How I make it work: Jennifer Irvine, founder of The Pure Package

Jenny Irvine and her daughters , Jasmine (8 weeks ) and Lily (2) at their home in Wentworth

Jennifer Irvine is mother to Lily, 9, Jasmine, 8, Rose, 6, and Violet, 15 months. She is also founder of gourmet food delivery service, The Pure Package, and Balance Box, a nationwide diet service. A food guru to celebrities including Florence Welch, Erin O’ Connor and Hugh Jackman amongst others, Jennifer grew up on a self-sufficient farm in West Cork, Ireland, where her parents still make their famous Milleens Cheese. She now lives in London, where she grows her own garden and also keeps bees and chickens. In the first of our series on working mothers, we talk sleep deprivation, mindfulness and “walking meetings” with Jennifer and how she finds a work/life balance.

My definition of “having it all” is…

Feeling content and happy. To me, having it all is a very personal. It’s the ability to be in control of your own life. A lot of people have to be at work at a certain time and in a certain place, and I don’t, which is absolutely great.

My days starts with…

Cuddles with my baby Violet and ends with me checking that all my kids are in bed and sleeping comfortably, so a typical mother. Even if I’ve been out at an event, I stop by each of the girls’ rooms on my way to bed and practice mindfulness as I do. I don’t think about anything else except how content they all are as they sleep. I count my blessings and think how lucky we are and what a fantastic life we have and how safe we are in our beds.

I achieve a work/life balance by…

Finding people who are better than me at things and letting them get on with doing their jobs, and, at the same time, prioritising the things I really care about. I never miss a sports day or a school play. Even now, towards the end of the holidays, I’m thinking, “I want to be there when they get their back to school haircuts, or go to the dentist, and I want to be with them to buy their school shoes,” but in order to achieve that balance, I have to cut out all the un-necessaries out of my life, so I’m quite good at delegating. At work, I have an absolutely brilliant team, who I really trust. I also have a wonderful housekeeper who does all the washing and the ironing, leaving me time to do the special things – like buying school shoes!

I couldn’t live without…

My iPhone – I’m secretly in love with it! I like having my own space too. I find this by walking – or sometimes hiding in the toilet! I check the number of steps I’ve taken on my iPhone, I have a fitbit so it’s very accurate. If I’m not close to my target 10,000, then I will turn my meetings into walking meetings and drag whoever I’m with around the place. I find this very creative and it’s good thinking space. Let me check where I’m at today – nearly 10,000 – I’m alright then!

My idea of relaxation is…

A spa and massages. I love Kamalaya in Thailand, but closer to home, I go to Coworth Park.

My favourite time of the day is…

First thing in the morning. I love the light and my brain works incredibly well. For me, first thing in the morning is dawn so in the summer usually 5.20am – even when I don’t have the babies!

My biggest sacrifice since having children has been…

Well, there have been sacrifices, but you don’t like to mention them, do you? The reality is that you have less of your own time, but I’m happy to share it with them. I mean, I haven’t been bored since I started having kids – there’s never a dull moment!

My greatest challenge is…

Learning to recognise sleep deprivation for what it is. It’s taken me a while to realise that my moods and decisions can come about because I’m sleep deprived. Emotionally, it can be incredibly hard and sometimes you take things more seriously than you should. At home, everyone realises that you’re just tired and makes allowances, but in a work environment, people don’t realise that you’re sleep deprived and you can make the wrong calls. So I’ve learnt to be very careful. I’ll write down my frustrations and come back to them when I’m not sleep deprived, and take myself away from the business if necessary.

My golden rule is…

Keep a sense of humour. I also blast my workload. Two or three times a week, I’ll leave home at 6am and come home after the kids have gone to bed. I find it really hard to dip in and out, so I’ll do a proper day of being a mum and being puked/kissed all over, or a proper day of work and wearing high-heels and being in London.

My favourite quick-dish for feeding the family is…

Pesto: pesto prawns, pesto chicken, pesto as a spread. It’s very nutritious, and because I grow my own garden, I’ve always got basil or other herbs, so I can whizz up a quick pesto. It’s always fresh pesto, of course; I don’t consider pesto from a jar to be in the same league!

My top tip for other working mothers is…

Life is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy it. You’re in the driving seat, and you get to decide where you go.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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