It’s Okay to Make Yourself a Priority


by Scarlett Sykes


For the past 6 years I have given up my body to grow, birth and feed 3 children while trying to keep a career going. In no way am I even remotely ungrateful for what I have put on hold or risked career-wise to have my kids. I often catch myself looking at my three girls and thinking how lucky I am (not so much when they don’t eat their dinner or decide not to sleep) but when you decide to have a family, as a woman there is a lot to think about and balance.


I always wanted children but never really put much thought into what that meant for my career or how it would make me feel as a person. I just assumed it would happen and all slot together (naively). I had my children close together (at one point I had 3 under 4) which meant that from the moment the first was growing I had to think about how I would continue to work and be a mum. I will be honest, I can’t think of anything worse than being a stay-at-home mum, not because I don’t love my kids, I do, but because I honestly don’t know how women (or dad’s) do it. When I see a parent as a full-time stay-at-home parents I think they are superhuman. Truly.


When I got pregnant with my first daughter in 2015, I was working full-time in PR, in a very intense and often slightly toxic environment but I continued up until a week before giving birth and never once let it stop me. When I had Evie in 2016 I struggled a little. Actually a lot (Read about my Fourth trimester here). It wasn’t the dreamy new born bubble I had imagined, it got easier but I knew within a few months that I wanted to work – I wanted to try and make the balance work for me and be the best I could at both. I went back to work when she was 4 months old, full time but leaving the office at 3pm. It was hard and at times I often wasn’t sure if I was failing at it all, but it felt nice to have my career and mum life working together in one way or another.


I left the job I had at the time and moved on to a few other stops, along with having my middle daughter Ottilie and my youngest, Florence. During that time, I managed to keep my career going with a few gaps but nothing huge. In 2020 I had my youngest (and last!) daughter just before lockdown – which for me, really couldn’t have come at a better time. Obviously, no pandemic would have be preferable but as we had little choice in that I feel the time it hit my life was a strangely pinnacle one. I was really able to just enjoy the newborn phase, spend time with my kids, husband and not think about work – time that we rarely get in life. By the time the world started to open again I was ready to get back to work, but on my own terms…I decided to put ME first…


Putting yourself first doesn’t have to mean that you expect everything to be about you, turning selfish and not caring about anything else. It just means that you prioritise how you really feel. For me that meant joining a company where flexibility was a priority, and I felt empowered, where I was able to work ‘full-time’ and spend time with my family with neither having to be negatively affected, for the most-part anyway. Don’t get me wrong, some days are a huge struggle but they come and go, replaced by days where I really feel like I have my 's...tuff' together!


I also started exercising. I used to be into fitness but from the moment I got pregnant with Evie in 2015 I put it on the back burner – I focused on growing babies and holding down my job, but this year I decided that I wanted to get my body back, have more control over how I feel and make ‘me’ a focus for once.


I guess my point is, that putting yourself first in life is okay and not something to be afraid of. It can make a big difference to your overall outlook, how you feel emotionally and how you interact in day-to-day life. It is not a selfish act, it is a necessity in life.