As the summer holidays draw to a close and we set our sights on the end of year calendar events – Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and, dare I say it, Christmas, the next big date in our household and for thousands of others across the country, is our eldest child starting school.
Wednesday 6th September is our ‘big day’, but we’re ready (I think!). Every item which will be in my child’s possession when he crosses the threshold into the school playground has been painstakingly named, a triple figure sum has been spent on shoes, (which I know he’ll have grown out of by the end of term) and we’ve endured regular practice sessions learning how to do up shirt buttons. Our little boy, in his own words, said he’s ‘nervous and excited’, though I know when he sees his best friend at the school gate he’ll be happy…for me though, once the tears have dried away, it’ll be the start of a whole new chapter.
Over the past 18 months I’ve committed myself to two or three days of client work each week. It’s worked well with childcare, but been a little challenging at times when unpredictable workloads and deadlines have seen me grabbing extra hours after our children are in bed. The landmark date of our eldest starting school however, has led me and my husband to agree that we’ll pay for an additional day each week for our youngest to be at nursery. This essentially means I can work a four-day week (albeit around school hours/grandparent babysitting service). This is a hugely significant change for me.
I think September 2017 marks my ‘proper’ return to work, not just juggling hours in and around preschool childcare. It means I have the capacity (on paper) to take on more clients – I had to say no to a freelance job earlier in the summer because there simply weren’t enough hours in the day for me to complete the project. As someone who’s been ‘brought up’ in PR agencies and programmed to jump on every piece of business going, saying no felt alien to me and completely wrong.
The timing of our eldest starting school has also coincided with extension work finishing on our house and much of the decorating work now being complete. Amongst the rooms included in the endless hours of painting and wallpapering has been our study – which has now assumed a new identity as ‘my office’. When I started out, I’d bought a few essential pieces of IT equipment, but everything else (desk, chair, stationery, storage etc) had been cobbled together from anywhere I could find it. Now though, with a smart new look to my digs, (and having my first year’s set of accounts to give me some confidence in spending money) I’ve treated the business to a little interior design makeover. I’m sure there must be something psychological in this, but again for me this marks the next chapter in my business – establishing a proper room to work from and feeling a little more professional about the whole thing.
All in all, aside from my baby boy being all grown up and ready to start school, this September marks five years since I left my full-time, well-paid job as a Communications Director. That’s five years since I thought I’d achieved all I’d wanted to professionally. At the ripe old age of 36 I was ready for motherhood and happy for my PR career to take a back seat. Now though, I’m excited about the new starts we have as a family…and about the next pair of shoes I’ll buy, which will be for me.