Working parents in the pandemic are being stretched further than they ever thought possible. This afternoon as my youngest bangs pot and pans in her play kitchen, my eldest naps, and my husband cracks on with a conference call, I’ll tell you how I’m juggling work and family. You can read about my pre-coronavirus week here in My Week Making Cremation Ashes Jewellery
Some of you will know that I run two companies, Tree of Opals and also Keepsaker Supplies (handmade silicone moulds and tutorials). I’m also pregnant, due in September and I’m restarting my law degree in October. On top of all that, I’m a breastfeeding supporter in training, and I’m waiting on my first shipment of stock for my Amazon shop. Phew!
You might think I’m taking too much on at once, and you’re probably right as is it stands, but things weren’t meant to be like this, Being Working Parents in the Pandemic. When I applied to restart the degree with the Open University, the kids were in school and after school club every day. I know newborns are demanding but I’ve studied this module before. I used to find uni work easy to manage around a full time job, so why not with kids and I business I can get help with?
Until December last year I had help making the jewellery but just before Christmas I got let down, big style. With dozens of orders to ship in time for the holiday, I made it and even got a few of the other orders finished. It felt so great to be caught up and when I got back in January I gave myself a few weeks to relax and take some time out (I was spending most days throwing up, actually, having conceived in The Faroe Islands on Christmas Eve). In Feb I started looking for a couple of people to help with orders but wasn’t too worried as I had 7 months to go. Nobody worked out but I was still looking. Then the virus hit. I closed down orders on both websites, completed all the ones I’d been sent and pulled the kids out of school. I was totally caught up!
Being Working Parents at Home
Also in February, The Viking was made redundant so we had to go onto Universal Credits. It wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined Being Working Parents in the Pandemic and we had some savings to fall back on. It was quite nice, the four of us being home together every day but pretty soon we were both restless. Customers were desperately asking me to make them jewellery, and my mould customers said they had been busier than ever. Realising I could ship orders just once a week, prepaying and printing at home, I decided to reopen. I can honestly say, I’ve never been busier with orders! My husband took over homeschooling and I started to work full time; not just making the orders I have on hand, but building up supplies and settings for future orders. Last week though, he landed a new job so we’re both trying to manage a full time job. On day one of him working I spent the day homeschooling and the evening working. This morning I woke up to a dozen new emails and one customer who didn’t want to wait for a reply – thank you Joanna for helping me out! Today I’ve given myself a gold star for doing all the kids’ work, and even gave them a cooked lunch. My eldest is still asleep and The Viking finishes work in ten minutes, so I’m about to go off and finish all the orders who replied to my proof photos yesterday, remaking any that need it if I have time, before spending the evening making silver rings.
Working Parents in the Pandemic Reducing Commitments
Until last year I was founder and trustee for Project Kidogo – distributing cloth menstrual pads in Tanzania but I was terrible at fundraising and getting anyone to help me. I’ve been in touch with another incredible international NGO called Days For Girls and they’ve promised to send me off with as many kits as I can carry next time I want to go!
Joanna has stepped in to take on more of my admin commitments, so customers will talk to her about most things now. Joanna also runs her own business, Isabel Necessary and designs all of my embroidered aprons and towels, as well as being full time mum to a toddler. Azaria, over at Lynch Social Media does all of my Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram posts – we met when we were both pregnant at a breastfeeding group almost six years ago (along with our friend Annastasia who makes lovely masks on Etsy, and all three of us have set up our businesses with our little ones).
This week, if things go well, I’m going to be training a new helper via Zoom with some horse ashes and our kids’ hair for practice. After a while, she’ll be working on mystery pieces (that’s why they’re on sale here) before starting on normal orders. I’m talking to a lampworker, and looking for someone who lives nearby who has a little experience making silver rings. If you know of someone in North Bristol, please ask them to message me!
My advice to any other entrepreneur working at home with small children is to delegate everything you can, and keep on top of work with strict priorities. More to follow in my other blog, coming soon, over at Keepsaker Supplies where I’ll be covering some ways to prioritise work, get gorgeous pieces first time, and make sure your kids come first.
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