"I do have a job, and it's not your babysitter."
There are lots of perks to being a small business owner or a freelancer. You get to be your own boss (probably the toughest boss you’ll ever have, but still …) work from home (occasionally in pyjamas) and best of all, you have a lot of flexibility.
For me, being flexible means that I can make it to my kids’ school assembly, help out with guided reading and be in the playground at 3pm when my kids come out of school.
It also means I get up at 5am to bust out a few hours of work before the rest of the house wakes up. It means that I’m responding to emails on my phone when we’re at the park or swimming lessons (hello dirty looks for the saintly parents that never look at a screen in the presence of their children). And it means popping back to my office when the rest of the family are sprawling out to watch TV.
Flexibility also means a bit of leeway during the school holidays
A bit of leeway – not six weeks off. I have the type of business that means responding to clients promptly. I can juggle a bit of time away from my desk, but I’m not a magician, I still have to work.
'And is it too much to ask for them to return the favour every once in a while?' Image: iStock.
A huge downside of working from home is that other parents don’t see me as a working mum.
During term time this means text messages saying “I’m running late, can you collect Dora and Denis?” or “I’ve got an early meeting today, could Ava and Axel walk to school with you guys?”
Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect - a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop healthy eating habits.
Of course we all help each other out from time to time. “It takes a village,” blah blah. I don’t mind when it’s time to time, but it’s not – it’s all the time. And when the school holidays start the requests become even more outlandish.
“Are you around today? Little Johnny has a cold so he can’t go to vacation care”. “Going to the pool? Can Jenny tag along?” “Jessica is dying for a play date! When are you available to have her round?”
I'm a working parent too
I totally get that being a working parent is tough, especially during the school holidays when you’re being pulled in several different directions at once. The reason I get that is because I’m a working parent too.
In order to help out all the other mums in my network I am trying to get my work done with a house full of other people’s children (who constantly demand food and leave a trail of destruction through my home). Turning up to collect your kids and moaning about what a stressful day it’s been is definitely not the best way to say thanks either.
Pools are great... until everyone finds out you've got one. Image: iStock.
Annabel, a fellow small business owner, understands my pain. For her the issue is made worse because she happens to have a swimming pool. “During the summer holidays I am inundated with kids who want to come over for a swim,” she says.
"You see much more of your children once they leave home." -Lucille Ball
“I don’t mind when it’s prearranged, but when it’s happening every day and there’s no sign of any other parent coming to supervise it’s very frustrating. I feel like a glorified lifeguard and have no hope of actually getting any work done.”
I've got a job, and it's not a lifeguard
Like me, Annabel says that part of the issue comes from being a work from home mum. “Other mums in my circle think it’s fine because ‘she works from home’ so she will be there anyhow. But it’s not the point. I still have a job to do and I can’t do it while I’m sitting by the pool!”
If you want me or other work-from-home-mums to help you out then keep in mind that we’re working parents too. It’s a two-way street – I’m happy to help out now and then, but it would be nice if that help came back to me too.
Working from home: a survival guide
Working from home: a survival guide