It is just days before the big event, a community festival involving various speakers and groups. We haven’t even got a map approved and the local council that we’re working alongside are urging us to send it through. There’s a mass of market stalls wanting to know where they are going and of course the public are sending in a load of random emails. It takes an office team to organise events, right now it’s just me. But I’m also a full time mum who organises these events for the love of it. I believe it’s important to build community driven change and so here I am.
I’m at the computer putting out organisational fires, trying to get the map layout approved and a main food vendor drops out leaving me wondering if we’ll have enough food for 3000 people. This also happens to be the day my two and a half year old decides not to sleep. I love those precious two hours when I can achieve something in the office. Not today. Instead I battle him under the office desk as he makes his way to the electrical cords, sending him away I find him peeing on the carpet instead (we’re toilet training and today isn’t going so well), he then climbs behind me on the office chair with a toy tractor trying to excavate down the back of my pants. While my anxiety for the event is writhing I can hear his laughing as he repeats the words, “poo, poo, mummy poo.” After not successfully excavating he finds his way to the backyard where he’s silent. Maybe I’ll get something done after all. Ten minutes later he comes in with his hands piled with chicken poo and a proud smile. Do all heroes trying to save the world have this trouble?
Many mums work these days, and many are taking on the ‘live your dreams’ and run your own business so you can balance being at home and work too. The thing is, most businesses have set hours but working from home there is no such thing. It’s non-stop, just like parenting. So where is the balance?
If you add up the time you need to run a successful business and also to be a great mum then the week simply needs more hours. Work with things you can change they say. Something has to give they say. Ok, for me its house cleaning. I don’t live in a filthy wasteland but I do have a pang of guilt when I visit a house that is immaculately cleaned and organised while smelling of home baked cookies.
There it is, the guilt. Are you compromising your valuable time with your child, or compromising your potential as a business owner? I have thought of this often and I’ve realised something, the guilt doesn’t go away; you just learn to manage it.
The thing is, there’s always going to be that immaculate mother who seems to take on her role as mother divine so effortlessly. She doesn't have breakfast on her top, I’m sure she’s on time every week for playgroup (I’m not sure I’m always late), her children will have clean clothes on and a spare set for when they get messy. I see her and feel guilty. Then there’s the business sharks. They are the social media boasters striving ever forward with their corporate aspirations. To both these characters, I say well done. For me, I am doing the best I can as a full time parent and a business owner. I am messy and my child may only have on one shoe if I can’t find the other one. I also don’t make it to the office on Monday’s because I work all weekend at events and need a day to play with trucks in the sand pit. So, there it is- my balance.
Mum's with similar values are like gold. I wagged mothers group so I pulled on my community tribe for support instead. If you don't know parents that you connect with then look up social groups online. Other parents offer advice, support or simply someone to chat with outside of the hectic work-home zone. Some mum's work, others don't, but we all have a common understanding for raising little ones as wholesomely as possible.
I believe whole-heartedly in what I do for work, I also believe in being a dedicated parent. I need to run a household with solid sustainable values plus a company that is striving to make a difference. To any parents out there who are on a similar journey I salute you. It’s hard. What I have learnt are some basic survival tactics I’d love to share.
Basic tips for trying to save the world and raise children
- Make time schedules, every day has an action plan. Be prepared for this plan to fall to pieces because of unforeseen circumstances.
- Communicate clearly with your partner and note on a shared calendar when you need them to support you.
- Gather a team to help. We used to raise children in community, now everyone is busy so source a variety of people that you can call on at different times. Make sure that they know your parenting values and that you feel comfortable with them. If you don’t have family, friend or neighbour support then you need to budget in paid support.
- This working parent business is exhausting. Work out what you value as fulfilling and make sure you schedule this in regularly. You need some heart juice that gives you the fuel to keep up the hectic routine. It may be a sunset walk with your family, a stash of incredible chocolate or a muscle crunching work out. We all need survival tactics.
- Dedicate time each week to do one of your roles well. Have a day, or part of, dedicated to play time with your children. Turn your phone off for play time. Also have office time where your child is taken care of so you can properly answer emails.
- At one point your child may get sick and it will most likely be when you are needed at work. Have a back up plan in place for when this happens such as a trained employee to fill in for you. When I have had to send in other contractors so I can look after my son I've felt grateful to be able to be there with him.
- When you need to be at a meeting, gig or anywhere at a particular time, your child is likely to spill something on you, have a tantrum or hide your car keys. Make sure you adjust your getting ready time to accommodate.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely. I wouldn't change it for the world.
Working has worked for us and I think it's been beneficial to my son. He has a whole load of 'faerie aunties' who he adores and he gets to be out and about on weekends as I charge around the place performing at events.
I think there are some amazing stay at home parents and functioning working parents too. Each situation is different. For me, I need both work and a family but I can only achieving this with a support team.
I've been working as a faerie for over 20 years, I've written books, performed around the world and developed a company that I am proud of. But my greatest creation is my son.
Finding the balance of being a dedicated mum and busy working faerie