When Michelle Templer's boys were little and would hurt themselves, they'd cry to their father.

For the Rotorua businesswoman, that was one of the hardest realities of being a working mum, something which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may soon experience.

When Templer was pregnant with her second son, Luca, now 11, she worked up until the Saturday, then had him on the following Tuesday. Twelve weeks later she was back at work.

More than 10 years on, the now Rotorua Economic Development chief executive officer looks back on that time and remembers the craziness of her and husband Daniel's life.


She said she genuinely feels for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is about to embark on a similar experience. Only, in her eyes, there's three reasons she believes it will be much harder - this is Ardern's first baby, she's going back to work after just six weeks and she will be in the public spotlight.

Make no mistakes, Templer doesn't regret her decision to go back to work so soon after having her son, nor does she look down on Ardern for her's.

While it hurts a little that her boys have always relied more on their father, she's also proud the pair have raised children with good work ethics who don't think it's unusual for women to head major corporations or run the country.

Templer was working as the New Zealand High Commissioner for the United Kingdom and Ireland based in London when she had Luca.

It was only a few weeks out from the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Paris and work was frantic.

With her passion to exploit New Zealand's businesses opportunities ahead of the World Cup and hosting a swag of New Zealand leaders, including then Prime Minister, taking full maternity leave wasn't an option.

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Making the decision easier was knowing Daniel was already an incredible father to their other son, Flynn, now 15. Daniel was able to work from home remotely running the couple's farm in the Waikato while also tending to baby duties.

"I remember there being some really crazy mornings when I would be heading to Westminster and needing to find gloves and a hat while juggling the kids while Daniel is on the phone trading stock and getting live updates from the sale yards. There were days like that that I'd think 'this is crazy'.

"You have to be really passionate about what you do to make that decision to go back to work ... I loved my job and felt it was a real privilege to be over there representing New Zealand and like this job [running Destination Rotorua], I felt really privileged to be working towards growth."

She said the trick to making it work as a family unit was having a supportive partner, appreciating your partner and switching off from work when it was family time.

Templer said it was almost harder now than when her children were babies to be away from them.

"They ask 'why are you going to work at the weekend?' and 'why aren't you home for dinner again'."

Over the years, she's tried to stop putting so much pressure on herself to be everything to everyone.

"I would stay up until 2am making elaborate birthday cakes and costumes for the kids. But I have to be a bit more realistic. Most of that is more me putting stress on myself.

"I also have huge respect for anyone who is a full-time mum or dad, and not only parents but people who are caring for family members. Everyone works hard and has different circumstances and somehow we manage to fit life and family around demands of jobs and commitments."

She said Ardern had a massive challenge ahead but "I think she will be amazing" because she's already handled so much.

"I feel for her at being so public and I hope that people don't make judgements because she will have to work out what works for her and them."