Working from home with kids
Spot the kiddliwinks?
And so the summer holidays begin their long roll. Remember yours? Mine were long, happy days, scented with the dusty, hot smell of harvesting corn (and then burning stubble - I grew up in arable country in East Anglia.) And my fantasy is that my kids will have long, happy days, feeling feral, running wild around this little flower farm too.
People start kitchen table businesses for an endless list of reasons, and one of mine was that I wanted to work from home so that I would be around for the kids. Ha! I should have examined my mother's own kitchen table business (she made patchwork quilts for a living,) more carefully. I realise that my Mama arranged things so tht at the end of term she downed tools for the duration of the holidays, during which time she played perfect mama, rustling up amazing meals, thought of fun activities, took us on Anglia Holiday Club outings to the roller disco at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge and to the Scott Joplin ballet in the big top on Parkers Piece.
So here I fall down. A flower farming business is at its busiest in the high summer months. And so, the truth is that, while I'm here, and certainly available as a responsible (moot point?!) adult in case of emergency, I'm hardly a hands on Mum! No frilled apron and cup cakes with me! (My ma never wore a frilled apron.) Instead I'm usually to be found at the other end of the garden with a barrow, or deep in the office (as now,) waiting for a phone call (mobile phones aren't trustworthy round these parts, so when I'm waiting for a call I have to hang out in the office until it comes in.)
The thing about wanting to run a kitchen table business so that I could, while working from home, see lots of my kids, is that, while I see them (spot the kids in this picture? It's the Wriggler and her friend,) I'm not much fun to be around. The advantages are quite other than I thought they'd be. But don't worry, I'm not entirely complaining. There are advantages: because I don't commute anywhere, I don't have to find childcare for the kids during the holidays. They have very strict screen time allowances, outside of which they're expected to run free, feral (ish,) and they're allowed to make picnics and cup cakes (I keep a general eye when the oven's on,) splash about in the paddling pool, ride their bikes around the yard. So there's a saving there on the childcare. And the best part is that, when we don't all have to rush to get the school bus, I can lie in bed until three minutes before Sharon arrives at 8.30 - it only takes me three minutes to fall out of said bed, throw on clothes, rush brush through birdsnest hair, and bingo, arrive in the office carrying a fresh pot of coffee and three cups as though I've been up for hours. That is the best bit. Am I sleeping until 8.27am? Bah, non! I'm reading and drinking tea.
So when you decide you're going to set up any kind of kitchen table business think on: you may be able to work from home during the holidays, but, if you're serious, you won't see much more of your kids than I do, generally hidden from me behind a big row of buckets of flowers.
Sound track to my life right how? The Wriggler and her friend giggling in the paddling pool. I'm still waiting for that phone call...
For more on running kitchen table businesses see my day course workshop on the subject scheduled for November. Equally, if you fancy being a flower farmer, and, like me, think it's good for kids to have to entertain themselves while you spend your days bottom up in the cut flower patch, come on one of our flower farming for beginners day courses - three days scheduled in October and November.