As Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan for 10 years, Bronwyn McCahon made the decision to put work (partially) aside and enjoy the gift of being a mother to three beautiful children; Harper, Grace & Theo Hall. This decision shocked the publishing and media industries as Bronwyn had been a friendly, familiar and inspiring pillar of strength and wisdom for all in the field.
Q&A with Bronwyn
Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
I grew up in Brisbane as the youngest of five kids. My dad worked in radio, so I guess a career in media was in my blood. I moved to Sydney when I was 21 after watching a TV show called ‘The Panel’ and seeing a woman named Mia Freedman on the show. Mia was the Editor of Cosmopolitan at the time and I knew instantly I wanted to work with her.
I packed my bags and drove to Sydney without a job and just sent my resume and many, many emails to various people at ACP Magazines until I finally got a reply. It wasn’t Mia, but it was an “in” to the building. A few months later Mia advertised for an assistant and we fell in love with each other. I worked at Cosmo under Mia for the next four years before she promoted me to Editor of DOLLY magazine. After reliving my teenage angst for two years as editor of Dolly, I returned to Cosmo as Editor-in-chief (Mia had already moved on, I didn’t steal her job) and stayed in that role for the next 10 years!
Earlier this year I decided to step down from my position and take some time out. It was a huge decision because I had a great job with a great team and loads of great perks, but I’d done it. I’d done it for a very long time and needed a change. My decision also coincided with my eldest daughter starting school and I wanted to be around a bit more for her. It’s been amazing having these past few months to spend time with the kids and think about what my career looks like in its next phase. It’s still evolving, but I’m working on a few different projects and it’s been a refreshing, scary and exciting task throwing myself in to new territory.
Whilst being an Editor for Cosmopolitan you also gave birth to three beautiful children. What has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how did you overcome any challenges?
Well there’s the most obvious challenge that is work/life balance and the ongoing battle to keep all the balls in the air. But to be honest, the most challenging part of motherhood for me so far has been the newborn phase with each of the kids.
Some people love the baby stage but I found it really hard. My babies had reflux and were non-sleepers so those first few months with each baby were a real struggle. I felt guilty wishing them to grow but at the same time I was desperate for that early stage to end. Now the kids are two, four and six and while it’s still super hectic, it’s definitely more manageable.
Motherhood is a constant challenge, just in different ways. When you’ve got really young kids the demands are very physical (getting them dressed, wiping bottoms, helping them eat) but I can already feel things slowly shifting from physical to emotional demands as they get older and have to navigate different issues at school.
What are your top three tips on how to maintain a successful career, whilst juggling the roles of wife and mother of three children?
Ask for help and take it when it’s offered.
Write lists of stuff you need to get done and then work through from most urgent to least urgent. Lists make me feel so much more in control of life.
Share the load. Allocate different tasks for you and your partner to be in charge of each day, whether it’s getting kids dressed, packing lunches, unpacking the dishwasher or doing breakfast etc. Sharing the duties makes life much easier (and peaceful) and means there’s a few less things for you to have to think about. For us, having our set household duties makes life run a little more smoothly and it prevents any resentment building about one person doing EVERYTHING.
Who has been your biggest support network, enabling you to drive your career, at the same time as being a loving mother and wife?
My husband, my mum, our nanny, my friends, the other school mums…it truly takes a village.
How would you describe your approach to parenting?
Firm, fair and fun.
What has motherhood taught you?
Patience. I’m a doer and I like to get things done. This second. But with kids you can’t always move at a fast pace and rushing them just leads to stress (mine) and tears (theirs).
How long have you been living in North Bondi and why did you decide to live there?
I’ve been living in Bondi for about 14 years, but in our house in North Bondi for the past seven years. I love living in Bondi, it feels like we’re on holidays on the weekends and there aren’t many places in the world where you can live a stones throw from a world famous beach with great cafes, restaurants and shopping, but still only a 25-minute drive to the heart of a major city.
My kids don’t even know how lucky they are getting to grow up in Bondi with the beach as their backyard, breathing in the fresh ocean air everyday. My daughter’s school is across the road from the beach and they get to do surfing lessons as part of their P.E class - what a charmed childhood!
What do you love most about where you live and do you feel there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood?
I love that we don’t have to leave Bondi. So many weekends pass without us even getting in the car. We can walk to the beach, to great cafes, to the supermarket, to shops, playgrounds, doctors, everything we need is right here. There’s also a lovely sense of community in Bondi and I’ve found that even more since my daughter started school this year. I love that when we take the kids to the kiddie pool at North Bondi or a playground in the back streets, they run in to other kids they know. The kids have fun and the parents get a bit of social time. Everyone’s a winner!
Do you have a favourite local spot that as a family, you often visit?
Our regular eating spot is Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta. We go there most Sunday nights for family dinner. It makes my husband and I feel like we’re holidaying in Italy. They do an awesome Campari and grapefruit and Reginella pizza and the staff are so great with kids. If it’s just my husband and I out for dinner, we’ll got to Seans Panaroma or Bills.
As a mum, you would appreciate cafés and restaurants that have entertainment for the kids. What is your favorite local Sydney café that does exactly that?
It’s hard to beat the Coogee Pavilion for entertaining the kids, it’s well contained, lots of seating options and some fun old-school games for the kids like table tennis, scrabble, connect four and noughts and crosses.
How will you be spending your weekends this summer?
At the beach or making friends with people who have pools! We live pretty close to the beach so we’re lucky we can run down for a quick dip without the hassle of parking.
Complete this sentence. The first thing I do when I get home is…
Grab a lollie from the lollie jar.