'I feel really torn and freaked out': Drew Barrymore on work and motherhood

Drew Barrymore with her daughters, Olive and Frankie.
Drew Barrymore with her daughters, Olive and Frankie. Photo: Instagram

Drew Barrymore has opened up about the highs and lows of being a working mum, sharing that at times she is left feeling "torn and freaked out" by the competing priorities of work and motherhood.

Mum to Olive, 5, and Frankie, 3, whom she shares with ex-husband Will Kopelman, Barrymore told Working Mother that the tricky juggle all comes down to "balance".

"I think if you did nothing but work, you'd be exhausted and resent work. And if you do nothing but [be with] your children, you'd be exhausted by that," she said. "It is a balance."

For the Santa Clarita Diet star, work helps her feel more fulfilled as a person - and to enjoy being in the moment with her girls. "It makes me so much more excited to just be and do kid things and focus the entire time I'm with my kids," Barrymore, 45, said.

But as any working mum will tell you, it's not always easy. And just like the rest of us, Barrymore feels frazzled at times, too.

"Sometimes I feel like the two are pulling in different directions, and I feel really torn and freaked out in my head and my heart and kind of all over the place," she said. "I think there's a lot of days where I feel like, 'Good, I took care of work stuff, now I can focus solely on my kids,' and I'm revitalised by work to just go and be a mum and nothing but a mum.

"And then when I lean in with my kids so much, I'm like 'Good, I'm glad I have something else to focus on.' It makes me feel reenergized."

Barrymore likens the work/motherhood balance to a healthy relationship between a couple, who have their own interests and passions. "Like, 'Please go out there and have something to bring back to the table to talk about, because if we're staring at each other 24/7, there's really not a lot new we're going to bring to this,'" she explained, adding that it's both good and healthy to go out into the world "and cherry-pick different things."

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 "You bring that to your home, or from your home you bring that focus and love into your work, but you have to do at least one or two diverse things in order to feed the other."

Barrymore also recently shared a successful strategy she uses with Olive to help her cope with the time she spends away working.

"Olive has a working mom," she shared in a post to Instagram. "So, I came up with a couple of systems. One of which is "THE CALENDAR". I circle with sharpie every day I will be travelling. And I ask her to mark the day with an X once it's done. That way she can see that I am gone at first, still away in the middle, and then coming back towards the end."

 

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Along with the calender, Barrymore ensures that work is framed in a position light for her girls. 

"I always explain to [Olive] that I love my Job," she said. "I don't say 'I have to go work' with a grimace on my face, because I fear it will make her feel negative about something a lot of mums must do to provide.

"My friend once said 'never make your child feel like work is the bad thing taking you away from them' and I realised a lot of us tend to do that to try to make our kids feel better and that work is the yucky thing taking us away."

Instead, the mother-of-two has chosen a different approach.

"I want to empower my daughters to think work is good and necessary," she said. "And can even lead them to the road of their dreams."

And while Barrymore might feel "guilty as hell for being away", (What mum doesn't, she adds), "I try a way to empower me and my kids into something more positive."