© Emily Gray Photography

Clemmie Telford lives in London, England, with her husband Ben, and their sons, Bertie, 3, and Woody, aged 1.

I work as a Creative Director at an ad agency called Grey London. I don’t remember the exact moment I decided I wanted this career. It was a happy accident; during the summer after finishing uni while wasting time on the internet (probably on a combo of MSN Messenger and Myspace) I stumbled across the details for a postgraduate course in advertising. The prospectus promised coming up with ideas, script writing and thinking laterally which, to me, all sounded amazing. The course actually turned out to be a total waste of time, but one way or another I got a portfolio together and 10 years later I still love the job.

Juggling work and motherhood is tough, but for me it’s a battle worth fighting. Although my job will never be as important as my children, it’s still a priority, because working helps me feel more like ‘me’, rather than just Bertie and Woody’s mum. I work full-time, four days in the office and then one day (Friday) at home. That feels like the right balance. I tried doing just four days a week but it didn’t work. I was constantly playing catch up, but now I have that extra day both to work and get things done at home – get a wash on, get an Ocado delivered and spend the time I would be commuting with the boys. And actually I’m more productive when I’m working at home because there are fewer distractions.

Juggling work and motherhood is tough, but for me it’s a battle worth fighting. Although my job will never be as important as my children it’s still a priority, because working helps me feel more like ‘me’, rather than just Bertie and Woody’s mum

My office is packed with interesting, ambitious, talented people and the collective energy is infectious. I love the ideas side of my work, that spark of thinking of a new way of looking at something, and the banter. On a bad day I feel pressure to be younger, cooler, and more male. On a good day I feel proud that I am none of those things.

We don’t have grandparents close by which has been really tough. I’m really envious of people who have that help on hand. Fortunately the boys have aunties and uncles in London and they’re invaluable. Day-to-day though our childcare is taken on by our nanny share. We’d be lost without her. She has so much energy and takes them all over London – the Science Museum, Transport Museum, The London Eye – they really take advantage of everything this amazing city has to offer. Which is good because it takes the pressure off us at the weekend when, if i am honest. I like staying local to Peckham.

My husband is very hands-on. We definitely share parental responsibilities. The older generation tell me how lucky I am to have a modern husband, which drives me mad! I’d say we are lucky to have each other.

We’re usually awake by 6.30 (often earlier) and I’ve found that the key to getting out the house is to make sure we are all dressed before going downstairs. I leave at 8am, jump on the train and am at my desk for 8.30. My best hours are first thing so I work like a nutter until lunch, eat something homemade at my desk (how do people afford to buy lunch every day?!) and then spend the afternoon doing admin – emails, planning, meetings. I’m then home to the boys by 5.45pm. One of the best perks of having a nanny is not having to do pick up and drop off. I found it SO stressful.

My husband is very hands-on and we definitely share parental responsibilities. The older generation like to tell me how lucky I am to have a modern husband, which drives me mad! I’d say we are lucky to have each other

In the evening I write something for my blog Mother of All Lists, occasionally do a HIIT workout, cook dinner, watch a bit of TV and then I’m in bed with a book by 10pm. I’m currently reading Bryony Gordon’s Mad Girl: a brilliantly frank account of her experience of mental health. I really recommend it.

I’m surprised at how much being a mum has changed me. It’s made me far more vulnerable and WAY more tired. Largely I like who I have become – more empowered, more compassionate, more conscious of prioritising myself and my family’s needs over everything else. And I’ve also given up wearing heels once and for all – hurrah!

I do believe there is such a thing as work-life balance but it’s personal and moveable. There is no magic formula. It’s about being flexible and honest with yourself and those around you. If it isn’t working then there are no awards for being a martyr and struggling on, it’s much better to try and find a solution – divvy up housework differently, look into an alternative childcare option, change your working pattern. Small shifts like these can make a massive balance to the equilibrium and save your sanity. Being in nature helps me relax. Space. Quietness. Fewer people. Ideally with no wifi. The buzz of London makes me feel alive, but increasingly I’m asking myself whether that buzz is actually stress? I guess truthfully my problem isn’t needing a kick up the arse. It’s learning how to stop and avoid trying to do it all. That I haven’t cracked yet.

Follow more about Clemmie follow @peckham_mamma and Mother of all Lists

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