'Can I have two biscuits?': An ode to the multi-tasking mams

When not one but two busy mothers showed their multi-tasking skills on live TV yesterday, we were all filled with admiration

"Mum...mum...can I have two biscuits?" The question that all mothers have been forced to deal with while they're in the middle of something else. When you're in the middle of a conversation and your child wants immediate answers, every mam has their own way of dealing with it. But most of them don't expect to have to demonstrate their parenting methods in front of an audience on live TV.

Yesterday, the news blessed us with not one, but two gems of inadvertent live comedy, when two working mothers were interrupted by their boisterous kids during an interview.

The first was Dr. Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was discussing local lockdown measures in the U.K with BBC News host Christian Fraser, when her daughter Scarlett's interior design instincts took over.


Scarlett interrupted the live broadcast to get her mother's opinion on where her framed picture of a unicorn would work best in the room. As Dr. Wenham tried to quieten Scarlett's artistic questioning, she flawlessly moved between parenting and work modes, continuing to answer Fraser's questions while Scarlett experimented in the background.

Fraser, a father himself, was as unfazed by the interruption as Dr. Wenham, and proceeded to include Scarlett in the conversation, by advising that he thought the picture looked better on the bottom shelf.

It was a truly lovely moment between the three that summed up so much of the daily stresses that both working and non-working parents are going through right now. Children, as empathetic as they can be, rarely comprehend that work, Zoom calls and global pandemics take priority over their woes sometimes. In those situations, another caring parent with a helping hand and an ear immune to crying interruptions, can be all the tonic you need to keep a cool head.

It would have been nice if Deborah Haynes had the chance to have such a moment during her own live interruption yesterday. Haynes, foreign affairs editor at Sky News, was speaking to Sky News host Mark Austin, when her son waltzed into the room enquiring about biscuit rations.


Haynes, a little embarrassed, granted her son's wish for two biscuits, but was unfortunately cut off as the show moved on to the next segment. Host Austin seemed a little disillusioned with the debacle, but did defend Haynes as he mentioned that the interruption was indicative of so many parents' multi-tasking during Covid-19.

The sweetly hilarious TV clips are nothing new for the mothers of the world. They've been endlessly multi-tasking, Covid or not, for decades, juggling inquisitive children with pressing work matters, whether that work is in the office or in the home. If nothing else, at least Covid-19 has normalised the need to balance these two equally important factions of our lives, and made us all a bit more comfortable in allowing the two to meet.

In a traditional office meeting, interruptions would be shunned, professionalism would be insisted upon, and a stiff upper lip would be the agreed attitude. When you conduct those same meetings via Zoom from home, suits are swapped for loungewear, phones on silent are swapped for screaming kids and barking dogs, and a stiff upper lip is swapped for sheepish smiles and relaxed reassurances. Sounds like a nicer office to me.


The image newsletter