Aside from the business itself, our vision for Freshspace had always been based around a better work-life balance. With two boys under the age of 5, a dog who thinks he’s human and a healthy delusion that we can strike the optimum balance between work and play – we felt we had the solution with Freshspace.
Established as a partnership in January 2015, it was on 5th May that we were finally both out in the fray with no other employment or income. The scary moment had arrived when we were actually in it together as a fulltime partnership.
We had waited on the arrival of our ‘first day’ with excitement and nervous anticipation. We were geared up and ready to go. The month was clear for us to go full steam ahead, getting a high standard of work turned out at a rate others would envy and generating a thriving client base. All this based around the supposed foresight that in the future should one of the children get sick, or us, or maybe we just fancy a day in the lakes, the business would survive.
‘We’ll be our own boss’ we’d say as the day was upon us. ‘No one to put pressure on us when we have to put family first,’ we’d muse over a glass of wine. ‘Morning coffees in town, long dog walks when the weather’s in favour, an extra day with the kids here or there,’ we’d tell each other when we were feeling the fear.
Our first month put our dream of a better work-life balance to the test. Circumstance trumped the ideal and our fantasy of being able to balance family with work became a startling reality which was not accompanied by sick pay or nearby family suitable for our desperate and extended childcare needs.
May 2015 in brief:
Week 1: Back Spasms
Day 2 of the working duo and I let down the team with a back that seems to be aging faster than me. Dosed up on painkillers which made the words on my screen wobble and propped up by a dozen pillows and hot water bottles, I was certainly not at my most productive. Not in business or in parenthood with lifting, carrying and ‘topsyturvying’ swiped off the table. Our partnership had already become more of a ‘1½’ but no harm, no foul. I eagerly put myself through agonising exercises so that by week 2 we would be fully functional.
Week 2: Chicken Pox
One very successful working day until nursery collection time. The littlest one had caught chicken pox and spent the week at home fluctuating from pitiful and cuddly, to grumpy and fractious. The sympathy, cheering up and nursing better was certainly a two person job and a stressful one at that.
Week 3: Obscure Viral Infection
As if the chicken pox hadn’t packed enough of a wallop the littlest one spent another week at home. This time with something that had no name but was a result of low immunity from the dreaded pox. His mood dropped further as his boredom only increased. Those extra few days with the kids we’d seen as a perk were beginning to monopolise. The pressure was really on and time felt like it was slipping away.
Week 4: Work
At last. Peace and quiet. A chance to get our heads down but also to finally take stock. We gaped in wonder at what we actually did achieve during those three weeks. Who knew you could be so productive with a demanding child running around? However, we also used this fresh opportunity and worked out of our skin. It felt like four week’s work in one. For the first time all month we had a chance to appreciate what we are doing here and why. At times it felt like we were nuts ever thinking we could make this work but the reality was we did it, we juggled…and we can do it again if we need to.
Oh who are we kidding? When we need to!
Already we have a 2 year old that has decided he no longer needs a nap (we beg to differ), a 3 year old who is too bug obsessed to notice anything else, our beloved Bryn who has become public enemy number 1 in the dog world (3 attacks in as many weeks), and multiple family birthdays to factor in. As we start into June it is already clear that to a point the work is the easy part – it’s the crazy, exciting balancing act that our life has become which will take the most work.