What with the school run, extracurricular activities and Spinneys trips galore, it’s easy to forget you’re an individual as well as a mum. In this new regular mini-feature, we’re talking to mums about them – not their kids. From tap dancing to office jobs to growing vegetables, we all have our own ways of staying sane, and we want to hear from you about what yours is. To kick off, our very own editor Karen Iley spills the beans on her own sanity-saving outlet: Time Out Kids!
What appeals to you about doing this job?
I’m lucky in that I’ve got a job that is interesting to me as an adult but can combine kids’ activities too: Rose, my daughter, often comes with me when I’m out and about. She’s a great guinea pig for new toys and activities and throws herself into ice cream reviews with gusto. Office conversations are usually, although not always, pretty grown-up – something I appreciate after talking to a two-year-old at home. Yes, work can be stressful, particularly as deadline day approaches, but it’s important to keep challenging my brain.
Can you describe a typical working day?
We’re usually up at about 6.30am in the ever-optimistic hope of getting out the door by 7.45am. Despite scraping cereal off my shirt – I have been known to wear a cagoule, hood up, at breakfast if we’re having porridge – I love the drive from Rose’s nursery to work when I can pretend for 15 minutes that I’m an efficient career woman – then I walk into the office, look at the piles of nappies, games and scooters by my desk and remember what I do! At work I check out activities that families can try in Dubai, test products and keep up to speed with the latest family trends. One day I could be talking to a midwife about postnatal support then the next I’ll be interviewing a talking horse. It’s a pretty big contrast to my previous job as a news correspondent in Angola. It was quite a dangerous place – I was once threatened with a gun because of a story I’d written. I loved living there, but when I found out I was pregnant I was quite happy to hotfoot it out.
You have a pretty hectic schedule – when do you get to relax?
Rose and her dad usually pop out together for an hour or two over the weekend and I’ll have this wild idea of sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. That rarely happens, of course, because there are plenty more productive things I could be doing, like having an uninterrupted, leisurely shower. For sanity’s sake, I play tennis. It’s the only exercise I would actively choose to do – going for a run or, heaven forbid, hitting the gym would be too much of a chore. I play with a group of friends and it’s nice to get out for a couple of hours and catch up. It’s also a great way to let off steam (those tennis balls get a real beating!) and empty my head of all the day-to-day work and parenting stuff. Rose likes to have a go, too. During Wimbledon, I told her mummy was playing and the poor girl sat glued to the TV, hoping to spot me.