This week I appeared in the Daily Mail discussing my phone use and how it impacts my children. It was a brave move, especially as the headline accused me of ignoring my kids and one that received hundreds of comments, mainly negative. But let's face it, most parents are guilty of having their heads down into their phone/tablet/laptop and I wanted to honestly start the discussion about it.
It seemed to work as even Loose Women were debating it, with thankfully one panel member admitting that she too used her phone a lot around her children.
And why? Because she is a working mum who needs to juggle parenting with her career, needing to attend to her emails regularly so that she doesn't miss the next job.
The next pay cheque.
To pay for her kids to eat, you know, the basic stuff that we all have to do.
Being self-employed and a mother is on the rise, with women choosing to leave their career to start a new business, often with less money than the job that they left, so that they can enjoy being a mum as well as being their own boss. But to do this, means there needs to be some compromise along the way.
Some of these compromises may be days in the holiday not spent baking and crafting but putting the children into a summer camp so we can get some work done. It may also mean working through swimming lessons as this has been the only half an hour all afternoon that we can quietly read our emails or reply to a lead on Facebook. With so many creative businesses relying on social media to get work, we need to be there to court it, otherwise who else is going to pay for those swimming lessons?
Throughout my entire childhood, my parents ran their own successful business, built up from scratch from humble beginnings buying and selling cool mirrors bought from Holland. I lived only with my mum from the age of 6, who guess what, juggled being a parent (a single one at that) with managing the, now booming tinware business at the same time. She worked during school hours, and then worked all evening until the small hours. While she didn't have the internet, emails badgering her or social media to worry about, she still bust a gut to make everything work. Some days I felt left out and that the business was more important to her than me, however her work ethic, her business acumen and determination has inspired me all my life.
And that is what we are all doing now in 2017.
Yes, we need to all be more mindful on how much screen time we use, and how it affects our children. We need to realise that their screen behaviours mirror ours, so we need to set a positive example. And we must greet them at the school gates with a smile and not a screen.
But I refuse to be vilified for following my creative passions, for running a ltd company and my own vintage/PR business and for bringing up two healthy, intelligent, and happy children; keeping everyone happy, organising fun celebrations and being mum with all that it entails. Some people this week have said that I don't deserve to have children, but that handful were outweighed by all the working mums who rely on their phones to make a living as well as being a life line to other adults as you know what, being a parent can be tough.
So, for all you working mums reading this now (on your smartphone) take a minute to congratulate yourself for inspiring the next generation. For showing your daughters that having your own business, while often tough, is empowering. For showing your sons that it is possible to be a mum and work. Carry on the great job and the great message that will pave the way for your kids to also follow their dreams.