I was having a ponder the other day. You know the sort, when your mind has gone a bit blank whilst you stir the beans, reply to a client email on your phone, keep an eye on the toaster and pretend not to see your two young sons beating the crap out of each other with their light sabres four foot from where you are standing. Yes, one of those quiet, I’ll just have a little think, moments.
I was pondering the fact that I have had a business for quite a long time (longer than I have had a family, that’s for sure) and I must be reasonable at what I do, to have survived this long. Which led me to the question: am I equally good at being a mother? As the toast popped up, blackened and smoking, and my youngest son started to scream, I swiftly arrived at the answer: probably not. I certainly know which is easier. I don’t often wish for a large glass of wine half way through my working day, even if the printer is having a sulk and one of my clients moves a meeting date for the fourth time. Unlike being with my kids some days. And if the day involves soft play, I rarely reach 10am before wondering if it is wine ‘o’ clock. It is not often that I have utterly no clue how to help a client with their business, whereas with the kids I am often totally baffled. What the hell is that rash? Why are you screaming so loudly? Is there any particular reason you just poked my boob with your sword? Can you say anything other than no?
So, I wondered, as I dropped two charred offerings into the bin and reloaded the toaster, what if I attempted to run my family as a business? Would that make it any easier?
Now this is where it gets interesting. Forget reward charts. Pah. They are for amateurs. Instead, let’s introduce a proper system to measure performance.
So let’s start with the fundamentals. If we each had a formal job description, then surely, I could stop picking up discarded coats / hoodies from the floor (and when I say picking up, I might actually mean stepping over) as it would officially NOT BE IN MY JOB DESCRIPTION.
Where are we going? I don’t mean Tesco, although on any given day that seems to be where I am mostly headed. I mean strategically, where is this family headed? Having something to aim at a little less short-term than ‘the weekend’ could provide us with a collective purpose and drive to achieve success. Well, that’s what I tell my clients, anyway.
Salary and bonuses
This would be easy. In the dim and distant past, I was a salaried worker, so I know how this works. My five year old earns £1 a week. 20 pence of this will be withheld at source for the tax man (who may or may not be me, I am not at liberty to divulge). A further 20 pence would also be withheld as pension contribution (otherwise known as my retirement fund). Healthcare contribution would be 10p (have you seen the price of Calpol these days?) and then another 15 pence for the charitable contribution that he doesn’t know he has signed up for, which is actually my Red Wine Fund. And finally, there would be a SI Contribution of 15 pence (which for those not in the know, is Scooter Insurance, to cover the abundant wear and tear on shoes and knees of trousers). So here you go, son, here’s 20p. Don’t spend it all at once.
So, for my two year old, I would measure his tantrums perhaps on the criteria of effort, artistic interpretation and quantity of mucus produced. Give him something to really strive for.
My two year old would theoretically earn 50 pence a week, but the entire sum will be withheld as danger money until he learns that walloping people is not a sign of affection.
However, the kids will be bonussed on tidying their rooms, not blowing off at the dinner table and washing the cars. I am confident my money is safe.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Forget reward charts. Pah. They are for amateurs. Instead, let’s introduce a proper system to measure performance. But I am not a boss with unrealistic expectations (see how I just made myself boss of this faminess? And see how I just as shamelessly mangled together the words ‘family’ and ‘business’ to make a new word? You wait. Give it two weeks and the term faminess will be quite literally all over… nowhere.) Anyway. Where was I? Realistic performance measurements. So, for my two year old, I would measure his tantrums perhaps on the criteria of effort, artistic interpretation and quantity of mucus produced. Give him something to really strive for. And for my five year old, perhaps a measurement of funniness for his jokes. Let’s face it, some of his current offerings (Why did the cat cross the road? Because it was raining) pretty much deserve a written warning.
Which brings me neatly onto…
Here, I feel, I could really demonstrate my forte. Already an old hand at verbal warnings (If you get out of bed once more, there will be no television tomorrow) I think it would only be to everyone’s advantage (or at the very least, mine) to introduce the concept of the written warning. This could be the same as the more usual 10 second count, but with each number written down on a piece of paper and crossed off with a fat red marker pen.
As a faminess, we should work collaboratively to devise a set of brand values that we all work by. This may throw up some interesting results, like ‘We strive for mutual respect, total obedience, more toys, time for mummy to blog more and Coco Pops every day for breakfast’. This may need some fine tuning.
And so there we have it. Welcome to Family Ltd.