Founder and CEO of primary care network consultancy THC, host of podcast The Business of Healthcare, mum of three, and fitness enthusiast Tara Humphrey shares how she manages her busy life and still stays sane and smiling!
I think the question most women who work and have children get asked is: “How do you do it all?”
In my case, people ask me:
- How do you juggle kids whilst running a business?
- How do you find time for exercise?
- Do you experience mum guilt?
- Are you happy?
- How do you manage caring for children with long-term conditions?
Even my executive assistant said to me the other day: “Are you secretly drowning inside?” I also ask other women this question in search of the secret to living life effortlessly. The answer is boring, however – I simply plan the best I can, but that doesn’t mean everything always runs according to plan.
This is how I manage my time on a weekly basis:
I spent about 4 hours working, planning the week ahead. My husband and I agree on who is picking up which kid from where and I go through my emails and our project management platform, Asana, to mop up any of the finished important tasks from the prior week.
On Sundays, I tend to also go for a long run.
Mondays – Fridays
I wake up between 5:30 and 6 am, and I exercise using my Peloton bike, doing a Peloton strength workout, or going for a run. I need to exercise early in the morning, or it just won’t happen. Exercise gives me energy, clears my mind, helps me work through problems, helps me focus, and makes me feel good, so that is my motivation. I exercise for between 30 and 45 mins.
Before I go into the office, I prepare my to-do list at home whilst trying to shoo the kids (aged 11, 13 and 15) along for school.
My team at work supports me, and I have an executive assistant. My EA is my secret weapon and manages my diary, travel arrangements, business finances, HR, enquiries, etc. She is gold.
I have started to say no a lot and heard a fantastic saying confirming my current work approach – a busy diary is the sign of an unproductive person. It’s OK to say no. I can’t do it all and I no longer apologise for that. I need time to think and breathe.
Every other Friday
Every other Friday, I see a health and wellbeing coach to help me decompress and talk through the highs and lows of the past couple of weeks. This is my time, and something I’m realising is so essential. I can be an overthinker; when I overthink, I can’t sleep, so these meetings are non-negotiable and take place 8:30 am – 9:30 am.
Saturday is my favourite day of the week. I do nothing and LOVE IT. Nothing to me means going to the cinema, maybe mooching around the shops, playing board games, and just hanging out with my family. I don’t usually even think about work unless something crap is happening.
My husband and kids are amazing and support me so much. I never have to ask for permission to work away, and the kids like hearing about my adventures. My husband’s family also helps us when we need childcare, so I am incredibly fortunate.
We used to have a cleaner, but then I thought, I have three kids – they can do it! But we do have a cleaner who comes to do deep cleans when we’re on holiday. We also have a giant whiteboard in our kitchen where we write out the meals for the week, any work trips I may have and everyone’s chores.
Caring for kids with long-term conditions
My youngest has type 1 diabetes, a condition which needs to be managed 24/7, but we are fortunate to have technology to support us with this.
My middle child has a kidney disorder, nephrotic syndrome, and this condition is stable with very few flare-ups, but when there are flare-ups, it usually results in a hospital stay.
I would be lying to say living with long-term conditions isn’t stressful. It is. I meditate a lot to calm my mind before I go to sleep and try to be methodical and take one thing at a time, but after a while, a routine forms, and you just follow it.
I have sought inspiration from the author Laura Vanderkam. She has written lots of books on productivity. She has 5 kids and helped me realise that things don’t need to be or look perfect. Whatever you choose to do, you don’t have to do it every single day – sometimes three times a week is perfectly fine.
We have more time than we realise when we use it with intention. While the perception might be that I work all the time, I really don’t! I’m currently watching series 3 of Manifest, which is quite a big investment in time. I’m also training to do a half marathon.
In summary, here’s how I do it:
Some days, I’m a ninja.
Some days, I fall into the bed. My bedroom is a tip.
Sometimes, I make a home-cooked meal which is restaurant-worthy. Sometimes it’s beans on toast.
Sometimes, the kids are sick, and my husband or I have to cancel work plans.
It’s a juggling act, and I don’t think I would have it any other way.
About the author
Tara Humphrey hosts The Business of Healthcare podcast. The show takes a behind-the-scenes look at the business side of healthcare with guests including NHS and private healthcare leaders. As CEO of leading primary healthcare consultancy THC, Tara also shares her own project management and leadership insights.
A self-confessed adventurer, Tara still finds time to take on physical challenges, including an ultramarathon across the Sahara and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tara holds an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management.