Hello Julia, tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do, how old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?
Two boys - 5 and 7. Both happily in the school system. Feeling quite blessed that Mr D is currently on a sabbatical, so he’s doing most of the drop offs and pick ups, with our old Nanny (a friend of mine’s mum and all around brilliant parent coach) still doing 3 days a week of pick ups, just because.
1. One word to describe how being a WoMo makes you feel?
2. What’s the funniest experience you have had juggling kids and work?
Ah - well, I (unofficially) started a business, Village England, as I started my maternity leave with number 2, so I had many strategy meetings on Skype with the screen pointing towards the ceiling as I breastfed, the inevitable toddler shouting “I need a poo” into your office when you’re on the phone to the bank, children sneaking my mobile phone away to play a game, then helpfully answer it for me, the husband being cross when he couldn't dress them one school morning (I’d been in New York for 5 days, and clearly he didn't expect the laundry fairies to down tools), and the worst was the school calling me at 5pm with the message “Mrs Dobson the boys are fine but no-one has come to collect them” - when I wasn’t in London, Mr D wasn’t in London, and we don’t have any family locally.
I think because it my business I’m pretty relaxed about things, and its lovely how often the person on the other end of the phone has sniggered while they waited for me to put on Finding Nemo to continue with the call. Not once have they not empathised and admitted what their dirty secret of child wrangling is.
3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?
I read something this week about how nature thrives because it embraces chaos, disruption and change. Nature thrives because it adapts to changing conditions, evolves to survive, integrates the unexpected and is locally attuned and responsive. Put another way, nature thrives because it nurtures the order of chaos and change.
So - don’t sweat it. Turns out you’re actually thriving!
And a case in point is that I think I’m at my worst when I’m trying to control the children to do what I want, when I want. Its far more efficient to embrace with their moods and engage at their level. The tricky bit is engaging with them and hitting the deadline to get out the door. Without getting their buttery jammy fingers all over your dry-clean only work clothes.
So, NO-ONE has “got this”, so don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day. And maybe then they’ll put their fucking shoes on the first time they're asked.
4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?
I’m dying right now as I am finally not relenting and making number 2 to stay in his own bed. I think you just do cope. I couldn’t cope with the morning sickness, on the other hand, and I was very grateful I had an office with a door to shut when I felt really bad. How did everyone else cope in the open plan office?
5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?
Turns out I’m really angry and shouty (says them).
It also turns out that it’s not that I’m super forgetful, its just that my head has no space for any piece of information which isn't essential. To what I’m doing, right now.
6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?
If it’s not alright, then it’s not yet the end.
7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?
Alcohol. And watching them sleep if I’m too late to kiss them goodnight.
8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?
Tantrum. Any day.
9. If you asked your child / children what your job is, what would they say?
Mummy has a lot of bags.
10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?
Just because lots of women have done it before, doesn’t mean its easy.
11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?
My boys and my business are still breathing. It’s all ok.
12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?
Some days I want them to know I am my own person. Some days I want them to know that I’m only their mummy, nothing else. Every day I want them to know that we’re all in it together.