Blending Business and Family; an INTACT Motherhood Journey
At the time of writing, this Mumma is 39 weeks pregnant and with Mother's Day just around the corner we caught up with eldest Neal sister, and soon-to-be mum of three, Sam Munro to find out how she keeps life INTACT - juggling part time work, family time and jumping into a new business venture.
We’re familiar with the term adolescence, but matrescence is a whole new stage of life that many may not be aware of (I certainly wasn’t!). Tell us a bit about yourself, your journey to motherhood and how you got to where you are today.
I’m the eldest of the three Neal girls, and Gab’s my baby sister. Looking back, I've always played a bit of a mothering role as the oldest sibling, keeping an eye out for the other two, being chief peace maker, organiser, offering (unsolicited) advice and having their back.
Family is important to me and having my own has brought a whole new appreciation for how I was raised. That said, I'd never heard of the wonderful word ‘matrescence’ until my second pregnancy. Matrescence summed up my motherhood journey perfectly, the process of becoming a mother and the huge identity shift that goes with it. We all get lumped under the adolescence banner and the ups and downs that go with our teens. Matrescence is no different, except the process of becoming a mother seems quite secretive until you’re in the thick of it, despite it potentially applying to half the population.
INTACT was part of my motherhood journey, and also one of those right places, right time moments. I was pregnant with my second bub, we were in the midst of Covid, I was working part time and working from home. Returning to work during Covid was a big adjustment, I had to rethink the way I worked on so many levels, but it also provided the space to consider new opportunities.
I’ve worked in PR and communications for the last decade or so and always wondered what would come next. Jumping into the world of small business was the perfect chance to branch out and try something new - and what’s not to love about combining business with family?!
This is not your first rodeo, and becoming a mum of three is no mean feat. Looking back, and thinking about others considering the wild parenting adventure, what would you tell your first-time-mum-self?
The journey to becoming parents threw a few curve balls at us, but it taught us so much, provided a lot of perspective and in hindsight set us up for the best. My best advice for first time parents - lower all expectations and you’ll never be disappointed.
My husband and I are pretty relaxed, not to say that parenting isn’t stressful (it is), but it’s crazy how much pressure society can put on raising children, and buying into it is a great way to raise anxiety levels. Everyone will have an opinion, seek others with a similar parenting style and values, these are your people. And limit social media. Scrolling in the wee hours of the morning is the last thing your brain needs during the sleepless nights, try swapping out the socials for books, reading was my go-to and such a great way to calm the mind.
Saying yes to offers of help is the other must, people wouldn’t offer if they didn’t mean it.
You’ve just kicked off maternity leave 3.0, aside from caring for a newborn, sleepless nights and endless coffee dates, what’s mat leave REALLY like?
Maternity leave round one was great, we were lucky with our first born in that he was a sleeper so for the most part we kept our sanity intact. We said yes to everything and were willing to give everything a go at least once, baby had to fit into our world. We made it to a friend's wedding with a 10 day old, had a three week national park tour of the US in a camper van with a five month old and were regularly out and about socialising with baby in tow.
Maternity leave round two was the catalyst for jumping into INTACT, it was Covid times and couldn’t have been more different to round one. This time i'm taking each day as it comes, life will be different as a family of five.And I can confirm the regular coffee dates are a thing, but also a necessary part of the experience. Catching up with others to share the highs and lows of parenthood is a great form of therapy!
You’ve been with Gab from the outset, working on INTACT to bring the brand to life, what’s life behind the scenes of INTACT look like?
Being in business with a sibling adds another dimension to work life. On one hand it’s super easy, the perks of growing up together mean we know each other’s temperament and if there’s an issue we address it head on. We chat every other day, whether it’s a quick call or message and we’re constantly brainstorming, sharing ideas and checking in.
We play to our strengths; Gab’s the doer, hustler, fashionista and face of the brand, while I prefer the strategy, long game and behind the scenes work. I love that we’ve been able to combine our skills to bring INTACT to life, we’re one year in and there’s plenty of exciting things around the corner.
Do you have a signature style and what are your wardrobe must-haves?
I’ve always leaned towards classic, timeless styles, and right now my wardrobe is centred on colour, comfort and natural fibres. I set myself a pregnancy challenge to try and avoid maternity clothes and find styles that would work during and after baby. I hated the idea of buying clothes with such a short shelf life. For the most part I was successful! You have to be creative and look for styles that will grow with the bump, oversized shirts, floaty dresses cinched at the waist and anything with stretch.
I’m stoked that INTACT has remained a wardrobe staple throughout my pregnancies, wool’s natural stretch is very forgiving with growing bumps. I wore the summer knit dress until 30ish weeks, the three originals tops - uniform tee, signature singlet and everyday long sleeve have also been perfect as a crop paired with a bump friendly skirt, and ideal for layering under shirts and jackets in the cooler months.
From the outside looking in, you seem to roll with the chaos of family life, what are your secrets to keeping life INTACT?
As someone who’s always enjoyed their independence and being on the go, the last few years have definitely taught me to slow down and take each day as it comes. While I love having a few things on the horizon to look forward to (hello long weekend road trips, beach holidays, time away from little people), life with kids means living in the moment. Overall my cup is full and life is very much intact, despite the chaos that comes with being in the trenches.