Did you know that May 15th is the United Nations, International Day of Families, and it is celebrated throughout the world?

Family is the most basic unit of society, and this day allows us to raise awareness of issues related to families, looking at the social, economic and demographic processes that affect them.

Families take all sorts of shapes and sizes these days and as far as I’m concerned that’s great – however most of us want to be part of a family unit whatever colour or make up that unit may be.

As we have seen over the last two years, many issues have been hugely affected by the pandemic, and Brexit (to a certain extent) and the rise in costs that have occurred, as an effect on our everyday living.

This day was set in the UN resolutions in 1993. Each year, a different family-focused theme is chosen, and this year it is Families and New Technologies, in relation to education, poverty and work/family balance.

Looking at the last factor, in particular, work/family balance, for many in business they make a choice to run their own show due to their family circumstances.

For me this was the ‘kind of’ the case – trying to work full-time in television after redundancy would have meant working in London, Manchester or Cardiff on contracts which were and are detrimental to family life, unless you get a full-time role and you all move. Employed roles are rare now in television so I had a choice to make – and with much angst I made that choice over 14 years ago.

Five reasons why creating a business around family has worked for me:

*I can flex around my children and can attend their milestone school moments eg. Plays, sports days (if given enough notice by the school). One of my two girls, has always enjoyed performing, and now grown, is taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, and my other daughter has an art degree and is now training to be a teacher, so as they were growing up, there was plenty of opportunity me to be able to support them as part of my ‘mum’ role. My son, who is still at school, is now also taking part in performances too. He was a baby when I started my own business so he’s benefitted the most from me being around at those key moments.

*I can take time off in school holidays and go away more than once a year – children are children for such a short time and I’m not restricted to set times to go away other than school holidays.  I could well be if I worked for someone else. The places we’ve travelled to, and the experiences we’ve had, as a family are all an important part of our memories, that will be with us forever. I hope my children look back at those times too and remember them with happiness.

*I can teach my children what it really means to be entrepreneurial – just because you have flexibility doesn’t mean you don’t work hard, in fact you work harder. They have seen how hard I work, and the amount of time I put into my business. How I support my clients and often go far and beyond what is expected. My business, next to husband and family is the most important thing in my life, and I want to succeed – for them too. I want them to understand that you only get out what you put into a business, and if I didn’t work as hard as I do, I wouldn’t have built the successful PR micro business I have.

*I’ve tried to teach my children that productivity is not always related to time – I work fast in the mornings and much slower in the evenings, I’m a lark not an owl. I get up early in the morning to take our dog, Jess for a walk, which sets me up for the day, in terms of energy. I can easily have written several thousand words, or checked through my emails by 7 am. I make sure my diary is well organised, and no time is wasted, but then when I get home in the evening, after eating and relaxing, I need to get to bed at a reasonable time to get my beauty sleep in time for the next day. I may be surfing the web for news and ideas, but I don’t productively work on things late into the evening.  We all work in different styles, but ensuring that your days are well-planned for the best productivity is essential for success. It’s about knowing where you are the strongest.

*I have taught my children that success often means turning up, not being the best at everything and it also means being able to take knocks and deal with them, then get back on the horse. We are certainly not always perfect. We make mistakes, but have to own them. We get bad criticism, on occasions earned, but at other times, not, which can be a bitter pill to swallow. I have business buddies that I can chat to if I have problems, which means I can then move on, and get back to business, with whatever issue was causing hassle, put to bed.

My favourite author is D H Lawrence, and a quote from ‘Sons and Lovers’ is:

You have a choice, to make the best of it or the worst of it’.  This has become one of my main mantras in life, and it has definitely served me well in business and family life.

* Next week I’m talking about ‘Freelance Heroes Day’