As busy women, it can sometimes seem that as we get older, we take on more commitments, which leads to more responsibilities, which then leads to less time in the day. Prioritising our necessities looks like the logical, and really, only, way to get through everything we need to do, from spending time with our spouses, ensuring we care properly for our children, allowing our careers to develop, etc. Fitting in the time for ourselves, as well as our friends and family tends to be one of the first things to drop straight to the bottom of our list, yet it is one very important aspect of your life that can help with the drawbacks of being busy – stress!

There are a number guilt-free, easy to manage ways in which we can incorporate our friends and family into a busy schedule. Here are 5 ways busy women can spend time with their friends and family:

1. Find common ground

Any form of common ground that you can find with your family or friends, which should be an easy task with your close circle, should be used to your advantage. Maybe you both have kids that can play whilst you catch up, or pets that can go for a walk or even add on an extra 15 minutes to your grocery shop and do it together. Being able to coordinate the similar activities you together is kind of a nice way of “hitting two birds with one stone”.

2. Take away any pressure or expectation

Hanging out with family or friends doesn’t need to be a special occasion or a fully fledged social ordeal. It can be just as fun and relaxing to sit at home with a glass of wine and watch an episode of trashy TV with the company you’re in, and just unwind. Don’t put any pressure on what fun and exciting activity you could be doing. Realise that people want to be in your life and spend time with you, because of you, so focus on being just that.

3. Conquer together

Set some new goals and see them through together. Not only will having someone there to ensure you’re committed, but you also create new memories and experiences to celebrate jointly. Whether it’s to get fit and healthy and you go to the gym to work out, or if it is to learn a new language or skill and you go to classes together, you can design your goals and objectives to contain more than just success, but also fun and togetherness.

4. A girl’s gotta eat.

Coordinating meals seems to be the luxurious way ladies of leisure spend their time together as “ladies who lunch”. It doesn’t need to have that stigma. Synchronising lunch schedules or even family dinner nights can be a low-key, easygoing way to spend time with your family or friends whilst doing the normal things. It’s being able to open your mind and see the opportunity where you can do things together with ease.

5. Schedule and prioritise

It’s easy to say “Let’s catch up soon” or “I will give you a call when I get a free minute”, but it too often gets lost in the weekly chaos. Prioritise your friends and family, even if it means putting a reminder in your calendar to call them. As a busy woman, having a strict calendar is essential, so you have no excuse not to schedule them in alongside your other commitments. The more you do this, the more normal it becomes, and the more you will enjoy it for what it is worth.

In saying all of that, it is equally important to make time for yourself. They are like you and your best friend; they go hand in hand! With good people in your life and enjoying time spent with your family and friends, your happiness and joys in life are magnified and any troubles or sadness is shared.

Featured photo credit: `James Wheeler via photopin cc


Samantha-Krajina-Leaders-in-Heels-profile-picSamantha Krajina
Samantha, a Relationship Specialist, devotes her heart and soul to E&S Relationship Specialists, which spans across the areas of personal, business and education, running programs in all facets of individual and group relations. Crafting the groundbreaking technique of Relationshipology, Samantha is transforming relationships all over Australia with the aim to have social and emotional education taught in school along side the academic education. Whilst business is a huge part of Samantha’s life, her most favorite role is being an amazing wife and an awesome mum to her beautiful son and baby on the way.

Arianna Huffington said, “The difference between failure and success is perseverance”.

Whilst Huffington’s humble beginnings are now well known, there are others, who, even here in Australia, have overcome adversity to finally make it in the chosen career, and have not just survived, but thrived.

Meet Eleni Zaphir, who, at just 15 years old, found herself pregnant and scared for her future. She now runs her own fashion boutique, Vigari Fashion, in Brisbane. “I have been designing, and now manufacturing my own line of clothing and jewellery”, Eleni says. “I am selling to the Australian market and will soon be hitting the USA”.

Eleni talks about how she felt, how she rose above her fear and what other women can do conquer persevere in their business, careers and lives.

I was a 15-year-old girl with a 15-year-old mindset

Finding out I was pregnant at 15 was the most terrifying emotion I had ever come across. Not sure what to do or who to talk to, I decided it be best if I left home with my then boyfriend. I felt it would be the ultimate humiliation to my family to have a child at my age, and a boyfriend alone who was 4 years older than me. I was a 15-year-old girl with a 15-year-old mindset.

Dark days came

It came soon after settling to our new home that I experienced physical and emotional abuse from my child’s father. It was such a horrific time in my life, but I was raised with the mindset of marrying once and having children with that one man.

Get resources and educate yourself

I delved into pregnancy books at a local library, learning everything I could about my baby at every stage she was developing to keep myself busy. At that point in my life, becoming a mother was all dreamed of. Because I was in an abusive relationship, the only thing that kept my hopes up and bringing any kind of happiness was having a child that I could love and adore, and she too would love me.

Surround yourself with good people

I didn’t have much of a support system when I first left home. But after several occasions of dealing with the physical abuse, the hospital advised I seek assistance from a homeless woman’s shelter. It was so terrifying to not only encounter being a runaway with a false identity, but missing my family so, so much, to then be dealing with the abuse most days. I stayed at the shelter several times to then always go back to my child’s father, believing he had sought help for his temper. And of course, this was never the case.

Recognise your worth

I decided to open my own store at the age of 27. I was over building up other people’s businesses and not being recognised for my hard work. I decided fashion was something I admired. I knew a few people in the wholesale fashion industry so I had the right contacts for the right products. I decided to invest in what little I had in my bank account at the time, and just went for gold. And I have been happily in business for over 8 years now.

Invest time in yourself and your growth

As I wanted to start well with my first retail store, I had to invest a lot of time to find the most ideal position to set up shop in. As well as doing all the regular background research, I would actually go to the area and sit there for hours, just observing everyone and every thing. Just some things I remember thinking were:

  • Are these people my customers?
  • Will people come to my store?
  • If I have the right products, can I make this store a destination boutique?

Thanks to my research, I was really able have a jump start. VIGARI was something Brisbane needed, not only for its exceptional service and styling advice but having the products women wanted – at a fraction of the price. The VIGARI brand has been continuing successfully ever since.

Rewards come through great perseverance

There was literally no time to think about my busy schedule. I had a routine I wanted to follow: preparation with meals at home, and making sure I made room for family time. I remember being so tired. I didn’t hire staff until 11 months into my business, even if my store was open 7 days. By some miracle, however, it worked out, and I now have a fantastic business and an even more fantastic relationship with my kids.

I look back at it all sometimes and think, “Wow, how did I do it?”

Preparation and being organised are key to juggling career and family life

It doesn’t take much to sit down on a Sunday for 15 minutes and plan what foods to cook that week – this helps with what groceries to then buy. Planning your calendar with weekend events and/or play dates with family & friends is a must, too, and I personally like effortless events. Just pack some rolls for a sausage sizzle at your local park and let the kids run wild. I loved things that tired the kids out so they were in bed early!

Think good thoughts, speak good words and take good actions

My children know how much I value good, positive behaviours. When you have the mind to be focused and positive, anything and everything you want can prevail. Being lazy is my pet hate. But it all starts with the mindset.

Our motto is, “Think good thoughts, speak good words and take good actions.” When you have all 3, you can conquer the world. My daughter has a sensational job in dentistry, and my son has developed an amazing career is producing music.

Featured image courtesy of Eleni Zaphir


EricaEnriquezPhotoErica Enriquez
Erica is a Sydney-based writer and digital marketer, and can often be found pounding away on a keyboard, writing about everything from travel, lifestyle, well-being and anything in between. When she is not writing, she is STILL writing, developing copy and content for websites and marketing collateral. Erica is passionate about film, literature and culture (high brow and low brow), as well as pro-social causes supporting cultural engagement (counting travelling as one of them). In her spare time, she loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, go for a nice dinner with friends or spend time with her partner.

Think about all the questions that change lives in an instant: Will you marry me? Will you accept the position? Would you like fries with that?

OK, maybe not the last one so much. That said, questions are powerful tools for intentional living. They invite introspection, conversation, and connection.

Asking a few strategic questions will set you up for increased positive emotion. Acting on your honest, authentic answers can transpire into true happiness.

Try these questions on and see how happy looks on you:

1. What are you doing when you lose track of time?

DO MORE OF THIS! You’re in the zone. The zone is chock-full of contentment, happiness, purpose, and clarity.

2. What do you choose over sleep or sex?

You must seriously love whatever this is. I’d say do more of this ASAP (plus sleep and sex). This one is going to require some time management.

3. What are you doing for others?

Not giving back? It’s scientifically proven to increase your happy! Find a way to contribute today! Donating your time, money, skill-set, or helping hands will instantly boost your own morale. It’s a win-win-win!

4. How much progress have you made on your Bucket List?

You don’t have one? Now’s the time. You will have instant purpose and motivation to take action on the things that will make you excited and fill you up. In fact, without even crossing anything off your list, you will increase your happy just by making one. How simple is that?

5. How do you share your gratitude?

Most of us feel so much gratitude for the people in our lives, but we hardly ever express our thanks. Not only will sharing your thanks make you feel great, it will certainly spark joy in others. Another double-whammy!

By answering these strategic questions and taking action, you are destined to be happier today!

Featured image supplied by Tara Ashcraft.


Tara Ashcraft Leaders in Heels bio imgTara Ashcraft, MSEC

Tara is a change expert and master coach who gets her kicks from helping women make changes in order to live big, bold, brave, beautiful lives. She believes in sharing the stories of our change journeys to inspire and encourage each other. She has over ten years of experience in learning and development in both private and public sectors. She’s equal parts psychology, pom-poms, pixie dust, and pinot. Follow Tara on Twitter via @taracashcraft

I’m supportive of breastfeeding and I understand the potential conflict that can arise if women don’t feel supported to express after they’ve returned to work

Mamamia was an early online pioneer, with Mia Freedman using her years of experience in women’s print media to launch a women’s website, with the tagline: “What women are talking about today”. In 2012, Mia launched parenting website and reach 1.3 million Australian women and generate 14 million page views monthly.

Mia is the face of the recently concluded 2013 Philips AVENT Best Workplace to Express Award. She is helping to give a voice to women who have faced challenges when going back to work as a breastfeeding mother, and employers who have assisted their breastfeeding female employees after maternity leave. She is a hugely influential identity for new mums all around Australia, and she talks to Leaders in Heels about her own experiences as a new mum and choosing to return to work early after having children.

1. Why were you involved in this campaign?
As a publisher of websites for women and for mothers, I’m obviously very aware of the issues around work and parenting. And personally, I’ve had years of experience of expressing at work both as an employee and as an employer. I had my first child while I was Editor and I wanted to keep breastfeeding after I returned to work, so I expressed in my office for months.

When I had my second child, I was working in the male dominated world of TV and I still managed to express with the blinds pulled down in my glass walled office. After my third baby, I was self-employed by then and it was easier but I still expressed at work, as did my nanny after she came back to work part-time after having her first baby!

When one of my editorial team at had a baby last year, we had to find a space for her to express and as a boss I wanted to ensure she was comfortable and supported in her choice to continue breastfeeding after she came back to work.
I’m supportive of breastfeeding and I understand the potential conflict that can arise if women don’t feel supported to express after they’ve returned to work.

2. How many children do you have and how old are they?
My children are 15, 7 and 4 years of age.

3. How old were you with your first child when you returned to work and wanted to continue breastfeeding?
I was 25 when my son was born and he was about 4 months old when I went back to work part-time.

4. How long did you express at work?
I expressed for eight months until my son was a year old.

5. Did you store the breast milk in the communal fridge, how did people react?
Nobody ever mentioned it. But when I worked in television, it amused me greatly to put my breastmilk in the bar fridge next to the beers.

6. Where did you express at work at ACP and Channel 9?
I was fortunate enough to have my own offices at Cosmo and at Channel Nine – even though both times they had glass walls! At Channel Nine I could pull the blinds down but I had no door lock so I had to put a post-it note on the outside and desperately hope it didn’t fall off! At Cosmo, I had to strategically position myself behind the closed door so I wouldn’t be seen.

7. How supportive were the women and men at work, was there any difference?
I think the men were embarrassed. They didn’t know what to say. The women I worked with were completely accepting. Mildly curious but that was it.

8. How do you support women in your current workplace who want to express at work?
We work in a small office without much privacy. Glass walls, lots of open plan spaces and communal desks. So our options were limited and there was no way I was ever going to allow my colleague to express in the toilet! So we chose the only place with privacy and a solid door which was the kitchen. We let everyone know there would be a certain time daily when she would be expressing and the kitchen was off limits. We closed the door, dragged a chair in there and left her to express in peace. Or as close to it as we could provide.

9. Now as an employer, do you have a policy in place?
Because of our size, we are able to be flexible and tailor solutions as they are required. Many of the women in our office with kids work part time or remotely.

10. What is the most unusual place you have had to breastfeed?
I’ve breastfed everywhere! Weddings, funerals, hospitals, synagogues, churches, boats, cars, beaches, in meetings, cinemas, restaurants, shops, trains and planes.

1. What are you reading presently?
The Rosie Project by Australian Author, Graeme Simpson. It’s about a man with Asperger syndrome who is trying to find a wife. Beautiful and brilliant!

2. Do you have a favourite saying or cliché at the moment?
“Bring it.”

3. What is the one phrase you would use to describe yourself?
I’m a mum, author, journalist and my wheels fall off ALL THE TIME!

The winner of the inaugural 2013 Philips AVENT Best Workplace To Express Award announced this morning is Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Mia Freedman

Mia Freedman is the founder of Australia’s leading women’s website plus another site for mothers. She began her career in magazines, editing Cosmopolitan for seven years and going on to become the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan, Cleo and Dolly magazines. She also worked as a commercial TV executive with the Nine Network.