The Real Mama #4 – Lauren McGee

Hey, happy Friday! Hopefully it’s your last working day before Christmas? 

I’ve a real treat of a mama to share today! Over the last five years of blogging I have met (both online and in real life) a lot of lovely and very interesting people, many of them mums who, just like me, are doing their best to provide happy homes and lives for their families. One of those people is Lauren McGee, North Coast photographer who runs under the name of LIT Photography. Lauren was one of our suppliers at the last Love at the Linen Green event, and a nicer wee doll you couldn’t wish to meet! Thanks Lauren for taking part in this series. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Who are you?

I’m Lauren, wedding and lifestyle photographer also known as LIT photography NI. 

Instagram handle?   

@litphotographyni for my work photos but personal stories or @lauren_lit_ for more personal photos. 

Love it or Loathe it?

I absolutely love Instagram and the wonderful community we have in Northern Ireland. When I was suffering from Postnatal Depression after I had my daughter, following honest open accounts such as @TobyandRoo @Mother_pukka and @motherofdaughters really made me feel less alone. 

What is your family set up?  

My partner (impatiently waiting on the ring) Jason and I have two children. Tyler who is 7 and Isla who is 3. We also have our dog Yogi who we rescued. 

Where do you live?

I live in Portrush. The most amazing place to raise kids. People think Portrush is best in summer, but we love it in winter when we have it to ourselves. There’s nothing better than getting wrapped up and exploring an empty beach.

What do you do for work? 

I’m a self employed photographer, but I’ve done it all. When my son Tyler was diagnosed with Autism when he was 2, I was a stay at home mum while I navigated getting him support and therapy. After I had Isla, I really wanted to get back to work and started my business. By chance I then got, what I thought was my dream job in politics, so I juggled a job, a business and being a mum. I soon realised that wasn’t sustainable so now being self employed allows me the flexibility my family life needs. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Three words that describe your household?

Chaotic, strong and loved.

Do you think you have a good work/life balance?

Definitely not, but I don’t think there is any such thing, in fact I believe it’s another unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves. Some weeks will be all work, other weeks will be all about the kids and family time. It’s just how it goes. It’s taken me a while to accept that it’s ok that I love my work and that I want to work. I used to feel like that made me a bad mother because I didn’t want to spend every moment with them. Now I realise that I’m actually setting them a great example of work ethic and my balance is that the work I’m doing allows me to give them wonderful experiences.

How do you manage to work/run a creative business around your kids? 

I am so lucky to have the most amazing family support. My son can’t go to childcare, and he struggles with school, so my mum is so vital for helping me with Tyler. Isla goes to childcare and has a wonderful Nanny who is a great help. I do tend to work best in the evenings though when they go to bed so a lot of my work gets done then. 

Any hard rules you stick to both in work & family life?

Your mental health is the most important, and I live by a firm ethos that it takes priority over everything. As someone who has struggled with depression, and now my son is struggling with his mental health, I make a point of taking mental health days whenever they are necessary. 

How do you relax? 

Weirdly, even though it’s my job, taking photos is how I relax. I love taking personal photos and letting my creativity run free. I also love getting a massage whenever I can.

Best book you’ve read recently?

‘Start With Why’ – Simon Sinek (this changed my life).

Any other books you need to share?

‘You’re a Badass at Making Money’ – Jen Sincero. This was amazing at changing how we look at money – a must for anyone who is self employed. 

Music choices?

The Greatest Showman soundtrack is my anthem and has been for the last 6 months. I’m also pretty obsessed with A Star Is Born and its soundtrack (bit of a theme here). 

Favourite podcasts? 

I haven’t really got into podcasts. I do love a good audiobook though. 

How do you and your partner stay connected?

We try to get nights away as often as possible. Getting away from the house and the kids and just being us is so needed. 

The Real Mama, Lauren McGee, LIT Photography

Style – do you feel you have a signature style? 

I wish I did. I have a ‘whatever mood I’m in’ style. Most days when I juggling the mayhem of life you’ll find me in jeans and a hoody, but when I’m feeling a bit more together my clothes reflect that and I’d say I can look pretty smart. 

Shops you love?

Marks and Spencer is amazing this year. I also love New Look for a bargain. 

Did your style change since becoming a mum? 

Completely. I look back at what I wore before and can’t believe I ever went out in anything so short. But considering I had Tyler when I was 21 it wasn’t really inappropriate. 

Beauty products you love? 

Mario Bidescu face spray and Simple moisturiser. I also swear by Revlon’s Uniq One for your hair – it’s a miracle worker for blondes. 

What family meal is guaranteed to be eaten by everyone?

Spaghetti bolognese.

Rainy day survival tactic?

Movies on the sofa with lots of popcorn. 

Any mum hacks you couldn’t live without? 

iPads. I know that they can be really frowned upon, but I’ve found them so useful and there are some incredible educational apps for the kids. Tyler really struggles with reading, but I was able to get him the Biff, Chip and Kipper books and games on his iPad and that’s how he learned to read. 

What one piece of advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 

You are good enough. You might not see it yet, but there is a place for you in this world and you will find it. Keep your head up, keep going and know that every challenge is helping you become the person you want to be. 

Once again, thanks Lauren for the insight into your life and career! 

Well, that’s me until next Friday when I have something VERY exciting to share, so I’d love to wish you all a merry Christmas – see you back her in a week! Em x

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