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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
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.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?