When my son, Roman, was born, I was a stylist, and I’d take him to meetings in a sling, schedule my work around his naps, and just carry on. When he was tiny, this was pretty easy; as he got older, it became less so. So my first piece of advice is don’t attempt to have your mind on work and children at the same time: it soon gets tough.
Instead, I decided to carve out dedicated family time and work time, and I now rule my life by a fairly tight calendar. If I am working from home and Roman wants me to play, I’ll explain that I need 10 more minutes, then the laptop is closed and he has my full attention.
Of course, the two worlds collide occasionally, and wonderfully so. My son, now seven, has a good understanding of what I do, which I think is important. In half-term holidays, he sometimes comes to my office to hang out. I make it clear to him that I provide for him with the money I earn. Sometimes having Momma around is more important to him; sometimes having money to buy Lego is.
But I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Roman’s father. He also runs his own business, and when Roman was eight months old, we agreed to split the responsibility of looking after him 50/50. If Roman needed attention from Sunday to Wednesday lunchtime, it would be my call; if he needed help during the rest of the week, it would be his father’s. It’s unorthodox, but it worked.
Even through our separation, we continued the routine. There is so much about parenting and work that is taken as gospel, but who wrote the rules? If possible, attempt to set the parenting calendar early. It is not always achievable, but try to aim for balance, to validate the fact that both partners’ work is equally important.
•Sharmadean Reid is the founder of WAH Nails and beautystack.co