Tag Archive | working mother

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 Office Family 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.




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”.



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Does Motherhood Make Your Brain Mush? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

I grow mutant babies. They need less sleep that I do. It’s well known that lack of sleep will damage your physical and mental health. I merrily skip off to the istock_000005676893xsmallsupermarket, leaving my car door wide open. I put my tea bags in the fridge and my milk in the cupboard. I occasionally wear my clothes inside out. Even my own family has said my children have freakishly large stomachs regarding the amount of food the injest and still stay skinny. Part of the problem is both boys never stop moving until they pass out.

My brain is just so much fuller now. Obviously the bit of my brain that was meant to be picking out co-ordinating clothes, is otherwise engaged remembering that today is backward’s dress day at my son’s school.

Sometimes I feel guilty. Can this crumpled wild-eyed person fill the shoes of the ‘old’ me? The ‘old’ me was sharp and slim with a challenging mind. It was her (smug little so-and-so) that ran my current business.

I’ve discovered various strategies to work through the fog and the tiredness. I’ve become very organized. I even email myself reminders from home to work. Secondly, I power nap if I can. If an after lunch snooze is good enough for Winston Churchill, my life can spare me for fifteen minutes. Thirdly, I have the benefit of experience and seniority on my side. I can use “Mmmm-hmmm” where before I’d do 10 sides of closely written analysis. I can mentor younger colleagues, and in turn leave some of the number crunching detail for them to work out.

Without wishing to betray the sisterhood, I have to admit that the three months either side of each birth, I have felt drugged by my hormones. My family and friends remind me of things around that time that I absolutely don’t remember. Each person has to find their own way – but my approach is to go easy on myself during this time. I’ve had faith that “I’ll be back”.




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.





Tags: Working Mothers, Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated, www.sandrabeck.com, www.motherhoodincorporated.com, juggling working motherhood, working mom, working mother, busy mom, caregiver expectations, mom’s rules, mom and grandma fight over kids rules

Coffee, How Do I Love Thee? – Let Me Count the Ways by Sandra Beck , Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck


I have a guilty secret. My coffee machine cost more than my buggy, pram or stroller – depending on your country of origin. In fact, probably more than the combined cost of all my shoes.


My dad bought  it for me for Valentine’s day. The week before our old Candlesbargainous but labor intensive espresso machine brewed its last. Three espressos in quick succession after a dinner party were just too much for its weedy little pump.


Shortly after, I unscrewed the dusty jar of instant – something desperate in my face. The pitiful sight of me pushing aside the instant and pouring boiling water onto ground coffee. “It’s not too bad” I mumbled “So long as you keep your lips pursed to stop too much crunchiness getting through”. Then I went upstairs and lay face down on the bed, with my toddler batting an old shoe on the floor beside me.


My dad squared up to his duties as a provider – and went out to provide me with the biggest most automatic coffee monster he could get. I press a button – and out pours espresso. No unnecessary hot water to handle, no cleaning between use.


I rationalize it on an hourly rate basis – it’s much quicker to use than the other machine. Just because it is me at home, doesn’t mean my time isn’t valuable.


I don’t really know what it is about coffee and me. It in equal measure powers me through the sleep deprivation of parenting, and gives me back the manic sparkle that I associate with the ‘real’ me. The role it plays in my life is to punctuate my days with pleasant uplifting little interludes. It’s an indulgence, for sure. However, I suspect its a justified indulgence. You can’t put a price on Mom keeping her sense of humor.





The Loneliness of Modern Motherhood – Motherhood Incorporated


By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

The loneliness of modern motherhood. You’ve sprained your ankle, you’ve a looming deadline and the nanny’s got toothache. Your husband is busy being executive and important. Who’s your backstop? Who’ll pick up the kids – not to mention make you a cup of tea?swing

I think that working mothers find it harder to ask for help. I have this irrational feeling that now I’ve started to pay for childcare, I should be able to solve all my childcare crises by throwing money at the problem. Unfortunately, I’ve never come across the legendary child-loving teenager looking for occasional work. The girls at my son’s school each seemed to have a second (and sometimes third) job. Their diaries were more jammed than mine.

For evenings, I’ve joined a reputable babysitting agency. They take the hassle out of my hands. Of course, there is a risk in trusting a stranger, but they have good checks, and they always try to send the same person if they can.

For that school-run tight spot, I’m shy about asking other mothers to take on my kids. I’m conscious that I can’t really reciprocate.   Having more than one kid obviously makes it a far bigger favor too. I find it easier to ask for help from other working mums – because I’m very sensitive to looking like I assume stay at home parents have more free time.

In my charmless, grudging, prickly way, I’ve admitted to my parents and in-laws that sometimes the juggling gets tricky. In her opinionated, fussy way, my mum  and dad has started offering me some very well focused support, which has let me to win a little bit of time together on the weekends, and helps me when I have to do overnight business trips.

I’m practicing asking my friends for help too. The words don’t come easy, but I have an especially expressive guttural grunt just for this purpose.




Tags: Modern Motherhood, Working Mothers, Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated, www.sandrabeck.com, www.motherhoodincorporated.com, jugglings working motherhood, working mom, working mother, busy mom