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Book Review: “Spinning Plates”, by Penny Clayton and Wendy Reus

This book is a very personal take on balancing work, parenting and the home – for mothers and fathers.  I know Wendy from when I was being made redundant in 2009, and knew she and Penny had been working on this in their spare time for a few years, so I bought it with some interest.

It’s written in a large font, dip-in-and-out style, with bullet point lists and personal stories, full of humour and written in an uncomplicated style. It starts at the beginning, working while pregnant, going through issues you might encounter while off on maternity leave, help on decisions you may need to make about going back to work, and then actually being back at work and generally, all sorts of friendly advice and anecdotes.

I like the quotes particularly – both from the authors, their friends and famous people in history. It really is like having a whole support group on your bookshelf, with tips and suggestions from people who’ve “been there, done that” and somehow survived lots of the things that you might come across as a working mother.

For working parent members of Cambridge AWiSE, I’d particularly recommend relevant sections such as the Returning to Work chapter, Being Involved in Your Child’s Education, Managing Yourself and your Home.

Re-reading the book recently, I had forgotten how many of the tips I now take for granted since adopting them a few years ago.

To get your hands on your own copy of this book, go to the Spinning Plates website, where you’ll also see a regular blog. They also have a Twitter feed which shows up if you “Like” their Facebook page.  If you are able to collect a book in person, you will get it for £12.99, but £14.95 otherwise with P&P to anywhere in the UK and the USA.

I have a copy so please give me a shout if you’re interested and I’ll try and bring it along to the next few networking events to show you. (If you’d like to contact Azu, please email Claire at and I will put you in touch.)

Azu Hatch

Chapter titles

  1. Being Pregnant and Working
  2. Arranging Child Care
  3. Making the Most of Your Time Away From Work
  4. Returning to Work
  5. Working from Home
  6. Managing Yourself and Your Home
  7. Building Children’s Self Esteem and Independence
  8. Being Involved in Your Children’s Education
  9. Making the Most of Family Traditions
  10. Mums the Word


A.   When Things Go Wrong
B.   Lists, Lists and More
C.   Bibliography
D.   Websites
E.   Setting Up a Support Group
F.    Easy Family Meals
G.   Helping Others

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