Gleneagles Townhouse
The great juggling act

International Women's Day 2024

8 March 2024

As we gear up to Mother’s Day this weekend, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with seven hard working mothers across our business (and their wee ones) to find out more about the pressures of the working mum juggle!

Emma Bramhall – Playground Planner

I enjoy my job but it’s full on. I do everything from booking rooms, to organising dining and leisure for our guests – ensuring every guest has a special visit.

To provide a five-star service, you need to be really well organised and have a high attention to detail to anticipate what the guest might need before they even ask.

Gleneagles has been very accommodating with flexible working, but the most challenging aspect of being a working mum is managing the juggle. My husband works off-shore, so a lot of time I’m flying solo.

I feel I’m never doing enough of one or the other – whether that’s not being home enough and spending time with my daughter, Charlotte, or feeling like you’re not being able to give that little extra at work. There’s a feeling of guilt with that.

Charlotte’s new saying is, ‘It’s ok, Mummy just calm down’.

Emma’s daughter, Charlotte (4)

My mummy’s job is doing a busy job on the computer. She’s my hero because she is. She always takes me to nursery and picks me up and I like it when we race to the door. My favourite things are when she lets me have a sweetie after dinner and when we snuggle on the sofa.

Denise Scougall – Housekeeping Supervisor

I live on a farm and, when I’m not working, doing housework, running about after my son or food shopping, I’m helping out on the farm. I’ve worked at Gleneagles for over a decade.

Housekeeping is hard work, but, if you thrive under pressure, it’s the most satisfying job in the world. I love the sense of achievement when you’ve cleaned and tidied a room from top to bottom and everything is fresh and clean. There’s no better feeling!

My husband has always worked long hours, whether that be on the farm or away contracting, so childrearing has been mainly my responsibility. Doing this while also doing a job has been challenging.

Gleneagles has helped me manage the juggle and given me flexibility. I first joined the team as a Room Attendant when I was 16, doing turn-down at the weekends. After I became a mum, I worked hours to fit around my son’s days at nursery and school. As my son got older, I was able to take on more responsibility, progressing to supervisor.

Returning to work after having Mark was something I felt guilty about, however over the last couple of years I’ve accepted he was so young at the time that he was none the wiser.

Denise’s son, Mark (16)

My mum checks rooms and makes sure they’re okay for guests. She has busy days at work and I know she just wants to put her feet up once she’s finished but she always takes me to and from my mates’ houses without ever moaning.

She does a lot for me. She helps me when I’m cutting our elderly neighbour’s gardens and she takes me to and from my activities, even when it’s late at night and past her bedtime. She used to make my bed but I need to do that now!

Lisa Brinkers – Head of Events

My job involves equipping and supporting my team to deliver exceptional events. From the sales process and handover to the planning and pricing – I have oversight of the full function. It’s a high-pressured job but I love it. Events at Gleneagles isn’t a cookie-cutter approach; every single event is completely bespoke.

It’s incredibly hard to do the working mum juggle, especially when you’re ambitious and work in a field like events where you need to be ready for the unknown, such as last-minute changes to a schedule.

I’ve felt guilty about missing milestones, like first steps and first words, but my husband is amazing. He’s taken the lion’s share of child care responsibilities, playdates and sick days, empowering me to prioritise work and giving me the support to have the career I’ve always wanted. My girls always let people know that “daddy is the mummy of our house!”

I’m getting better at switching off ‘Work Lisa’ when I get home, so I’m present for my family. Once the kids go to bed, I can log back in to ensure I’m ahead for the next day at work. I try hard to prioritise Sundays as family days to bring better balance between the two.

There are fantastic opportunities across our business for flexible working. I haven’t always made use of them because my personal support network – my husband, my family and friends – have always supported me, but I’m thankful knowing if my circumstances changed I would be supported.

Lisa’s daughters, Elise (8) and Ella (12)

Our mum works at Gleneagles, making sure everyone has a good time, that nothing is dirty in the rooms, that the hotel is in good shape, and that the tables and chairs are in the right place. She is amazing and kind, can do awesome stuff like art and cooking and spends lots of time with us. She gives good hugs and takes care of us. She organises fun things to do and entertains us. She is silly sometimes singing and does the housework.

Susan Murray – Guest Relations Manager

I joined the team in 1995 as a waitress in the Century Bar, secured a receptionist’s role after graduating and never left!

In guest relations, it’s all about making sure our guests have an outstanding experience here at Gleneagles.

In a five-star hotel, our guests naturally have high expectations. My role is to both manage those expectations and exceed them, but balance that with business need. We can have 500 guests at any time, so you’re jugging a lot of people’s expectations all at once. As well as having strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, you have to be a great problem solver and trouble shooter!

The most challenging aspect of being a working mum is dividing my time – it’s manageable but tarnished with guilt!

Gleneagles has been really flexible. After maternity leave, I worked two days a week. Once Nicole started school, l added an extra day and Gleneagles ensured it was a day shift so I could pick her up from school. When she started senior school, l could extend my hours and now work a four-day week.

When Nicole was young, the guilt was terrible because I felt I should be taking care of her 24 hours a day. Handing her over to nursery staff so that they could do the mum role – feeding her or caring for her when she was unwell – was tough. I knew she’d be safe, but I had to get my husband to do the nursery drop offs because they made me feel so awful.

Now Nicole is older, it’s easier. She’s very independent and I have more time after work to ensure I can give my full attention to any problems she has or advice she may need.

Susan’s daughter, Nicole (15)

My mum works at Gleneagles, dealing with guests on a daily basis and researching information that is critical for the guest’s stay. She does her absolute best to help them enjoy their stay.

She’s the perfect parent. She’s warm and kind and does everything you would expect from a mum and more. She’s a perfect role model and I hope when l grow up l will be half the mum she is now. She always puts me first no matter what. If I’m having a bad day, she reassures me and calms me down. This works especially well now whilst I’m studying for exams!

Louise Dunbar – Guest Services Supervisor

My team oversees the Linkmen, porters and our chauffeur fleet. I love my job because no day is the same. We’re constantly juggling lots of different elements from managing the transfers and luggage for large groups whilst simultaneously ensuring each guest is receiving a five-star service. This doesn’t end until we wave guests off at the front steps on departure.

My job is very important to me, however being a mum will always be what matters most. It can feel like you lose your own identity a little bit when you become a parent so I am really passionate about building a career for myself.

The main challenge of being a working mum is the guilt. I feel guilty being away from my girls or if I miss an event or activity. However, I also feel incredibly guilty about the additional pressure I put on my colleagues when I can’t offer as much flexibility in my availability.

My husband and I plan our schedules a year in advance to make sure that one of us is always with the kids, but the social lives of a four and an eight-year-old puts my own to shame. I’ve fallen asleep in the carpark waiting for Brownies to finish more than once.

My kids and my husband affectionately refer to me as “a fun sponge” because my parenting style is very much “panic” based. Dad might be more fun but he can’t do a French braid, so I’ll always have that.

I am very grateful to Gleneagles because I feel valued as a person. It has gone above and beyond so that I can maintain the flexibility needed in my role. Gleneagles also allowed me to move to a part-time contract when my daughter needed me at home last year – this is something I’ll always be grateful for.

Louise’s daughters, Aria (8) and Emilia (4)

Our mum works in a hotel. She used to be at the front desk but now she helps organising cars. She keeps changing outfits. She’s the best because she helps us and gives us hugs and kisses and takes care of us when we’re sick. She does nice things for us, like playing with us and letting us help her cook.

Eilidh Unwin – Playroom Assistant

I work in Little Glen, Gleneagles’ creche, and also for Perth and Kinross council as an Early Years Practitioner.

In Little Glen, it’s essential to make our guests feel at ease leaving their precious little ones in our care. If the children are happy and enjoying their time with us then the parents can relax and make the most of their stay.

The most challenging part of the working mum juggle is when my kids are sick. It’s always me who gets the call to come and collect them from school because my husband works much further away. Jack has asthma and so sometimes I’m a bit on edge waiting to see if I’ll get a call to come and get him.

My husband doesn’t normally get home until 7.00pm but I’m very lucky to have friends and parents close by who help with the boys’ evening activities. There isn’t time to switch off in the evening – but they’re only little for a short time and I try to savour every moment with them!

Gleneagles has helped balance things. I work on a flexi-contact which means I can fit days around when my parents are available to do school runs, which is very helpful.

Eilidh’s children, Charlotte (3), Dylan (9) and Jack (11)

Our mum’s job is working at Gleneagles. She also looks after us and our house while dad’s working all day. She cuddles us and plays with us. She takes care of us and gives us food. She does everything for us and makes sure we have a good life.

Alix Meiklejohn – Assistant Spa Manager

In my role, it’s critical that I can problem solve, often under pressure. Working with a large team, my brain most days feels like a computer with lots of different tabs open at once.

I wear many different hats to be able to support my team depending on their needs that day while also ensuring that we deliver the world class experience that Gleneagles is renowned for.

The most challenging part of the juggle is the ‘mum guilt’! Not always being there for drop offs, pick-ups or bedtime can be difficult, but it’s become easier as Crawford has got older and understands that I’m working.

Managing the spinning plates, ensuring that everything is covered and taken care of, it really does take a village!

I’m extremely lucky to have amazing managers who have families themselves and understand the juggle. If I ever get the dreaded call from the school to go and get Crawford there is never a question of me not being able to leave to go and collect him. Knowing I have the support along with flexible working allows me to give my all while I’m here.

Alix’s son, Crawford (7)

Mummy works at Gleneagles. It’s fun. She works in the Spa and bosses people around. My favourite thing about her is that she loves me the most in the world. She gives me the best hugs and kisses and she plans really fun activities and surprises.