Our LagosMums mum of the month is Clare Henshaw, a Development Practitioner, Project Manager, Country Lead, Executive Director and Mum. Read more about this amazing mum of two as she shares her experiences as a mum and the importance of Stability and Balance.
Please tell us about yourself? And one unexpected thing about you?
My name is Clare Henshaw, I am from Edo State.
I am a development practitioner and have been on this journey for about 15 years. My passion is keen on social change and social impact. I am also passionate about changing the narrative of the country we live in. More importantly, I absolutely love what I do.
One unexpected thing about me is the fact that people often are amazed at my multi-faceted skills. At a glance, they see me as fragile. However, I am a super spontaneous person. When I make up my mind to solve a need, I dive in and get it done. I am a doer, No excuses.
Can you share all the hats/roles that you wear?
I have a number of roles and hats I wear. First, as a development practitioner, I consult for a number of organizations. I am a Project Manager, Country Lead, Executive Director and I Volunteer at a few organizations.
I run Girls Inspired Africa, a non-profit that supports young girls and women with skills development, STEM education, mentoring support, and behaviour change. Presently, I also manage a skills acquisition portfolio under Arcskills (A subsidiary of Global Education Management System-GEMS). We are technical partners to the LSETF Employability Support Project, providing vocational skills training locally and globally. We train and develop talents to bridge the skills gap in the TVET ecosystem among other things.
I am also a Migration and Behavior Change Consultant for SEEFAR. I manage a migration communications campaign and we seek to reduce the scourge of irregular migration, human trafficking, and modern-day slavery.
I have a food processing company. We process tiger nuts into healthy drinks, edible flour and make amazing sorrel drinks. We focus on things that basically help you live healthily.
Tell us about your beautiful family?
I am married with two daughters; both 6 and 4 years old and they are amazing. My husband is from Cross River state but I am proudly Edo State.
What has surprised you the most about motherhood?
Motherhood has slowed me down (LOL). Like I mentioned earlier, I can be very spontaneous, however, being a mother makes you realize you have other humans that you have to care for beyond yourself. Of course, I have always known that motherhood is not easy when you become a mother you realize that there is so much more and sometimes, you have to put some things on hold just to make other things happen. Child-rearing is an integral part of women’s journey in life, and it isn’t a role one should take for granted. It should be deliberate and intentional. Putting some of your dreams on hold is not about ending the pursuit of your passion. It is just that you have to prioritize the tiny humans that you have been entrusted with to care for and nurture them, so they can become better versions of themselves. Generally, motherhood is stress and fun!
Can you tell us some of the funniest things your child has said or done?
Oh my goodness, I could go over a million things that they have said/done. One that stands out is, one day I was really tired, I took off my bra and laid down. When my daughter, Nicole got back, she came to me and said: “mummy, you forgot your breast on the bed”. That was hilarious. She was two at the time. I corrected her that it’s a bra but she still insisted on calling it breasts.
Another time, Naomi wanted to take water from one of her fancy cups, the spider man cup to be precise. Apparently, we had discarded the spider man cup a couple of weeks before then. She was insisting, and I explained to her that we threw it away. Then she said, “go and ask your friends where they get the best Spiderman cups because you have to get it for me”.
Most times, when I want to buy her a toy and I don’t know what to get, she says “mummy, you should have friends you can ask, come on?” This child was 2 years old going to three and when she says some certain things, I wonder if she is a child or my great grandmother.
Another thing is when she sees me working and I am taking too long on my laptop, she says “so, all these years you have been working, you still don’t have money. When will you have money”. The things she says, I sincerely don’t know where she gets them from.
Share your professional journey
I worked briefly as a banker immediately after school, but I soon realized that the banking industry was not for me. I then applied to work as a program officer with an NGO called DOAM Foundation. That was my first real job in the social space, prior to that I often volunteered time and resources working in orphanages or raising funds for children with cleft palate. I studied computer science and I figured I was going to work with tech or an oil firm. A while after graduation, I realized that these jobs were not coming forth.
I started working at DOAM Foundation with an intention to leave in 6 months’ maximum. However, as opposed to leaving, I became a Program Manager in 9 months. After a while, I realized that this was something I truly wanted to do, so I started putting in all the effort to be better. Gradually, I started making an impact, growing, learning and progressing. I also discovered that I had a major passion for tackling issues for women and girls and decided to train further in Gender Development. My goal was to find sustainable ways to empower girls and women for economic development.
For me, any meaningful growth in the economy requires the full participation of women and girls. As a development practitioner, I also have a passion for community development. So, the core focus of my work is to visit and work with communities, especially hard to reach communities. An opportunity to empower people who ordinarily would never have access to basic amenities. Education and health being the strongest indicators of growth were areas I focused on. Supporting communities with school libraries, refurbishing primary health care centres building an accident and emergency centre for women to access better health care were key interest areas. Leaving adequate structures in place whereby women can continue to have access to these basic health care needs was also important.
Work-Life Balance or Work-Life Integration? Does Work-Life Balance Exist?
Honestly, work-life balance does exist but with great support. You can’t be everywhere at the same time.
For me personally, I am a workaholic. I always have something to do. One of the things I have learned is that for you to a strike good balance, you don’t necessarily need to do everything by yourself. You need to have trained and dependable people that can support you.
I also do not put any pressure on myself to fit into the stereotype of being called a “superwoman”. Honestly, I don’t think I should be tied with too much domestics work if I can get paid services. I can, therefore, spend my time productively with family and my career. It is all about finding what works for you because we are uniquely different in terms of values, preferences, and needs. It is important to have a partner/spouse that aligns with your dreams and your goals because, in the long run, this is crucial.
How important is a support system for a mum?
I absolutely believe that women need strong support in terms of achieving their daily goals. We are in a society where women are typically seen as nurturers first before they are seen as human. They don’t put much pressure on men, funny, some men are even better at this nurturing thing.
The kind of support system that I have cuts across family, friends, work. Over time, in my career, I have come to negotiate some level of balance. I also strongly believe in remote work.
I don’t think that I have to show up at the office every single day to achieve what I have set out to do.
Use one word to describe one thing that should not be missing from every home?
Love and laughter. I believe my children should see me smile and laugh often and much because they tend to understand when I am going through stress. You don’t want them in a situation where they always have to ask if you are okay. I think it is important that there should be joy at home, actually, joy and stability.
Share one self-care tip. How do you relax and spend time on yourself?
Watching a movie relaxes me far more than sleep. I could find a favourite program that I love to watch on TV like “How to get away with murder” or “Suits” and binge-watch. That relaxes me; I don’t necessarily need to sleep to feel relaxed. I also love to just have a conversation with an amazing friend, brainstorming on my next big idea, read a book or write. These are some of the things that relax me. Surprisingly, work also relaxes me.
As a Yummy Mummy – can you tell us how you stay stylish and your beauty routine
Once upon a time, I used to be a diva. The whole 9-yards- make-up, heels, bold accessories, and bold hair. Life has toned it down a bit. I still try to stay stylish with classic and vintage pieces. I love scarves, brooches, shoes, belts, and perfumes. Although I have my own style, I often look out for classic trends. I also feel that no matter how stressed you are, tidy hair and a classy pair of shoes just sort your look.
On weekends, I pamper myself with sleep and movies. I sleep very late on Fridays and wake up super late on Saturdays. 0ften times, I stay home on weekends, except when I have something important to do. I also try to give myself a little bit of spa-love which I don’t get to do often enough. For my beauty routine, I honestly don’t have any specific routine, I don’t even pay much attention to my makeup as I used to but I pay attention to my shoes and hair. I don’t joke with that.
What are the top three survival skills LagosMums need?
- Ability to Multitask
- An inner circle that can support and motivate you. There are people we usually have in our lives that are constant reminders that everything will be alright. Your husband may not be the only one that should necessarily fill this role. For me, I have a tribe of friends that are my go-to people when I want to vent, relax, and when I need to talk or share ideas.
- As a Lagos mum, you also need to have a very rich network. Thankfully, Social media has made life easy. For example, when you feel stressed and you can’t cook, there are people who render this service that you can reach out to.
What do you love about LagosMums?
The rich community, the ideas, and learnings from other people’s experiences. The resources and the consistency of the brand.
N1million or more sleep?
1 million. I don’t like sleep anyway
Go on a shopping spree or all expenses trip to your top destination
Did I mention that shopping relaxes me! I would rather shop, shop and shop! Thank you
Homeschooling or traditional school
Traditional school for me. Especially in this environment, I need my children to be social.
A spa day or Eat out?
Spa day anytime
This was fun!!