The Times of London: Work-Life Balance: Time for Kids

From The Times
February 19, 2008

Work-life balance: time for kids

A leading US life coach advises a divorced woman with a demanding job, how can
she make time for her children


Ginger Cockerham

Linda Duberley, 47, is a TV journalist who recently set up a communications company, Cerescom, with a
former colleague. She lives in southwest London with her children, Conor, 15, Fergus, 9, and Kitty, 7. Her
ex-husband lives near by.

“I have always been a high-profile journalist – I am a former anchor for Sky News and still work as a
reporter for ITV’s Tonight programme. But my work involved a lot of foreign travel and the crunch came
just over a year ago when I divorced and became a single mother.

“I set up a business because I wanted more control over my time and to minimise travelling so that I could
be around more for my children, especially my teenage son.

“I also want to make more time for my parents: my father was recently discharged from hospital after
treatment for a serious illness. And I am keen to nurture a relationship with my new partner, Scott. After
the trauma of divorce, I have rebuilt the framework for my life, but I need to make more time for my
children and take a look at my work/life balance.”

Linda’s typical working day
6-6.30am Wake up and shower. Twice a week I’ll run a hot bath, throw open the windows and sit in it for
ten minutes to meditate.
7am Wake Conor. He leaves at 7.30am for school.
7.45am Wake Fergus and Kitty. They are ready in an hour, and either I take them to school or their father
will drop by to do the run.
9am If Jo and I are running a media training day, I’ll be locked in a TV studio until 5pm. If not, I am at my
desk at home by 9.15am. I deal with e-mails first, then post. Jo and I talk to each other all the time, and
every Monday we have a conference call to set up our agenda for the week.
11.30am I nearly always have a business lunch booked, which means heading into town by train.
12.30-2pm Lunch with client or contact.
2.30-3.30pm Jo and I belong to a club where we go to catch our breath and work between meetings. If
I’m in town, I’ll timetable one meeting for mid-afternoon and another for about 5pm. I have part- time help
at home to look after the children. There is a lot of networking in my job, and two nights a week I have to
attend evening receptions.
7.30pm Arrive home. I’m tired, my mind is full and I’m often tempted to lurch towards the white wine
bottle, so I discipline myself to have two alcohol-free days a week. Fergus and Kitty will have eaten, but I
cook for Conor and myself. I eat healthily and go to a Pilates class every Saturday, though I’d like to
exercise more.
10pm If I’m being good I’ll be in bed by now, but often I’m up until midnight sorting out swimming kit,
making sandwiches, pottering. I find it incredibly hard to wind down.

Ginger says: For Linda, the huge changes of the past year have created self-doubt and the feeling that
she can never do enough. We focused on her remarkable ability to hold the family and herself together
through a divorce, starting a new business and a new relationship, while caring for her ill father and her
children as a single mother. I asked her if she could count on herself through such difficulties, and she
said that she could. My message to her was never to doubt herself, because she has proved that she is
dependable. We talked about her questioning her decisions, choices and actions but never questioning
herself. Then we spent the rest of the session discussing strategy.

One of Linda’s goals is to re-establish a close relationship with her son. By negotiating with her business
partner to do most of the night networking groups, she can gain the time that she needs. She is also
going to stretch time by having a “CEO meeting” with herself each morning, to identify three things that
she can accomplish. This will enable her to finish each day feeling successful. She promised to update
me in a month’s time.

© Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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