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Spinning Plates – by Jennifer Newton

Whether or not you’re a mother, balancing home and work can be tricky. But there’s no need for motherhood to derail a successful career or vice versa. Working mums Penny Clayton and Wendy Reus are proof of that. Last week they visited Cambridge AWISE to give a workshop based on their book Spinning Plates, called ‘Can working mothers have it all?’

They weren’t offering magic wands or secret recipes. However, support and empathy were in abundance. As were tips for staying on the seesaw between children and career.

Working mums can feel guilty about leaving their children to work. Penny and Wendy were no strangers to this feeling but they decided to ask their now grown-up children for their perspective. Their responses were surprising: they weren’t bothered, in fact it had taught their sons to respect women and their daughters that motherhood didn’t mean compromising on a career.

Workshop attendees soon realised that unrealistic expectations often stem from themselves. One of my favourite pieces of advice from the evening was to focus on what you had achieved, rather than what you hadn’t.Wendy and Penny Spinning Plates

Penny and Wendy first met at a working mum’s group. They highlighted the importance of maintaining support groups, whether that be something like Cambridge AWISE or an NCT group. Asking for help or getting a cleaner doesn’t make you a failure, and venting these kind of anxieties to your peers can soon stop you feeling stranded.

And don’t forget about yourself. For if you want to do well by your family and colleagues, then you need to factor some time in to relax.

Thanks to Penny and Wendy for facilitating such a useful session. I learnt so much, not just from them, but from the other attendees too, and left feeling confident that balancing motherhood and a career is achievable.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mums out there this Sunday, but especially to those spinning plates.Discussion groups - Spinning Plates


Jennifer Newton

RSC content editor for Chemistry World

Twitter: @FoggNewton


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