Deirdre Walsh Talks About Motherhood!
One of Kerry’s most beloved daytime entertainers, Deirdre Walsh is almost like part of the family, part of the daily routine here in the kingdom of Kerry. Gracing the airways with her humour, compassion and entertaining content you would be forgiven for momentarily forgetting her voice is coming from the radio and not from a guest in the kitchen having a chat over coffee!
I recently approached Deirdre about taking part in this Mother’s Day feature, a chance for us to get to know a different side to her. In this candid and refreshingly honest interview, Deirdre opens up on the joys, struggles, ups and downs of motherhood and gives her top tips to surviving it all!
Can you tell us about your own experience in becoming a Mom, what it felt like, fears, anxieties?
I came to motherhood late in life – I was 42 when I had my only child, Olivia, who is now 12. It was a massive shock to the system, because we’d been married for 10 years and were used to a hectic social life! All that changed when this tiny baby arrived. I was completely clueless, I had never changed a nappy in my life and knew nothing about babies. I reckon I made every mistake in the book, and was in a constant state of anxiety for the first few years of her life. You’d imagine that being an older mother would mean I was more relaxed, but the opposite was the case.
The bond between a mother and her child is something quite special, can you tell us the things you love most about being a Mom?
The thing I love most, is the fun and the laughs we have. We laugh at the same stupid things. We have an incredible bond, and now that she’s older, we do the ‘girly’ things together, like shopping. I love hanging out with her.
Can you share with us perhaps an aspect that you struggled with?
I struggled a lot when she was small. Every time she had a temperature or was off-form, I’d panic. It took a long time for me to trust my own instincts. The other big struggle was that she was a colicky baby – for the first three months or so, she barely slept!
Is there something you know now about motherhood that you wish someone would have told you? Advice, tips etc?
I wish I’d known that small children tend to pick up a lot of bugs and viruses, and that it’s all normal and part of building their immune system. I had a path worn to my own GP for the first two years of Olivia’s life and practically had SouthDoc on speed-dial
Do you have any rituals, dedicated time that you spend with your child to have that one on one time?
Because Olivia is an only child, she gets plenty of one-on-one time from me and her dad. We have a lot of common interests, particularly sport. I try to be at all of her football and basketball games, work permitting. Outside of that, we like to curl up on the couch together and watch movies at the weekends.
Did you find it hard to continue a successful career and parent at the same time?
‘Mom guilt’ was definitely a thing for me. It has lessened now that she’s older and more independent, but it was very hard to leave her and head out to work when she was small. Luckily, we had a fantastic childminder, Marian, who lives near us and became like a second mother to Olivia. Even though I hated leaving her in the mornings, I always knew she was in safe hands.
What advice would you give to women who have just had a baby and maybe considering their return to the workplace?
Take as much maternity leave as you can afford! I went back to work after four months and in hindsight, I should have taken longer. And don’t beat yourself up if you end up bringing the baby into bed with you!
How, in your opinion, can employers help make the transition as comfortable for women as they can?
In an ideal world, it would be nice to return to work at a gradual pace – starting off at three days a week and gradually building it up. That wouldn’t have been possible in my line of work, because my job is to present a daily radio show, five days a week. But it would probably make the transition much easier for women in other lines of work. I was totally torn when I returned to the office, because I love my job, but I constantly felt I was falling short, both as a mother and in the workplace.
In a world driven by social media, what advice would you give to Mom’s who feel intimidated or pressured to live up to the Instagram perfect image of what a Mom should look like?
My advice would be – ignore all that stuff. You won’t have time for scrolling through Instagram anyway – you’ll be too busy trying to keep a tiny person alive and not lose your mind!
Finally Deirdre, can you give our readers your top 5 tips to surviving parenthood?
My Top Tips for Surviving Parenthood:
1. Some other mothers will tell you their babies sleep through the night/never cry/eat all their vegetables. They’re lying. Take no notice.
2. Set aside time every day for ‘quality time’ with your child, when it’s just the two of you.
3. If you think there’s something bothering them, take them for a drive. You’d be surprised how much they open up on a car journey.
4. Don’t lie to your children about family problems or illnesses. Tell them the truth, in age-appropriate language.
5. Get them involved in sport, regardless of their ability. They’ll learn vital life lessons, like how to win and lose. And most importantly, they’ll make loads of new friends
You can catch Deirdre every weekday from 1.30-3pm on her Radio Kerry show – Talkabout with Deirdre