The whole truth and nothing but the truth here. I am essentially a one (wo)man band working with other small bands of experts, I am not 50 plus agency working out of a glass box in the city - I've already told you, I live and work down a very long bumpy muddy track!
Can you fake it? What's the point? People want to work with me - they don't want to pay more to meet me in a swanky office. Actually clients rather like my quirky office with views over the Perthshire hills with the stove roaring away, some prefer to sit round the kitchen table by the Aga (sometimes I remember to take the washing off the pulley...).
It all comes down to being authentic. And if I'm not for you then I'm not for you. I work hard to juggle home life and work and I enjoy it. For many, going freelance or starting up your own company is the only way to have the flexibility you need as a working parent.
Today is proving difficult though - I wish I had the stability of a bigger team. I have a very sick ten month old here and with only four weeks to go to the launch of Kit & Kith I am more than a little over whelmed. Having strapped my enormous baby into the teeny carrier for a bit while I answered emails, while swaying and lunging about to keep him calm I am now sitting in the dark by his cot ssshhhing him while writing this - sometimes you've got to admit defeat! (Now the dog has come to join me in the sick bay).
// Hooray the support team is on its way - phone call from husband to say he's on his way home! Thank god - this afternoon I'll be back in action and the little man will be well cared for. //
It is times like this that I wish I was just a mummy so I wasn't such a distracted nurse but then I'd quite possibly be a rubbish mummy if I didn't have my work to focus on and structure our days - kicking myself I didn't get up at 4am though when I woke up (apparently it's only mummies that the clock change effects!) - I might have got ahead of the game then.
Maybe that's the secret? Don't fake it. Just get up at 4am....
Honestly I try. Honestly I have good intentions. But I just can't help myself. Everything that I do in my home life I strive to make as stress free, as simple, as pleasant as possible.
But I have a weakness - I love having friends and family to stay or for a meal. And I never make my life stress free and simple in this instance. I tried this weekend, I really did but my plans were intervened by my husband who, it transpires, is equally probe to hostess with the mostess tendencies. It's my second son's Christening this Sunday and we decided to hire the village hall and keep it really simple with a zouped up stew and lots of good wine. Are we doing this? Yes. Did we think the easiest thing to do for this stew was to acquire a stag from a friend and become in-house butchers one evening this week? Obviously (my husband's call to arms is always 'It won't take long' - it always does). Are we now also having one godparent and his family to stay and having a diner party at home the night before. Yes. Have I planned a simple meal that can be had round the kitchen table? Obviously not.
The books have been out, the lads have been consulted, the giant list has been written, Tesco has delivered, cleaning agency has mucked out the house and mum is on her way round this afternoon, pinny in hand, to tackle the 9kg of venison.importantly my dear Mother-in-law has been summoned (those table clothes aren't going to get ironed on my watch) with the 'super super chocolate cake' ordered by eldest son.
Oh wait a minute. There's a bit of a running theme here. I have indeed made my life as simple and stress free as possible - delegation!
Well, I'll take one for the team and go to the village hall this morning to check what crockery there is and how the oven works. What's that you say? The toddler group is on? I could have a cuppa and biccy with the lovely local ladies who tell it like it is -from hoovers to lidl and in-laws to cranky toddlers, these guys don't miss a beat and always make me smile.
So how can you make your home life as stress free and simple as possible? Looks like it's down to some simple good old fashioned tricks. Delegate, write a list (deadlines, actions and responsilities are not just for the workplace!) and have a great support network around you, be it bringing in paid help to having an outlet at the local village hall (I suspect there's a blog in the post about my lovely local ladies!) you can't do everything yourself, no matter what your superwoman aspirations are.
In the interests of transparency I thought I should tell the truth about the origins of the above blog...
That post actually started in my head two weeks previously as an anti husband rant! I was seething that he had piled on extra work into my plate - doesn't he get that it's the hours of thought and preparation that we (we being whoever the 'planner is in your household, as I am well aware it is not always the fairer sex!) have to put in before the final push on the day? It is not that he isn't amazing at helping on the day and will take 'direction' from me with no thanks or even a smile - he really is a saint - but it really did take me two weeks to calm down!
Whether intentionally or not my husband did a very clever thing on the day of our son's christening. He swapped the table plan round so I was tucked up the other end away from the kitchen. The moment I sat down to lunch (sitting between two of the booziest godfathers a boy could wish for) with my goblet of vino, I switched off and was able to enjoy this really special (and most fun!) day. It's not the flowers, the ironed table clothes or the rather good lunch (if I do say so myself) that matters its family, friends and vast amounts of vino.
I live down a mile long, bumpy, muddy farm track in a tumbley, dusty, chilly farm house - my car, as I hope you'd expect, is not a shiny clean corporate automobile.
A chilly, tarnished, rickety, unprofessional doth maketh me not.
Many years ago,while working for a luxury company I drove an old style Discovery which was perpetually muddy - I loved that it symbolised me and made me stand out from the shiny saloon drivers. I am a country girl at heart and I enjoy all the things that come with that lifestyle - many of which the shiny corporate saloon drivers aspired to.
So I was surprised, and somewhat dismayed, when someone burst my bubble. While attending a brand session and looking how people perceive you, my colleague piped up that he always cleaned his car inside and out every week and updated his car every two to three years. "WHAT??!" I could think of nothing worse, what a waste of time and money and did it really make a difference to his professional life - he was no senior and no junior to me. Apparently he wouldn't take someone seriously if they arrived at a meeting in a beat up hatch back. Oh.
Well this was a bit of a defining moment me. I'm not one to be told what to do directly but this was as indirectly pointed at me as you could get. I was torn. How can I be me but still be portrayed as a professional.
After a few false starts - the Lexus really wasn't me - I'm now happily insconsed in my Subaru Outback, suitably hardy but when cleaned fits in nicely with the corporates but still shouts I LIVE IN THE COUNTRY AND I LIKE TO GET MUDDY. It's also big enough to convert into a handy office space when the baby is still asleep and I've got half an hour to spare to brace myself for the Tesco shop.
Make no mistake, it's not clean inside. It comes with all the added extras of a mum of two and a dog who has to sit between them rather than risk being belted by the enormous buggy piled high with wellies and coats for any occasion stored in the boot.
I was thrilled, however, to be showered in glory by my friend last week,who peeked into my car (mid toddler tantrum - so she could have been grasping at anything to cheer me up) and announced how tidy and clean it was. I'll take that, thank you my dear friend!
So, as I prepare for careers day at Glenalmond College tomorrow, following my introduction to my Brand You course, I think I will get my car washed so I can park alongside Mrs RBS and her Audi and feel part of the gang striving to inspire young minds and prepare them for what awaits them. But don't ask for a lift or look instead - I've got my authenticity to think about here.
I’ve thought long and hard about what will go into this inaugural post and as I sit here in a holiday cottage in Northumberland in my dressing gown waiting for all the grownups to get out of bed while encouraging children to go back to bed I feel that it might be easier to just put the kettle back on.