Hello Deborah, tell us a bit about yourself. How old are your children and what happens with your kids when you are at work?
I’m a Partner and Director of HR for a leading economics consulting firm. I basically get very smart, cerebral people hired, trained and performing at their best. My son (15) is at school but raising him has been a combo of granny-care, nursery and dad when he was smaller, and school and dad now that he’s older. I’ve been a working mum since he was six months old. I am parent on duty in times of emotional distress or illogical reactions to homework.
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?
My son grabbed my Blackberry when he was smaller and threw it in the paddling pool at home. I was convinced I could be an A star mum and sit in the garden with him, a glass of wine and my work. Clearly not. Thank god he didn’t throw the wine!
3. What is the one piece of advice you could offer another WoMo?
I don’t feel able to dish out advice. I see working mums having to make compromises all the time that I’ve never faced. Maybe the advice is to get a husband who likes things done right, and leave him to do them!
4. What’s the least amount of sleep you’ve gone to work on and how did you cope?
I don’t function without 8 hours. I laid awake a lot when my son was sub-7, waiting for his night terrors to kick it. It aged me.
5. What have you learned about yourself as a WoMo?
To stick to what I’m good at. I’m great at my professional role and I am a great mum and a great role model for my son - of hard work and retaining a sense of humour in times of crisis. I learned early on that I wasn’t the right parent to stay at home.
6. If you had a working mother’s anthem or mantra, what would it be?
There is no benefit of guilt
7. What is your guilty pleasure to combat WoMo guilt the best?
I don’t have WoMo guilt. I nearly typed ‘sorry’ but I’m not really so I deleted it. I have guilty pleasures though. Vintage clothes. BodyCombat classes. Mulberry.
8. Would you rather be dealing with a tantrum or presenting in a board meeting?
Definitely the Board presentation. A Board tantrum though – that would be my worst nightmare!
9. If you asked your children what your job is, what would they say?
I can’t remember! Oh wait. You’re the HR Director. You do the hiring and firing. And training. And you travel to other offices. You’re in Oxford on Thursday nights so me and dad eat beans out of the can (I hope he has always been joking about this part!). You’re helicopter mum. At this point, he makes helicopter noises and he and his dad crack up laughing.
10. What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you became a WoMo?
That other people were occasionally going to judge me. My brain just didn’t go there. The up and down looks at the school gate when I was ‘playing mum’ on a day off. The occasional ‘you need to spend more time with him’ from even people close to me.
11. To date, what has been your best WoMo achievement?
Helping my son ace his 11 plus at the same time as I was converting my business to a Partnership. I dived into both challenges with both feet. The water was deep. More recently, I find myself with a team full of WoMos and I’m supporting them to develop and be fulfilled in their careers while maintaining their sanity.
12. What do you want to teach your kids about working mothers?
I have a boy and I want him to know it’s OK to be a ‘working father’ or a ‘SAHF’.