Why we’re ALL superwomen (and what keeps one woman ‘super’)

What makes a woman ‘super’? And why we’re all superwomen, whatever our daily achievements.

Are you a superwoman?

It’s a phrase the media love to bestow on women – especially mothers – who manage to effortlessly juggle the demands of a career with their home life. Women like the reluctant, yet most famous owner of the title, Nicola Horlick.

And indeed, there are days when we all feel like superwoman. But there are many more when it’s all we can do to get to the end of the day without everything falling apart around our ears.

Financial journalist Samantha Downes explains why she thinks we’re all superwomen, and what keep her ‘super’.

Superwomen fight against the odds

I read an article the other day about how successful women managed to fit everything into their day by getting up at 4am. Apparently these women are ‘superwomen’.

I’m sorry, but for me being a superwoman means fighting against the odds. And most women who can get up at 4am and fit in a five mile plus run are not fighting against any odds – they are damn lucky.

How am I qualified to judge? Well I get up at 5.15am, and I don’t really have to. I get up that early so I can catch a train into the city at 6.06am. I do this around three mornings a week, on the others I ‘lie in’ until around 6am and get a slightly later train (the 6.49am, just in case you are asking).

It’s true I don’t go for a run or start firing off emails to my staff, I use that time to ease myself into the day. I have a cup of tea, make my lunch and fold my suit into my gym bag, and then leave for the office via a fast train into the city.

Yes, the gym is five minutes from my office but most of the time I simply have a shower and blow dry my hair making good use of the complimentary hair straighteners and fluffy towels. Sometimes I will drag myself to a yoga or spin class, or, if I’ve had more than seven hours’ sleep (not very often) a tabata-style class.

This as superwoman as I get

This is about as superwoman as I get. The rest of my day is spent sitting at my desk, editing copy, chatting to colleagues (I manage across three teams of very different but lovely journalists, so my job description includes the adjective ‘sociable’) and then I leave work between 5 and 6pm.

I am totally and utter exhausted by the time I get home, but I’m lucky – because I know I have a choice.

It’s not all easy. My husband also works – full time hours but from home around the school day – and neither of us feel particularly super, especially when we are bickering about the fact the washing isn’t all dry, or the fact the carpet hasn’t been hovered for about three years *.

We’re all superwomen

So my message to any mum, working or staying at home to look after her children is: you are all superwomen.

Whether we go to the gym, or whether we lie in bed until 7.30am (I’m guessing most of us have to be up by then), we all have something to deal with. A battle to fight.

Ours is the fact we haven’t bought a house (we are at an age where we probably should have) but some of you will have much bigger things going on.

What keeps me ‘super’

I couldn’t end this blog without a little mention of the things that are keeping me going on those dark mornings (as well as my lovely husband, beautiful daughters and fantastic mum and sister). They are:

  • A good pair of trainers – so you can get places fast (save the high heels for later).
  • The flu jab – okay it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the ‘flu but it’s kept me fairly healthy each winter since 2012 – I book mine online at Boots.com, it’s £12.99, and you get advantage points.
  • Beauty products – I love Marks and Spencer Formula Absolute ultimate sleep cream, all in one cream and primer. These items I bought on a complete (pay day) whim, bagging £56 worth of beauty creams for £39 on a three for two deal. I’m a big fan of a well-know premium Unilever-owned brand but these creams are almost as good. The all in one cream is very rich, richer than the night cream. I’m not sure my wrinkles have faded but I now have lovely smooth soft skin, and I sort of look like I’ve had a bit of sleep – as opposed to dehydrated washed out.
  • Layers – I attended an M&S health and fitness press showing, which included some of its latest fitness gear. Now again I’m a bit of a brand hag – my Sweaty Betty all in one yoga suit is my underwear most of the time but for £22.50 I discovered some M&S fitness leggings with mesh detail. These actually look quite cool (and are warm) when worn as tights.
  • Vitamins – Pregnacare’s breastfeeding vitamins are in my desk drawer (I gave up breastfeeding with Isabella was just over 2 – in fact just over a year ago) but I like these low dosage but full-spectrum multivitamins.
  • Philip Kingsley hair products – my bleached blonde hair took a battering in the summer, so I’ve been using the elasticised, which I leave on overnight.
  • Hot cranberry – cranberry squash is my new coffee. I have had to steer clear of the hard stuff because it makes me jittery. And it’s got some vitamin C in it.

*It was a month but it felt like three years.

Samantha Downes is a financial journalist and the author of several finance guides and books.