I love my job but not as much as I love a tiny person who smells of milk
21:14 GMT, 18 July 2012
Every now and again I read a magazine celebrity interview with a quote in it that really surprises me. Not the ‘. . . did I tell you about the time I accidentally slept with Brad Pitt when I was married to George Clooney’ type of quote, but one that I think is infinitely more interesting.
This week, I edited an interview with our September Elle cover star, a very famous young woman — the sort of famous you’d ring your best friend shouting, ‘Oh My God, I don’t believe it, you’ll never guess who I just saw,’ if you were ever lucky enough to spot her in the street.
In the piece the actress, who’s in her 20s, is asked what her career ambition is and she replies: ‘To be a working mum.’
It can be done: Lorraine has tops tips for women who want to combine having a job and a family (posed by models)
It’s the first time I’ve heard this voiced as an ambition. When, I wonder, did ‘working mum’ become a viable role to which you would seriously aspire A proper job description
Can you put it on your CV or tell your careers adviser that’s what you want to do when you leave school God, I hope so.
If I’d been asked at 25 what was my ambition, I wouldn’t have mentioned children — too frightened, I suspect, to betray any maternal urge that may have implied I wasn’t totally dedicated to career success.
But then it was the Nineties when career and family were separate. Maybe today, at last, for women they’re not. Hallelujah!
As well as all their chores around the home, two-thirds of working mothers in Britain also do a full 40-hour week
I’ve known this cover star for several years and it’s so refreshing to hear this view voiced by a woman who is a role model to my three daughters.
Personally, I can’t think of a better candidate than this celebrity to be a working mum (I wish I could tell you who she is, but that would ruin our September surprise and I’d probably get fired).
So listen up: ‘working mum’ is a proper job, like a teacher or nurse (but possibly not an astronaut or scientist).
As I struggle — often unsuccessfully — as a working mum of ten years’ standing, I wonder just what qualifications you need for such a role.
How would you sell yourself in the interview And is it worth the pay
I’ve got some tips, for what it’s worth, for anyone in the foothills of this mammoth mothering mountain, or those who have just put their hat in the ring for this complicated role.
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First and most important of all is to learn not to judge — you’ll be perfect at this job if you realise early on it’s not a competition and no woman is better or worse at it than anyone else.
Develop a ‘faffing alert’ and avoid time thieves. I find working mums are super-efficient because they don’t stop for water cooler chats because their debit/credit view of the day makes them really organised.
Want to be home for baby’s bedtime You haven’t got time to gossip about the nude episode of The Hotel Inspector then, have you
Enjoy the job you do as much as you can — especially if you’re lucky enough to have the choice of working.
Ditch the martyr syndrome — balancing a home and office to-do list is stressful, but moaning and feeling resentful about it makes it harder.
Don’t forget why you’re doing it — your job is rewarding and fulfilling (of course you love it, but obviously you love even more the small thing that smells of milk).
Ask for what you want — there’s always flexibility, some give with employers. I so often work with women who are too worried about asking for flexibility in their roles, flexibility I may be able to give if I knew it was wanted.
Look, if you can deliver at work and see your family more, what’s not to like
Men think like this. They’re always asking for more. Women don’t. Think about tomorrow and ten years’ time because parenting changes by the minute. Babies will become toddlers, children and then teenagers in a blink: what you need now may not be what you need in the future.
Be proud of earning money, be proud of contributing to the children’s future and to society in the same way that mums who stay at home full-time with their family can be proud of their working day.
And remember there will always be a pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs.
If you can do any of that, then you’re in with a chance of getting the job.
Oh, and remember the hardest bit of the working mum job description is not the ‘working’ bit — it’s the ‘mum’ bit.
Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.