“I actually rang my children last night to write this- because I started feeling guilty all over again.
I wanted their honest views on how it had felt for them growing up with me working.
I had my oldest- Ben in 86. In 2004 I became a single parent. I would call them tough but happy years as a working parent when my children were young- I still shudder when I remember moving home three times in five years. In order to carry on working, I juggled childcare between me, between my parents and a very special childminder . My family have always worked together and bought Abbeydale Garden Centre in 91. I went back to work full-time, growing my business and bringing up the children. I remember flipping between weekends at Abbeydale, running three florists… the children quickly got used to pricing up goods, running around the garden centre and the fun of pushing wheelchairs round to make sure the aisles were clear for elderly customers. There were plenty of nights I was so exhausted, I was home and in pyjamas by 7.30 and straight to bed at 9pm. In fact, in common with many working women, being exhausted is probably my clearest memory!
Despite this, the children thankfully remember lots of happy times and Sunday dinners round the table for 11 or more are a tradition.
Weekends were packed, running Ben and his mates to football packed into the Landrover and watching the match, dashing back to the garden centre to work, then out again to take one daughter riding and the other to the purgatory of flute lessons. I’d cram thefood shop into Friday at 7.30am.
The kids tell me they do have lots of happy memories and all say as they got older how my example gave them a really good start in their working lives.
Now I’m in my early 50s and thought I might take it easier- instead I find the nature of the business has changed yet again. We have added successful and growing retail, fashion and food departments to Ferndale and our award-winning café has doubled in size. Frankly I’m busier than ever.
When I look back, I am all too aware of where I have done things wrong, but I have also learnt we can’t change the past- we just need to do our best, forgive ourselves, focus on the positive and keep going. Here are my top tips:
n If you can’t cope with what next week looks like, just focus on today.
n Write out all your ‘to-dos’
n Sometimes the children do have to come first - but don’t feel guilty.