Amy Malpass Hahn is the Editor In Chief at The Grace Tales, an online destination and community for style-conscious mothers which covers motherhood, fashion, beauty, interiors, travel, food and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in magazine journalism, but eventually moved across into the corporate marketing and communications landscape, working for large corporations in Australia and in the USA.
When I had my first son, I decided to go out on my own, which ended up being a wild ride of entrepreneurism, communications, marketing, content creation and creative writing. I was doing everything from developing marketing strategies for financial organisations, to creating activewear for pregnant women, to running social media channels for start-ups, to ghost writing books on sailing (and no, I’ve never stepped foot on a sailing boat).
When that all became a little tiresome with young children, I took on a full-time role at the wonderful boutique fitness brand, Barre Body, where I acted in the role of Marketing and Digital Director. I loved every second, but there was a big part of me that was itching to return to my journalism roots.
It was then that I fell into what was undoubtedly my ideal role, the editor-in-chief position at The Grace Tales. I adored The Grace Tales from the moment I became a mother, so to be offered such a brilliant position at the hallmark digital platform was a dream come true, and has been for every day since.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My day usually begins somewhere between 4:30 and 5am, for my daily hour of meditation and mindfulness practice. Ha! Kidding. It actually starts half an hour before then (yep, always before 4:30am) when my three children emerge from their beds with the energy of pre-teens on Red Bull.
There’s no quiet and no calm, just a succession of food demands and varying toilet requirements for a consistent, brutal four hours until school time. My sons are 9 months, 3 and 6, so by the time my work day begins, I feel like it’s time for afternoon tea.
When I finally do sit down to my desk (after various lunchbox preparations, breastfeeds, breakfast clean-ups, laundry and drop-offs), I breathe a sigh of relief and then work away with the efficiency only known to mothers of small children.
My role involves looking after the range of editorial platforms on The Grace Tales, as well as our strategic partnerships. So my days are usually extremely diverse and incredibly busy.
Each day, I’ll be writing stories, interviewing experts, arranging or conducting shoots, researching and planning content, attending or organising events, uploading stories, scheduling social media posts, responding to reader feedback, liaising with advertisers and partners, speaking to emerging brands, developing partnership proposals and seeing them through to completion, managing contributors … should I go on?
Luckily, I thrive in busy roles where I can really get my hands dirty and be involved from the ground up, so I’ve certainly found my sweet spot at The Grace Tales.
Once 4pm rolls around, it’s time for children to be picked up, a bevy of after school activities and the dinner-bath-bedtime routine, with a healthy dose of homework, Lego building, Bey Blade battles and about 29 loads of laundry in between. By 7:30pm, I am usually somewhat comatose while I shovel in dinner, stare lovingly at a glass of wine, chat to my husband, and finish off any work that came in post school pick-up. Phew!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company that is dedicated to motherhood, and so offers all the flexibility I could ask for. I work from home whenever I need to, often bring my youngest Henry to the office, have been known to breastfeed throughout meetings, and will often work in the evenings so I can be at the school gate. I’m of the firm belief that work is about outcomes and not hours, and thankfully I’ve found a company that walks the talk.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
All I can say about work-life balance is that I am almost certain I’m not achieving it! That said, I’m yet to meet anyone who feels they have achieved that elusive balance.
What I do know is that right now, my focus is on being there for each one of my children and on doing the best I can in my role.
I heard someone say once that when you have children, you have three balls to juggle (work, family and everything else), and only two can be in the air at any given time. For me, the “everything else” ball is what’s falling to the ground at this point in time.
While I’d love to have more time and energy for fitness, friends, hobbies, meal preparation and everything else I’m meant to prioritise, I’ve tried to resign myself to the fact that those things will come back into focus at some point down the line. (Cross your fingers for me.)
So perhaps that’s what balance is – letting go of guilt around the things that fall down when you’re doing your very best juggling act.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
I think success is a very personal, very subjective concept, and I don’t know if I could ever say that I consider myself successful. But what I am told repeatedly is that I am efficient. And while I might be oversimplifying things, I have a feeling that it may come down to my inbox.
One of the benefits of a corporate background is that I went through hours upon hours of professional development training, the most notable of which was around efficiency and inbox management. I’ve stuck to the methodology to this day, if not a little too obsessively.
The notion is that you use your inbox as your to-do list, so anything sitting in your inbox requires action today. I’ll even email myself tasks to sit in my inbox until they’re complete. All other emails go into one of the following folders:
- To do this week (you move these items back into your inbox on the day you intend to work on them)
- To read (subscriptions, research papers, ie things you tell yourself you’ll get to, but inevitably never do)
- Project folders (I have no less than 100 reasonably well-organised folders for particular projects/initiatives)
- Deleted emails (surely you don’t need me to explain this one)
I know it sounds a bit obsessive, but for some reason, it works really well for me. If I can make it to inbox zero at the end of the day, I feel incredibly calm and like I’ve successfully achieved what I needed to that day. But I also know where everything else is and when it needs to be done, so things rarely fall through the cracks.
Control freak? Never!
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Other than my children, books are my great joy, so I try to keep reading as an act of love (with the exception of finance books, of which I’ve recently entered a rabbit hole, thanks to The Barefoot Investor and Canna Campbell).
I think the simple act of reading a good story improves my state of mind! Recent favourites are Girl, Woman, Other; Ask Again, Yes; Three Women; Fleishman Is In Trouble and An American Marriage.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I drink coffee.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Annabel Crabb. From her journalistic work, to her television hosting roles, to her wonderful cookbooks, to co-hosting my favourite podcast (Chat 10, Looks 3), to raising three children – I am in awe. Any time I think I’m busy or overwhelmed, I think of Annabel.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
If meeting and women from all around the world and from every walk of life has taught me anything, it’s that no one has it all figured out, no matter what their Instagram feed would lead you to believe. So whatever you do, be kind (to yourself, too). You never know what someone else is going through, or how many times they’ve been up the night before with a child.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!