Janine Allis says you can only do one thing well at a time.
WHEN you become a mother your life changes forever. In hundreds of different ways, sometimes small, sometimes big, in ways that will move you to tears, challenge your patience and fill your heart.
Some of you who are pregnant with your first child or starting to take the first steps down the family path are still probably holding on to the belief that life after a baby will continue as normal.
No doubt you think it will be different for you, that your baby will slot into your lives, sleep through the night and cut teeth without a sniffle.
Poor misguided souls.
That's what we all thought and well ... we were wrong.
It will be decades before you can ever go to the bathroom by yourself or see the bottom of the laundry basket or cook what you really want to eat. You will have to constantly step over toys to take a shower even though the kids have a perfectly good bathroom of their own, not that it matters anyway because you will not even be in there long enough to rinse the shampoo from your hair.
Leaving the house, especially in the early years, demands an operation of military proportions - stuffing the nappy bag with spare everythings, even the kitchen sink. As the kids get older there will be a bag bursting with snacks, clothes for every weather eventuality as well as half the Barbie collection, a craft box and glitter. Always glitter.
Remember those days when you lounged on the couch for the better part of Sunday watching Rage and nursing a hangover? Forget them. Being able to sip on a glass of wine and watch in-flight movies when you are travelling overseas. Forget that too. Catching up with friends is a rarity, those with kids are caught in a logistical nightmare of their own, those without, prefer to watch the show from afar.
And you will worry. You will worry that they are too hot or too cold. You will worry that they haven't eaten enough, haven't had enough sleep, which they will fall off their bikes or slip off the slide. You will worry that they will not make any friends at kindy, that some kid will be mean to them, that you are not spending enough time with them and that they are not ready for the realities of an often cruel world.
Being a parent, the best one you can be, is difficult and frustrating and oh so challenging. It is about long days and longer nights, despair when they throw a tantrum in the supermarket, annoyance that they always seem to want something as soon as you sit down to eat, and when they are sick, lying there with pain etched on their little faces - it is as if someone is squeezing the breath from your lungs.
But it is also about fun and laughter and thankfully there is a lot of that. It is about being proud of their accomplishments no matter how small, the wonder of seeing the world through their eyes; it's about cuddles and high-fives and when they slip their little hands into yours it is enough to make your heart burst.
Every day there are mountains to climb, hills if you are lucky, whether you are a stay-at-home mum or one who works outside the home. For the latter there are also often feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
Sold the dream that we now live in a world where women can have it all, we agonise over time lost with our children as we strive to ensure a successful career is not the exclusive right of those without little encumbrances.
"I think that the whole work/life balance thing is just a myth," says founder of the multi-million dollar Boost Juice empire and mother of four Janine Allis. "You can only really do one thing well at a time. That is the reality. In my early days of Boost it was all-consuming - working 150 hours a week; there was no time for friends or to socialise. It was literally just the children, my husband and work. But I wanted to be a mother and I wanted to be a businesswoman so I had to find a way to make it work.
"Every single office I've had has had a toy box in it for my kids and I can't tell you the number of board meetings I've had either breastfeeding a baby or with a child on my knee or playing in the corner.
"Sometimes things fall through the cracks, sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes I am a bad businesswoman or not a great mother but that is just the way things are."
As a single mother at 25 to Samuel, who is now 24, and with a six-year-old as she approaches 50, Janine's mothering experience has certainly been a varied one. Add two teenagers to the mix and there is little doubt life in their household is anything but dull.
"Of course I am a very different parent to my little girl than I was to Samuel as a broke backpacker living in France," she says. "The older ones have worn me down for the youngest. Every child you have after the first, you are so much more experienced and in life experience does count. It becomes clear to you as your children grow from teenagers into adults that you have to let them go. Mentally, you have to say, I am the parent but they are now adults and allowed to make their own mistakes."
The story of how Janine turned one small smoothie shop in Adelaide into a thriving worldwide concern is well known and makes for inspirational reading. But how do you do that while ensuring your children have an upbringing you can be proud of and without missing out on occasions they hold dear?
"Family support is the magical ingredient," she admits. "Aside from my husband I have been so lucky to have my mum who came to my house every single working day and looked after my children. Without her I would never have been able to accomplish what I did with Boost and my kids would not be as good as they are.
"I believe a happy woman is a good mother and I am happy because I work. Some women genuinely want to stay at home with their kids or genuinely have to but that wouldn't have been my natural course. If you never play your natural course, you will feel there is something missing.
"I have been there for the things I've needed to be there for. I certainly haven't done everything right but my kids have had amazing experiences. They have travelled to every continent and have been exposed to so much that they wouldn't otherwise have had and they are better people for it. None of that would have happened if I didn't work."
See Janine Allis on Shark Tank, a new reality show that features five of Australia's most successful business people, all hunting for the next big idea to invest their own money in. Shark Tank premieres on Network Ten tomorrow.
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