In a Minute, Mummy: The Balancing Act Of A Working Mother

Adele Robinson Sky News business correspondent swept into my home recently, with a cameraman in tow to interview my husband (a lawyer) about developments in the Post Office Scandal. Tall and graceful, the epitome of a television professional. You know the type. A woman who has it all together.

While the cameraman and my husband dealt with the set up and lighting, Adele assessed the interview setting; my study, and she noticed my book, “Octopus on a Treadmill; Women, health, Success And Happiness” on the shelf. We fell into conversation about it, and as women do, it was not long before we were sharing stories about the challenges of balancing children with career. Adele was very complimentary about Sky’s provision for maternity leave. However, she is still balancing a media career with the challenges presented by a 2 year old and a 4 year old.

As a coach who specialises in women in the workplace and a working mother, I know it takes more than a good maternity package to navigate the traps that working mothers fall into.

I knew that Adele must be burning the candle at both ends to fit everything in. She agreed, and it was at this point that Adele said something that really struck a chord with me, and compelled me to write this particular blog. She told me that her daughter had taken to mimicking her and saying, “In a minute mummy.”

All working mothers will recognise this immediately. Balancing all of the demands upon her time, naturally sometimes Adele had to say to her daughter, “In a minute darling.” However, children don’t know about production deadlines, and Adele’s daughter is already precocious enough to turn the phrase back on her.
Young children are incredibly demanding of our time and attention. For me it was constantly, “Mum, mum mum” from my boys. On one occasion, with my hair standing on end, I, in an exasperated tone, demanded, “What?”. To which my son replied, “I just like saying it.” What can you reply to that? Needless to say the guilt of having shouted at him came rushing in on cue.

Those four words of Adele’s little girl;, “in a minute mummy” summed up the experience of all working mothers. To fit everything in we would need 36 hour days and 10 day weeks, but that is not available, hence the constant refrain of ‘just a minute’ while we try to squeeze 36 hours of demands into 24 hours.
First, we need to acknowledge it, we can’t do everything, never mind doing it perfectly. When we are struggling, we need the freedom to say it out loud and to be heard.

Second, we need to let other women know that our lives are challenging, so that they (and we) do not feel alone or as if we are underachieving. My initial impression of Adele was wrong. She is just as human, battling the juggle of the working mother just like us mere mortals. All of us are guilty of looking in on another woman’s life and thinking that “she’s got it all sorted.” None of us have, and we need to share that with each other.

Third, we need to accept that we are not, and things are not, perfect. That we are human.
When we are battling to get the kids out of the door to school, while rushing to an interview, sending multiple WhatsApps, while eating what’s left of our children’s breakfast – we and our kids might arrive 5 mins late, with a few crumbs on our shirts, but that is enough

So, the morale of the story is – We are doing alright, and mummy will be there in a minute!

It is international day tomorrow, let another woman know that she is doing alright