I grew up (quite literally) at work with my family. There are photos of my brother and I helping our parents clean when we were 2 and 3 years old on a weekend at their car repair shop and gas station. It was just our normal life to spend days in the back office with my mom while she paid bills. I learned alphabetical order as a young child helping her file invoices. My brother (who owns the shop now) could take apart and put together a carburetor at a crazy young age (cars had those back then).
Occasionally, my grandparents or great aunt and uncle would take us out to lunch so my mom could get some work done without me saying “I’m boooorrred” a million times. As I grew older and could do more things, I would get paid. Let me tell you, I had more money than most middle schoolers I knew. I could buy myself clothes, movie tickets, and whatever else my 12 year old heart wanted from Claire’s and PacSun.
Now, I have two little girls of my own and am running a growing and thriving flower shop. I started this company before I was even married. I always knew someday I would be running it while also growing a family. But when our first daughter was born, I wasn’t ready for the challenges I would face!
When I was pregnant, I often heard “You’re so lucky to own your own business! You can just take your baby to work with you!” First- luck has nothing to do with it. Second, sure- I can bring my baby to work. But if your kid hates baby-wearing and is a champion nap avoider, that’s much easier said than done. Also, once they start to crawl and walk, a flower shop full of glass vases, things they can’t eat off the floor, and buckets of water is not ideal for a toddler.
That said, I forged ahead because that’s what I knew how to do. I was able to change and navigate the business and personal life (often with difficulty and not a lot of grace) around nursing, balancing the cost/benefits of daycare, sicknesses, and most notably a pandemic. As mothers, the one aspect we all (learn to) possess is incredible flexibility and creativity. We can literally bend time.
Because of my first-hand experiences, I’ve resolved to do what I can to change my little corner of the world for the benefit of the working woman. Not just mothers, but all women at all stages of life and experiences.
I’ve read the books, the endless social media posts, listened to the podcasts and talked to my mom friends. And my not- mom friends. One thing is clear from my experiences growing up in business and running one myself now. A work/life balance is elusive, if not impossible. And, while it would be nice, we cannot count on any governing body to make this easier for us. WE must create the change. While some big businesses are making strides to do this, as small business owners, our hands are incredibly tied. Low margins, limited staffing, and the high cost of doing business are constant challenges.
However, I believe small changes can make a big impact. We’ve developed an approach to work and hiring that gives our team peace of mind and flexibility. So, they can be successful at work and in their personal lives.
Our plan at The Blue Daisy Floral Designs looks to solve the work/life balance problem. We have implemented a team mentality where no one person is solely responsible for any aspect of the business. Our team of 5 is small but mighty. We share and communicate on all of our main functions. So, if one team member has to step away to care for a child, parent, friend, or themselves, they can do so without feeling the guilt or pressure to work while away, as women often do.
Kids are allowed to come into work. We hold each other’s babies and encourage little ones to do fun projects. I know first hand that it isn’t easy to work with a child in tow, but we try our best to make our shop as kid-friendly as possible.
Many tasks can be done from home and on a flexible schedule, when bringing kids to work isn’t an option. This is also true for our team members who don’t have children, but may have other personal obligations that need their attention. And most importantly, we want our team to be able to take care of themselves. This is an often overlooked aspect in the workplace. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a mental health day.
Another way we try to bring some balance and task-sharing into our shop is in our hiring. Our team is varied in age and current life situation which means that schedules and needs vary as well. This allows us to step in for each other when another team member needs to focus on family or themselves. It works quite well because everyone is at a different stage of life. It also allows us to balance work hours for what is most compatible with each other’s lives.
Lastly, this goal of task-sharing is communicated to the team. It is a part of our culture. We work together, celebrate with each other, step in and step up for each other and we make things happen. We lead with compassion and it shows in the things we are able to accomplish together.
It is my hope that we continue to grow and evolve this process. And that it becomes something larger; a model for how businesses are run. Especially small businesses. It isn’t always easy to find the funds to provide some of the benefits that large companies can afford. And we cannot rely on our government to help us. So we must make small changes with great love and care to make the biggest impact. It isn’t perfect and it will continue to evolve. But it is a start.
Photography: Jess Collective Co.
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