A few weeks in summer without Parliament is useful to concentrate on High Peak issues and spend some family time. People often ask how I manage to be an MP and also a mum.
Having always been a working mum who also does lots of campaigning for our area in my ‘spare’ time, I’m used to juggling between employment, family and voluntary work. Life as an MP is not so different.
Monday morning is the same rush to get children ready for the school run, usually with the dog for a quick circuit of Whaley Bridge Park for a tiny piece of tranquillity before the working week.
With the house quiet, I can sort papers and the weekend’s washing before Monday meetings at my Buxton office, and then the London train.
I usually try to raise a High Peak issue in questions to a Government department on a Monday afternoon if I’m lucky enough to be called by the Speaker.
For the rest of the week, I will speak in relevant debates, and ask questions. When I’m not in the Chamber at Parliament, I’ll be in meetings, preparing for a speech or catching up with my many emails and reports.
Parliament often sits until 10pm or later and I work as many hours as I can when away from family, though the little family of mice who scamper round Westminster offices at night are less welcome!
I share a rented house with a friend who’s also an MP, about a mile from Parliament, and enjoy the short walk at the start and end of the day and a friendly catch-up.
Votes are usually on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. We often don’t know until a few days beforehand whether we’re needed in Parliament on a Thursday or Friday so it’s hard to plan, but I head back to High Peak as soon as I can, as there are always requests for local meetings and visits.
Bringing up local problems with officials is one of the main parts of the job – fighting for local services and jobs – as well as raising such issues in Parliament to get action a wider scale.
I hold a surgery most weeks to meet with constituents, often personal and distressing cases that I don’t publicise, but build up the wider picture of how government policy affects people locally.
On Saturdays I hold coffee mornings or street stalls around High Peak and on Sundays go door knocking with our Labour team to reach as many people as possible.
I do the school run whenever I can, and we have family walks and meals. Life is always a juggle, but it is for all working families, and good to bring some normality to Parliament.