A Fine Balance 2

We are now more than halfway through February and I am still speaking like the year has just begun. Constantly I refer to this month as January or make the schoolgirl error of mistakenly noting down 2015.

We started 2016 knowing we would be playing catch up as December’s productivity was affected by a mixture of house moving, bad or no Wi-Fi connection and the infamous black rain cloud that engulfed Cumbria. Catching up was fine. Like anyone else we knew what it would mean to get our heads down and get back on top. As of 4th January it was exactly what we began to do.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the shift that came in with the New Year. Also on the first week of the year business suddenly started coming through our door without prompt or expectation. It no longer felt like a startup – it feels like a ‘real business’. Rationale says we have been building to this point gradually for a while and by all means we’ve always been a ‘real business’ but the fear has changed. Suddenly the fear is not so much around winning enough work to sustain what we are trying to achieve, but actually in delivering everything to the standard that we think is right in a timescale that works for all.

The thing is this is a different kind of fear. it is a good fear. It is the fear that the keeps us working until 9pm when we need a new website to go live, and also the fear that makes us look at the kids and say ‘we’re taking this day for us’. Suddenly the balance is more important than ever. Every second of our time is accounted for including the time we take to relax and just ‘be’.

It doesn’t come without its challenges. Sometimes we have no choice but to work around the boys and it’s raising a particularly tricky question around how much we may need to rely on childcare going forward. However, it is also making us plan out our time better. We are more disciplined about what needs to be done and by when. We juggle when we need to and there is the odd occasion I daresay the Peter Pan DVD has been exploited in order to grant us an hour or so of extra time.

But truthfully we don’t feel over-worked. I’s enjoyable. I was questioning what we were doing recently when we had a cliched romantic meal planned together but in fact an unexpected (and still unexplained) error resulted in most of the content for a website we had designed disappearing into the ether. To date we can’t explain what so frustratingly happened but our night was not ruined. Actually it was fun, rewarding, reaffirming that we have ownership over the standard of work we deliver. When we realised what our night was going to entail we did a pizza and wine run then got our heads down. It was a mind-numbing task but it was carried out to a backdrop of good music, chocolate and, at times, ridiculous conversation. The result? The smug satisfaction that you get at the end of an exhausting but successful day.

Right now I am writing this on a rainy Sunday afternoon as the boys flutter around stomping plastic dinosaurs across the table (apparently the baby is going to nursery). They are dangerously close to their cups of water and two MacBook Air’s that we’d rather not replace but we’re beyond the point of being risk averse. This is an hour of work we’ve taken upon ourselves to do somewhere in the midst of a day which has been dotted with pancakes, welly walks and toilet training. It gives us an extra hour in the week – as I said everything is now planned to perfection. It also means that we can dedicate time to all the things that matter.

Between catching up and new work January and a large portion of February has disappeared in a giddy, hopeful haze. Work is crazy and busy but also rewarding. Our ethos is the same though. This was always about balance and we may now need to be more structured in terms of what this means but we’re doing it. Of course, like all other busy working parents in this world there is never enough time or energy to give our all to absolutely everything all of the time but we can say with full certainty that we do our utmost. To the best of our ability all bases are covered. The kids, our relationship, our friends and family. All crazy, all rewarding.

Do please forgive the errors in this. Throughout the short length of time it has taken to write this:

  • We’ve formed a familial pressure group to get the 2 year old to sit on the toilet
  • Broken up multiple squabbles
  • Wiped noses multiple times
  • Encouraged water drinking
  • Had long discussions around sharing/snatching/shouting
  • Repeated the same phrases over and over
  • Celebrated a successful toilet visit (for a two year old…)

All in the name of efficiency.

Article by Eilidh Nicholls