By Silly Heather
As the mother of 2 young boys I am torn every weekend between spending quality time with them or working fabulous fun parties. I am often tempted to tell my husband to bring them to events where I will be working so they can enjoy the fun spots. But I quickly remind myself that bringing my kids to a job, is not only unprofessional but is a distraction. I know this blog may not sit well with some painters, and my intention is not to hurt your feelings. But hopefully remind you that the same rules that would apply in an office setting, should apply to events. I hate to sound harsh, and sometimes when you write its hard to gauge the tone. I love my kids and in my opinion they are very well behaved, nonetheless when I am HIRED ( key word) I am not hired to be a part time painter, I am hired for my full professional attention.
I have been painting for over 15 years and many of my clients are repeat clients, a lotof them have become friends. They frequently invite and sometimes insist that I bring my kids along. I always politely decline and here’s why:
- When I am hired I try to reflect a true professional repertoire. I want to be re hired and to be recommended. In order to do that, my focus at the event is to give 100%. It is impossible, unless you are an octopus to give 100% attention when your kids are around. Kids require attention, and care. They also have a hard time understanding space and patience. I once had my husband bring the kids to a 4th of July festival I was painting at. My older son ran up and popped in my chair, cut the entire line and refused to move because I was his mom. Other parents were very upset and the other kids weren’t pleased either. Then my younger son cried and cried because he wanted “mama”. Another time I brought my older son along to a birthday party for a client/ friend. The party was at a park and I got really busy face painting that I forgot about my son. When I finally looked up to call his name he was NO where to be found. In a panic I started screaming his name. Still no answer. Then the party mom saw me panicking and she began to panic. Then everyone started scrambling and panicking. He was literally gone. I began to cry, and called my husband. An hour later we found him jumping in a bounce house in the next pavilion. He KNOWS better than to leave, but bounce houses are like cryptonite for kids and in a moment of weakness he just went for it. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t accept payment for her party. I was the reason the mood was spoiled and everyone was frantic and it could have all been avoided. After those instances I vowed to no longer bring my kids to my job because I was doing my clients a disservice. I pride myself on giving the best quality, and if I am pre occupied with feeding, entertaining and keeping an eye on my kids then I am not doing my best.
- In order to continuously raise my prices and charge $100 plus per hour I have to prove to my clients I am worth my fee. One way I do that is I treat all my parties and events like I would if I was an attorney going to court or a dr in his practice. In other words, if it wouldn’t fly in those office settings I won’t let it happen on site. I wouldn’t bring my 1 year old to my office if I was a principal, nor would I let my spouse sit by my side to perform a surgery if I was a Dr. If you are hired to provide entertainment services at a birthday or event, you should treat your clients events as you would any other business.
- I had a friend who suffered from epilepsy. She didn’t feel comfortable driving so her husband would take her to every event. He was such a great guy He would take her, help her unload her stuff, and then sleep in the car for the entire duration of the event. I always saw him set up and leave, so I never guessed he would sleep in the car while she worked. I was amazed! One night after an event I was speaking to him about why he waited in the car and didn’t keep us company and he told me “my wife was hired not me, if I am standing around I am distracting her and possibly making people uncomfortable with my presence. Like who’s that creepy guy just standing there waiting to get painted.” He explained that he liked to give her space and that it was a sacrifice he was willing to make to help her career. He also explained that if she worked at the mall, grocery store, or any other service job he wouldn’t accompany her at those jobs, Why should this be any different. And he was correct, we are invited to work at the party not attend and its even more off putting to invite others to crash a party you don’t have an invitation to.
- We have strict rules when we hire out performers. Our contracts state that we are not allowed to eat until the event is over and ONLY if the client offers. We also prohibit drinking and smoking on the job. Recently we added that kids and spouses are also not allowed to attend the events uninvited. Last year we had a customer call the police because one of our performers invited her family to the event and they were eating food and making plates to go. The client was not prepared to feed 8 extra people and was very upset that the performer had such little courtesy. If you want to be seen as a professional you have to conduct your business as one.
There is always a trade off between the money that can be earned working versus the money you will save staying home. Without help and support it can be difficult to manage working events and covering childcare for your kids. But its important to treat your events just as you would any other blue collar job. I have another friend that did kids night at a restaurant. She would bring her kids and one night her daughter fell and broke her arm. Not only did she create a huge liability for the company, she was the reason they cancelled family night.
My mission has always been to help elevate our industry by lending professional advice. As artists and painters we do not have a professional association to turn to for industry standards and many times we make them up as we go. But the important part is that we all work to create professional standards that increase our value.
As always feedback and input are greatly appreciated. I thank you for reading and wish all my paint family the best!