Catching up with Gemma McCaw

Juggling family life, work, and “me time” keeps Gemma McCaw busy. Metropol editor Lynda Papesch asks how she successfully balances being a wife, mother, and entrepreneur.

The best way to describe Gemma McCaw’s life right now is, to quote her, “in the thick of parenting”.

These days the former Black Sticks wonder woman, Olympian, and women’s wellness coach is more likely to be found cuddling one of her daughters, as she is running around with a hockey stick in her hand.

Gemma and husband Richie welcomed their third daughter, Ella, in April; a little sister for Charlotte, who is four, and Grace, who is two. “Three kids under five is definitely full on,” she says, quick to add that her newest is “such a delight”, and it’s been lovely seeing the older girls embrace their new little member of the family.

Life in the McCaw household includes plenty of chaotic moments, yet Gemma wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m right where I want to be, and am keenly aware that this period of our lives is special. It’s time we’ll never get back,” she explains.

“I would say the past five years have been the busiest of my life, but absolutely the happiest, too. I find it incredibly fulfilling watching my babies grow.”

One thing Gemma did differently this time around was to really focus on rest for the first four weeks after Ella was born. “I took time out from work, stayed at home mostly, and really just focused on our little family. Parenthood feels a lot like stripping life back to basics. It’s the simple things that count. Being there and being present is everything.”

Gemma retired from hockey in 2020, but sport still plays a huge role in the way she approaches life.

“The lessons I learnt being an athlete are with me every single day, like prioritising sleep, ensuring I exercise, and understanding the importance of good food. Sport teaches you so much about working together as a team, managing disappointment and building resilience, and they’re lessons that can be applied in all parts of life.”

She misses the connections made in sport, and being part of a team environment, but is now equally dedicated to Team McCaw family activities. One of her joys as a mother is encouraging the girls to learn by watching their parents, and being active. “My wish for them is that they’ll be involved in sport for life, regardless of what level they play at.”

On a personal level, Gemma finds inspiration from the amazing female role models she has had throughout her life. “My family and friends, and people I’ve worked alongside, I have learnt so much from many different women.

“Closest to home, my mum Michelle and nana Yvonne are my biggest inspirations. They’re the hardest workers I know, are incredibly selfless, and always give their time to others. They’re nurturing and loving, and the best examples of strong women I can think of. I know my maternal, nurturing traits have come from them.”

Reading other women’s stories also provides inspiration.

“I get so much from learning about others’ perspectives, and not necessarily sportswomen. I love reading about people like Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, who’ve been through hard times but now help and connect with others.

“Often, I will see other women just going about their days, dropping their kids at preschool or rushing to work, and I admire them, too. As they say, ain’t no hood like motherhood. I think we can all learn from each other.”

On the business front, Gemma is excited about planning her first South Island women’s wellness retreat. To be held at a luxury Canterbury location from 24-26 November, the retreat will offer like-minded women the chance to step away from their hectic lives for a blissful three days of rest and rejuvenation.

Gemma will be joined by health and wellness experts to guide the group on “an unforgettable journey, allowing women to unwind and reset, and providing vital skills to take home with them for healthier and happier lives”.

“I love working with women, and I always say it’s often the smallest changes that can bring about the biggest results.”

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