The work, life, mummy balance

21 Oct

Following yet another bout of mummy bashing (oh get a life people!), we thought we'd ask one of our own how she manages that cock-eyed juggling act called the work/life/mummy balance. Fiona Brownlee is a 40 year old working mother of two, wife of one, and mistress of her own destiny (sort of) and this is what she had to say about 'having it all'.

For the past 12 years I have worked at the same publishing company in Edinburgh.  In the early years I lived very close to the office and my days were punctuated by morning trips to the gym, late nights in the office and even later nights in the local bar.  Now that I am a mother my mornings are spent dragging the 7 year old out of bed and talking the 4 year old out of a fashion crisis.  I drop both kids off at 9am (4 year old at nursery and 7 year old at school) then cycle madly along the cycle path and up the steep hills of the Georgian New Town to work.  I have just about managed to work out how to combine work wear with cycle wear though have had some close shaves with wide legged trousers and bike chains.  I detest cycle helmets but see the advantages to them in windy and wet weather for protecting my hair. The bottom filing cabinet is filled with a variety of shoes, which I change into on arrival in the office.  I soon discovered that buses didnt give me the flexibility to get to work quickly and rush to my childrens side in an emergency.  Admittedly pedestrians and dog walkers take their life in their hands if venturing onto the cycle path when I am in transit.

I returned to work four months after having my first child and six months having my second, in line with statutory maternity pay at the time.  The current system definitely gives companies more flexibility in terms of finding cover but it also makes it more difficult for mothers to tear themselves away from their one year old and return to work.  I didnt have specific cover so never really stopped working. 

My job frequently requires that I am away from home. In addition to flying visits to London I spent a week in New York in May and am due to have a week in Frankfurt next week followed by another two weeks on a management course. When I first used to go away it broke my heart to leave the kids though they barely noticed my absence.  Now they are able to communicate it is much easier, apart from the time my 6 year old called me in New York at 8am in the morning – 3am US time.  In addition to teaching her the number I must teach her about time zones! 

When I first abandoned my baby for business I flew to Los Angeles and found myself sitting at the bar in Virgin Upper Class talking to a celebrity I had done business with in the past while his friend tried to goad me into accompanying them to the Mondrian Sky Bar.  Ignoring the chat up line completely I proceeded to show them endless pictures of my 9 month old baby girl, barely containing my tears. It was only when I saw them at the MTV Movie Awards the following night that I realised that the lothario had been Colin Farrell.

My work isnt restricted to the 9-5 day job.  At my daughters school, ashamed that I am rarely at the school gate or even After School Club, for pick up I have also joined the Parent Council and the board of the After School Club, both of which take up a lot of time and energy which may well be better directed at the kids themselves.  I am also on the Board of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Last year I enthusiastically joined the team at, my passion, and I hope my pension plan, and now write a weekly blog plus contributing various articles and trying to use viral marketing methods to spread the mumsrock message. 

Friends refer to me as the best plate spinner they know.  My mother thinks I overdo it. My husband is enormously supportive and is brilliant at spinning his own plates when I am away on business.  My children arent really aware that I am any different to other mothers they know.  I like to think that to compensate for not being with them for large chunks of time, the occasions when we are together are spent having fun, be it going swimming, on family bike rides or snuggled on the sofa watching X Factor.  I dont think they lose out by having a working mother and I hope that Im a role model they aspire to.  My own mother certainly was.


Are you a working mum? Tell us how you do it…seriously, spill the beans – we need all the help we can get. 


One Response to “The work, life, mummy balance”


  1. ‘Don’t leave us!’ – Continuity of Care | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - September 20, 2013

    […] the older girls were younger I was devastated every time one of our favourite nursery nurses left. When you lose someone who is vital not only to your childs happiness but to their […]

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