One of the things that bugs me most about the society we live in is how difficult it is for mums to return to the world of work. Or rather, return to the world of work that is familiar to us, that we experienced before we went off to birth our children (or, as far as some of our employers are concerned, have children AND lobotomies).
If it’s not a money thing it’s a time thing; working in London with two small children was a living nightmare for me. I’d be dropping one child off (wailing, natch) at nursery as soon as the doors opened at 7.45am before tearing over to very generous grandparents at 8am to drop the other for an hour before school, then zooming the 20 minutes to the train station before crossing fingers my 40 minute £32 return commuter train wouldn’t be delayed. There’d be a dash on the other side as I hopped on and off tubes and I’d quite often make the 9.30am start of work by the hair of my whiskers.
And I would have whiskers, because this life left nothing in me to get stuff like facial waxes or shopping or housework or sleep done either side of office hours. Getting back through the door at 7.30pm (on a good evening) meant I was tired, the children were tired, we were all bloody tired. And as my two are off with their dad every other weekend I missed spending this time in the evenings with them, feeling guilty that I was constantly relying on others to play mum while I was out earning a crust. Not much of a crust, though: at its most expensive I was paying an eye-watering £1,500 a month out on childcare. Yikes.
Working in the competitive world of advertising meant I missed out on career progression, too. There’s always a social happening, an impromptu trip to a pub or a client dinner. There are late conference calls with clients happening on the other side of the world or meetings that go on a lot longer than they should. I had to be on the 6.10pm train home always, to make sure I was back before the nursery doors were locked: no question about it. In my life social events take weeks to plan because they involve sleepovers or babysitters, it’s not as easy as rocking up to the pub anymore.
I considered my options a lot in the early days. What could I do? I could take a job less demanding on my time, energy and geographical status, but that would put my career on hold. And as a single parent – heck, as a woman in this economy with the uncertainty of our current politics – I didn’t want to put myself on the back foot. Plus, I loved my job to bits and I worried that taking a step back would be a demotivator: it would leave me bored and behind.
Which is why I decided there was no other option than to work for myself.
It’s been six years now on and off and being able to work from home and for myself has really been the making of my career. For a start, there’s something about knowing you’re not getting a regular salary to put the fire in your belly to succeed, and I think this has been one of the biggest drivers behind what I do.
But more importantly there’s absolutely nothing to beat the feeling of being able to take your children to and from school every day, to be around for special assemblies and sports day, to have the time to make cakes for the fundraising coffee mornings. The fact that I don’t rely on expensive nurseries or generous grannies means that, if I want to take time to go on a date or spend time working away means I don’t feel so guilty asking for help.
Put simply, working for myself from my home has saved me: my sanity, my relationship with my kids, our lifestyle. I am truly happy with my life and that’s all because I get to dictate my own work/life balance.
Setting up your own business is one of the things I get emailed about most, and so I’ve decided to give it a big focus over the coming days. I’ve got some interviews with very interesting home workers, information on ways you can make money from home that you wouldn’t even heard of, and resources that will help you along the way.
I hope you’ll enjoy your self-employed career as much as I have!