CBB Exclusive: Mia Freedman talks motherhood, magazines and her baby on the way
Australian journalist, author, and media personality Mia Freedman, 34, is already a mother-of-two, with another on the way. Here the former editor-in-chief of Cosmo, Cleo and Dolly speaks to us exclusively about motherhood. With her next baby — they don’t yet know the sex — due in August, Mia tells us about her children, son Luca, 10, and daughter Coco, 2, getting ready for the new addition, baby names and her career.
Mia is a prominent journalist and familiar Australian face having worked as the editor of Cosmopolitan and Cleo and as the editor-in-chief of Cosmo, Cleo and Dolly, as well as launching the spin-off titles Cosmo Brides, Cosmo Pregnancy and Cosmo Hair & Beauty. Mia now plays mom while also writing for the Sun-Herald, Sunday Age and Shop Til You Drop. Mia will be blogging for Essential Baby during her pregnancy — also check out her own blog.
Continue reading for the interview and a larger version of the photo.
On why there is such a big age gap between her two kids:
I fell pregnant with my first child just a couple of months after being appointed Editor In Chief of Australian Cosmopolitan and very soon after I met my partner. After that, life got in the way. Lots of things happened and that’s part of what my book will be about.
On the possibility of having more children:
Never say never. Don’t tell my husband I said that.
On the children’s name choices:
My husband seems to come up with the names somehow. I get terribly anxious about it and want to canvass different names for the full nine months but he refuses. He just stays silent and comes out with something brilliant at the last minute.
On if they have any names picked out for the new baby:
None. Not one. I’m hoping Jason will come through with the goods again.
On if she is worried about the closer age gap this time round:
I only know how to do an eight year gap so the idea of a ‘normal’ gap of just under three years is a bizarre concept for me to get my head around. Even being pregnant with a toddler is a very new experience. Last time I had an eight year old and he was old enough to make me honey toast and bring me water! Toddlers are far less helpful, I find!
On not being a good player/entertainer:
I’m not a good player. I’m hopeless at trains and cars and puzzles and dress-ups. My concentration span is appalling and I get bored in three seconds. My favorite thing to do with my kids is talk with them. I just like hanging out. We cook too. They love that.
On the flexibility for her career:
When I was working in magazines, I didn’t work crazy crazy hours. Yes, it was full-time, but I’d get to work at 9:30 and I could leave at 6. This was tough when Luca was little, but I worked three days in the office until he was one and then four days a week until he was four. I was grateful to have a boss who allowed me that flexibility. Compared to that same level of seniority in a profession like law or finance, those hours were fine. Not to mention the fact I had the luxury of a PA and a nanny and a cleaner. I was so fortunate to be able to afford a big support team as well as my husband, parents and parents-in-law.
When I was working in magazines, I mostly refused to do after-work activities like launches and I never worked on the weekend. I was really strict about that. Sure, I could have spent more hours at the office, but frankly I didn’t see that it was necessary to doing a good job.
On her book-writing:
Because I’ve been in the public eye and written columns for so many years, people think they know all about my life. But in fact there are vast chunks that I’ve kept private. Particularly aspects about motherhood and pregnancy and relationships, those kinds of issues I’ve always kept close to my chest. I feel like writing about some of those things could perhaps help other women, other mothers and I feel in a great place now, the right place to write about some of those more private aspects.
On what she has going on lately, besides the new baby:
I do my blog every day, mamamia.com.au, which is growing almost faster than I can keep up with it. I adore the immediacy of being able to communicate instantly. It suits my impatient nature! No more long magazine deadlines! I’m also writing a blog about motherhood and my pregnancy for Essential Baby and I’m writing the book to be released next year.
I also do a radio spot each week, I’m an Associate Partner with the hot new international creative agency Droga5 and I have a consulting business where I work with clients who want to target women. Because of my experience in all aspects of the media – mags, newspapers, radio, TV and online – I have a 360 degree level of media experience with how best to talk to women.
It all sounds like a lot, but I’m able to find a good balance now I work from home.
On her love of writing and managing her career and motherhood:
I’ve always loved English I suppose and yes, writing has always been a big thing for me, although my relationship with it used to be more complex. I had a love-hate relationship with the actual writing but now, I’ve learnt to love the process. I adore all aspects of writing.
Becoming a mother coincided with my career taking off, so I’ve almost always had kids while I’ve been kicking my career goals. After each child, I’ve lost my ambition for at least a year and even now, pregnant with my third and working for myself after working for a major media company since I was 19. I feel like I’m entering a very different phase. My identity is far less caught up with a job title and what I do. Now I’m more interested in being stimulated creatively and being a nicer person when I’m around my kids!
Since deciding to quit senior management, I’ve discovered how important quantity time is with your kids. It’s a myth that you can squish all the important stuff into the twenty minutes between arriving home stressed from work and putting the kids to bed. I never wanted to admit that to myself when I was working, but I’ve discovered that me living at a slower pace is immensely beneficial to my kids and my relationship with them. And my relationship with my husband.
On launching Cosmo Pregnancy:
Absolutely. When I came back from maternity leave after having Luca, I begged my boss to let me leave Cosmo and start a pregnancy and parenting magazine. All I cared about was babies! Luckily, she ignored me because that intense focus wore off eventually and I loved editing Cosmo. But I did definitely identify a gap for a glossy magazine that had lots of fashion and lots of stories about pregnancy told by other pregnant women.
Sure, there are a million books with experts telling you what to do but when I was pregnant and then with a newborn, all I wanted to read was the experiences of other mothers. And look at what they were wearing. Cosmo Pregnancy was able to deliver that and capture a real gap in the market (this was before the internet and forums had really taken off). Now I look at it as a reader.
On if she is a crunchy mama:
Oh lord, I wish I was ‘crunchy’. Breast-feeding yes definitely. Had an easy time with Luca and loved it. Nightmares with Coco and repeated bouts of mastitis but persevered. Will give it my best shot again this time. Cloth diapers no way. Sorry Earth. Would love to but I’m too selfish and I adore disposables. Terribly irresponsible of me, yes, I know. I do organic food religiously until I sort of can’t be bothered anymore. I still do organic meat though, that applies to the whole family.
On nurseries and sleeping arrangements:
With Luca I was hopeless. He didn’t really have one. Slept in our room for the first six months then we put a cot in the room that was also Jason’s study and had gym equipment in it. With Coco I went the other way and went all out. For this baby, I’m extremely relaxed. It’s going in with Coco. I don’t know if that will work but Jason and I are very attached to using the spare bedroom as a study so we’re reluctant to give it up for the baby! Funny how things change with each child.
On what sex baby they would prefer (it was thought that Mia had said she would prefer a girl — not true!):
No, I never said I would prefer a girl. I am genuinely struggling to have a preference either way. Coco is much more full-on than Luca so whenever she has a melt-down, we all look at each other and say “Please let the next one be a boy.” Honestly, I feel so blessed and lucky to have one of each, a healthy baby is my only wish.
On how the pregnancy is going:
Great. The first 16 weeks kicked my ass for physical and emotional reasons but I’m 22 weeks now and it’s the good bit. Physically, I love being pregnant although it IS much harder when you’re carrying a toddler which I didn’t have to do last time. I’m so much older than I was with Luca – the gap between him and this baby will be 11 years! So yes, my body has certainly changed and showing more signs of wear and tear. Don’t get me started on my pelvic floor.
On if Coco is old enough to understand that there is a baby on the way:
It’s a very vague concept. Until it’s in front of her it’s pretty meaningless. I told her the other day that “the babysitter is coming tonight” and she thought I said “baby sister” and she calmly replied “Oh, ok, where will she sleep?”. Now she asks me every day “Is your baby coming?”
On whether Luca has a preference as to whether he gets a brother or sister:
I think he’d prefer a boy. He’s already got a sister.
On how Coco and Luca get along:
So well but not in the way I expected. She very much holds the power in that relationship.