How these mums juggle unusual careers and their families

Army life, fire fighting, working as a gardener and rescuing people at sea – these women are juggling parenthood with jobs that are a little bit different

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“My children see me on TV every day”

“As a weather presenter for the BBC I work four days a week – either from 5am until 1pm, or 11.30am until 7.15pm. The boys go to nursery and I get to see them either in the evening or morning, as well as my day off. They’re used to seeing me on TV now, but when Daniel first saw me he sat transfixed for the whole of my report – and then burst into tears when I didn’t climb out of the TV. If only it were that easy!”

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Sally Pepper, 33, from Nottingham, mum to Daniel, 3, and Michael, 12 months

“I spend all day in the fresh air”

“Long hours working for an investment bank made it difficult to have a family life, so I decided to retrain and signed up to do a horticultural course with the Women’s Farm and Garden Association (www.wfga.org.uk). After that, I took on gardening jobs to fit around school hours to begin with, and I now work for WFGA as a placement coordinator for 10 hours a week – while Violet is at nursery. When Violet starts nursery school next year, I’ll go back to gardening, taking on jobs that are near her school so I can drop her off, then work for three hours, and then pick her up again.”

Emma Moffat, 37, from Hampshire, mum to Beatrice, 10, Archie, 8, and Violet, 22 months

“I know I could be sent on active service again”

“I trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and have worked my way up to become a Major. I came back to work when Sophie was a year old, and now work for the Army Headquarters Recruiting Group (www.armyjobs.mod.uk). My hours are 8am to 6pm, and Sophie has a full-time nursery place, which she loves. Sometimes I go away for a couple of nights on courses or visits, but we arrange it so my husband Andy, who’s also in the Army, is around. I’ve seen active service in Iraq, and I may again. Even though I can’t deny it will be difficult leaving Sophie, I totally accept that responsibility.”

Katie Hislop, 32, from Wiltshire, mum to Sophie, 20 months, and 6 months pregnant

“Working on an airline can feel like a holiday!”

“Before I had T’zyah, I used to wonder how air hostesses with children could bear to leave them. Now, however, I realise that it can be a welcome break! I work for British Airways, 14 days on and 14 days off, and get four days off during the fortnight I work. My cousin Ediann looks after T’zyah while I’m working (I’m a single mum), so I know she’s happy. I travel all over Europe – places such as Rome, Vienna and Stuttgart. I’ve just started accepting overnight work, and last month I spent my first night away in Lisbon. I spent the day on the beach at a restaurant eating fresh fish, then chilling at a café in the evening. It felt like a mini holiday!”

Deborah Allick, 30, from London, mum to T’zyah, 14 months

“I combined working as a photographer with a family holiday in Venice”

“As a travel photographer, I used to spend six months of the year away from home, in far flung locations such as Kenya, the Far East and Asia. But once Isabella was born, I decided to take on sports photography to be closer to home. And I’ve also started baby portrait photography. I still do some foreign travel shoots, however, and I’ve even managed to combine a family holiday to Venice with shooting photos for a picture library. I work on average three days a week, but no two weeks are the same – there’s a lot of juggling involved.”

Lucy Baker, 48, from North West London, mum to Isabella, 2

“It never occurred to me to give up being a lifeboat lifesaver”

“I’ve volunteered for my local lifeboat since I was 23 years old, and I’ve never considered stepping down now just because I’m a mum. I’m so highly trained that I don’t see it as a risk. I work four days a week as marketing manager while Oliver goes to a childminder, and the rest of the time I’m on a rota for the RNLI – on call through the day, night or weekend. If my pager goes, I have to drop everything and my husband or mum takes over. I’ve been called out 27 times this year – usually as I’m about to sit down to dinner!”

Sarah Hill, 38, from Penarth (near Cardiff), mum to Oliver, 9 months

“My son’s really proud of having a mum who puts out fires”

“My husband is an airline pilot, working shifts, and I was cabin crew, but once Cameron was born I gave up my job. I’m friendly with a girl whose husband is in the Fire Service, and he suggested I consider joining. At first I thought it was a crazy idea, but I trained last August and I’ve dealt with house fires, road accidents and flooding. It’s hugely rewarding, and Cameron is especially proud of me! I work eight-hour shifts for seven days – if my husband is working nights, I choose days, and vice versa. For the next seven days I work on a reduced rate, available for 75 per cent of call-outs. When on call I work from home, so get to see my husband, and I try to work my hours around the times he’s off so we can enjoy family days out at every opportunity.”

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Sarah Solheim, 31, from Thaxted, Essex, mum to Cameron, 5 and Robyn, 2

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