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The life and times of a modern African woman

Career woman, mother, wife and the woman behind the flourishing Modern Zulu Mom blog, we caught up with Thando Naves for a quick chat about balancing motherhood, friendship and work.

What inspired you to start a blog?

I started blogging with the intention of helping my friends, who were new mothers, with the lessons I had learnt in my motherhood journey. I had experienced so many frustrations ranging from postnatal depression, finding schools and then transitioning my Zulu speaking son into an English school. Over time, my online ‘mom-tribeʼ grew. Through my blog, I’ve gained a community of phenomenal mothers whom I have shared a part of my life with and leaned on in times of need.

Besides blogging, what’s your 9 to 5?

I’m a Senior Learning and Development Manager in the professional services industry. My academic background is in corporate communications, but over the last 10 years I’ve specialised and honed my skills in talent management. I’ve run with the opportunities that have come my way and I believe that we can do and be everything we want.

Who is the ‘modern mom’?

Modern moms wear many hats and are multi-faceted. We juggle our children, relationships, careers, businesses, spiritual life and personal passions. We don’t always get the balance right, but we thrive through the chaos and make things happen. We are flexible, creative, evolving and deeply connected to our both our families and our personal aspirations.

What would you say to the modern woman building a career and struggling to keep up a social life?

It’s natural for the nature of our friendships to change when we shift our focus from the collective to the individual. The path to chasing your goals can be isolating and lonely, as it’s not always easy to bring everyone along with you. 

What remains important is lifting your head up, once in a while, to check-in with your friends and let them into your ‘worldʼ. Your friends won’t know when and how to support you if you don’t allow them to do so. We’re fortunate to have many channels of communication – a genuine text/phone call/visit adds a personal touch that goes a long way. We all have our own things going and that’s the beauty of life and friendship – being able to reconnect, laugh and create new memories after a long time.

From your experience, how could a new mom maintain and navigate her friendships?

Talk, talk, talk! Be open and don’t be ashamed to speak up about the challenges you face in motherhood. I had post-natal depression after my son was born and keeping it to myself was one of the most destructive things I could have done. When you reach out to other moms, you will realise how common your problems are and you’ll enable yourself to get the support you need. Secondly, taking time out to connect with yourself and your friends is critical. View it as an investment in your personal well-being and not as time stolen from your children. One of my favourite quotes Is “taking care of yourself, is part of taking care of your children”.

How do you reconnect and spend time with your friends?

Through play dates (where not much reconnecting happens) and celebrating the special occasions and milestones in our lives as often as possible. I love being the ‘connectorʼ and playing host.

What do you enjoy most about writing and sharing your blog?

The connection to so many other mothers; we all need to feel supported and understood. Modern Zulu Mom is my space to feel both vulnerable and empowered by motherhood.

Check out her blog here!  

For more career advice click here!

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