Juggling life and work in the Senate: Sarah Hanson-Young shares how she does it
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Sarah Hanson-Young found out she was pregnant the same week she was pre-selected in South Australia to run for the Australian Senate.
The Greens Senator is now the single mother of a five-year-old daughter, her home's in Adelaide but she spends a signifiant amount of time in Canberra.
So how does she manage it? Speaking Wednesday on a panel session at the Sustaining Women in Business conference facilitated by author and IBM strategy director Megan Dalla-Camina, Hanson-Young offered a few hints on how she manages the work/life juggle.
It starts with flexibility. She knows her day, in politics and as a parent, will never go according to the 6am plans she considers while catching up on the news.
"I have a whiteboard," she says. "I outsource as much as I can, including cleaning the bathroom." Her iPhone and iPad also help, as does an "understanding hairdresser who lets me talk on the phone."
She works with her staff and a nanny in Canberra and Adelaide in minding her daughter in between senate sitting days. But it rarely goes smoothly, and she's still frustrated by the time the juggle made the headlines: when, during an unusually timed Senate vote, she carried her daughter with her into the Chamber, only to hear the vote was halted with the words, "there's a stranger in the house."
The stranger was two-year old Kora, who was consequently taken from her, screaming, while the vote was finalized. The incident sparked much debate in the media on whether parents should take their children into their places of work.
"The word balance sounds nice, but it's really a juggling act," she says. "Its a constant juggling act but I think that's working women."
As for her personal health, Hanson-Young says she's "addicted to hot yoga", eating well as a vegetarian and cutting down her coffee intake to two a day.
Even more beneficial is never holding a grudge. "It stresses me out having to remember all the people who have pissed me off."
Hanson-Young added that she's not surprised to hear women are opening businesses in order to try and determine their own hours and lifestyle, given difficulties in accessing childcare. "The government says women have to get back to work but the options aren't there," she says.