A friend of mine remarked recently that she wanted to be ‘that mum who, when the child says “can we do painting”, answers, “well, I was going to clean the house, but yes, we can do painting!”‘ The boy, who was playing nearby, seemingly oblivious but actually with ears on stalks as always, remarked, ‘my mum’s already like that.’
It made my day. As a home business owner, there’s no boss to give you a pat on the back for a good piece of work or for landing an exciting contract. And as a parent, you don’t ever hear your child say, “Mum, you’re a great mum and I know you always do your best for me, so thanks. I’m going to grow up to be a creative and well-rounded individual.” (And wouldn’t you think it was a bit odd if you did?!) But the boy came pretty close that day, validating so many of my choices:
- Making the school drop-off and pick-up a non-negotiable part of my day.
- Working much less in the school holidays and spending hours wrestling and playing scrabble instead of sitting in front of the computer.
- Dropping everything when he says ‘read me a story’.
- Deciding to work from home in the first place, in order to put life first and work second – even though that work is fun and an important part of my life.
- Using the recent gift of some free time for family time, rest and pondering (yes, that’s what I decided to do, although some exciting work opportunities are on the horizon for September/October. Another post on this question of time and how to use it coming up soon!)
The thing is, though, there was never a long term plan; it has always been a case of doing what worked best for us at the time. When the boy was little, I used to say that I would one day write a childcare book entitled “If it works, do it.” (In other words, don’t listen to other people, the millions of experts or their books, just do what helps your family survive the day. Assuming it’s not illegal or immoral!) Maybe it shouldn’t be a childcare book at all, but a kind of life/work manual. What works changes from day to day and from year to year, but for now, this rhythm seems to work for us.