As any fule kno, life changes when you have kids, particularly with regards to your career. At one extreme there’s the stay at home mum, who gives up or pauses her career to devote herself completely to raising her children. At the other, there’s the committed career girl who needs or wants to continue to work full time. Between the two lie numerous variations, each with their pros and cons, their benefits and drawbacks for both you and your family. I chose an option that’s becoming increasingly popular; starting my own business.
The attractions are obvious – it seems like the best of both worlds; you’re around for your kids and have the flexibility of being an at home mum, coupled with the mental stimulation and income of a working mum. That’s the ideal, the media-approved view of being a ‘mumpreneur’, and it’s absolutely true.
Me*, last week (*not)
There is *slightly* more to it than that though.
This is what life’s like at Love It Towers on one of the two days a week I have full child care:
8 am: Get up, shriek like a harpie at kids until they’re ready for school/pre-shool, then drop them off looking like the the wild un-made up woman of Borneo.
9.30 am: Arrive back home, take several litres of caffeinated drinks on board, go through mails, make to-do list then procrastinate on Twitter for an hour whilst watching Homes Under the Hammer. If your laptop’s on, it counts as working, OK?
11.00 am: Actually get on with some work; tweaking the site, listing items, making marketing plans, doing financial admin, etc etc etc. Pretending to know what you’re doing, basically.
3.00 pm: Pack up the day’s orders and yomp down to the Post Office with them.
5.00 pm: Get back for a bit more work until the rest of the family arrive home
6.00 pm: Tea/bath/bedtime routine.
8.00 pm: Do more work in front of the telly until bed time at around midnight.
Midnight – 8.00am: Worry about your business & come up with amazing schemes for the future.
So far, so good, yes? Lots of work, and you’ll notice there’s no time for housework or going out other than for essential errands, but that’s fine, it’s all do-able and fairly calm.
This, though, is what it’s like the rest of the time, and during school holidays
Me* today, except with a laptop instead of a saucepan, and a less tidy home. (*not me)
7.00 am: Get up and shriek because that’s just how you roll in the mornings.
7.15-9.00 am: Make approximately 17 breakfasts because the kids keep changing their minds. Google for & print off Spice Girls song lyrics in response to request from 7 year old. Tape up printed lyrics & dry her tears after 3 year old rips them. Try and do the previous month’s sales figures and forward forecasts in preparation for a meeting with the bank manager tomorrow.
9.00 am: Spend at least half an hour trying to work out how to add a second Wiimote to Just Dance so both girls can use it.
9.30 am: Break up an argument about who has the working Wiimote.
9.35 am: Dress wounds caused by them bumping in to each other doing Just Dance moves.
10.00 am: Open door to postman, realising just too late that you’re still in pyjamas and the no bra look frightens the horses nowadays. Try to open door without showing knockers. Fail because you have to sign for parcel. Hope postman doesn’t sue for mental distress.
10.35 am: Get dressed.
10.30 am: Ignore cries of ‘Mummy, there’s glue on the floor!’ because you’re busy and as long as the kids are out of the room and not mortally wounded, everything is OK.
11.00 am: Vainly plead with your kids to put some clothes on. They continue to run round in the nip, wiggling their arses at each other, you and anyone walking past the window.
11.15 am: Foolishly agree to let 3 year old stay off nursery this afternoon because 7 year old is on half term from school. Naively believe this will give you a chance to do some work because of course they can play together nicely upstairs whilst you do hard sums.
11.20 am: Phone nursery to let them know.
11.21 am: Realise textbook error as twin-headed whirling dervish of mayhem that is your daughters goes beserk. Again.
12.00 midday: Discover that ignoring those earlier glue cries was a grave mistake. Mop up 2 litres of PVA glue, melting your lungs with a heady cocktail of glue and cleaning fumes in the process. Then go round mopping up gluey footprints made by child who decided to test the wetness of the glue with her feet and then go for a wander round the house.
12.30 pm: Miraculously get 5 mins to work. Realise you’re hoplessly ill prepared for tomorrow’s meeting with the bank manager. Decided to write a blog post about your day as a distraction instead.
1.00 pm: Mop a puddle of wee off the floor, persuade reluctant potty training child on to the toilet, be held hostage to hold her toy dog while she does a poo and then have to make good on your promise of a gazillion stories if she went to the toilet. Whilst she blows the whistle she got as a bribe for toilet training in your ear.
1.45 pm: Sit through a very long, somewhat random dance presentation by the 7 year old, which includes several costume changes and tangential changes of narrative theme. Any flicker of your eyes towards essential facts and figures is met with a roar of “WATCH ME, Mummy!”
2.30 pm: Start packing up the day’s orders. This will take 4 times as long as normal because two children want to ‘help’.
3.30 pm: Realise you’ve forgotten to make lunch. Empty random bits from the fridge on to 3 plates, ignoring cries of “I don’t like that!”
3.35 pm: Survey untouched plates and hungry, grumpy kids and crack open a left over Easter Egg instead.
4.30 pm: Drag two reluctant kids to the Post Office, treading a fine line between missing the last post and having passers by call Social Services on you.
5.30 pm: Return home and stand in the street like a lost child, desperately hoping for a glimpse of your husband returning from work to make everything all right again.
Add in to the mix: 4 requests per child per hour for a drink. 10 requests per child per hour for a hug. 50 squillion complaints per child per hour that the other one did something to her. Repeatedly say the words you always swore not to: “I don’t care who started it”.
5.45 pm: Attend a glamorous awards ceremony to graciously accept your Mother of The Decade and Thrusting International Business Woman of the Year Awards.
6.00 pm -8.00 am: As normal day, but with added gin.
I still love every minute of it through.