The buzz word at the moment is FLEX and we’re seeing Mamans all over the country opting out of the 9-5 (or 7.30-8!) and setting up on their own. But let’s not forget that some of us have fought damn hard for our careers and quitting is not an option. These Mums make it work, constantly striving to achieve that balance not compromising either work or family. One such Mama is Instagram’s @peckham_mamma the impeccably fringed, Clemmie Telford.
CMHQ: Hi Clemmie. Thanks so much for chatting to us today. We start every interview here at CheltenhamMaman by getting to know you and your small people. Tell us about your tribe.
Clemmie: I live in Peckham (obvs), South East London with a gaggle of boys. My husband Ben, Bertie 3 ½, Woody almost 2 and Derek our wire-haired daschund.
CMHQ: Did you ever have any doubt you would return to work after your second? Being a creative sort of person you must have been tempted to set up shop independently and decide your own hours?
Clemmie: Not really. The truth is we need two incomes. Which did me a favour really, because it’s meant that I have focused on trying to ‘make work, work for me.’ Rather than fixating on different options.
CMHQ: You’re a Creative Director at Grey London Advertising Agency. Don Draper taught us all about you lot! What’s it really like working in a huge building with some of the best creative minds our capital has to offer.
Clemmie: Honestly? It is amazing. There are SO many talented people. So much energy. And the fashion is every bit as good as Mad Men. It’s a blessing and a curse- sometimes I feel young, creative and hip. But after a rubbish night’s sleep, which happens frequently with children, I can feel old and like I can’t keep up. For now the energy and fun keeps me coming back for more. That and a love of ideas, which is at the heart of my job.
CMHQ: How do you draw creativity from the minds of your team? In Mad Men they sit around smoking weed until the ideas come. We know these companies are great at thinking outside the box but not sure that sort of behaviour fits the health and safety at work act.
Clemmie: The days of smoking weed are gone (or at least in the office anyway). But chucking around ideas does happen for real. Grey London, is founded on the notion of ‘Open’ which means everyone’s opinion and input is welcomed, there is no hierarchy or ‘sign-off’. There are times when an intern can be sitting in a brainstorm with a CEO. It’s amazing. And does lead to great work.
CMHQ: So describe a typical weekday morning at Telford Towers. Are your mornings serene and scheduled or is it just survival of the fittest?
Clemmie: Thankfully my husband and I are both natural ‘morning people’. Our kids have taken that to the extreme and always wake pre 6.30. But you do kind of get use to it, with the help of caffeine.
We are all downstairs and dressed by 7.30. The boys get ratty if they aren’t shovelling Weetabix in their mouths by then. We swapped from nursery to a shared nanny after Woody came along. Partly it saves money, but mainly not having to drop them off anywhere. Julie (the nanny) normally arrives at 8 whilst they are still eating and I nip to the train station and am at my desk main-lining tea by 8.30.
CMHQ: For those Mamans out there who are really struggling to bring home the bacon, find a job that they enjoy and get enough quality time with the littles what words of advice would you give?
Clemmie: It isn’t easy. Sometimes you just want someone to pat you on the back and say; ‘it’s a tough gig but you are doing well.’ My advice is avoid the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome. Being a stay at home mum is tough too. There is a no easy option.
Try and focus on the good bits about being a working Mum; however small they may be. Being able to drink a cup of tea or browsing the internet uninterrupted at lunchtime. They are perks.
There are bigger things for me too. I really want to be a role model for my boys; I like that they see Mummy as someone who has a career. I also do it partly because I like to be defined as someone beyond ‘Bertie and Woody’s Mum’; at work I am Clemmie.
Lastly, nothing is forever. It is possible to make a change if that’s what you need to do.
CMHQ: And for employers. Do Grey London do anything special to help support working Mums that other companies could look to adopt as part of their employment policy?
Clemmie: They have embraced flexible working. I work Fridays from home. This saves my sanity. I get a bit longer with the boys, time when I would be commuting. I do some washing, get an Ocado. Small victories.
I also finish work at 4.53 on the dot (I need to catch the 5.03 from Farringdon to Peckham). Grey allowed me to make this my finish time. But it’s taken a fair amount of determination on my part to stick to it. Though I feel shit declining meetings, I feel worse missing that precious hour and a half with my boys.
CMHQ: Completely away from the serious stuff now…. talk us through your weekend of dreams 1. with children and 2. without.
Clemmie: To be honest they are pretty similar with or without kids. I LOVE a long lunch in the garden with friends or family. Kids pottering about. Parents eating and drinking, chatting. Unfortunately our courtyard garden in Peckham doesn’t allow this dream to happen – which is why my eye is beginning to wander…
CMHQ: And your favourite social media channel and why?
Clemmie: It’s got to be Instgram. It’s given me access to a network of like minded, inspiring people. It’s also cost me quite a lot too- so many stylish women with great clothes that I just have to copy.
CMHQ: Favourite tipple?
Clemmie: Gin and Tonic. Standard.
CMHQ: This is probably getting a little tired but we love playing the favourite game…. favourite type of footwear and why?
Clemmie: Trainers. Seeing an amazing pair of Nikes actually makes my heart skip a bit. Good thing they are super practical. And I’m ok to wear them to work. Which totally justifies buying them, right?
CMHQ: Finally Clemmie tell us about something that means something to you or that you think we should know about?
Clemmie: Ooooo good one. I love what Anna (Mother Pukka) is doing with her #FlexAppeal Campaign. We have got to make it easier for parents to do the juggle. Actually it doesn’t stop at parents – work/life balance is fundamental for everybody.
I am also brewing plans of my own. We are looking to open a Family Escape, somewhere in the country: a space to come and escape the city with your kids, meet other interesting people, drink gin. A bit of luxury, without having to worry if your kids break something or wet the bed.
It’s early days. But I am super excited about it. Watch this space….
CMHQ: Thanks Clemmie. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you. Do come and write something fun for us in 2017 we’d love to hear how you are getting on.
You can read more about Clemmie at her blog, The Mother of all Lists