Moms Make it Work: Gaynor | Part Time Working Mom in Scotland

Today on the Moms Make it Work series, we have Gaynor: a mom who works three days per week as an Architect in Scotland. She had 13 months of maternity leave (always SO jealous of our international moms for this reason!!!) and her sweet Holden is two years old now. Gaynor and I follow each other on Instagram and I loved reading her take on how their family makes it work in Scotland. I can't say it enough: this series is so much fun to put together and to read! Enjoy.


Hi, I’m Gaynor, wife to Graham and mum to Holden, who is now 2. I’m an Architect and we live near Edinburgh in Scotland where you can usually find me posting lots of pictures of Holden on Instagram (ourdaybydesign) and occasionally blogging at Our Day by Design. I love spending time with my family & friends and seeing the world.
Animal Kingdom - Dec 2013

-What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And where are you now?

I was at school with my husband Graham then we got together in June 2003. We bought a flat in Edinburgh and moved in together in February 2007, got engaged in September 2008, married in April 2010 and had Holden in February 2012. Last year we sold our flat then bought a new house out of the city.

Our Wedding - 3rd April 2010
After high school, I went to University for 6 years to study Architecture. After I had completed my 2 degrees, I got a job in an Architect’s office where I gained the experience needed to sit my professional exams. I became an Architect in March 2009 and then after getting made redundant in March 2010 (4 weeks before our wedding) I got a job with another practice and I’ve been there ever since. After having Holden I took 13 months of maternity leave then went back to work part time in February 2013. I currently work 3 days a week, Monday to Wednesday. My parents look after Holden on a Monday then he goes to nursery (daycare) for the other 2 days. Just after I went back to work we sold our flat and had to move in with my parents for 5 months while we waited for our new house to be built. We moved in to our house in August 2013 and have loved having a lot more space for us all, and a little garden.

Holden's Birth - 1st Feb 2012
-What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?
I think I have the perfect balance of working 3 days a week but still plenty of time at home with Holden. I could have gone back full time which would give us more income, however by the time we pay for another 2 days of childcare it didn’t seem worth the additional hassle to us.

Australia - Sept 2012

-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
I’m not sure I really thought too much about it before we had Holden but I always knew I would want to return to work. I was lucky that my office were really happy for me to return part time, as I’m not sure I would enjoy it quite as much working a full week.
Australia - Sept 2012

-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

I think it probably is; I always intended to go back to work, I studied for too long to not use my qualifications, and I love having some adult time as well. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved having such a long maternity leave but I also really like being back at work and having the best of both worlds.
Florida - Dec 2013

-Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years? Or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?
I don’t see myself making a career change in the next few years and I think we will stay with our current set up for quite a while. If we have another child I would probably continue to work part time until they are both at school. At least that’s the theory anyway, I may stay working part time, so it may be a case of carrying on until we want / need more income.
Florida - Dec 2013

-Tips on how you make your situation work for you:
On the two days Holden goes to nursery, my husband gets Holden up and gives him breakfast while I get ready. He then has to leave for work so I get Holden dressed before I take him to his nursery across town, before I have to catch my train in to Edinburgh for work. Sometimes it’s a bit of a rush as we aren’t the best people in the morning but I have a back-up train I can catch to work if necessary and so far I’ve usually managed to get my normal one. As I start a bit later than Graham, I have to work a bit later, so Graham does the pick-up from nursery then he either takes him home to make a start on dinner (if he has his work van that week) or he gets our car from the station before he gets Holden then comes back to pick me up at the station.

Christmas Day 2013

My parents are also a big part of it as they have Holden for one of the days that I am working. This saves us quite a lot of money every month and they love it as they get to spend lots of time with Holden on their own. My parents come and stay at ours every Sunday night so that on a Monday morning they can get Holden up which means for that one morning a week it’s just like it was before we had Holden, which really means sleeping for as long as possible then a rushed shower! My parents are both retired now but when I first went back to work, it was just my dad who looked after Holden. Holden absolutely loves his granddad and even now if he’s around it can’t be mummy or daddy who change nappies (diapers) or help with anything else really.
L-R: My parents with Holden in Bath - Feb 2013; My parents with Holden, my nephew & niece in Disneyland Paris - Feb 2014
While we lived with my parents they were brilliant as they would help me get Holden ready for his days at nursery so it was a bit of a shock to the system when we moved out and it was back to just the 3 of us.
-How do you handle mommy guilt?
I don’t really suffer from mummy guilt; I need & want to work so Holden has to go to nursery. I think it is really good for him too as he gets to mix with loads of other kids his age which will really help when he starts school nursery when he is 3, then actual school when he is 5. Holden has always been a really happy baby / little boy and never had any problem going to other people. We live near both our families (except my sister who is in Australia) which means plenty help or babysitters if we need them. A lot of my friends have children and we all work part time so we see a lot of other kids as well which has also helped. We usually spend one or both of the days I have off at the end of the week meeting up with my friends with children at parks, soft play centres, swimming pools & having lunch. We aren't at home that often. Then at the weekend we do things as a family, which can involve seeing friends or family, going to the zoo, swimming, out for lunch or dinner or visiting new places nearby.
Copenhagen - April 2014

-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying at home is the right choice?
You can only decide yourself what is right for you and your family and what is important for you. For us we enjoy travelling and taking trips so we always need the extra income I bring in. We've already taken Holden to Australia, Florida, Disneyland Paris and Copenhagen, as well as a few trips within the UK and we are lucky he's been a brilliant traveller. Also you will probably have no idea if you would enjoy being at home until the time comes. We are very lucky here in the UK that we get so long for maternity leave so we get the best of both worlds with seeing them grow in the first 9 months to a year before we have to even think about going back. That definitely lets you see what being a stay at home mum would be like as well. If we have another baby I would probably take just the 9 months off as last time I was able to save beforehand which I probably couldn’t do as well just working part time.

-How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family?

We are pretty disorganised with meal planning / food shopping and tend to just do it as we need it. My parents are very good to us and organise dinner on the day they have Holden then Graham usually buys what we need on tues / wed then I organise it thurs / fri then we just decide as we go at the weekend. Usually we have at least one meal out at the weekend and quite often I meet friends for lunch on my days off during the week.

-How do you keep your house clean? Power cleaning after bedtime? Staying out of the house as much as possible? Cleaning while kids are awake? Purging often? Cleaning schedule?

I do the kitchen / washing (laundry) / cleaning all the bathrooms and Graham does the hoovering / taking the bins out / cutting the grass. I hate cleaning and would happily pay someone to do it however we would rather have the extra money for holidays. We do pay someone to clean our windows though as we live in a 3 storey townhouse and have a couple of skylights. Holden’s toys always get put away / tidied at the end of each day but a lot of the other stuff gets left to my days off or the weekends or whenever we can be bothered. There is generally always something much more exciting to be done than cleaning!

{Thanks, Gaynor! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}


  1. I loved reading this one, and wished it was a video so I could enjoy the accent :) I do think mom-guilt is so much better when the kids will easily go with someone else. Mine have always been totally fine about me leaving 99% of the time, makes it a lot easier to go to work and leave them!

    1. Thanks Erin, yes that's true, it does make it a lot easier! In fact this weekend we are going to a wedding down in London without Holden and he is staying with my parents, which he thinks is going to be exciting! x

  2. Thanks for letting me be a part of the series Julia. As you mentioned on Instagram, I'm currently almost 16 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 and looking at options for when to finish work / start maternity leave etc. I definitely wont have the luxury of 13 months off for my second mat leave though. Im due Feb 12th so im hoping to go back to work for a couple of weeks after Christmas then have a couple of weeks holiday then start my actual leave 2 weeks before the baby is due. Assuming he / she comes around their due date that would give me at least 4 weeks off beforehand which will be nice as I only had a week with Holden. Then my mat leave will run until the end of October and im hoping that with some money saved and my 4 week holiday entitlement as well I should be able to stay off until the start of January.

    Im not sure what will happen when I go back yet, haven't asked my parents if they will be happy to have 2 or not yet but the assumption is it will be roughly the same as the arrangement with Holden, with both kids going to daycare for 2 days. By next summer Holden will also be attending school nursery 4/5 afternoons a week so I will have some time with the new baby and it will also not be as expensive for childcare when I do return, even if we've still to work out all of the logistics.

  3. Gaynor- I loved your post,and congratulations on baby number two! I totally share your sentiment of sacrificing some things in order to travel! Holden is so lucky to have parents willing and able to show him the world!


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