Combining working from home and school holidays is an art all in itself. We were back midweek last week and still on leave in theory until the end of the week, but it is sometimes hard, despite all the best intentions, not to go for the so-called merge approach to work life issues. People are off on holiday and rather than wait three weeks to do an interview it seems to make sense to load up the DVDs and get the team to swear not to resort to any inflammatory behaviour [eg talking about a sibling’s heavy breathing, telling anyone they are a buttface, etc, etc] over the space of just 30-40 minutes. Of course, there is no DVD that covers an age range of 7-17 and generally the seven year old gets little support for his selection [Percy Jackson for the 79th time]. That leaves three teenagers deeply engrossed in some psychological thriller or romcom [if the older two support daughter three’s choice] and one loose seven year old. Not a particularly good recipe for peace.
So there I was at five minutes to the interview trying to find a phone socket upstairs because the old phone went on the blink and I got slightly bedazzled by the new phones in Tesco and got one on special offer that has big keys but is non-roaming. The downstairs section of the house where the phone socket is is where young people hang out and possibly not the best venue for an interview.
The phone socket upstairs didn’t work. Time was ticking. Daughter three came in in tears. She wasn’t feeling 100% and thought she might be dying. “Just give me 20 minutes to do the interview,” I muttered, “and I’ll be right with you.”
I plugged the phone in downstairs and got everyone else to move upstairs. I started the phone call. Daughter three loomed again. There were more tears and “proof” that she was in fact dying before my eyes. I motioned that I was on the phone and would get to her in a few minutes.
Ironically, the person I was interviewing apologised for the fact that her children were in the background. I was just getting to the end of the interview when the postman knocked on the door, several times. I could not answer the door because, of course, I was on the phone and the phone cord would not stretch that far.
Five minutes later I hung up and legged it down the road, still not fully dressed. There was a parcel for my partner. I ran back and had a long chat with daughter three about the perils of puberty. Suffice to say that she is not dying and just needed a hug and a bit of reassurance. We got out the duvet and snuggled down for a film selected by daughters one and two which seemed to be about people being dehydrated by rampant eels.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.