My name is Jessica Dennien. I am a wife, mother and engineer, a "mumgineer". I work with individuals and employers to provide insights on how balance can be achieved within the workplace whilst ensuring an efficient, engaged workforce.

A common concern heard among the STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Maths) community is the difficulty in getting girls and women engaged in STEAM subjects and pursuing STEAM careers. But a conversation not as often had is the difficulty retaining women in STEAM careers.

Retaining women in these careers can be difficult particularly when they decide to start a family. Balancing a demanding STEAM career with family life can be difficult when the male dominated system expects mothers to adapt to it rather than updating the system to allow flexibility and work with ALL parents who want to achieve a better work / life balance.

Losing this talent is not only detrimental to the women who lose engagement in the workforce, but also to businesses that experience significant talent loss. This should be concerning to employers who are experiencing these types of losses as they are losing an investment when talent and IP leave their business.

Travelling with Children - A mum's guide to staying sane during family holidays

Mother and daughter at beach
My daughter and I exploring at the beach

If you're anything like me, when you got pregnant you probably envisaged your new family having beautiful family holidays together full of love and laughter just like that tourism ad you probably saw on the TV last week.

... when something doesn't go to plan you end up feeling like you might as well be the Griswold's and you end up forgetting to have a good time yourself!

Unfortunately, when it actually comes time to travel as a family you end up stressing over planning and packing. Then worrying about making sure the kids are happy during the travel, that there is plenty of snacks and activities to keep them occupied, that everyone will enjoy the activities planned. 

You end up spending so much time worrying about everyone else that when something doesn't go to plan you end up feeling like you might as well be the Griswold's and you end up forgetting to have a good time yourself!


My daughter rocking her new beanie out camping

For me, one of the best ways to ensure a fun, stress-free family holiday is to take some time to plan it out, make sure you pack everything you need so you don't need to think about it during the holiday.

If you have a partner, let them take some of the bandwidth; give them certain things to remember, make them pack their own clothes and things. There is no rule that says mum needs to do all the thinking all the time!

Set Expectations

Our camping setup

I'm allergic to cats so I like to think of it this way: if I'm expecting a puppy and I get a cat, I would be so disappointed. Whereas if I were to expect a cat and get a PUPPY I would be over the moon! This isn't to say expect your holiday to be crap, but maybe setting expectations like the movies is a little unreasonable. 

Understand that there will be times when people are feeling tired and frustrated or the kids might get over stimulated and start playing up. Be prepared for when things don't go to plan so that you don't end up feeling let down by the whole holiday.

Rest Days

Mum and daughter on swing
My daughter and I on a big swing where we were camping

It's easy for children to become overstimulated - and for mum and dad to get overtired - if you're planning on doing activities every single day. So, plan for rest days! A rest day doesn't have to be a day when you do nothing, but instead a day when you go for a walk close to where you're staying or go to a museum or something that is slow paced, avoid long travel in the car or high paced activities.

If you've forgotten something or things don't go to plan, be kind to yourself, don't blame yourself.

The amount of rest days depends on the age of the children you're travelling with, young children would likely need a rest day every second day while teenagers might be happy to have several busy days before having a rest day. Just plan for something that will work for your family.

Be Kind to Yourself

father and daughter on beach
My daughter watching my husband release a fish he caught

If you've forgotten something or things don't go to plan, be kind to yourself, don't blame yourself. It's not your responsibility to create the perfect holiday. 

Everyone needs to be accountable for their own enjoyment of the holiday. If you have a teenager who refuses to join in on the planned activities and insists on moping around because you've taken them away from their friends or taken them camping somewhere that has no phone reception, that is their decision. Just because they have chosen not to have fun on the holiday doesn't mean that the rest of the family can't have fun. 

Explain to your children that they can choose what they get out of the holiday and their choices won't  affect everyone else's enjoyment. Continue to do the activities you have planned and enjoy them as much as possible.

Let the Kids Help Plan

People on beach
My family and friends fishing on the beach

Just go with it and find joy in their enjoyment!
If your kids are old  enough, let them help out with the planning. If they're choosing some of the activities that you're going to do then they're more likely to join in. Also, try to be flexible with what they want to do - When I was 18 and my brother was 14, we went on a family holiday and my brother and I went bungy jumping. It sounds crazy but after doing that we were happy for the entire trip, even doing some of the "boring" stuff that mum and dad wanted to do.

Regardless of what you think will be fun, go with what the kids want for at least a couple days of the trip.

Going to the beach
A day at Timezone
Seeing a movie
Even bungy jumping

Just go with it and find joy in their enjoyment!


My daughter and I
My daughter and I

Keep an open mind with everything and try your best to remain in charge of your own happiness.
Just go with it. Everyday is a new day. Whilst you want to be reasonable with your own expectations, plan to have fun. Wake up every morning and be excited about the plans for the day. If you are happy and excited (even if it may be put on a bit) everyone else will be happy and excited which will, in turn, make you happy an excited for real.