Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What passes for fun in a family business

One thing your working hours are NOT, when you're self-employed, is regular. This can be an excellent thing. The King was able to take a day  off to go sledging with the kids one Snow Day last month, for example. Having this flexibility is a bonus for the whole family, especially if anyone is ill. 

Sometimes - especially towards the end of a project - the King will have to ratchet up his working hours. This can often mean returning to the workshop in the evenings, missing tea or the kids' bath-time, or having to work at weekends. Last time the King had a large workload looming, we decided to come up with a creative solution to the problem. Painting 14 doors (both sides) with egg shell is a time-consuming but not especially skilled job; one that would be made much quicker if there were two painters, not just the King. We had the kids to think about, though. They couldn't really join in with a professional job - could we keep them happy for an afternoon in a chilly workshop, while we painted doors like billy-o? 

With a fair amount of forward-planning, we were confident that it would work. The King prepared the workshop on Friday afternoon, ensuring that the calor gas heaters worked, finding some old chairs, clearing as much space as possible, and stocking up on milk and biscuits. We planned to take my laptop and a couple of DVDs, plus drawing and colouring materials, packed lunches, and a variety of snacks. Everyone would wear warm, old clothes and there would be a Health and Safety talk at the beginning of the afternoon. 

We let the children acclimatise by starting the session off with a bit of DVD-watching, followed by pack lunches in their usual sandwich bags. After half an hour, they were warm and no longer hungry, so we made a makeshift table for them to sit and draw at. Both Prima and Secundus loved the freedom of being able to use the "table" as a huge piece of paper. Over the next couple of hours, they also constructed mobile phones, a crocodile and a door-sign out of old pieces of wood and a hinge which the King patiently fixed on, and were allowed to help at painting the final door.  

Thanks to our well-behaved children, a plethora of Captain Pugwash episodes, fistfuls of pens and crayons, some Cadbury's Wispas, and a few offcuts of MDF, we managed to get all 14 doors painted in one afternoon. Truly, a family business! 

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