I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.
For me, the lines between work and life have always been a little blurry. My dad and mom run a small family business, and growing up it was run out of the garage. As kids, we sometimes pitched in, stapling brochures together (using the bed as our workspace), unloading tractor trailers in our driveway, and packaging orders in our the garage (which became a maze of boxes). My dad worked hard, but at the same time he was around. My mom helped him out, and as we grew up we had different people, usually friends, working at the house, using the bathroom, and sharing lunches at the kitchen table.
My dad in a garage full of boxes.
The business was part of our lives. It was truly a family business. As my brother, sister, and I grew up we would work odd jobs at the business. And when it was time for me to get my first real job, I ended up driving a delivery van for my dad.
I always enjoyed business, and wanted to grow up to be an entrepreneur. I credit this to my parents, who were hard working but always had time for us as kids. I had the benefit of growing up in a very loving family who stuck together. The joys and travails of the business probably had something to do with this.
I got my education in small business working for my dad for years. I did everything from sweeping out the warehouse (yes, we eventually moved out of the garage), to doing deliveries, to sales, to office management, bookkeeping, and marketing. Only in a family business could I get this kind of education. My older brother also made his career in the business, primarily in sales. For years we worked hard side by side and played hard together too. A Thanksgiving conversation was often about business. And while it got stressful at times, we always remembered we were a family first.
During this time of working in the family business, I met and married my beautiful wife and started my own family. Having flexibility in my work schedule made juggling those early years of marriage and kids a little easier. And some days, when I needed to get away from both the stresses of being a parent and the stresses of helping to run a small business, the three of us, my dad, my brother and I, would skip part of the day at work and hit the golf course.
It was a good gig, working with people you love. But it was stressful too. Running a small business that is trying to grow always is. And there came a time when I realized my heart wasn’t in this particular type of business. It was time to move on. It was hard, leaving behind the job that I had worked on and off since I was 9 years old. But I lucked out with my new job.
At Batchbook, I work from home, much like my father did before me. I have a small office upstairs. My wife is homeschooling our children, so as a family we are pretty much always together. For some, this wouldn’t work. But both my wife and I came from strong families that were all about sticking together through thick and thin.
My kids know not to bother me when I am working, for the most part. But they are young. Just this morning my youngest, who is one and half, pushed my office door open and greeted me with his winning smile and patented squeak. It was at that moment that I realized just how lucky I am. Sure, I work hard and have to meet deadlines, and sometimes the stress levels catch up to me. But when I get up and walk away from my desk, I get to see my family, I get to give a hug or sneak in a quick wrestling match.
My son built a Lego tower to the ceiling in my office.
While working from home isn’t for everyone, I am excited to see more and more businesses embracing it. There are hurdles to get over, but if you have good communication channels, it works. I have co-workers, just like anybody who works at an office. We have small talk and build friendships. We just don’t see each other that often. The two main people I work with live in Connecticut and Florida, while I live in New York. Batchbook is headquartered in Rhode Island. What we do lets us work from home, and we are lucky.
If anything, being able to work from home inspires me to work harder. I know why I am working, and I know how lucky I am to have the flexibility to enjoy fun moments from my kid’s lives. Hopefully, someday, my kids will look back and think about how lucky they were to have me at home when they were young, just like I realize how lucky I was to have my parents close by.