It's almost the end of half term - and boy don't I know it. It's a tricky thing working for yourself; on the one hand you can be really flexible with the hours you work, allowing me, for instance, to spend time with my daughter Molly over the school half term holidays. But that also means that I'm not working as much as I feel I should be, and when you have a really small business, every sale counts. Luckily my husband also works from home, so we can attempt to share the childcare so that at least one of us can try and make some money!
I was discussing the pro's and con's with my friend over the bank holiday weekend. When I worked full time in an office, I had to put Molly into school clubs and activity camps over the half terms, and school summer holidays (which add up to 12 weeks during the year!). This meant I was only able to spend a few precious weeks as a family together whilst juggling working full time, and because of that, every day when I would drop her at school or club, she would cry and I would feel heart wrenching, terrible guilt.
But at least then we could have a break from work! A family holiday meant turning the work emails off, and distancing ourselves from all that was going on in the office, well, as best we could. But then there would be the stress of the commute, and trying to make it home before the after school clubs actually had to call to say Molly was the only one left, and when would I be there to pick her up.
Guilt, shame, sadness, stress, but with steady money coming in.
Working for yourself seems to mean ALWAYS working, and working longer hours. You want the business to work, and you aren't getting a standard wage coming in every month, so you feel guilty when you are not working. I feel guilty spending time in my garden - something that used to be such a passion for me. Then I feel sad as I look out into the garden and see what a mess it is, and how it desperately needs some TLC, and weeding!!
There's having to deal with the perception that if you are working from home, you aren't actually working. So when you are around at school drop off or pick up, other parents say "What are you up to today?", and seem a bit confused when I say "Working", as they know that I don't have to rush off to get the tube into Central London, and I'm definitely not dressed for a day of "work" (I don't tend to wear make up on the school run). Then I feel like I don't have a proper job either, and the guilt/sadness/stress circle continues, this time though there is the small matter of the massive pay cut.
So, as I limp towards the end of half term, it's important to remember that we are all just trying to get by, there are massive pro's and con's for all of our working situations... so here's to the working parents, to the stay at home parents, the lonely parents, the guilt ridden parents, to those of us running your own small business, and to those that are just trying to make things work anyway we can.
I think we are all doing a flipping great job. And I know that the kids are going to be alright...