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Spending time with your family has been a mainstay of Australian culture since, well, a bloody long time. As time’s progressed, however, so to have the constructs of what a family even is – not to mention the expectations of spending time with them.
Kelly Müller is one of the thousands of Aussies redefining the very concept of spending time with family. She’s the proud mother of Sunny, wife of Josh and the founder of Kelly Müller Consulting – a marketing, PR and brand strategy consultancy whose impressive client catalogue includes P.E Nation, Zulu & Zephyr and One Teaspoon. We picked her brain on what it’s like growing up nowadays, how she balances everything, and how motherhood hasn’t slowed her down one bit to gauge what ‘spending time with family’ means in 2017.
WHAT DO YOU RECKON GROWING UP MEANS NOWADAYS?
Growing up has long had the association that you’ll ‘have your shit together’, but I don’t think any of us really do. Once you classify yourself as a ‘grown up’, I think you realise that there aren’t specific checkboxes that justify the term. Owning a home, marriage, children – they used to be references to adulthood but we’re all doing those things later in life than generations did before us. Does that mean we’re not growing up as quickly? I don’t think so.
Growing up to me is more about independence. Being able to make your own decisions and to own them. Being confident in your choices and being mature enough to change your path if you’re not happy. It’s about being confident enough to create a life that you want to live.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF GROWING UP RN?
The cost of living! I moved out of home at 18-years-old and I struggled for most of my twenties. I spent more money than I actually earned and got myself into a lot of debt, but at 18, I learnt how to stand on my own two feet. I juggled both uni and work, I had to work to pay my bills, I had to budget, I had to cook, I had to survive. I think it taught me independence and resilience.
Technology has also changed the world in which we grow up in and it’s definitely something I think about more often now that I have a child. What is it going to be like for her as an adult? When I put someone on speaker on my phone, she looks at it confused and asks where they are. The kid is so used to Skype and FaceTime because it’s how we connect with her grandparents and family who live in another country. It blows my mind.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE HAVING A KID AND STARTING A BIZ AT. THE. SAME. TIME?!
Beautiful chaos. To be honest, I didn’t ever have aspirations to own my own business. Prior to becoming a mother, I saw my personal success as my career accomplishments. But once Sunny was born, I realised that success was so much more than my job and I couldn’t imagine going back to work the way I knew it before.
Having my daughter gave me the clarity I needed around what was important. I started consulting when she was four months old because I genuinely love to work and because I had the opportunity to work with a brand I couldn’t say no to. It’s incredible how much you can get done when you have a shorter window of opportunity.
As Sunny got older, I was approached by additional brands. I tossed up whether I wanted to throw myself back into work in such a demanding capacity for months. I said no to clients I had dreamed of working with. And then suddenly, everything aligned. I took on a full-timer as well as three new clients (which has now grown to nine in total).
I am still fumbling my way through, as motherhood and owning a business is tough. My husband and I don’t have any family here in Sydney, so it’s a huge juggle to make everything work. Everyone does things differently, but I didn’t want Sunny to be in full time care. I waited for her for a really long time so I want to be with her as much as possible. Work was no longer the most important thing in my life and I feel so incredibly lucky that things have worked out the way they have.
All of my clients are parents. Not deliberately, but it seems that like attracts like. They get it. I get it. We WhatsApp, email, text and FaceTime at random times of the day. I’m available outside of 9-5 because I have to be – and because it works. Sunny is currently in family day care three days a week and her legend of a dad works really long hours on a Monday so he can do a half day with her on a Tuesday. I’m home by 4pm every afternoon. Non-negotiable. I want to spend time with Sunny before dinner and bed. Then I’m back on the tools after dinner. I don’t ever really switch off which is tough, but it is what it is and I do it because I enjoy it.
HAS BEING A MUM STOPPED YOU FROM LIVING YO’ BEST LIFE?
Definitely not, but that’s because I chose for it not to. Having a baby makes things harder in many respects. Things take longer. They take more planning, patience, structure at times, but the only person holding you back from doing anything is you. My husband and I want our daughter to see the world. We recently went to Hawaii for two weeks and realised that was the 18th flight she’d been on in her 20 months of life. We’ve been back and forth to New Zealand, to Bali, interstate in Australia and to the US. Sure the long haul flights are hard but they only last for the time you’re there and then it’s done – and it’s always, always worth it.
In terms of career, my priorities changed. I no longer saw myself as being the ‘head of department for a prestigious and global company’. Instead, I am my own boss, creating amazing results in collaboration with many prestigious and global companies. Sure, having a baby means I’m not attending events at night and I have to consider any interstate travel, but you start to work smarter once you have kids.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR WORK / FAM LIFE?
I have my wonderful husband to thank for that. We work as a team and split our household and parenting demands so that we can both still have snippets of time for ourselves as well. We don’t get a lot of time with just the two of us because my ‘spare’ time is often spent working, so I feel so incredibly grateful for such a supportive and understanding husband.
As Müller has shown, the concept of ‘spending time with family’ has shifted over recent years. The video below is another example of this – check out how these sisters have redefined their relationship and what it means to spend time with family.
Head to Mercedes-Benz website HERE to watch more inspiring stories of the trailblazers redefining what it means to ‘grow up’.
Photo: Caroline McCredie / Supplied.