by Laura Brudenell-White
My husband loves spreadsheets – he’s not an accountant but he does love to track our incomings and outgoings every month and then at the end of the year, provides me with a summary of how well we fared.
I work as a freelance publicist from home as we have a 7-year-old daughter and I weave the wobbly line that is trying to be a hands on parent with earning money. I love my job – I get to work with creative people everyday and promote their abilities to the public from my kitchen table. It’s a dream scenario and I’ve worked hard to be in this position.
My husband told me recently that 2018 was my best year yet – I sort of knew this as I had been securing new clients and working my a*se off for what felt like a decade, not just a year. I should have been pleased – the business has been growing steadily since Amy started school but last year it went bonkers. Good eh? It meant that we had more money to spend on holidays and looking after the house. I was actually discussing employing an assistant. But weirdly, it didn’t feel successful to me and I ended the year feeling exhausted and stressed.
In the past week I have been rethinking the way I work and how I want to live my life. Yes I do like the financial security but I don’t like seeing less of my daughter. As I was running through the family calendar for 2018 transposing birthdays and important dates into my new 2019 calendar, I couldn’t help but notice how many times Amy was being looked after by my parents, or by friends and how often I was away. That isn’t my definition of success. I obviously want the best of both worlds! To be seen as successful, have those holidays and the financial rewards but also to be able to pick her up from school. I missed those brilliant chats that happen in the car between school and taking her to dancing/Beavers/swimming where she tells me about what she ate or something silly her friend did. Just simple things like that.
So I’ve made a decision – 2019 will not be a repeat of 2018 in terms of financial rewards. We’ve looked at what we can do to save on things that really should be seen as treats for us and not a weekly occurrence (eating out, buying more shoes than I need, that new handbag I’ve been lusting after) because my definition of success is still to love my job but also appreciate the freedom it gives me to be Mummy.
Therefore I work 9am to 3pm, most days. After that, I’m unavailable until the next day. I’m making my clients aware of this change, and weirdly I actually think I’ll be more productive that when I was working hours whenever I could. There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!
I am completely aware that I’m writing this from a place of privilege and don’t get me wrong, I still need to earn money, our household requires two incomes but I’m going to decline some projects that might take me away from the house too often and those clients that perhaps aren’t the nicest to work with. As Amy gets older, I know I will be able to pick up the pace more but at the moment, I’m choosing to define my success as establishing the right balance for our family between work and parenting.