Hi Tracey, 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?
I am the founder of https://studentnannies.com/ - we link up working parents who need childcare with local students looking for work. Students make great babysitters because they are smart company for your kids and are available flexibly - notably after school and during the holidays. Parents pay a reasonable wage and help with career contacts and mentoring. So parents and students are a dream team who can help each other!
I'm also Features Editor at Metro, the country's most-read weekday newspaper with 3.4million readers. I oversee all the pages that aren't news - everything from the 60 Seconds interview with a celebrity to stories on travel, fashion, film, beauty and gadgets.
I have perfected a jigsaw approach to childcare which seems to work - the kids do after school club on Mondays and Tuesdays, on Wednesday our brilliant Student Nanny Chloe does the school pick up, bakes with them and bathes them so they are ready for a story and bed when we get home at 7.30pm, my mum takes over on a Thursday and on a Friday I am in mummy mode. If the children are sick or my mum has other plans we call on Chloe for back up!
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?
I very nearly went to work with a nappy stuck to the back of my coat – fortunately it was a clean one and, even more fortunately, I bumped into a friend on the way to the station and she spotted it before I embarrassed myself completely! I once also missed my train because a robin flew into the house while I was getting the children in the car for the school run and caused chaos – it was certainly an original excuse!
3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s challenging juggling a career with being a mum but we’re all doing our best and that’s all we can do. We should stop beating ourselves up and actually give ourselves a huge pat on the back.
4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?
Probably about two or three hours. Our little boy Monty (who is now four) has never been a great sleeper and often wakes up with nightmares even now, but when he was two or three I’d be up a few times a night with him. Throw illness into the mix and you’re done for! Last year I was so tired I actually nodded off in our daily conference a couple of times – probably only for a second or too but you feel so worried that everyone has seen you. I ended up getting a blood test as I was worried something was wrong but the doctor assured me all was well, I was just a knackered working mother!
If I’ve had a rough night I now try and eat a few squares of dark chocolate to give me an energy boost before a meeting, and I use the Pzizz app which takes you into a 20 minute power nap and wakes you up feeling slightly more refreshed. You can do it on the commute or sneak off and find a quiet room at lunch time.
5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?
That I’m tougher and more resourceful than I think I am!
6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?
That us WoMos need to stick together and support each other – both in the work place and socially. When you are having a tough week nothing beats chatting to another mum on the train who gets the juggling act. My friend Jacqui and I often share our ‘list of concerns’ as we journey to Marylebone and we always feel much better afterwards.
7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?
I love it when the kids come into our bed in the morning and we have a big snuggle. And we have a Saturday morning tradition that I make pancakes – which I don’t feel remotely guilty about!
8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?
Gosh, that’s a tricky one as I am not a big fan of public speaking, but I find tantrums tricky too. I would say the tantrum and I always find that distraction is the best tactic – ‘Look over there – was that Batman behind the tree?’
9. If you asked your children what your job is, what would they say (exact quotation if possible)?
Monty, 4, ‘Student Nanny maker and you write stories.’
Minnie, 7, ‘Boring! I think you are a writer for a national newspaper.’
10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?
I never realised how tired I would be – I feel like I might be exhausted forever! But perhaps it was best not to know this, in hindsight!
11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?
I’m really proud to have launched https://studentnannies.com/ while still working full-time and hopefully being a good mum to Minnie and Monty. I am also quite chuffed that they both feel involved in the business and know about it – Minnie has even created a jingle for us where she catchily sings, ‘Student Nannies dot com!’
12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?
That it’s great to have a career – it’s challenging and rewarding and empowering. I also let them know that because I work we can afford to go on the odd holiday and on days out to Legoland. It’s good for them to know that money doesn’t grow on trees, that we have to work hard for it!