The Mother of All Jobs: How to Have a Career and Stay Sane(ish)


Recommended for: if you are feeling lost in the transition from career-person to parent; feeling overwhelmed by the pressures from work and home; struggling to balance work with home life; feeling isolated in parenthood or a loss of identity as a new parent.


At its core this book debunks the myth that we (primarily women) can ‘have it all’ – a high-flying career and a full-time job as a parent. It explains that while society is sending out the message that we can hop right out of our maternity leave and back into the career roles we were once in – the reality is far different. Balancing a demanding job with raising children is a difficult and complex juggling act. For one, working hours are not compatible with children’s needs or the care that is available for them. In fact, the whole system is set up to assume that someone is staying at home to raise the kids and clean the house. This, in short, leaves women trying to achieve the impossible against a system that’s making unreasonable demands.

On the surface this may sound anti-feminist but the book’s main argument is that all of society needs to change to become more family-friendly – working hours need to be shorter; working patterns need to be more flexible; employers need to stop discrimination against working parents. And, although this book acknowledges that missing out on our children’s lives is far less than ideal, it is also clear that the blame does not lie with parents who need to work. Throughout each chapter it offers gems of wisdom about how to find that balance in your work and family life.

The book takes us through each stage of raising a family from becoming pregnant, to looking after toddlers through to teenagers. Each chapter follows the same structure – a personal story, followed by an unpacking of that story and what it really means, along with some practical advice. Each chapter ends with a useful shorter summary if you just want to cut to the chase.

Some of the stories are a hard read and it is evident that what we see in the news, or social media, is often not the case (or, at best, it’s a rare find). The advice ranges from big decisions like where to live to how to build that all-important social circle as a parent, and how to look after yourself. It’s full of personality – much more than the ‘how-to’ that the title suggests – and a must-read for anyone struggling with parenting while working and feeling like they must somehow be doing something wrong. You definitely aren’t, and you definitely aren’t alone.

“If a generation sacrifices itself and women get into senior roles at scale, we will be able to reorganise society so it better meets the needs of families and future generations. If that were working it could be a worthy effort but it doesn’t seem to be going so well, because despite their huge numbers at entry level of many jobs too many women step off or are pushed back long before they get their hands on the controls. After decades of women trying to smash the glass ceiling most top jobs remain filled by men. Notably 94% of the CEO’s of the FTSE 100 in 2016. It remains staggeringly true that there are more men called David (8) or Steven (7) among the top CEO’s than there are women”.

Content note – traumatic birth, PND, miscarriage.

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 238 g
Dimensions 198 × 129 × 19 mm
Book Author

ISBN 9781472956255


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