Tag Archive | Busy Mom

Working Mum’s Network by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Working Mums’ Network by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


By Sandra Beck


It was definitely harder to set up play dates with the workings Mums. It was less ‘see you at Club’ and more ‘let’s check the calendar’.  However, I found that the time pressure seemed to put the friendships on fast-forward. When I ‘clicked’ with someone, we quickly progressed to ‘come to my house on Saturday afternoon’ – rather than shyly circling around each other ‘see you same place next week, I chocoguess’.


My closest mum friend is a lady from my company. We briefly spoke when we were both pregnant with our second. She went back to work quite quickly – but her occasional phone calls were always a treat. Our kids went to the same nursery for six months – and constantly nag us to set up play dates. When we do get together, the kids go and do something destructive in the corner, while we drink strong coffee and share scandalous office gossip. She was disarmingly frank about the challenges of working motherhood – we don’t need to feel defensive of our choices around each other. 


I like to think of my working mum friends as an underground network. We don’t have clubs, schedules, groups or premises. We sometimes go for six months without speaking – but pick up seamlessly where we left off.


We’re not visible as a group.


Occasionally sighted but only in pairs. Communicating electronically with late night emails and the occasional one liner from a palm top computer. I’m sometimes amazed where my friends networks go – hierarchy gets forgotten when you have children the same age. I wouldn’t be without them. They’re an invisible net of support – feeding me crucial information when I’m out of the office, generously sharing childcare anecdotes when I’m in the office. We watch each others backs – we always hear about it if a mum gets discriminated against, or when a working mum does well. Mummy mafia? Perhaps…





What is Your Parenting Style? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Inorporated

By Sandra Beck



          Attachment parenting – just for hippies?

Attachment parenting recommends that, for maximal emotional security, the child co-sleeps, breast-feeds, is carried in a sling, and in all possible ways not forced to be separate from their family adults before they initiate it themselves. Impossible for a working mum? Nicola Horlick – the London fund manager mother of 5 – practiced co-sleeping and breast-feeding. She said that after a long day at work it helped her re-bond with her babies during the night.folwer


          Routine based

Reassuringly well planned routines can give you some predictability. You know the baby will sleep for 2 hours at a certain time, so you can plan to do some work or a business phone-call. Routines promise unbroken nights – always a boon for overstretched parents. However, it can all go out the window if your childcare does it differently to you. A little bit of flexibility can save a lot of sanity.


          Child centered parenting

Will you ever get out of the house?


          Listening to your mom

You might have turned out OK – but bear in mind that many health recommendations have changed.


          Internet parenting

You can get some great, realistic, modern advice from the internet. However, unlike a book, the internet is written by many different authors – some perhaps not so scrupulous about ensuring accuracy, others who recall what they did with their own kids, but jumble up ages and stages – so advise you to to do with you 3 month old what they did with their 8 month old.  Your kids risk becoming little guinea pigs for incompatible theories.


          A bit of everything

Your baby doesn’t sleep. You read a book with a snazzy title like ‘Sleeping through in three days’. With messianic zeal you fix the blackout blinds and massage your baby’s tootsies. Four hours later crying mummy is still going back and forth to a crying baby. The next day you buy a new book and decide that you will carry your baby everywhere in a little papoose, perhaps with some womb noises to reassure him.


          Just doing your best

It’s what it all boils down to in the end!


I find that if I have given my best, done all that I could do, no matter what the outcome – even if I did throw nappies at the dog to get him out of the kitchen, I did my best and that is – as we all need to agree – enough.





The Ages of Working Motherhood By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

The ages of working motherhood by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


By Sandra Beck


The age of Innocence:

“The baby is due in Spring, so I’ll have time to get back in shape before bikini season”

”I have email, don’t I? Babies sleep all the time, don’t they?”

“I never understand why women let themselves go after they’ve had a baby”

The age of Enlightenment:

“Listen, people, why did no one see fit to tell me about the …. (Leaking! From everywhere! At the worst possible times!) … LOVE. “pickettulips

The Reformation

“I love you – and I’ll do anything for you – but from now on you’re doing all your own shirts”

“I love you – and I’ll do anything for you – but frankly (darling) neither of us is at their best at 3 a.m.”

The Great Inquisition

“Sure, you’ve twenty years childcare experience. I hear you – sole charge of triplets. Just hypothetically, imagine that Lillibette had fallen asleep in her pram twenty minutes before allotted nap time, and Brown Bear had been left at home. What would you do then, huh?”

“I’m terribly sorry to bother you – I can see you’re enjoying a quiet coffee. I just wanted to ask your views on the local nursery. You don’t think the staff are awfully.. young?”

The Cold War

“ I’m utterly committed to this job. However, in the absence of the company providing me with a private helicopter – or a chauffeur escort to collect my child from nursery –  I’m afraid my finish time is non-negotiable.”

Civil War

“I understand that you feel uncomfortable leaving work early – and that your boss hadn’t left yet. Now do YOU understand how I feel the other four days of the week?”

“Yes, you’re tired, and you need your sleep. I hear you. I feel your pain. I do.”

The Arms Race

“Sure, would be great for the kids to have a playdate. Let’s find a time slot… no, that day’s French lessons… nope, music and movement… can’t miss Suzuki violin … she does so enjoy Macrame… preschooler jazz is on Fridays … junior hockey Beedle Bugs next week… how are you set on the 15th?”

“A lovely day to spend with the children! Here’s my quality time schedule – divided into 30 minute timeslots of developmental activities. Darling – no, sweetheart, not the blocks. It’s time for finger painting now. No – I said NOW – otherwise we’ll be late for the Baby Yoga”.





On the Joys of the Family Office Party by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck



My sons think that their Uncle is very brave. He works with pirates, you see. They saw them with their own eyes at my office children’s party.


For one day, the office and the family called a truce.  For too long, ‘his Uncle’s work’ has been seen as a monolithic grey monster that inexorably and mysteriously swallows their uncle for sometimes months at a time. The party has given them some fantastical images about what happens between the times their uncle visits.sailboats


The corporate dining hall crackled with good tempered anarchy, The disheveled suits enjoyed the chance to be ‘humanised’ by their families. For that day only, their children became a great leveler. Parents of babies bonded over sleep loss; parents of toddlers bonded of shamefaced apologies for their little ones over enthusiastic participation.


My company had a family party too – but it was all women, great food,  and a lots of laughs. On the one hand, I’m regretful that my kids and I missed on a barrel full of laughs with my co-workers and their families.  However, I tremble at the prospect of showcasing the ineffectiveness of my legendary hard-nosed negotiating skills in the face of one of my son’s tantrums.


For a business, I think that inviting families into the office gives all the right signals and support to your staff. Too many social occasions focus around late nights and alcohol. These can be great fun for those who are able to give up an evening of their time, and able to enjoy the free flowing drinks. Too often, they will exclude responsible parents – whether its the father or uncle who is expected to look after the children at night, or the pregnant woman who abstains from alcohol. However, for a business, it is often the family minded employees who are the most motivated and settled. A family office party is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to them.


It is a lovely idea. The kids are left with magical memories. The adults feel appreciated and understood.




Mommy-Flu By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

Mommy-Flu by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


by Sandra Beck


“Have you been feeling tired and run down” asked the doctor, palpating my neck glands.

I looked back at her blankly. “No, I don’t think so,” I finally answered “not when you take into account that my toddler is still waking three times a night, and I’m on my feet from dawn ‘til dusk.”

In December we got hit by a winter virus. My brother who was staying with me lay in bed shivering, unable to do more than weakly lift his hand to browse the hollyinternet.  It was ‘Man-flu’, no mistake.

He faintly acknowledged the breakfast I’d brought up to him, and watched me plump up the pillows. “I blame you, you know” he said thoughtfully “You’re never quite ill, you’re never quite well. I think you incubate mega-strength angry germs”. “Ill-schmill!” I muttered back under my breath. “I don’t have time to be ill”. Then I paused for a coughing fit that brought up a lump of phlegm the size of a golf ball.

The one time I’ve been incapacitated with illness was truly frightening. I was in charge of the kids, and I was afraid I’d drop the toddler and fall down the stairs myself.

I find I take very little time off work ‘sick’. Since I work at home 6 days a week – and have a work laptop – I find I always plump for eyestrain, carpel tunnel and a bad back from typing in bed while my kids sleep beside me. Perhaps I’m saving my Karma, anticipating needing time off with kiddy bugs and illnesses.

It worked against me when I was pregnant. I went through a patch mid-pregnancy where I was on bedrest. My view was ‘my pregnancy – my problem”.  I soldiered on as best as I could, not wanting to burden the company I worked for at the time with feeling guilty or worried about me. All I earned for my stoicism was a comment on my appraisal “I felt you took your foot off the gas a bit at that point” . Harumph. Heroism doesn’t pay.




Magic Saturdays by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 By Sandra Beck


“I just don’t DO routines. It cramps my style” I overheard someone saying recently.


The funny thing is that I tell my 5 year old exactly the opposite every morning. “Sweetheart, we can spend all morning discussing the ins and the outs of brushing our teeth – or we can just do everything that we need to do and then have lots of time to play before Balloonsschool.”


Before kids, I used to be an untidy-bordering-on-unsanitary creature. It strikes me as ironic that although I’m three times as busy now, my home is cleaner and better organized.


One of the deep held beliefs that I’ve had to let go of is the ‘Magic Saturday’. On ‘Magic Saturday’ there will be ample time to catch up on sleep. Housework will get done effortlessly with some music on. My husband and I would harmoniously hoover and dust while we chat. On ‘Magic Saturday’ all the bills will be paid, and filed alphabetically. Even before kids, it was a myth – hence why I lived in mess and chaos. Now that kids are here – ‘Magic Saturday’ is a laughable dream.


I’ve had to learn about routines to deal with the fact that there is too much going on in my life for me to think about it all at once. The next best thing to having a live-in cleaner, is to be able to do the bulk of the regular chores on auto-pilot without needing to get stressed about it or think about it.


I ignore the looks from the people who knew the old me. I proudly pin up menu plans and housework routines on the fridge. Everything is in little must-do chunks. It means that I have a definite point when I’m free to enjoy my kids, or indulge my muse, or log on to check my emails.


And my kids? They have their own ‘get ready for school’ pictorial chart. It means that even my nagging can go onto autopilot: “Get ready for school, darling. Look on the chart for the next thing you need to do”.



is a great site to check out!





Continuity Between Me, the Nanny, My Parents and the Babysitter by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck


My nanny lets the children eat in front of the TV. I don’ t. In the early days it caused countless rows. My nanny would babysit a few hours – and I’d return to my daughter sitting in front of cartoons with her dummy and a lap tray of Sweet Shopsnacks. “It’s not even that I begrudge her the junk food.” I’d say, exasperated “But she doesn’t stop nagging me for TV and cookies for two days afterwards”.  It was infuriating to see my precious, carefully constructed edifice of healthy parenting being cheerfully dismantled.


It’s a version of a fault-line that threatens to undermine many otherwise good childcare arrangements. At its heart is a very revealing question: are you looking for a carbon-copy of you to care for your child?


My argument was that toddlers in particular thrive on consistency. They like to be able to understand the rules of their world. It’s unfair for behavior to get a laugh in some circumstances and get punished in other circumstances.


On the other hand,  I think that the variety of personalities and approaches that my daughter has been exposed to balances her experience.  I was a bit shocked when one of the nursery-workers put nail varnish on my friend’s 3 year old daughter. However, objectively, I can see that her daughters yearning for pink and frilly far exceeds her mother’s ‘girliness’. A little bit of something sparkly on her nails helps her bond with her caregivers, and gives her some new input into her developing sense of individuality.


Here more than anywhere, it’s crucial to pick your battles. Car seats, holding hands across the roads, choking hazards – I repeat my messages emphatically again and again. However, this needs to be balanced with – frankly – not becoming a control freak. The childcare you choose is presumably competent, well intentioned and loving. Following too many of your rules ‘to the letter’ might actually thwart them in expressing their innate initiative and sparkle.


As my sons get older it has got easier with the grandparents, babysitters and nannies. “But Muuuum, Nana lets me” gets cut off with a brusuqe “Nana rules, darling. Now it’s Mummy rules”. I’ve become more secure that it’s my approach that sets the foundations for her. I’ve now mellowed to see that an afternoon eating chocolate sauce from the jar in front of cartoons is simply a holiday.