Friday, 26 November 2010

An inspiration?

Today someone called me inspirational.  A lovely compliment, but I think perhaps she mistook desperation for inspiration. You see me and Sarah Beeny seem to be the only mums of four small boys who are actually foolish, or in my case impoverished, enough to actually try combining bringing them up with having a career. 

I think most mums with a brood of tiny children simply give in to the demands of their family and give up on any attempt at gainful employment, and I applaud that sensible and inspired decision. I am not sure I could cope with being a mum of four without working. Apart from the obvious financial incentives, there is the fact that work is effectively a day off. 

A typical day with the children is like skating round an ice rink while trying to catch melted chocolate in a colander. A messy, tiring and fruitless pursuit during which you are prone to many a slip up. Don't get me wrong I adore my days with the children, but a rest cure they are not. 

Sitting in front of a computer tapping away, or nattering away on the phone doing what passes for an interview, well that's more like it. I can tune out the screams and rows of my bucketful of hyperactive eels (otherwise known as my sons), while I concentrate on keeping abreast of what's up on Facebook

People may say to me they don't know how I do it, but I mostly do it, by not doing too much of it at all. Looking after the boys single handed is a sweet treat for a couple of days a week. Looking after them full time would be hard labour and I am not sure how much any of us would enjoy it. 

My nanny, both because she is more sweet natured than me, and is paid to be, is far more tolerant to the boys foibles and intensely slow way of doing even the simplest of chores than I am. While I am reduced to a foaming at the mouth, screaming harpy within an hour of the older boys' return from school, she glides serenely through those prickly after school hours, safe in the knowledge that she can leave at bedtime. 

While the boys forever say they would love mummy to look after them, I think the reality might be a bit of a disappointment. Spending too much time with the boys aggravates my allergy to shrill cries of 'Mummy, mummy, mummy' and stretches my multitasking powers to breaking point. 

While I can juggle deadlines, meetings and interview slots like a circus performer, I find my brain begins to fizz as I try to cope with a dirty nappies, inconsolable tears, requests for drinks/snacks/help with homework and an full scale little boy fight - all of which inevitably kick off simultaneously. 

It seems to be a rule of thumb that everything always happens at once in family life. For example the boys could sit for a good few moments in rapt silence as they watch a DVD, but the instant that a nappy is filled or a glass of juice is spilled, suddenly all hell breaks loose and a previously serene scene instantly descends into a chaos of demands. 

It's a bit like the rule that says the moment tea is on the table, one of my children will disappear for an epic poo, and won't reappear until everything on his plate is cold and inedible. Or the rule that says that when one twin topples over and is in tears, will be the moment that the second one reveals that the contents of his nappy is now seeping into his socks. 

So far from being an inspiration by combining work with family life, I think I could be considered a bit of a skiver and shirker. It's those mums who are at the coal face 24/7 who deserve kudos. They are the ones who combine management skills that would put any CEO of a FTSE 100 company to shame, with the patience of a saint. Instead I simply hide away in my office, putting my fingers in my ears and singing 'La, la, la' to blank out the bubbling torrent of family life that rages through the house below me. 


  1. I certainly feel a lot saner when I am working, so I know exactly what you mean. (But you are an inspiration - for managing to keep up a brilliant career at the same time, something many of us fail at, however much we might want to keep it going once we have kids!)

  2. This resonated so much with me - I don't know how Stay At Home Mums do it, I really don't. I love my children unconditionally, but I know I am a better mother to them if I can also have some time to be an adult and to put my brain to use.

  3. My wife has to juggle four kids (three boys and one girl) and her own business. Its hard hard work but she is so inspiring.

    The eldest is starting using the net on his own. I have found this site useful as a parent.

    Nice as it isn't trying to sell anything.

    Nice list do you have a more up to date one? I have found a really useful site with information about a number of topics that would interest Mum and all parents.

    Its a non for profit site from Nominet