by Paula on October 23, 2011

Can a self-employed person close for business for a week? Rather that than look back and regret precious family time gone by and not lived to the full.

I was recently at a CMI gathering and bumped into someone I hadn’t seen since we studied together for our Management Diploma in 2002. He asked what I was up to now and I explained I was running my own business. He was pleased for me and wished me well but the most striking thing he said to me was:

“I bet you haven’t had a break since you started that. That’s the one thing about working for yourself, you never get a moment off”.

Now I can vouch for the fact that it’s hard work, that there’s a less clear distinction between work time and home time and also that when you like what you do, you sometimes don’t want to put it down. But….I am self employed for a reason. Employment at a senior manager level, and being a mother are not happy bed-fellows. I don’t strive for equality, I am not a believer that women can and should have it all, but I am hard-working and career-minded, and very much want to bring up a secure and happy child who has his mother there for him as much as I can be.

I admit that there are times when in my “Mum-time” I have one eye on a game of Guess Who and the other on my Twitter streamline. Or when I am in the middle of building a villain’s lair out of Lego and have to break off to take a call from a client. This doesn’t make me feel great but at the same time it’s part of my life that I have to switch from one thing to the other and have guilt of not being the most attentive parent. I know I’m not alone here and whatever we do as parents, we always wonder if we could have done that little bit more. I try not to beat myself up about it. I do my very best.

It’s half term next week and I could mirror the summer holidays and juggle work and parenthood. I could find childcare and just work. But what I’m going to do is down tools, walk away from the computer and give myself over to my family 100%. I may miss out on a new piece of work, I may have a lot of catching up to do when I get back and my Klout will slip a couple of notches BUT….

  • I will make my son smile and laugh every day.
  • I will have picnics in the rain.
  • I will go walking in the woods and make dens and play Deadly 60 games.
  • I will watch kids films and eat popcorn.
  • I will have pub lunches and eat fish and chips.
  • I will have pure unadulterated family time.

And I will return to work refreshed and happy. I’ll deliver my son back to the school gates, and wave my husband off to work, all with a head full of fun memories of time shared, which are worth the world to me.

It’s not about going away anywhere, or spending lots of money, it’s just about time. Precious, undiluted time whether that’s at the park, at the swimming pool, or digging for worms in the garden.

And if you need any more convincing, let the little boy in this Thomson ad do the talking.

Have a great week everyone.


Kevin Leighton October 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Well done for downing tools and taking break. So many people I know moan about how they keep their ‘work phone’ with them or how they feel they ought to check their work emails in case anything important needs dealing with. So glad you’ve decided to make the break and go with what’s important to you.

Paula White October 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thanks Kevin. I found it surprisingly easy to walk away from it knowing that all loose ends had been tied up and anything new could wait until I got back. Didn’t check my email once, hence why I am now wading through them all now… :-)

Vicki Perch October 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Don’t forget the same applies to housework! Love it – thank you Paula.

Paula White October 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Hi Vicki, I ensured I couldn’t be distracted by housework by heading off to Devon for the week to stay in someone else’s cottage – bliss!

Chris Budd October 24, 2011 at 9:18 am

Good for you, Paula. You will get so much more done when you come back, because you will be happy and refreshed. Just make sure you don’t read these comments whilst you are away!

Paula White October 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm

No comments read hence catching up now. Feeling very relaxed and happy, and raring to go next week! :-)

paula October 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thanks Della. You’re right that work / life balance is something so many aspire to but achieving it is another story. Kids grow up fast and making those times together really count is good for the soul all round. Hope you manage some downtime this half term too. Speak soon.

Hudson Accountants October 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm

You have to make sure that you are clear about your priorities. It sounds as though you know yours.

I managed a week away in the summer. We were camping so I couldn’t have much contact. I prewarned all clients and used a great answering service (happy to recommend them to anyone). In fact I used the answering service throughout the 6 weeks of the summer holidays so that I could get out more with the children once any urgent work was completed.

A lot of people talk vaguely about work-life balance but still try to do too much. You need to allow a bit of flexible time for the normal crises of the home or work part of your life.

Have a wonderful week.

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