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Lean In? I’d rather Lie Down

Is is really Wednesday evening already? I was at a two day management conference on Monday and Tuesday and I feel as if I was swallowed up in a parallel universe and time stood still. It was a good thing to do and we needed to do it as a team but my goodness I missed my girls. Which is silly because I do go away occasionally but the missing bit never seems to get any less. Nor should it.

During the course of the conference I had some interesting conversations with my colleagues about being a working mother, the same old story. Never enough time in the day, spoiling your kids through guilt, wishing you did more for them and more for your company but feeling that both sides suffer. Someone mentioned Sheryl Sandberg of ‘lean in’ fame and we all collectively groaned.

Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame

Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame

I haven’t read the book, I have only read the publicity interviews so I am not in a position to judge her, but some of the themes raised have made me uncomfortable. Does it actually undo all the years that women have put in trying to make flexible working and balancing motherhood and work acceptable to their non-parent colleagues? Or does it, as she says in interviews, build on all that work. I’m not convinced it’s the latter from what I’ve read. But because Ms Sandberg is herself a mother it’s deemed okay to tell us all to ‘lean in’. But I’d argue that leaning in to your job and committing yourself 100% is easier when you have a small team of nannies and helpers around you. Frankly my need to lean in is by far outweighed by the desire to lie down and have a kip most of the time.

But it’s not just about that though is it? Yes there’s a practical side of it, but I’m not sure that even if I had the best team of nannies known to mankind working for me I would be happy to miss my children’s bedtime. But I was interested and warmed to read that she leaves Facebook at 5.30 sharp every day for ‘family time’ (she’s human, hang out the bunting!)and then gets back on line afterwards. She watches Downton Abbey in her spare time. (What spare time?)

Bedtime has become something of an endurance test of late, what with the stalling techniques, the endless asking for ‘just one more story Mummy’, the requests for drinks, for wees, for poos and even for watering the plants and saying goodnight to the birds. But it’s my job because I’m their mum and it’s what we do.

So many times when I’m at work and the clock is approaching 5.30 I think how much easier my life would be if I could jsut ring up a nanny or him indoors and just say “sorry I am going to work a bit later”. As I would have done in the old days BC (before children). But I don’t want to do that and that’s my choice. If I’m going to be late home I have to tell them in the morning, prepare them. People don’t necessarily get that, they think I’m neurotic, maybe I am. Or maybe I respect my children’s right to routine, to know what’s coming next. Maybe.

This post started life as an observation on Tilly’s stalling tactics at bedtime but it got hijacked by a rant about Sheryl Sandberg. Sorry about that.



  1. Was interested to read this as I’m currently reading SS’s “Lean In”. I decided, like you, not to judge before reading. Scratch that, total lie. Of course I judged her from the media frenzy around her Harvard Address – effectively saying women don’t try hard enough – and booed and hissed at the thought of her and her privileged life. But actually, giving more thought to what she says, and reading more interviews and putting it into context alongside the book, I actually no longer think she is a pariah. She is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a mother, and you’re ambitious she does make some goo points, albeit a bit heavy on the statistics and reminding readers of her academic brilliance! Maybe I’m “drinking the koolaid”, but I can actually see where “leaning in” is a better mind frame to be in – even for something like the BiBs and blogging, where we are effectively leaning in already!

  2. I’ve heard many people say that if you don’t feel guilty as a Mum then you’re not doing it right!! I never like to miss Grace’s bedtime but like you I always want her to have an expectation so she knows where she stands and so she feels secure. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo with this great post :) x

  3. Love this post for the title alone!


  1. [...] house. And then there’s the wonderful women at the top who make it all look so easy. Just lean in, work in the office 5 days a week and you’ll still be assured your seat at the boardroom [...]

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