On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
In between her role as the Head of Personal Investing at Legal & General Investment Management, and the founder of 30% Club, a campaign group working to achieve a minimum of 30% female representation on FTSE 100 boards, Baroness Helena Morrissey also juggles time with her nine children. Yes, that’s right, nine children.
How does she do it all? Well, whiteboard planning certainly comes into play. “I write up a whiteboard early each morning, detailing who is collecting who, who has activities, etc.,” she told The Guardian.
It also helps that her husband, Richard, is a stay-at-home dad, who oversees a majority of the household duties like school drop offs, taking out the washing and cooking. “Richard volunteered to stay at home after our fourth child and that’s a big part of how I cope,” Morrissey said. “It is comforting to know a parent is there to give emotional support to the children.”
In an interview with The Daily Mail, Richard described a typical morning routine as a stay-at-home dad, “The children get up at 6.30am. I cook eggs and bacon for two of them, and porridge for Helena and one of the girls. I make packed lunches for two girls, Helena leaves about 7.45am and I take Bea to school. The others get a bus.”
The arrangement has worked well for the couple, with Morrissey routinely taking home over $1 million a year in salary, plus bonuses, though Richard has admitted his stay-at-home duties makes him feel lonely at times.
“It’s as if I’m living between two worlds,” he said in an interview. “I’m neither a housewife with friends and a yoga practice nor a man in the public domain working and playing golf with colleagues. It has sometimes been aggravating and frustrating.”
“I have felt a mismatch between my insight and understanding and my capacity to use that in the world outside our family. It feels like I am less defined and conventional so I have to account for myself with people who don’t know me. That can be tedious. But it’s not a big deal in the scheme of things.”
On a typical day, Morrissey is up at 5am, sometimes earlier, and on her emails right away. She says she only gets “five to six hours” of sleep per night, which is “as much to do with having nine children as having a business job, but I do end up feeling a bit sleep-deprived,” she told The Guardian.
After a family breakfast, Morrissey is out the door and in the office by 8am, and doesn’t typically leave until 5.30-6pm. “My days are like university exams, really taxing and full-on,’ she admitted to The Daily Mail. “I work pretty intensively for ten hours, and most weeks there’s a 12-hour day when I get home and just can’t talk to anyone. I’m human. I get exhausted. I have to decompress.”
I try to squeeze in a lunchtime pilates session at least once a week, but otherwise I work through. I’m not keen on meetings – I try to get up and talk to people rather than wait. I make sure I have space to think through problems. I can switch off, but I work on weekends. When the children have homework, we all sit around the table and work together. Work for me is an activity rather than a place.Helena Morrissey: ‘We have nine children. I plan every day on a whiteboard’ | The Guardian
Dinner at the Morrissey household is an important time. “Over the years our family has come to appreciate just how important it is to ‘break bread’ together,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. “That the communal activity of sharing meals fuels us both physically and mentally.”
Over supper we will talk about our day but also what’s in the news and our views on those events. Nothing is off limits! And we play music and opine on that too. Phones are banned (shamefully, my husband and I sometimes transgress on that). We linger and although we don’t always have pudding, we’ll bring out chocolate and Turkish Delight to extend the meal. Then everyone helps clear the table and load the dishwasher, before we each go off to do our remaining work for the day and eventually reconvene for family TV time.The family that eats together, talks together | LinkedIn
After dinner, Morrissey will continue to do more work, often emailing US-based colleagues or preparing for the next day’s meetings. “I try to get to bed around 10pm, and aim to be asleep by 11pm, but there’s usually one child who’s awake. With so many there’s bound to be one,” she admitted.
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