Hello Charlie, 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 lead the Retail and Digital Practices at Blackwood Group, an executive search firm. I have a one year old son, Max and we have a full-time live-in nanny. My husband, James and I take it in turns to be at home in time to take over in the evenings.
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 started a search project when I was still on maternity leave when Max was 3 months old. I had a conference call with my client in the diary one afternoon to talk him through our progress and had arranged for my mother to come over to look after Max. However, 15 minutes before-hand it became alarmingly clear that she had completely forgotten and it was too late to change the call. Max was wide awake with terrible colic and reflux hadn’t done anything but cry for the previous 3 months, however as I bounced him in his chair with my foot the whole way through the call he somehow realised that he just had to stay quiet for me and it wasn’t until the very end that he started ‘chatting’, much to the amusement of my client on the other end of the phone! Definitely the most exhausting call of my career!
3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?
To get the help you need to do what you want. If you want to get back to work don’t feel guilty about having a nanny or asking relatives etc. for help as your baby will be in good hands and you deserve to pursue the life and the career that you want. Make sure that your partner respects your career and that you have an equal relationship. My husband doesn’t see looking after Max as my responsibility – we both love him and we both love our jobs and our independence so we work together to make it all work!
4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?
Max was teething a few months ago and was hysterical pretty much all night. My husband and I took it in turns to stay up with him/sleep but all in all can’t have had more than 2/3 hours sleep each. I then had an 8am breakfast meeting… which I can’t guarantee I made a huge amount of sense for but I did make it through with lots and lots of coffee!!
5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?
How much I love my career and value my independence and that having Max hasn’t changed any of that
6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?
Generations of women haven’t had the opportunity to live their lives to the full so enjoy it and don’t let anything or anyone hold you back!
7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?
Wine and chocolate – the best guilty pleasures there are!
8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?
Presenting in a board meeting any day of the week!
9. If you asked your child what your job is, what would they say (exact quotation if possible)?
Max hasn’t mastered “Mummy” yet, so I’ll have to let you know in a few years!
10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?
What my WoMo colleagues had been going through. Having a baby is a big big thing and I don’t think I understood the impact it had on every aspect of your life until I had been through it myself.
11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?
Keeping it all together! I have been through every emotion possible through this journey and have come out smiling, with a wonderful husband, gorgeous baby and a fulfilling and challenging career – what more could I ask for!
12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?
That they are just as great and deserve exactly the same opportunities and careers as working fathers!