GUEST COMMENT: Help, my children keep hiding my Blackberry

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Until you've listened to a quant on your phone in a bar helping your 13 year old son with a problem he's having (the son, that is, not the quant) with his key stage three maths homework, you can't call yourself an unconventional parent (actually, the best bit is watching the quant trying to think down to that level of maths).

My kids and my job have been intermingled from the beginning. My eldest son came to work with me when he was two weeks old. For several weeks he and his Moses basket lived under my desk and he popped up occasionally for a feed. As a result, I learned speedy but astonishingly inaccurate one-handed typing and confirmed my suspicions that anything was better (for me) than being at home with a small baby. Fortunately for me, my then husband disagreed and gave up a job he didn't like very much to become a full time parent, allowing me to go back to a job I loved but which included seriously long hours and a lot of travel.

Technology has played a massive part in making it possible for me to work, be divorced and live separately to my two children during the week while still being hugely involved in their lives. While my set up is considerably less rare than it was when we started out, it is still unusual enough to raise eyebrows and require explanation. From a work perspective, the advent of the Blackberry meant freedom from being stuck to a laptop that had to be plugged into a phone line.

The peace of mind gained from being able to respond quickly without changing plans or restricting our movements definitely compensates for the amount of times my children have hidden it just to watch me panic. Skype is good for face time during the week and for checking homework and mobile phones mean we can always find each other for a chat.

I'd love to say that weekends and holidays are sacrosanct, that I turn off the Blackberry and focus entirely on my kids, but it's not always the case. I'll answer calls and emails and occasionally I'll do my 'homework' while the kids are doing theirs. I have also occasionally had to change plans due to travel or other work commitments but by en large the kids are very understanding and go with the flow.

I do not aim to nor do I advocate the notion of 'having it all'. I am extremely fortunate to have massive support from my ex, my employers and my family. My kids are very patient with me and my commitments and I am happy that they see the positive side of working hard. Between us all we've found and maintain a balance that works as long as the kids remember where they've hidden my phone.

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