The truth is, each and every one of us will do parenthood and work in different ways. But until you are in the midst of it, or have come out at the other end, there can be endless questions to ask.

How do you cope with returning from maternity leave? What’s the best approach – walk away or stay involved? What about flexible working – how do you negotiate that? These are just some of the many questions that can spring to mind.

Last night, OgilvyOne UK’s CEO Jo Coombs joined a panel of working mothers and a working father, all juggling parenthood and work, to answer everything about parenthood you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

Jo gave genuine and honest answers and advice on the following and much more...

On overcoming feelings of guilt 

A key piece of advice from Jo was not to let guilt come into the mix. Findings from the NABS Working Parents Survey found that 50% of working parents name managing workloads, fatigue and guilt the top three pressures that come from being a working parent. For Jo, accepting she needs to work in order to support her family helps her to not let guilt take over.

On being a single parent 

Jo observed that the UK is a lot more tolerant of single parents than it was a decade ago. She has found the workplace and society to be very supportive. Her advice to single parents? As a single mother, Jo also accepts that she can’t do everything alone. So she gets the children to help out, whether that’s with clearing the table after lunch or loading the dishwasher. In fact, she finds that her children enjoy being her helpers around the house.

On accepting help

Jo also advises single parents, and parents in general, to take help - people will offer it to you. Often times, for single parents there can be a tendency to say no to help and struggle with heavy bags or carrying a pushchair up several flights of stairs alone. Jo’s advice is to say thank you and accept the help you are offered. Don’t feel guilty at not being able to do everything all of the time. You can’t possibly do everything and, what’s more, you don’t have to.

On managing fatigue

Jo checks in with her team first thing in the morning. This helps everyone to be aware of what’s going on both within the office and in each others lives.

On pitching as a parent 

Jo came back from maternity leave and went straight into a pitch. For Jo, changing her thought process and how she perceived the role of a pitch lead was crucial. Realising she did not have to be there until the last minute every night, not trying to do everything, and learning to provide direction and realistic deadlines were some of her key learnings.


Overall, Jo advised parents across the board to take all of the advice that is offered to them. Write it down, store it on your phone or iPad or in an old notebook. Take every piece of advice and then decide which pieces are best for you.