I am always keen to help busy parents find ways of managing the difficult balance of handling stressful workloads both in the office and at home. So, I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak to a couple who are raising a young daughter while also running a global charity. Here are Chloe’s tips for busy working mums.
JJ and Chloe Harvey are the husband and wife co-directors of marine conservation charity The Reef-World Foundation. They are based in Bristol, UK, where they share responsibility for the running of the charity and parenting their young daughter, Olivia. Today, I am pleased to share an interesting chat I had with Chloe around managing your work-life when you have a young child to look after too.
What is The Reef-World Foundation and what do you do?
The Reef-World Foundation is a registered UK charity which delivers practical solutions for marine conservation around the world. Reef-World leads the global implementation of the UN Environment’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkelling practices across the industry globally. By reducing the local direct and indirect pressures tourism puts on coral reefs, it helps make corals healthier and more resilient to other stresses such as the effects of climate change.
How did you meet and what made you decide to work together?
We met at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne where we were both studying marine biology. We ended up working together by a happy accident, really. After graduation in 2005, we went travelling around Asia where we trained as Dive Masters together. Before we went home, we ended up meeting Khun Niphon Phongsuwan – a coral reef scientist at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre – who launched the Green Fins initiative in partnership with the UN Environment.
He told us all about Green Fins and, when we realised Green Fins was the only internationally recognised standards for diving and snorkelling, we realised what a fantastic programme and opportunity it was. We signed up as volunteers – intending to stay for six months – and that’s where it all began really. We ended up taking over the management of The Reef-World Foundation from its founder Anne Paranjoti (née Miller) and, as co-directors, are still running the Green Fins initiative around the world. Green Fins has just launched in Egypt – its 11th country globally!
When we started out, we were just 23-year old marine biologists wanting to do something good for the world and I like to think we’re achieving what we set out to do. I’m proud to know we’re helping to protect some of the world’s most valuable ecosystems for our daughter and her generation.
What attributes that have helped you in your role do you think also make you good parents?
Well the dive industry experience is less relevant in parenthood of course but, otherwise, there’s a lot of crossover! Parenting and running a charity both require you to be hard working, dedicated, fully present and patient when things don’t go entirely to plan. The opportunities we have had to work and live in some really amazing places around the world help us to bring a wider perspective to decisions we make as a family unit, and the lessons we’re teaching to Olivia. We are looking forward to involving her in our work and travel more in the future and believe these experiences will be really beneficial to a growing little human.
What does a “normal” working day look like for you and how do you share the parenting?
Well, to start with, there is no “normal” working day for us! Usually, JJ works four days a week and I work three which allows us both to spend time at home looking after Olivia while also having enough time to get everything done at work: planning, budgets, logistics and all the admin associated with running a charity. We do also have times when we’re needed in the field – for example, training government and NGO staff how to run Green Fins in their country – and that can take a lot of planning. As you might expect, we have a lot of diary juggling! While we are kept busy, we are also aware of how lucky we are to have so much control and flexibility over when and where we work.
Running a small but impactful charity as new parents must keep you on your toes – how do you switch off and make sure you have a work-life balance?
It can be tough – around running a small charity and being new parents, we don’t have that much time for relaxing! But we do make an effort to spend quality time together as a family. We’re all quite outdoors-y so we love being outside and de-stressing by paddle boarding, surfing, snorkelling and diving, of course. We’re both really looking forward to Olivia being old enough for us to introduce her to the underwater world and, perhaps, the three of us might even go diving together as a family one day.
Do you have any tips for busy working mums?
I’ve used this Dalai Lama quote before when talking about business, but I think it applies well to parenting too: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Listening, being present and responding honestly is something that’s important both in your working life and as parents.
Also, it can often seem hard to do when you feel you have demands on your time both at home and at work but it’s important to find the time to relax, de-stress and unwind. A frazzled parent – or stressed out boss or employee – isn’t going to be nearly as effective as someone that’s taken some me time for a bit of R&R!
What are your hopes for the future?
Through our work with Reef-World, both JJ and I have seen the beauty of our oceans as well as how easily our natural world can be damaged. It’s what drives us in our work and, since having Olivia, this is even more true. How sad it would be if some of the magnificent marine creatures I’ve seen while diving to be wiped out during Liv’s lifetime. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where we care about the planet and are working together to protect coral reefs and other stunning ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. I also hope that our lives inspire and empower her to embark on a future that’s as fulfilling as ours are.
I hope you enjoyed tapping into some top tips for busy working mums. Now go and learn more about the charity led by Chloe and her husband.
The Reef-World Foundation leads the global implementation of the UN Environment’s Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly scuba diving and snorkelling practices across the industry globally. To keep up with our latest news and developments, please follow Reef-World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also follow the Green Fins initiative on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with new materials, updates and sustainability insights from Green Fins members.
What are your top tips for busy working mums?