I used to work for someone else. I had a “real” job, with set hours, earned a decent wage and had weekends. Life was good! Then I started cake decorating as a hobby. This hobby took off, turned into a business and grew (hello White Rose Cake Design!). I took voluntary redundancy, leaving behind the security of the real job with its regular monthly wage, sick pay, holiday pay and pension. Suddenly I was the only one responsible for making sure I had enough money to pay my bills at the end of each month. Shit. I was in the self employment trap.
At first I ploughed on, full of enthusiasm and ideas. I worked all hours I could, setting up my website, fulfilling orders, attending wedding fairs and getting my name out there. This plan worked! I was making as much money as I was in the real job, and I was my own boss. Hurrah!
We decided, as I was working from home, to have a baby. How hard could it be, looking after a baby and running a business? Babies sleep lots, right?
Babies don’t sleep lots, especially when you need them to.
I had given myself 4 weeks off work and then booked in orders for the months that followed. What a mistake. Looking back, I can’t believe I was so naive! Holly was a good baby, in that she was her sweet, beautiful self, however she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 6 months old and always wanted to be near me. We looked at a nursery for her, but (despite it being a perfectly good nursery) I felt dead against it and was convinced she needed to stay home with me.
I ran myself into the ground. Expecting way too much of myself, I piled so much pressure on me! Pressure to be the “perfect mum” making clothes, cooking from scratch, making crafts for Holly, keeping the house spotless and pressure to be good at my work.
One day, I decided I’d had enough. Enough of the exhaustion, enough of the pressure. I started to look for a job. A job that I could just turn up and do the hours, then come home and just be a mum. I went for an interview as a doctors receptionist and got offered the job. I think it was my severe resting bitch face that got it for me! Holly was around 14 months old, and I was happier (well, not happy, just slightly less set against it) for us to look at nursery again. We worked out what my wage would be against the childcare costs. It turned out that not only would my wage NOT cover the costs but I’d actually be at a loss. I’d be working to pay for someone else to look aftermy child and it would cost me all my wage and more! We’d be worse off, financially and emotionally. It was obviously a no brainer.
So here I am, all these years later, still self employed. While we need childcare, I feel I have no choice. At least this job allows me the flexibility to be around when Holly is off school for holidays, when she’s ill and to be able to do both school runs which a lot of other jobs wouldn’t allow. The stress, anxiety and increased workload is all part of the trade off.
I’ve come to accept that my life will always be a compromise, and in this case, if it means I get to be around for my little girl more, than it’s worth it.