Sitting on the train at 5.58am I have to wonder what on earth I am doing here. I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. My idea of morning is the last snooze on the alarm, before it becomes so insistent that it vibrates itself off the bedside table.
Yet here I am, getting up in the dark, getting dressed by feel and actually leaving the house by moonlight. Even the dog was surprised to see me emerge from the bedroom. He came out barking at what he must have thought could only be an intruder and then sat watching me, head on one side, as I tip toed about gathering my thoughts and things and making a cup of tea that I didn’t even have time to drink.
And for what reason am I now sitting on the train, my head still spinning and marvelling at how many cars are actually on the road before sunrise? That would be an early morning ‘Business Chicks‘ breakfast in the city. I ask you, what was I possibly thinking a month ago when I said I’d love to go. The idea of having to travel for an hour on public transport for my breakfast is unusual enough. The fact that I’m doing it for business even more so.
I’d better quickly add at this point that horrible timing aside, it was a really well spent couple of hours and listening to the highly motivating Naomi Simson, Chief Experience Officer RedBalloon Days made it well worth the trek.
As a freelance writer, I rarely have the need or the desire to travel far from the safety of either my home or my slippers. The capacity of my wireless pretty much dictates how far I go. I deal with clients from all around the world and work with a companies across the country, yet as a general rule, I rarely mingle with ‘real’ people. Networking these days exists in a mainly cyber based capacity and that’s just fine by me.
There are of course plenty of perks to the sort of ‘workstyle’ that I choose. For a start I can be here for my children – a mixed blessing some days, as previously written about. The best part is I can schedule my day around what I feel up to doing when I wake up. Well, apart from that is the daily breakfast time at the monkey enclosure, the panic stricken school run (with run being the operative word), frantic toddler playtime around the entire house, a lunchtime battle to get soup into a tightly closed mouth, a second trip back to the school, combined with a quick walk to pacify the dog and keep him from chewing my slipper and that final dreaded 2 hour kiddy count down, from dinner to bath to bed.
Yes. Apart from all of that, I think I can say that all in all, I absolutely get to plan the day around myself.
It’s hard to believe I know, but in between all of the above (and let’s not forget the additional cleaning, cooking and ironing) I do actually manage to get a fair amount of work done. The freedom of wireless allows me to move from one crumb and jam infested surface to another, as I watch Lego being flung far and wide out of the corner of my eye. While it’s certainly not an ideal environment for the creative process to evolve, it’s as good as it can hope to get for now.
So, what are the upsides of working for yourself?
Well firstly, there’s the joy of being able to wake up in the morning, feeling and looking like something that fell out of a nappy and not having to go through the croaky voice ritual as you call in sick. There’s the right to wear slippers with your chosen work outfit and the ability to stay in your dressing gown if everything else you own is still creased beyond hope in the ironing pile. There’s the absence of any vicious office gossip or water cooler politics and no need to be nice to a boss who’s plainly incompetent at his job, hygienically challenged or prone to making completely inappropriate personal comments. There’s the freedom to come and go as you please and stop for as many lunch breaks, tea breaks and ‘lets see what’s in the fridge’ breaks as you wish. And of course there’s the advantage of working next to the kettle and within easy reaching distance of a packet of Tim Tams at all times.
Now I won’t lie. Of course there are downsides to this solitary existence.
It can sometimes be incredibly hard to get your brain cranked into gear first thing in the morning. Especially when surrounded by last nights dinner plates and a train set. It’s even harder to get it started again when you’ve stopped for your 3rd tea break. A lack of intelligent adult conversation can leave you unable to string anymore than 5 words together. Being your own boss and leaving a job until the 11th hour does mean you often end up working while you eat your dinner and through your favourite TV show. Days when you never make it out of your pj’s or near a hairbrush can leave you looking like a homeless person. And then of course there is always that worry, that if you can reach a packet of Tim Tams, they have a nasty way of all ending up in your mouth and then moving south onto your thighs.
All in all, if I had to weigh up the Yin and Yang of self employment, then personally I’d say it beats having to haul yourself out from under the duvet every morning and catch a train in the dark. The novelty of wearing non fleecy clothing and high heels instead of Crocs did make the 5.15 alarm call worth all the effort. But it was the smile on my little boys face and hearing an excited cry of ‘Mumney’ when I came back into the house that made me realise nothing would ever make me want to go back to wearing matching clothes and working 9 to 5 again.