Working parents: Forget Superwoman ...

In the third part of their series, Charlotte Preston and Trevor Dunton give tips on how to be a working parent - and stay sane

It's the late Nineties "woman bites dog" story. "Career woman quits high-powered job to spend more time with family". Tina Gaudoin's decision to leave the editorship of the fashion magazine Frank in favour of motherhood has occupied a substantial chunk of quality newsprint this week. Yet, despite the collective sharp intake of breath from the sisterhood and the rapid riposte by Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, there must be many mothers for whom the phrase "having it all" rings decidedly hollow. More like "doing it all", perhaps.

Unless money is no object, the job of juggling children, career, relationship and social life can sap you physically and emotionally. You spend half the night before a vitally important meeting cleaning sick off the carpet. As you're leaving for a business trip, you discover that your son is being bullied at school. After a gruelling day you stagger through the front door ready to collapse, to be met with excited requests to "play aeroplanes".

If you're wondering where your get up and go went, here are a few survival tips to bear in mind.

Be realistic

Something has to give. Parenthood and career are both full-time jobs. You can't expect to maintain the same standards you had in your pre-children days. The house doesn't need to be spotless - but getting someone in to clean, even for two hours a week, could be a lifesaver.

Try to ditch the guilt

It's not about what you should be doing. It's about what works for you and your child. If you're the kind of person who'd be climbing the walls as a full-time parent, your career is the best option for everyone. For another person, full-time parenthood may be the most fulfilling job in the world.

Do you have a choice?

The career vs full-time motherhood question may be academic, choice being the luxury of the few, but are you trying to preserve your lifestyle at the expense of your health and happiness? It may be possible to continue a successful career while working fewer days. So believe in your worth to your employers, and negotiate. Even one day a week working at home could restore some of the balance.

Look after yourself

It's important, with everything you're giving out, that you devote time each week to putting something back - both to you and your relationship.

Find time for exercise - yoga, swimming, even brisk walking. Two or three half-hour sessions a week can have a big effect on your state of mind.

Do some agenda-free socialising: nothing to do with babies or work. Even one evening with friends each fortnight will recharge your batteries.

Don't forget that you have a relationship. Use a babysitter.

Attention to diet is vital; you may benefit from vitamin supplements. For an instant diagnosis, try Patrick Holford's Optimum Nutrition Bible.

Organise an in-work massage. If you have three or more colleagues interested, a shiatsu practitioner would be happy to visit your office to give good value rejuvenating treatments. (Try the European School of Shiatsu in London, tel: 0181-761 3526).

Let go

It may be the last thing you feel like doing after a hard day at the office, but have a game with your Little Terror in which you completely relinquish control, just giving encouragement and seeing where it leads. It's great for your child, and may turn out to be the perfect antidote to your responsibility overload.

Weekends

Resist the feeling that every hour has to be organised. Mucking about is an underrated pastime.

Little Terror Guides (Metro, pounds 2.99 each) are available from bookshops, or freephone 0500 418 419 to order.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform