Balancing Family Emergencies and Self-Employment: My Smallest boy, Mylo

As a mother and business owner, I wanted to share a story that I know many others will relate to. It's a story about the difficulties of juggling a business/work and having a family, and how unexpected emergencies can throw everything into chaos. It's a story about our son Mylo, and how a sudden medical emergency tested our resilience and our commitment to putting our children first.

 We had a stressful Sunday ahead of us at our café with a couple staff members having already called in sick on the Saturday which resulted in a difficult day. My husband Michael and I arranged for my family in Dundee to watch our boys, Mylo (age 2 at the time) and Lachlan (age 4 at the time) that night and all-day Sunday to make things easier on what was bound to be a really busy day.

Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go as planned. Sunday morning was hectic as usual, with a lot of last-minute preparations. Michael was having a quick shower, and I was double-checking everything was in order when my phone rang. It was my mum who sounded worried.

She told me not to panic which of course is never a good start to the conversation, and that Mylo had randomly had a seizure and had been taken to the hospital. I was in shock and didn't know what to do. I ran to the bathroom where Michael was and tried to explain what was happening all while my mum was still on the phone. He was so confused at first, probably wondering why I was bothering him in the shower! Once he realised what was going on, he jumped out the shower and we both went into full-on panic mode. We had to cancel all the table bookings for the day, while trying not to cry over the phone to customers, and let the staff know not to come in. As you can imagine, I was a mess!

Mylo's health had always been a worry for us. As a baby, he had frequent bouts of breathing difficulties, which meant we spent many long nights in the hospital, worried sick about our little one. So when we received the call about the seizure, it was a whole different level of fear and panic. We had never dealt with anything like this before, and it came as a complete shock to us.

Not many people realise the challenges of running a business when family emergencies occur. When faced with a situation like this, it’s not quite as simple as just shutting for the day. We knew that closing the business wasn't really an option financially. We still had to pay rent, staff wages and support ourselves with our own personal finances. And sadly in a time like this you still think about how Sundays are the best days as they are the busiest which staying open is exactly what the business needs. We are still a small business, so the staff and business still rely on us working there every day, so leaving it open with our staff to run wasn’t really an option either. It's a tough situation to be in, but it's just one of the many difficulties that come with being self-employed.

However, right from the beginning we both agreed that our children will always come first, even if it means being late with rent or other expenses. Our family is our top priority, and we'll do whatever it takes to ensure their well-being. It's a balancing act, but we're willing to make sacrifices to take care of our kids. And I think that's something all business owners and working individuals with families can relate to – the constant juggling act of work and family, and the knowledge that family always comes first.

After getting the call from my mum about our wee boy, we knew we had to shut the cafe down for the day. We tried our best to inform all of our staff members about the situation, but unfortunately, one employee hadn't seen our message and headed to the cafe. When I saw her, I went over to explain that we were closed for the day. As I tried to get the words out, I broke down in tears. It was just too much to handle, worrying about Mylo and feeling the financial pressure of having to close the business for the day and knowing I still had orders that had to go out which meant possibly disappointing customers too. The worst part was knowing we hadn’t had the choice to literally drop everything right away and head there to hug him and see him. Time felt slow and hurdles kept preventing us to getting in the car and driving to Dundee.

But as hard as it was, we both knew that our family had to come first. We couldn't risk Mylo's health, and we had to make sure he was okay. We jumped in the car and headed to Dundee anyway, worried sick about Mylo. He was being seen by the doctors while we were on our way, and thankfully, once we got there he was checked out and not too long later given the all-good to go home and recover.

He was so tired and not acting like himself, which broke our hearts. But we wanted to do something special for him to lift his spirits. So, we took him to a toy shop and let him choose a massive Lego set which my parents offered to pay for. It was the perfect distraction and a little bit of joy during a difficult time for wee Mylo.

Looking back on that day, I can't help but be glad that things were not as bad as they could have been and look at the positives. Michael and I were together and dealt with it together. We were lucky to even be able to make the decision to stop everything, this isn’t always the case for those who work away or have difficult jobs and who can’t just stop. As hard as it can be at times, we were so lucky to be in the situation we were, whereas others maybe couldn’t be there at all with more demanding jobs/responsibilities. For us, one minute, we were running a café and  farm shop, and the next, we were dealing with an emergency. But that's just our life now, I guess – you never know what's going to happen and we have learned from that since.

Despite Mylo's previous health scares, we were relieved to learn that this seizure was a random event and not connected to his previous health issues. It was still a scary and upsetting experience, but we were grateful that it wasn't something more serious. As parents, we knew we had to stay strong and be there for Mylo and our family. And we were determined to do whatever it took to make sure he got the care and attention he needed to recover fully. We are still so grateful to the customers and staff who supported us and of course our family who helped us with any situation that came up.

We're so glad that Mylo is doing good now, and we can look back on this crazy day and smile, knowing that we got through it together. We are so lucky to have a very supportive family. Both mine and Michaels family been the most supportive people during such a crazy couple years for us. Since this incident, we have had some great days as a café and have been extremely busy as well as being very busy with catering for events. This was a side of our business we didn’t often get time to explore due to an unbalanced family/work life. And once again, we had to make a decision to allow us to continue to grow our business and still have a life with our children. Even though it was tough to close the cafe, we knew we had to prioritise our children as well as the business. We have however kept our farmshop open and our online website still running for our regulars as well as new customers to enjoy our foods for collection or delivery. And of course, so we can still have a relationship with all the people we have met through the café!

 Being self-employed has many challenges but I personally believe it’s an extremely rewarding experience. And I am so glad I have been able to do what I have done so far and continue to enjoy the exciting adventure we have thrown ourselves into.

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