When I had No 1 Son, not working simply wasn’t an option, so somehow, I just got on with it. Over the years I’ve interviewed celebrities and other working parents about being a working mum, and here are the tips I’ve gleaned from them – please feel free to add your own:
1. You’ve got to have a support system. This is something the actress Sue Johnston, a single parent when her son was small, told me, and she’s absolutely right. Whether that’s a friend you can call on if you’re running late and can’t get to do the school pick up, or back up for your child carer in case they’re sick – you need a chain of support.
2. You have to let some things go. Lorraine Kelly said this to me years ago and until she said it, I hadn’t really thought about it, but she’s absolutely right. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a full-time cleaner, don’t waste your precious time at home worrying about whether or not the dusting is done. Do one chore one week, and one the next.
3. You need an understanding boss. Unfortunately this is something that you can’t control, and ironically, some of the least understanding bosses I’ve worked with have been mums themselves – including the Editor who couldn’t understand why I needed to be with my son in hospital after he’d lost consciousness from an asthma attack. If a boss is making your life as a working mum more difficult, or is difficult about maternity leave, resolve to look for another job.
4. You should always try to go to school plays and concerts. A colleague once said this to me and she was absolutely right, because these are the moments you cannot get back – and if your child scans the audience and doesn’t see you sitting there, they probably will remember it. And use it as a stick to beat you with when they’re a teenager.
5. You need to worry less and remind yourself you’re doing well. This is something Dannii Minogue said to me, and it’s absolutely true. All working mums do the best they can for their families – providing for them, and spending as much time with them as possible. Guilt goes with the territory, but don’t beat yourself up about what you’re not doing – just be happy you’re doing the best you can.