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Les and I started this business before we had children, in fact I was in the early stages of my first pregnancy. One of the reasons we wanted to work for ourselves was so we had the opportunity to make choices about our time.
When we started out in 2003, our workspace was on the top floor of our house in the spare bedroom. It was a fairly large room that we used for everything…Office, store room and an area for putting together the gift baskets. When Evan was born in the June of 2003, it was fairly easy at first…A new baby tends to just sleep and eat and stays in one place!
As Evan got older we had to make more space for him…We cleared a little corner of the room and set up a travel cot, when I was working I would pop him in there with a supply of toys on rotation! For the first few weeks he didn’t mind but he then started to cry every time I put him in there. It was so hard, we were trying to get the business going and we had a new baby, Les was still working part time and it was very stressful! The image I had of working at home was not what the reality was like!
As time went on, we got into a routine. I would try and do as much as I could when Evan was napping and of course we had the evenings and into the night when he was in bed. We worked all the time we were awake!
When you work from home the lines between home life and work life become blurred…Les always seemed to be looking at the computer screen and I was constantly juggling the deliveries of stock we were getting, trying to find space here and there to put all the boxes!
When I found out I was pregnant again, Evan was not even a year old. I then found out it was twins! I was in shock…How were we going to manage? How would we be able to run the business at home and have three children under two years?
We moved house when I was about four months into the pregnancy…At first we used the bedroom that was going to be for the twins as our multi tasking office come store room. When we had deliveries the hallway would be stacked to the ceiling with boxes, we would then have to lug them up two flights of stairs or if there was no room they would stay there for a week! It was a nightmare, we couldn’t use one of the front room doors as stock was stacked in front of it.
As the pregnancy progressed we knew we would have to do something…We decided to have a small office built in the garden. There was already a concrete base there so we found a builder (cheap) and he set to work. He built us a concrete box which we divided into two rooms, one for an office and one to hold stock and make up the baskets. This was a relief, we moved the computers and desks out of the house and into the garden! I finally had my house back…And just in time as I went into labour early! Rio and Bryn were born in the November of 2004.
So, now we had three beautiful boy’s and a growing business. Life was very busy, Les was always working hard and I did as much as I could, as well as looking after the boys and all the other stuff you have to do! We found that we were working in the house more a the garden office was freezing and rapidly shrinking under all the boxes of stock, taking calls was a nightmare…If the phone went I would have to run upstairs to answer it so the customer wouldn’t have the children chattering/shouting/crying in the background. I was trying to act professionally when I was still in my dressing gown and mid feeding the boys!!
This was probably the most stressfull period we have had. We decided we would have to look at moving the business out of the house, living and breathing it 24/7 was not healthy and we could not continue to grow in our little house!
So, we found a lovely office with space for everything. It was a big leap as we are very careful with every penny! But once we moved everything out of the house it felt so right. The house was a home again. There was so much room!!
Moving the business out of the house was the best thing we did, though we took our time and were very careful. It has renewed our joy in the business and inspired us to try new ideas. We now have more of a balance in our life, even though Les is still on the computer most of the time when he is at home! It is nice to get up and come to work, we get to see other people here not just each other!
All in all our work is our life, we cant take sick days and get paid. But if there is a school play or a trip I can go. If I want to come to work at 11am I can. I take and pick the children up from school every day. Yes, some weekends I have to put a DVD on and sit the boys in front of it for a couple of hours while we do some work, but the benefits outweigh the negatives. For us anyway.