THE BLOG

What I've Learned Being a Working Mum

08/03/2016 07:59 GMT | Updated 08/03/2017 10:12 GMT
Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

all women everywhere

I have the best job in the world. Seriously. It's stimulating, challenging and rewarding.

Travelling to work, I have no idea if I will wake up the following day in the same country or even the same continent. The devastating Paris attacks; Malaysia passenger aircraft being shot down; Tornado threats in the American Midwest or trailing round after The Donald as he campaigns to be the next leader of the free world - all last minute deployments.

That's the nature of breaking news, passport in my handbag and overnight bag in the back of the car. It's what I've done for almost 30 years.

Of course it can be stressful at times, but there's also a fun side which involves putting on a posh frock and being wined and dined at some pretty swanky events.

I was returning from one of the above and listening to LBC in the car when one of their late night presenters queried whether women could combine motherhood with a successful career. Incensed I took to Twitter to call him out on what I considered to be silly comments, but did he have a point?

No-one better to offer an opinion on whether I have successfully combined work and motherhood than my son, Alexander.

Alexander is now 22. From toddling behind the TV wondering why his mummy was sitting in a box in the corner of the sitting room to 20 years later tweeting his anxiety that I was heading towards Paris as many others were heading in the opposite direction...

kay burley and son alexander

Kay and her son Alexander through the years

I've been a news presenter all of his life. Does he think his childhood suffered?

Well, over supper he reminded me how I'd left him and his friends celebrating his birthday while I jetted to Spain on a last-minute assignment. He's mentioned it every birthday since.

He also highlighted how I wasn't always at home to cook supper. Or sometimes went to dangerous places including Libya where he could hear gunfire in the background as I reassured him on a satellite phone that all was well.

Oh.

After a suitably dramatic pause, he laughed before enthusing about the kudos and pride he still feels at having a mum on the telly, but how he also fondly remembers his childhood.

He joked about how he always knew exactly where I was by watching TV so could get up to all sorts of mischief without fear of maternal disdain. And how he really didn't miss me cooking dinner when he was small because he didn't think I was much of a cook anyway!

He reminded me of our fun trips to Centre Parcs with all his little friends. Me being a 'regular mum' teaching them how to cycle and play racket ball. Or cricket games in the back garden when I considered breaking roof tiles was nothing more troublesome than a 'six and out'.

Of course I couldn't have done it alone. When rushing to a breaking news story I obviously didn't leave him under the stairs with a dry crust and a cup of water! I have had magnificent support that always stepped in at a moment's notice.

Lucky me, able to afford it, some might say. That's certainly true, but I wasn't born into a life of privilege. Its only been made possible by a strong work ethic which I have hopefully instilled into my son.

Alexander qualified from the LSE with an honours degree in Politics. He has a good job and a confident disposition.

He rings me most days for a chat and pops home every week, usually with his washing! We still holiday together every year, but have swapped Center Parcs for the big game parks of Africa.

Professionally, I still work hard to help make Sky News the best news channel - as recognised by the Royal Television Society with our unprecedented Channel of the Year award for the 10th time last month.

So, there you go, I can only offer my personal experience but hopefully I've made a case for the mum/work balance reasonably successfully.

My advice - accept you won't always get it right, but do the best you can and certainly don't be bowed by those who want to beat you with the guilt stick. Especially late night talk show hosts. Instead, ask yourself while they're working who is looking after their kids???

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today. Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com with a summary of who you are and what you'd like to blog about