I Don’t Know How She Does It – a review

‘Do you want to go and see this film and then bitch about it after?’ I typed to Victoria

”Yes, I would watch that then bitch’ she pinged back a few moments later.

So off we went to the 9pm showing at the Greenwich Picturehouse last night, fully expecting to see the GOOP version of life as a working mother.

Now don’t get me wrong, I HEART Gwyneth.  In the interviews I have seen with her, I think she comes across as smart and funny and obviously adores being a mum and looking after her family, all of which I am sure she is brilliant and amazing at juggling.  However, she’s just not representative of most working mums I know.   Unless we can all list dance aerobics, dress fittings and voice lessons in our ‘Day in the life of…’

‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ is not like that at all.

I could relate to many of the challenges that Kate Reddy faces in the film.   The guilt over feeling you are missing so much of your children growing up is one.  Having to make to-do lists in your head at 4am as that is the only time when there is absolute quiet, is another.

I also understood the parent/nanny dynamic as we too went down the nanny route for the first year after I returned to work.

I think it is really difficult to find the right balance when you work full-time.  Any spare moment not spent at work, or with your child, or with your husband… is inevitably spent in the laundry, blogging (ahem) or sleeping.  The demands on your time just pile up and up and the pressure not to let anyone down can sometimes feel completely overwhelming.

I rush out of the office around 5.30pm and still only see Zachy for probably 45 minutes before he goes to bed.  I feel trapped in a vicious circle of guilt for not being at work enough and guilt for not being at home enough.

Unlike SJP’s character in the film, I am lucky in that I am not required to travel for work, or to come in to the office on weekends.  But, I know plenty of working mothers to whom that is a requirement and it’s tough for them to be away from home.

My sister recently took a 3-week job in Malta and missed her family so much that she cried in the toilets during a filming break.  She’s now in Manchester for a couple of months on a different set, but this time she has taken her 2 year old son and a nanny with her.  How very Brangelina!

However, the way the film referred to mums at home as ‘The Momsters’ and as perfectly manicured, cake baking, gym junkies whose mission in life is to terrify working mothers with their domestic prowess, I did not think was a very realistic or particularly flattering portrayal at all.

My friend, Noo, made the choice to leave her all consuming, high powered  job in advertising when her daughter was born 4 years ago.  She is beautifully groomed (when I see her she is, anyway), bakes delicious brownies and yes she makes time for the gym, but that is where her likeness to ‘The Momsters’ ends.  The idea that stay-at-home mums drop their kids off at school and then hit the crosstrainer for the rest of the day is a tad insulting.

However, this aside, Noo still found lots to relate to in the film.

“Even though I’m not a working mum, guilt seemed to be a theme – that is one emotion I don’t seem to be able to shake!  Constant worry, expert juggling, and the dreaded middle of the night ‘list’ obsession whilst desperately trying to coax sleep also rang a bell.   Also that husbands generally, even in a household where both parents work, NEVER seem to take responsibility for the little things that can tip you over the edge.  How many husbands make up the lunchboxes, check that the uniform is clean (and ironed), or think to make breakfast for their child while getting their own (ditto take responsibility for their offspring cleaning their teeth while they do their own)?”

The character’s husband in the film is played by Greg Kinnear.  He is gorgeous in it.  Very smoochable.  Maybe this is why I ‘overlooked’ the parts that Noo mentions above, where he is being less than hands on.

I actually thought he did his bit… his wife was jetting off on overnight business trips throughout the film, which I assume meant he was left in sole charge of the two kids (outside of the nanny’s working hours, that is).

There were some real laugh out loud moments in the film and I’ll probably watch it again when it appears on Sky Anytime… but I know what you are all really dying to know is, did we bitch about it after….?


Yes, we did actually.

We bitched about one scene near the end of the film between SJP and Pierce Brosnan where we did not think she reacted or responded appropriately.

It will ruin the film for you if I tell you anymore than that, so you will just have to go and see it and then come back and let me know if you agree…

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