How to focus on the best parts in all of the madness

It’s been a week and a half! Last time I checked it was Monday morning and I was laying flat on my back, hospital which believe me is not anywhere near as exciting as it sounds. I had a rather lovely bout of vertigo which resulted in lots of song lyrics with the words ‘spin’ and ‘spinning’ in them being thrown at me. There are more than you’d realise actually. Still, I donned my supermummy cape, doled out some garbled instructions to the Mr about school and nursery drop offs and managed to dial into a few work calls whilst lying out flat before the meds kicked in and I could stand without feeling like I was on a merry go round.

Somewhere between then and now I managed to do a great job on prep for a meeting I wasn’t really feeling all warm and glowy about. I attended an insightful and engaging conference about the commerciality of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and heard an inspirational presentation from Claire Strange, Coach of the GB women’s wheelchair basketball team about personal resilience. I put in a great show at earlier mentioned meeting, lunched with a good friend, read up on the event details for the Focused Womens’ Annual Conference I’m attending on Monday, started reading a book called May Cause Miracles (I’m becoming something of a self help junkie these days) had a follow up appointment with a superb Occupational Therapist (remember my anxiety post?) and ticked off somewhere in the region of 80% of the things on my work to do list.

It’s felt good.

But the best parts?

Watching the princess swimming backstroke with her goggles too far down her head making her little ears flop over at the tips. Swinging in tandem on the garden swing in the sunshine laughing into each others faces and wondering how on earth we created such a beautiful little being. Colouring in every single page of the monsters’ ‘Thats not my….animal’ colour book and naming each animal on the merits of its physical attributes – Cat = Paws, Tiger = Stripes, Horse = Mane and Fish = Mr Big Moustache…. because he had a tail like a big moustache obviously. Dressing the little man up as a Tiger for his ‘dress as your favourite animal day’ and watching the delight on his face as he checked himself out in the mirror. Seeing the princess gleefully skip out of Rainbow Guides with the tatty but much loved knitted dolly Sally who was coming to stay at ours for the week. Sharing a bacon muffin and smoothie with the monster and musing together over how lovely the ladies who’d taken a shine to my handsome little fella in the jewellers were. Driving to school with the roof down all singing at the tops of our voices and giggling manically at the odd looks passers by were giving us.

And now, I’m flopped on the sofa with my third glass of proseco, watching Sarah Jessica Parker in ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ on DVD show me her version of how it’s done, texting one of my besties, blogging, and thinking as I do every day just how exhausted, but bloody lucky, I am.

What beautiful things have you loved in amongst all of the madness this week?

The Classy Wardrobe

Regular readers will know that I’ve been given the enviable task of reviewing not just one, buy viagra but two beautiful items from the work wear range at The Classy Wardrobe. Last week it was all about the Adele, which lots of you told us you love. This week the Oadira has had an outing or two and I just know there is going to be a lot of love for this one too.

I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination but you’d have to be living on Pluto to not yet have cottoned onto the latest trend for the oh-so-delightful Peplum. Kate Middleton wowed earlier this Spring when she wore one and Michelle Williams showed the peplum can be high glamour on the red carpet too.

For those not in the know, a peplum is an additional piece of fabric on a top or a dress, similar to a kick flare ‘skirt’.  Some say a tutu, but that’s probably a step too far for even the budding ballerina inside me. Hugely flattering, the peplum nips you in at the waist, and then skims out over the hips, creating a slightly exaggerated hourglass shape.

The Oadira dress from the Classy Wardrobe is sleeveless with a graduated peplum, which sits slightly lower at the back, over a pencil skirt which ensures that the dress goes in and out in all the right places.  As if the shape isn’t appealing enough, this dress has the gorgeous addition of a teal (detachable) flower which transforms an already lovely dress into a simply stunning one.

The dress is a deeper grey in colour than the earlier Adele I reviewed, more on the charcoal spectrum than the lighter grey and the contrast of the teal flower works brilliantly.  Teal is without doubt my colour of the moment too, so the dress also matches my lounge perfectly!

I’ve been surprisingly delighted with the comfort and ease of wear of the Oadira, as it’s definitely a more structured dress than others I have, and screams glam before it screams comfort. Yet, it is. The dress is of super quality once again, and feels fantastic to wear.

This dress is one for bigger occasions at work, not to be wasted on a day when you have no reason to step away from your desk – this one is all about the look! It’s a perfect desk to dinner dress too, and if you feel the look needs further pushing up the glam stakes, it can be changed quickly and simply with the addition of a thin contrasting belt and strappy sandals.

Being  budding artist and equally keen lover of a pretty dress, Little Princess Pink (aged 5, with the attitude of a 15 year old) took it upon herself to draw me in the dress as she saw me.

So, not just reserved for the catwalk, the Oadira proves that the peplum can be a striking addition to any wardrobe, and you don’t have to be a skinny malinky to wear one, as this interpretative drawing shows!


If you want to bag yourself a £100 voucher to spend online at The Classy Wardrobe you can enter this fabulous competition today. To enter:-

Simply follow them on Twitter @The_Classy_W and tweet to say  “I want to win with Super Mummy @workingsupermum and @The_Classy_W”


‘Like’ the Classy Wardrobe Facebook Page and leave a comment on their page saying Super Mummy (@workingsupermum) sent you!

Good Luck – the competition closes on Wednesday 6th June at 8pm.

The winner will be chosen at random.

Don’t forget to come back and see if you are a winner.

Disclaimer: The Classy Wardrobe sent me two dresses to review. I have received no monetary payment for this review and the views and opinions expressed are my own. Links to The Classy Wardrobe are provided out of courtesy.

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 5

Over the last few weeks, try I’ve been delighted to host this five part series written by Christine Brown-Quinn, inspired by the movie ‘I Don’t Know How She Does it’.
In Part 1, we heard that letting go can be good – we’re not all expected to be super women and it’s mainly ourselves who put this pressure on us. Part two enlightened us with some top tips for managing childcare. The topic of the third part of the series was guilt, and how working mothers can switch their mindset on the guilt trip and last week’s penultimate post explored work life balance and whether it’s a myth or a reality.
This final part looks at the importance of making time for your partner, something I’ve blogged about previously. It’s good guidance and common sense, yet I appreciate how difficult it can be to do.



  • This is your last chance to win!


As part of this series, Christine is kindly giving away four signed copies of her book ‘Step Aside Superwoman, Career and Family is for Any Woman’ and all you need to do to be in with a chance of bagging one is
Either sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter and Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article. Phew! Lots of ways to win!
Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random. Good Luck!


Make time for your partner – Your kids will thank you in the long run – by Christine Brown-Quinn
We often think that when the focus isn’t directly on our kids that somehow they are losing out. And if they’re old enough to talk, they’ll certainly tell you that that’s the case… When we’re at work and they’re at home, they lose out. When we’re out in the evening at seminar/night class and they’re at home, they’re missing out. It even extends to our relationship with their dad. When we’re spending time with our “other halves”, the kids are missing out. Is this really the case? If you’ve read any of the previous blogs in this five-part series, you’ll know that it’s not. Investing in yourself IS investing in your family. And here’s why investing in your relationship with your partner is also investing in the family.
The kids are happy when the family unit is happy so your relationship with your partner is as important as your direct relationship with your kids. And let’s face it, any partnership or marriage isn’t easy – there are a lot of things to work through. Also, too much focus directly on the kids can actually be detrimental. (The real world doesn’t work that way – they’re not the centre of the universe and the sooner they learn that the better off they’ll be). Keeping the flame alive has other advantages as well – the kids will eventually grow up and leave home (trust me, it does happen!) so it will be just the two of you again so it’s good practice for the future.

During most of the film I don’t know how she does it, Kate Redding played by Sarah Jessica Parker treats her husband Richard like a second class citizen or worse yet, a totally incompetent carer. He doesn’t seem to have any rights when it comes to taking care of the kids or running the household. I cringed when I heard Kate say “how could you let that women look after MY kids when I was away?” as if to say Richard is not competent enough to make his own decisions.
Kate was referring to Richard’s choice of a back-up carer when the regular babysitter cancelled while Kate was away. The husband evidently gets no say in the matter! Think about your own circumstance. Do you ever treat your other half like he doesn’t have a clue when it comes to anything associated with the kids or house? Is that fair? Have you given him a chance? Have you showed him the “ropes”? Remember, people are people and just like micro-managing people at work, your other half will feel humiliated if you adopt the ‘Ms Dictator’ approach. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t work. In the long run nobody likes Ms Dictator!
Over the years I’ve learned that I’ve got to trust my colleagues and my other half to “run the ship” when I’m not around. They need to feel empowered to make decisions and I need their buy-in on how things are run. Otherwise, when it doesn’t work, it’s all my fault. On the other hand, when I do trust them and listen, better decisions can be made. The road to Super Woman is a dead end – you’ll end up burning yourself out which Kate nearly did too.
Gaining respect for your partner’s parental skills is something you have to work on together. It requires constant communication and discussion on approaches to food preparation, discipline, schooling, and childcare. One of my favorite parts of the film I don’t know how she does it was when Richard shows he can take care of things at home – like sorting out his daughter’s ballerina tights while Kate was on a business trip. He had a wonderful look of pride and satisfaction when he told Kate he had sorted things out. Kate glanced at him lovingly as if to say “yes, you’ve done it and I love you for it”.

But running a really efficient Grand Central Station where each parent is pitching in and all the home logistics are running smoothly isn’t enough. Do you have time for just each other? I really felt sorry for Richard when he announces to Kate that she doesn’t seem to have any time for just him. Couples that play together stay together. What was that common interest that brought you together? What interests have you developed together as a couple? I know it’s a struggle to find the time but it is possible – be creative. Plan it out and get it in the calendar.
My other half and I played basketball together when we first met. Later, when the kids started playing tennis, we decided to take lessons and joined a club. Playing tennis for us was really about going back to basics. Both of us have always liked sports and it was part of our relationship from the very beginning. Be prepared for the kids to be jealous of your time together. They will try to make you feel guilty like somehow you’re short-changing them. Funny isn’t it, some of the best things you can do for your kids are the ones where it’s not about them.


I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 4

In Part four of this series, medical brought to you by Christine Brown-Quinn, author of “Step Aside Superwoman Careeer and Family is for any Woman”, the topic of work life balance and whether it can be a reality is explored.

If you’re  still enjoying the series, and haven’t yet entered our competition, why not do so today to be in with a chance of  WINNING one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book. Simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ and link to any of the I don’t know How she does it’ posts on my blog / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article.

Plenty of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!


Is Work-Life Balance a Pipe Dream for Professional Women – by Christine Brown-Quinn

If you looked up to working mom Kate Redding as a role model, (Kate is played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film I don’t know how she does it), I suspect you’d come to the conclusion that work-life balance is a pipe dream.  Kate does a fantastic job taking on responsibility for everything and everyone, leaving little time to do anything for herself. Just watching the film tired me out!  But does it have to be that way? Are there no alternatives if you decide on a career AND a family?

At a recent women’s networking event I was horrified when I heard that one of top tips for getting ahead was to “work harder than your male colleagues, partner, husband, or brother.” Really? Is this what we are teaching the up and coming women in business today? Aren’t we creating this burden for ourselves by promulgating such superwoman behaviour? It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter and focusing on a few critical things that matter in building a career. Since we’re not superwomen, we’re only humans, promoting such behaviour as goal surely results in a lack of work-life balance.

Work-life balance is NOT a pipe dream, but there are 3 key ingredients which are often overlooked in making this aspiration a reality:

1. Keep yourself motivated and challenged 2010 survey Career vs Paycheck revealed that a working mother was happy in all aspects of her life when she had a high level of job satisfaction.  It’s worth noting that job satisfaction was highly correlated to a meaningful career or job – it wasn’t just about the money. Once we lose the buzz we get from our careers, the whole work-life dynamic falls apart.

How many women do you know who come back from maternity leave, feel side-lined, and   subsequently give up. “What’s the point?” they begin to wonder. If they’re going to leave precious little ones in someone else’s care, the job has got to turn them on.  I remember one day when my elderly neighbour saw me coming home from work and how amazed she seemed that I was chirpy and energetic after such a long day in the city. The secret? I felt challenged in my corporate career – the things I was learning made life very interesting.

2. Map out a routine for maximizing your individual level of performance

Organize your easy and tough tasks and challenges around those peak performance times.  Tackle the tough challenges when you feel at your best. For me it’s the first thing in the morning.  My confidence and patience levels are up and my head is clear.

I learned this by trial and error and being aware of how productive I was (or not as the case may be) at which times. There’s a key piece missing here. In order to be at your peak at work, you also need to figure out how much exercise and other activity you need to do (and how to make it happen) to keep your enthusiasm up at work.  What do you really like to do in your personal time that re-energises you. There’s so much focus on time management. It’s misplaced. We need to be focusing on managing our energy rather than our time.

3. Think Like a Business Owner

Point 2 leads really nicely into this point.  At the end of the day, what does a good manager really care about? That’s right, performance. I recently gave a talk about how important it is to invest and enrich in both the personal and professional dimensions of our lives, highlighting that it’s having both parts that can help you achieve optimal performance in each. Huh? Simply put, by having a varied life you avoid getting burned out, whether it’s caring for an elderly parent, hyper kids or a demanding career.

Dipping in out of both lives makes you appreciate each life and the benefits it brings. At the end of my talk an eager member of the audience asked, “But Christine, if I tell my boss how important my personal life is, he or she won’t get it, they won’t care.” I replied, “Well your boss may or may not care, but that’s not the point. As your manager, your boss expects you to organize your life so you can be at your best. That’s YOUR responsibility. Your boss wants to know where you are on your projects.”

The best rule of thumb to use when thinking about how to blend our increasingly complex professional and personal lives is to think like a business owner.  A business owner wants you to be as productive as you can and to manage your life to achieve this. Working 24 x 7, losing your enthusiasm, creativity and motivation isn’t good for you and it’s not good for the business.

Work-life balance is not a pipe dream. Like anything though, you’ve got to be strategic and focus on the most important parts or you’ll get lost in the detail.

This blog is part 4 of a 5-part series: I don’t know how she does it. For other blogs connected to this series, click here.

The secret to becomming a natural-born charmer

Exclusive invite to Super Mummy readers, cialis sale brought to you via the ‘Women in Business Superseries’

The secret to becoming a natural-born charmer

“Ever wonder how celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, mind Barbara Walters and Piers Morgan became so popular? In our experience there always seems to be one person in the office too who seems to get along with everyone and they make it look so easy, don’t they? How annoying! What do they know that the rest of us don’t?”

Join this free, invitation only webinar on Thursday 3rd May 2012  11.30 – 12.00 (GMT) to find out.  

I want to join, register me now, thanks!

I Don’t Know How She Does It – Part 1

Christine Brown-Quinn knows what she is talking about when it comes to managing career and family. The author of Step Aside Super Woman, sick Career &  Family is for Any Woman reflects on her own personal experiences and draws upon those in the ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Kate Reddy, the working mother in Allison Pearson’s book that inspired the film.

I’m delighted to be collaborating with Christine’s and bringing you this five part blog series over the course of the next few weeks to share with you some of those wise words that might just help you get the balance without the need for your Super hero cape.

To WIN one of four SIGNED copies of Christine’s book simply sign-up to receive email notifications of all my new blog posts straight to your inbox and / or follow me @workingsupermum on Twitter  and  Tweet ‘I want to win with @workingsupermum’ / or ‘Like’ the Super Mummy Facebook page via the links on the right or leave a comment with your thoughts below this article. Phew! Lots of ways to win!

Competition closes at 5pm on 15th May 2012 and four winners will be selected at random.  Good Luck!


Sinking Superwoman –  learning that ‘OK’ is good enough – By Christine Brown-Quinn

Have you seen Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest film I Don’t Know How She Does It?

I know how she does it because I do it. But, I’m no Superwoman. It’s the team that I have around me that does it –  my husband, our childcare provider and our kids all pitch in and make the career-family thing work.  When I was first starting out and doing the juggling act of career and family over 20 years ago, it certainly did feel like I did it.  But the downside was I also felt like everything was solely my responsibility. 

Like working mom Kate Reddy in the film (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) I used to feel that I singlehandedly had to hold it all together. How was I going to make the school meeting and meet the deadline at work? How was I going to get the promotion and still take full control at home.  How was I going to have the time and energy to bake a cake for the cake sale having worked another 10-hour day. I’m sure you get the picture.

The funny thing was my husband never said that it was all up to me. I made this assumption. I put this unrealistic expectation on myself that I had to be perfect home and perfect at work.  The day I stopped trying to be Superwoman (for the benefit of my own health and therefore for the benefit of everyone around me) was the day I started enjoying my life as a mother, wife, and professional. I realised that unless I changed my mindset I was headed straight for a meltdown.

What I also realised was that I was putting my personal life in one box and my working life in another without taking advantage of any transfer of skills between the two environments. I was gaining some fantastic management skills at work which I wasn’t using at home: delegation, prioritization, working in teams and managing teams just to name a few.  I admit that when it comes to delegation, it’s sometimes hard to give up control, especially at home. Let’s face it. You do do things better than most people.  No argument there. However, if you try to do most things all by yourself, you will burn out.  Constantly striving for perfection in every aspect of your life leads to a miserable existence.  Like Kate Reddy’s husband Richard says in the film, “OK, is good enough”.

Did you ever think about what you’re like when you act like a control freak? I have. Do your kids like you? Does your childcare provider like you? Does your partner like you? Let others in. Let them help out. Make them feel appreciated as part of the team.  Get them to own some of the problems and challenges. And yes they will do things differently, but don’t sweat the detail. We often criticize our partners for not helping out. And then when they do help out, but they don’t do things exactly like we do, we criticize them for that too! My husband’s approach and style to managing things at home is very different from mine, but no less valid (although I still think my way is better!) But the point is, I do let him get on with it and I try not to interfere. He’s a smart man. Why do I think I need to treat him like an idiot?

So by adopting this team approach, does this mean your life will be perfect? No, life is never perfect.  Sorry to break this to you. By adopting the team approach, however,  you can sustain a rewarding lifestyle that combines your career ambitions with a fulfilling family life.  Do it now. Let go. Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel better?


Five Reasons I know I’m a Working Mum

Feeding my list addiction, treat Kate does it again this week with her inspired ‘5 reasons I know I’m a …. (fill in the blank).

Here’s my contribution with my five reasons why I know I’m a working mother.

1. Colleagues who travel from London to the Edinburgh office where I’m based arrive in the office before me in the morning, salve and I’ve only had to do the school run before getting there. I’ve usually been up earlier than them too.

2. I get funny looks when I rush out of the office calling ‘have a lovely evening’ and it’s only half past two.

3. I answer our home phone with  the greeting ‘Julie-Ann Murphy speaking.’ My mother has been known to hang up and ring back when I’ve done this, thinking she has a wrong number.

4. The contents of my handbag cover a broad spectrum – baby wipes, tissues, emergency raisins (kids), emergency chocolate (me), pre-reading papers for a weeks worth of meetings, six biros, a pack of post-its, teabags, school fete flyers, permission slips for school trips, calpol sachets, loyalty cards for the local soft play. It truly is my Mary Poppins bag.

5. Colleagues recognise the voice of the nursery manager if they pick up my calls on my behalf whilst I’m in meetings. And they can usually assess by the tone of her voice whether I need to leave immediately to pick up my sick child or whether they are just calling to give me advance warning that he bopped another child on the head with a plastic dinosaur.



My Week in Snaps

  • Little Monster Blue had a Birthday ….. Yay










  • Everything required for week two of potty training with an indecisive and on occassion unwilling participant











  • Scaling Ironing Mountain



  • Mental week at work meant lots of working from home 

fitted in around grabbed moments between

proper office time, viagra usa school run, generic viagra birthdays,

potty training (did I mention potty training?) 

ironing, cleaning, cooking and a little bit of sleeping.






  • That’s Saturday Night right there folks

Fancy a nosey at what everyone else got up to this week?

I wonder how many will feature wine?








Guest Post: Mummies United = Fabulous!

Lovely readers – I’m delighted to welcome my first guest poster to Super Mummy. Whilst most guest posters on other mummy blogs already have their own blog, look this lovely lady simply has a story to tell which resonates with me and I expect many others, and where better a forum for her to share it with like-minded folks, than here.

I hope you enjoy.

I hope you are inspired.

Over to K….

Well what can I say, I am still bowled over by the fact that a good friend asked me to write a blog article for Super Mummy, this is for a number of reasons

1) I’m completely flattered she thinks I have something of note

2) I’m a terrible writer i.e. 20 words when 2 would do and erm what is a ‘blog’ anyway?

3) What would I write about?

Perhaps I should explain………..I met this super mummy two years ago through a mutual friend who thought we would have ‘something in common’.  After our initial meeting over a cuppa and pleasantries exchanged we’ve never stopped talking!  It is amazing the similarities between us but the bond that keeps us together is that we are career driven ladies who became mummies and suddenly “BAM!” there was an almighty shift in our priorities.

We both returned to work for the same corporate organisation (having never met before) after the birth of our second child and, let’s face it, anyone who goes as far as having ‘number two’ knows it is a whole different ball game.  Forget the every weekend coupley long lies, it’s now the ‘darling you lie in on Saturday and I’ll do Sunday.’ Forget being able to talk to each other without two little voices going ‘mummy / daddy’ until eventually one of us gives in and says ‘what is it?’.  In fact, forget ever finishing a cup of tea / conversation or having a lie in ever again for the next 10 years (or at least until teenager age.)

Twice as much trouble, twice the lack of sleep but definitely twice the fun. Gradually, the sleepless nights subside and they become fabulous little friends and you wonder how on earth you ever survived before they came along.

So, back to my fabulous friend and our common bond – we tend to find ourselves in the same place at the same time.  Both of us strive to juggle home / kids / shopping / hubby / house / work.  But the truth of the matter is whether it ‘can all be done?’ and more importantly ‘do I really want to do it all?’  My pregnancy journey was fraught with mishaps and to this day I am convinced stress played its part. I took the decision of reducing responsibilities at work and very shortly after became pregnant with my first child.  This was the start of me making subtle changes, not because I wasn’t good at my job or didn’t want to do my job but because it was what was best for my family.  That was 5 years ago and I have been adjusting ever since.

I have long since got over the guilt of trying to be all things to all people and fit with what was expected of me.  I find myself looking to carve a new path for my family and live a life by design on my terms.  So, I am pursuing alternative income opportunities outside the corporate world and meeting some fabulous people along the way –  all like minded mummies who juggle BUT this time it’s on our terms and fit around the family.  What a fabulous sisterhood, I like to think of us as Mummies United.

So, where am I on this path?  Well I am plodding along nicely thank you very much, some days I have a little spring in my step and other days I struggle to get off the starting block but that’s life and where my fabulous friend comes in since we tread the same path daily.  We help, support, encourage each other since we know that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Recently, I’ve introduced my kids to Dr Seuss and ‘The Cat in the Hat’, a book I loved as a child and came across this fabulous quote which I’ve pinned to my wall.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…………”

The old ones are still the best – oh the places we’ll go!

The Working Mothers’ Guilt Trip.

“Bye-bye Mummy.” the little voice whispers in my ear.  I inhale deeply and take in the scent of baby shampoo mixed with coco-pops and that smell that can’t be described in any way other than that which always reminds me of my beautiful children. I plant yet another kiss on her soft cheek, generic cialis and gently untangle myself from her tightly clasped arms around my neck. She looks at me wide-eyed, viagra sales listening intently to me promising her that I’ll be back very soon and reassuring her that she will have lots of fun.

“Come on then, darling.” calls a chirpy, upbeat voice, and a tall smiling woman comes and takes the hand of my daughter, my little girl, my little princess and takes her off to the window to look out at the birds in the garden.

I retreat slowly, calling my good-byes with the facade of a woman without a care in the world, but as I step out of the door, and pull it closed softly behind me, throwing a quick glance back into the brightly coloured world of day nursery, the tears well in my eyes like puddles on a rainy day and a lump the size of an apple lodges in my throat.

It’s a working day, which means it’s a nursery day, which means nine long hours away from my precious girl.

But that’s the choice I make. Yes, I choose to go to work, against the will of so many others who show no restraint in holding back their, often narrow-minded, views that in the early years of our childrens’ lives, a mothers place is in the home.

Little Princess Pink was 6 months old when I returned to work.  I will never forget the emotion I felt that first day when I left her in the care of the nursery for little more than an hour as I prepared myself for the transition back into corporateville and office politics. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  I looked back on the first 6 months of her life, and reflected on the little world we’d created for ourselves, just the two of us in the day whilst Super Daddy went to work, finding our way together – her in this new big world, full of colour and noise, and me in the little bubble of motherhood which was my sole focus every day, every night, round the clock.  I reflected on those momentous milestones we’d reached in just that short space of time – sleeping through the night, smiling, babbling noises, her first taste of pureed carrot, our first girly shopping expedition (shoes for me, bootees for her) and I worried myself senseless about those moments I was going to miss by choosing to go back to work.

Yet, still I returned to work. And eventually I increased my hours. But each day, come 5.30pm, when I walked through the door of the nursery room and saw her little face light up as she realised it was her mummy this time, progressing to the days where she commando crawled at lightning speed across the floor to get to me, to the days where she toddled unsteadily at first with her chubby arms outstretched for a mummy hug,  eventually progressing to the days where she categorically stated in no uncertain terms that she was having too much fun and was not coming home with me, the message hit home that this was good for her. It was good for us both.

Like all mums, I’m biased. I think LPP is the cleverest girl in the world, and she amazes me on a daily basis with her achievements. She is a confident, outgoing and bubbly girl, who is independent and sure of herself. She is a caring and considerate person, who understands the importance of sharing and being kind to others.  She articulates herself clearly and has a thirst for learning.  But she is 4, and like all 4 year olds, she does have her moments where she chooses not to share the toy that she had first, or who gets horrendously and dramatically cross if you ask her what her drawing is when it is  very clearly her coming down a waterslide with a dolphin. And, I’m taking a little credit for having got to this stage and being able to say all these wonderful things about my daughter.  I’m not for one minute saying her attending nursery for the last 3 and a half years has been the sole influence on the well-rounded character that she is developing.  In fact, I’m taking more than just a little credit, I’m taking a lot, because I spend quality time with my girl.  I have a positive influence on her character. We read together every night, we draw, we laugh, we talk about our days (she asks if I played in the sand-tray at work or if I just did some typing on my computer) we go on treasure hunts in the back garden, and dance around the kitchen to Paulo Nutini. We make cards for Super Daddy, and jewellery boxes out of old cereal boxes. We bake cakes and we often lick the bowl and the spoon too. We visit friends, we go swimming, we go to the zoo, we cuddle up on the sofa and watch Princess movies, we take all the cushions off the sofa and make our very own soft play. We sing, we do maths puzzles, we fall out with one another occasionally, and she tells me ‘I’m not your best friend.’  But we learn the lesson that not speaking to one another isn’t a nice feeling, and learn how to get along better.  We practice roller skating, we pretend we work in an ice-cream parlour,  we have picnics on the living room floor.

So yes, I work. But I haven’t missed a thing. Her first word was ‘Daddy’ (naturally), and we both heard it through the baby monitor (which was great as for the first time I was able to elbow Super Daddy and say ‘You better get up, its you she’s wanting!’). She took her first steps across our living room floor on the 16th August 2007, and it was my arms she clambered into, giggling her head off at the thrill of finding some freedom at last.  She drew her first smiley face on the blackboard she got for Christmas in 2008, and first properly wrote her name at our kitchen  table.  I don’t think I’m missing out.

But even when all that is said and done, there is still the daily guilt trip.  And it is daily.  There are mornings when she is whisked from her slumber, bleary eyed and sporting serious bed head, she is washed, dressed and has her teeth brushed in 5 minutes flat and bundled into the car with a half a  slice of toast and a banana. And her t-shirt on back to front. There are mornings when she asks if it’s a play day at home, and her shoulders slump ever so slightly when I tell her it’s a nursery day. And there are the days where I’m ashamed to say, and I know with certainty that I’m not alone, where I sense she is slightly under the weather, but I dispense a spoonful of Calpol and coax her into going off to nursery, knowing she’ll be fine by the time she gets there, and at the very least allowing me to get to the office to grab those reports that absolutely must be signed-off today before the call comes from nursery to say her fever has spiked and I best go collect her.

And this guilt trip I talk of, isn’t just a single route, there are a fair few turnings at jealousy junction.

There are moments where I sit in meetings getting increasingly annoyed by petty politics, or no movement on key projects and I wonder why I bust my ass to line the coffers of the ‘high heid yins’ as my Father would say, when I could be at home making farm animals out of playdough and singing endless renditions of ‘there’s a worm at the bottom of my garden’. There are times when I catch myself looking at the clock knowing my fellow mum friends who don’t work will just be heading to feed the ducks with the littlies, before grabbing coffee and cake and letting the nippers run off their energies in the soft play.

Yet, I still choose to work.

Even when Little Monster Blue made his appearance in February 2009, I knew I would follow the same route with him as with LPP.  After a year of maternity leave, I planned my return to work, and went through the same rollercoaster of emotions on that very first day when I left him in the same baby room that I left LPP 3 and half years ago.  But this time, I found I could step away a little more quickly, because I knew he would be just fine.  He’s only been there for 6 months, and we’ve rapidly progressed from the tears and the tug of war we had when I first started leaving him there, to the place where he now pushes me out of the door the minute we arrive and runs off to grab the sweeping brush from the house corner. Yeah, I know.  We’re working on macho-ing him up a bit.

So please, fellow mums, when I stand up, take a deep breath and say ‘My name is Julie-Ann, and I’m a working mother’ don’t shoot me down in flames for choosing to work, don’t look at me with disdain, or worse, pity me.  I have the right balance for me, for my kids and for my sanity, even if I still take a road trip to guilt city every now and then.

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