
Since I started to accept good enough is good enough, I took enormous pressure off my shoulders and stopped the quest to be a super-mom.
#2: Introducing the “Individual play date”
In spite of my busy schedule, I always block time to make sure I am available to do the homework with my eldest son, be home before the bed time of the twins and attend the school activities of my kids. However, to find time to have fun with them is the toughest one specially that the age differences between them leaves me not able to do one thing for all of them at the same time. My solution is to go on a “play date” with each one of them separately. They love it and I do too. I get to spend a personalized and quality time with each one of them and get to teach them things in a fun way.
#3: When I am with the kids I am present.
We can be with our kids 24/7 and yet never be fully present to them. I take this subject seriously, whenever I am on a play date or just at home I make sure that I am on a ‘turned off mode” from work and other distractions I also minimize multi-tasking as much as humanly possible.
And I guess that just leaves me and finding a way to get through it all! Every morning after I wave goodbye to my kids in their school buses I hit the gym. I have a personal trainer who keeps me in shape and on the days that I don’t train at the gym I practice all types of yoga, from Power to Ashtanga to Venyasa or just Hatha and meditation if I had less energy. My daily hourly workout finishes at 8.00 am which still leaves me time to have breakfast with my twins and then head to the office.
I start my day feeling good about my kids and myself. Full of energy and ready to take on the day’s challenges. I also schedule lunch dates with my husband, every other Thursday night with our friends and spend every Friday afternoon at my parents' house!
All that while ensuring that my kids know they’re wanted, loved, and loveable and that they benefit from having me as a role model on how to live a rewarding life.
Leave your comments for Hopscotch or Marianne below and if you'd like to part of Hopscotch Heroes, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch!