Dear Working Mum

Dear Working Mum,

I don’t know how you do it.

We’ve all been tickled this week by the hilarious BBC interview that went so very wrong when a toddler and baby came running into the room while their dad was on Skype being interviewed about democracy in South Korea. It was my favourite YouTube moment of the year so far – until this morning, when a friend reposted this on Facebook, a spoof of what it would have been like if it had happened to a woman. A working mum. And the reason I laughed so hard is that it so absolutely could have been true.

But actually, it’s kind of not funny.

Because working mum, I don’t know how you do it.

I don’t know how you get up in the mornings and get not only your small people looking presentable, but yourself as well. Hair, make-up, clothes-that-do-not-fall-into-the-Active-Wear-category, grown-up shoes… but you do.

I don’t know how you make breakfasts and packed lunches, and get small people to sit down and eat said breakfasts, while simultaneously preparing yourself mentally for whatever tasks are waiting for you when you get to your desk… but you do.

I don’t know how you manage to do the school run, administering that all-important “one last kiss”, and then haul yourself across town (or sometimes even further) to wherever work is, and arrive on time… but you do.Read More »

The Journey To Sleep

If you had told me a few weeks before my littlest’s first birthday that by the second week of January I’d be getting 8 hours of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep a night, feeling fresh and rested, and able to run 5km three mornings a week, I would have laughed at you. I would have laughed hard.

Because I was a wreck. Every time I switched off my light at night I felt like I was going into battle, never knowing quite when my adversary would strike, or how many times – but knowing it was coming. A good night was the baby screaming twice. A bad night was us getting up every hour or having her tossing about in the bed between us. I spent my days in a haze of exhaustion – cranky, miserable, and certainly not being the best mother I could be.

So how has it all turned around?

Read More »

Never Again Will You Be Three

In a few days we will blow out your candles, open your presents and sing happy birthday at the tops of our voices. We will have a party and throw streamers and play games and eat far too much cake and celebrate all that you are.

But what you won’t know is that as I sing “Happy birthday to you”, I will have a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart. Because never again will you be three.Read More »

Christmas craftiness

The tree is up, Michael Buble is crooning his Christmas ditties in the background, and despite the fact that the weather outside is not in fact frightful (it’s a Bahamas Christmas this year), I’m starting to feel a little bit festive.

The Christmas school holidays are about to descend upon us, if they haven’t already, so I’ve been thinking about things to do with the little ones that might keep them occupied in the run-up to Santa’s arrival, as well as provide a few festive trinkets to scatter around the house.Read More »

Walking away

The baby will turn one next week, and she is desperate to walk. She watches her older sister running on the beach or in our street with the big kids, and her longing to join in is so palpable I can almost see it rising from the top of her little blond head like puffs of steam. She pulls herself up and stands helplessly, as what ever she wanted to take herself towards has already been spirited away by the whirlwind that is the three year old. She squawks impotently at the injustice of it all, and my heart aches for her.

But secretly I feel like I’ve been given a reprieve. Not just from the toddler bumps and scrapes that are all to come, but from the grieving that comes with saying goodbye to the baby days – the goodbye that, the moment they learn to walk, is inevitable and expedited. Read More »

Punctually challenged

It was 7.34pm on the night of my 21st birthday party and, as I fumbled chaotically around my dressing table for the right shade of lipgloss, my guests were already gathered, sipping champagne, at the venue 10 minutes away. My phone beeped. “Only you would be late for your own party.” It was my friend A (still one of my very best friends today), who – unlike me – is always on time.

Because I am – and always have been – chronically late. It’s my least favourite thing about myself. It was bad enough in my 20s when I could just about get away with it by replacing the word “chronically” with “fashionably” (although my husband, who’s been trying to rid me of this habit for well over a decade, would disagree). But as a woman in my 30s it’s far less forgivable, and as a mum, where I have actual, real-life little people depending on me for turning up on time and unflustered to where they need to be, it has become unacceptable.

So I’ve been working really hard on this character flaw and when my oldest received her first ever report card from kindergarten last week, there was a magical number in the “late column” which made me give myself a silent high five: “0”.

Here are some of the changes I’ve been making in a bid to become more punctual:Read More »

Parenting for the future: A conversation that made me think

Through my career the thing I’ve loved most has been meeting smart, savvy women and listening to what they have to say about things they’re passionate about. I worried that when I gave up work to be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), I’d find fewer of these conversations in my daily life. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because – and it seems so obvious when I say it out loud – we SAHMs had former lives. We thought about things other than establishing sleep schedules, diverting tantrums and ways to cunningly disguise vegetables (not that these things aren’t vital to our day-to-day existence!). And – through the haze – we still do. I’m so grateful for the women my new “career” as a SAHM has introduced me to. Clever, caring, funny, kind women – who are mums first, but bring so many different experiences and opinions to the table. 

One of these women is Fleur Heyworth. I love it when a conversation around a dinner table gets meaty – and at Fleur’s table, there’s no shortage of substance. A Cambridge-educated Barrister, she took a break in her career to have two children, before relaunching her working life with the UK government at the Mission in Geneva as part of the Legal, Political and Human Rights team representing the UK at the UN and International Organisations on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. She is now an Independent Consultant working with Women@theTable and the International Service for Human Rights, and has set up a website called Closing the Gap.

We recently got talking about what the future looks like for our children, and the part we as parents have to play – not just in our nuclear  families, but in the world we’re leaving for our kids to be in charge of one day. I found that the work she has done with agencies for change in Geneva have given her a wide and fascinating view of the world, and ideas to share that I believe we would all benefit from.

So I asked her to write down her thoughts after our conversation, and this is what she said…Read More »

Something wicked this way came

hur·ri·cane:

Definition: A storm with a violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean.

Origin: Mid 16th century: from Spanish huracán, probably from Taino hurakán god of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew was coming, and much the same way as I did before childbirth, I read up on the phenomenon we were about to experience. As with childbirth, I tracked its course as we counted down the days to its arrival, and made the necessary preparations. As with childbirth, the wait was agonising. And as with childbirth, nothing could have prepared me for the reality. Read More »

Links I’m Loving Lately…

When I started this blog a few months ago I had to wade through all the usual hang-ups that aspiring writers are afflicted with – the nagging fear that I don’t actually have anything interesting to say; that almost four years of being a stay-at-home mum had turned my brain to mush; that writing about my life and experiences as though they were noteworthy or interesting would make me look like a total megalomaniac; that putting myself out there would be an embarrassing failure… But I wanted to start writing again so with a bit of effort (and a stern talking-to from myself), I pushed aside these feelings and dived in head first – and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Since pressing “Publish” on my first post, the biggest surprise this blog has given me (and its loveliest gift) has been the engagement and sense of community I’ve experienced with readers and other bloggers. I started it as a personal experiment – encouraged by a friend and properly convinced when I read a sweet article on how blogging makes you a better person  (on The Champagne Supernova – now one of my favourite blogs), but it has become a part of my life I wouldn’t want to be without and I think it may have saved my sanity a bit this year.Read More »

Lessons from my Littlest

My first baby was born late at night after a horrific, 21-hour, drug-free (not my idea) labour. When she finally arrived screaming purposefully at the world and I held her for the first time, I wept as much from indescribable relief as from overwhelming love. It felt like we had already walked a long and difficult road together and we were only just beginning. After I was cleared from recovery and we took her back to the ward, her daddy kissed us both good night and we were suddenly alone – a moment I don’t think any mum ever forgets. We looked at each other and I wondered, “What next?” She knew. The dark January night folded itself around us and we both slept. Read More »