Family Weekend & Night Shifts ....

21 March 2011

Well, here's to the start of another new week. It's promising to be a busy and eventful week with a good dose of happy times. Lily turns six on Thursday and we're throwing her a party on Saturday. My parents are coming to stay for a few days and my really good friend will give birth to twins (on Lily's birthday!).

We had a weekend that was packed to the brim for both work and play. Friday night was a rare treat; David and I had a night out together. We hired a babysitter and headed out with friends for a few drinks followed by a bite to eat at our local Thai restaurant, The Giggling Squid. It was a great evening - the kind that passes by all to quickly and you end the night saying in earnest, 'we really ought to do it more often'.

Saturday was a day of chores and more prep for Lily's party. I made some chocolate chip cookie dough for storing in the freezer until later this week and had a big clear-out in the children's bedrooms and toy cupboard. I've got a few big bags of old toys that I will donate to Arthur's playgroup and now I can rest-easy knowing that there is room for any new toys that may came our way this birthday week.

After such a busy day, I was ready for an evening in front of the TV and an early night, but David and I had to turn our weary heads onto work mode. We stayed up until late planning-out and wording a client press release. Day-to-day in the studio, David is pulled in all directions with press requests and can struggle to find time for such things that require a bit of focus and thought, so they sit on a to-do-list in hope of attention soon and if the forecast looks grim, they comes home to be done after-hours.

Sunday was, for most parts, a breath of fresh air. We actually had a proper family day out. Like our evenings out together, these days don't happen as much as they ought to, what with chores, commitments and work eating into our so-called leisure time. We packed the kids up with a good supply of breadsticks (they won't travel beyond the end of our road with them!) and a few toys and took a sunny morning drive to Dulwich to visit the Mid-Century Modern Fair that was held in the grounds of Dulwich College.

David and I share a fondness for mid-century modern design and we had a few friends such as Mini Moderns, Michelle Mason and Zoe Murphy who were exhibiting their fine wares so it was fun to pop along for a gander. The fair was full of desirable pieces to tempt the purse strings, but with a one-year-old on reigns in tow there wasn't much time for a leisurely browse. It was more a case of keeping a constant eye on Arthur, particularly as we went by exhibits of beautiful glass and ceramics. I found it a bit crazy that they market the fair as a family-friendly event (there were plenty of children there) yet they don't allow pushchairs into the building. Had we had a pushchair, Arthur would have taken a nap and we could have had a more relaxed experience. At one point we were witness to a heart-stopping near collision involving a toddler (not on reigns) and an artfully stacked shelf of ceramics. Still, maybe they will revise their pushchair policy next year.

Once done at the fair we looked for food and an open space. We went to Dulwich Park and lunched on sausage and chip. Arthur slept in his pushchair and Lily explored and played in the swing park. Then before leaving we stopped by at the ice-cream van. It was a beautiful crisp and sunny day full of the promise of spring. Blossom, Bluebells and Daffodils signaled that perhaps the long cold days of winter were now behind us .... that put a spring in all our steps.

Back home, once the tired children were tucked up in bed, David and I again devoted an another evening to work. This time we worked on a complex proposal for a design event we may be promoting next year. This evolved into a gone-midnight exhausted discussion on the huge unbalance that exists in our world of being self-employed. When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them that my husband and I have our own PR business, they think how lovely it must be not to be committed to the nine-to-five job working for someone else. The reality is an unrelenting and immense pressure to get results so to bring in the money. It completely steers our quality of life and that of our children.

It's a livelihood that we created ten years or so ago, as a means to get by at the time. We didn't see it as the structure which now supports our growing family. We're so busy that we don't have time to think about it, but when we do it can be scary to think of all that relies upon it and that it is solely our actions that keep it ticking over. We need to find the time from somewhere to look at growing our business and increasing productivity and balance; seven days annual holiday is pretty poor. I remember an old accountant of ours once telling us of a business phase for people whose work takes over their life without much financial reward and he called them 'busy fools'. That has always stayed with me.

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