I am a work at home mum. Being a stay at home mum was what my husband and I agreed on when we had children but I have now thrown a successful home business into the mix. There are now a whole new range of plates to balance it seems and sometimes they are all spinning and, at times, at risk of falling. It is a balancing act between being a wife, a mother and working from home. Ordering candle fragrances whilst stirring the dinner and helping with homework springs to mind. It is a constant battle for time but I wouldn’t choose to have it any other way.
There seem to be no boundaries when your work is at home. no 9-5 job that comes to an end, no leaving the office to come home. But the best bit for me is that I am at home and I can be there to pick my children up from school, take them to ballet class and help them with their homework (although being in Gaelic doesn’t make it too easy for a non-speaker like me!). If they are sick I don’t have to stress about who will look after them and what appointments I have to cancel for the day.
This is how I manage (or cope):
- to-do list and my calendar – If it is not written on the calendar it doesn’t happen. Same with the to do list. This gives me focus and structure to the day. Plus I feel like I have achieved something when I see all those ticks next to the jobs I’ve done. I like to write things down and have a blackboard where I write all the things I need to do with Sandwick Bay candles – this includes people to email, orders to complete, ideas etc.
- using technology to help – I constantly set reminders on my phone as even the most organised person can be thrown by a screaming two year olds tantrum. I am sure there are many more apps that could help me but my kids tell me I am on the phone enough as it is.
- planning and being organised – there are constant interruptions during the day so I try and plan my day and do most of my work at night when they are all sleeping or during nap time. I also have a fantastic child minder who looks after him one day a week. But sometimes dinner has ended up being beans on toast and that is ok. The day hasn’t gone to plan, I’ve been busy with orders or running the children to after school activities and time has disappeared. But they have survived and are happy.
- having a support network – this includes those fantastic friends who we can call and ask would they mind watching the kids as I have a really important meeting or deadline to meet. As mum’s we don’t seem to ever ask for help as it might look like a sign of weakness or that we are not coping. I don’t mind when someone asks if I can also pick their child up from school so why do we find it so hard to ask? Plus sometimes getting out of the house and meeting for coffee is just what we need to recharge the batteries and feel like we are in control.
- getting the kids to help – well the older two. Their small hands are perfect for putting the wicks into the tealights and they get to earn some pocket money. This also includes with helping around the house. They have age appropriate chores and Miss 8 is starting to help with meal preparation.
The life/work balance is a challenge but we are all learning. My husband is my greatest asset and helps with everything when he is home. From packing up orders, to cleaning the jugs after making candles or making dinner most nights he makes life that little bit easier and I probably don’t thank him anywhere enough.
I constantly get asked are you busy? Yes I am and that is mostly because I have survived the school summer holidays with three children and a husband who works offshore. But I have managed to balance that with running a successful home business. So if you ring my phone and my 7 year old answers don’t hang up just ask to speak to the owner of Sandwick Bay candles.
Schools in the Outer Hebrides go back next week and it feels like the days will become a bit more structured. I have been looking at rental units as the candles have outgrown my kitchen table but the best option was to have something onsite as it would’ve been too difficult with the small people in my care. So the best bit about this summer is that we are in the finishing stages of having the loft converted into a workspace for Sandwick Bay candles. I will have a designated area for work and it will not be taking over the house anymore. I can close the door and come down the stairs and just be Mum – I think my children and husband will notice the difference!