Number 11 – In Conversation with…

This post originally appeared over on the brilliant Over Heavens Hill. Geraldine said some lovely things about me, which felt a little weird posting her but feel free to visit the original post over on her blog and bask in my awesomeness. Also Geraldine is a pretty darn good writer and her blog’s been nominated for awards. REAL AWARDS people so go visit.

Now back to me (as always) and what I have to say about myself…

WARNING: the following contains words that verge on advice, which is ridiculous because I have no idea what I’m doing. Follow them at your absolute peril.

How many children do you have?

I have one daughter, known on as the Child, who is two and half. I also have a dog and a cat who were our original children before we realised having pets was NOTHING like raising real human beings.

Are you a Working Mum, Stay-at-Home Mum or Work-from-Home Mum?

I work four days a week but pretty much full-time hours over those four days. My husband also works condensed hours over four days so we both look after the Child one weekday a week and she’s in nursery the other three.

I’m Head of Fundraising for a local charity and I’m really lucky that returning to work after maternity wasn’t purely a financial decision. I enjoy my job and going to work saves my sanity! Hot cup of tea? Peeing with the door closed? These are things they should definitely be mentioned in the staff benefits section of any contract.

Eventually I’d love to make a living from writing (a long-buried dream that has been reignited by starting this blog) and work from home but we’ll have to see if that ever happens.

What’s the most challenging aspects of managing your career, blog life and your family and how do you overcome them?

It’s the age old thing of lack of time. Family, career and blogging are three pretty time-consuming things and there have been times recently when it’s felt like I’ve being doing all three of them badly because there aren’t enough hours in the day.

I’m not sure if there really is a way to overcome that. Although I find having a schedule helps. I’m a big planner and find setting aside blocks of time, especially for blogging, helps me feel more in control. I’ve also become a lot more relaxed about my career recently. I’m only in my early 30s and if I think about what I’ve achieved career-wise in the 10 years since I’ve left Uni then does it really matter if I give myself a break for the next ten? The way pensions are going I’m going to be working until I’m 70 so that’s a long time left to focus on my career if I want to.

What do you do in order to maintain a healthy balance between work and family?

Whilst I like my job, I am not, and never have been, a workaholic. Unless there is a very specific project that requires me to work more, I’m very strict about working my hours. I work hard when I’m at work but if my job can’t be done in the hours I’m contracted to work then it can’t be done. It probably means I’m not first in line for promotion but then again it hasn’t done me any harm so far. When I’m not at work I turn off my work phone and go completely offline otherwise my job could consume my whole life.

I also think it’s really important to have time for yourself. As I work I have the luxury of annual leave and every so often I’ll take a day or two but still send the Child to nursery and the Husband to work. Sometimes I just need a couple of days of listening to Woman’s Hour and reading the paper to cope with everyday life!

What is the best part about being a Mum?

I just love being silly. There’s no pretence when I’m with the Child – I can sing, dance and do impressions as badly as I want and she still thinks I’m the best most talented person that ever lived. At the moment the Child is really into the CBeebies’ show Go Jetters and for the last two weeks we’ve basically been method acting the characters – she’s Xuli the purple Go Jetter and I’m Ubercorn the disco-dancing unicorn (obvs). I just don’t know how else I could have indulged this level of silliness (maybe RADA?).

Do you think it is easier being a parent now than when you were raised?

I don’t think it’s ever easy! My mum always says we don’t know how lucky we are having so much television available, both for the Child and for me when I was breastfeeding all the livelong night. But then I was a child in the eighties/nineties before junk food and fizzy drinks were bad for you and my parents didn’t have to worry about our lunchboxes being reported to Social Services. So it’s swings and roundabouts really.

What is your biggest fear as a Mum?

That the Child will grow up to be a knob. I mean what if she turns out to be the female Donald Trump? That would just be the worst and Christmas dinner would just be awkward.

What is the one thing you would have done differently as a new Mum?

Not have as many visitors in the beginning. The Child was born the week before Christmas so that brought added pressure of seeing people quite soon after she was born. At one point the midwife actually told me to stop letting other people hold the Child because it was freaking her out! It’s ok to say ‘no go away’ (or hide behind the door so people don’t think you’re in).

If you could share one piece of advice to other soon-to-be Mums what would it be?

Make new friends! I’m not embarrassed to admit before the Child came along I didn’t really have that many friends, particularly locally as we’d only moved to Liverpool a couple of years before and it’s hard to make proper friends the older you get. Having a baby gives you an excuse to talk to people – you have to make an effort but I promise you won’t regret it. That tribe are going to get you through some tough times AND they’ll always baby wipes, cake and booze when you need it.

In Conversation With Over Heavens Hill

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