Through Jada’s eyes

Parenting - - Contents -

A fam­ily, a busi­ness and a life­style all in one

IA fam­ily‚ a life­style and a busi­ness all in one.

t's a typ­i­cal morn­ing for us. Baby Willa is hav­ing a nap, there are four kids around the din­ing ta­ble work­ing on maths prob­lems, spell­ing lists and the dreaded daily gram­mar work­sheet. Four-year-old Sawyer is try­ing his best to join in with the school­work, but is only suc­ceed­ing in us­ing up the last of an­other roll of Sel­lotape and drop­ping a mil­lion lit­tle pieces of care­fully cut pa­per all over the floor. He loses in­ter­est and goes out through our garage to see his dad in the work­shop. I hear him say­ing, “Dad, I have two ques­tions for you. The first one is...” be­fore the door shuts. Our sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle bit un­usual. We are a fam­ily of eight, and we work from home, ed­u­cate from home and make things for our liv­ing. Two years ago, on the first Mon­day of May, our Etsy shop, loaded up with a few hand­crafted wooden toys, went live. From then on, sales of our hand­made items would of­fi­cially be the main source of in­come for our fam­ily. It was ter­ri­fy­ing! But so ex­cit­ing to see a dream fi­nally be­come a re­al­ity.

A cou­ple of years be­fore our open­ing day, Jeremy had been let go from a job that he was ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about, and was unin­spired at the prospect of hav­ing to now get up, leave the

of the hand­made com­mu­nity for some time (mak­ing dolls), so we com­bined our cre­ative tal­ents, and named our new lit­tle busi­ness, Nee­dle and Nail. Hav­ing al­ready started down the path of home ed­u­ca­tion, and want­ing our chil­dren to have a child­hood rich in cre­ative, imag­i­na­tive and ac­tive play, it quickly be­came ob­vi­ous to us that Nee­dle and Nail wasn't just a busi­ness – it was ac­tu­ally the per­fect ex­ten­sion of our life­style.

With four boys of our own, we had no­ticed a gap in the mar­ket for de­cent toys for boys. We found that most hand­made ‘boy­ish’ op­tions were trendy dé­cor items – and while they made boys' rooms look very cool, they did very lit­tle as far as gen­uinely cap­ti­vat­ing their imag­i­na­tions and stim­u­lat­ing pro­longed pe­ri­ods of en­gaged play (i.e. peace and quiet!). We de­cided that this was as good a place to start, so we com­mit­ted to de­sign­ing and cre­at­ing eco-friendly toys that we knew would not only look great, but would also en­gage a child's imag­i­na­tion and be gen­uinely en­joy­able to play with.

Most of our ear­lier items were for boys and of course, ev­ery de­sign that Jeremy has come up with has been tested by our own chil­dren first. With re­mark­able pa­tience, Jeremy spends most of his work day with kids un­der­foot, ask­ing him to drill this and cut that. Some­times they of­fer sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ment too. For ex­am­ple, when Jeremy brought the fish­ing rod in, fresh from the work­shop, the boys de­cided three fish weren't enough and promptly set about mak­ing count­less ex­tra fish to add to the col­lec­tion – in­clud­ing an oc­to­pus, a whale and even a trea­sure chest! Fish aren't the only things that get made by the kids in the work­shop. Mother's Day re­cently yielded for me a

real life

small moun­tain of the most lov­ingly hand­crafted wooden trin­kets.

As fam­ily life be­gan to merge with work life, it be­came ap­par­ent from the be­gin­ning that we'd have to re­place a work-life bal­ance phi­los­o­phy with a work-life rhythm. Hav­ing al­ready em­braced this rhyth­mic, sea­sonal kind of sched­ule with our school­ing, the cross­over wasn't too dif­fi­cult. There are days (sea­sons) when there is more work to be done, and less fam­ily time to be had. And then there are days (sea­sons) where the de­mands aren’t as press­ing and we're able to take a spon­ta­neous trip to the beach, or the golf course. We are all in it to­gether. Nee­dle and Nail is more than just our busi­ness, it is our whole fam­ily work­ing to­gether as a team to make our dream life­style a re­al­ity.

A lot of peo­ple ask us how we do it and the truth is, our life­style works for us be­cause we have cre­ated a way to live within the lim­i­ta­tions and strengths of our own unique per­son­al­i­ties and tal­ents. Homeschool­ing isn't for ev­ery­one and work­ing from home isn't for ev­ery­one. It doesn't need to be. It works for us, and brings us great joy be­cause it suits our par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances. Other fam­i­lies, with dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, goals and cir­cum­stances, may have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life­style and be no less rich for it.

And don't be fooled. Our days aren't all mir­a­cle and won­der – most days it feels more like de­stroy and plun­der! But gen­er­ally

My name is Jada. I am 12 years old and am the el­dest of six chil­dren.

My par­ents work from home, and we homeschool. The best thing about this is that we never have to wave Mum or Dad good­bye at 7am and not see them again un­til 5pm. Be­fore Nee­dle and Nail started, I had al­ways wished that Dad could work from home, and now it's re­al­ity! He even does school­work with us most days dur­ing his cup-of-tea break. I re­ally en­joy homeschool­ing. If I went to school, I would have never seen my only sis­ter take her first crawl­ing steps, see her first sit up or res­cue her from fall­ing into the gar­den or down the steps (which I have done plenty of times!).

And the worst thing? Well, that would have to be not see­ing friends very of­ten, but that's not too bad be­cause I have five sib­lings. My broth­ers are fun to play with – as long as they aren't in a ‘I feel like an­noy­ing some­body’ mood. And Willa is with­out a doubt the cutest baby on earth!

One of my favourite things we get to do since Nee­dle and Nail be­gan is hav­ing a stall at the lo­cal mar­ket. It's usu­ally only Dad and I who go, and we have a few tra­di­tions. We leave in the dark around 6am (it's usu­ally pour­ing with rain!) and af­ter ar­riv­ing and set­ting up, ei­ther Dad or I will track down the same thing ev­ery time – two cups of hot choco­late and a five-pack of de­li­cious Mama's Donuts. They dis­ap­pear al­most in­stantly!

Be­cause of Nee­dle and Nail, my sib­lings and I have learned a lot about wood­work, so when­ever my broth­ers aren't play­ing cricket on our lawn, they're usu­ally build­ing small cre­ations out of wood and nails. As for me, I am more of the horsey/artist/sewing type,

real life

al­though I can also oc­ca­sion­ally be found in the work­shop too. So you can imag­ine that at Christ­mas time and on birth­days, most of the presents we give each other are hand­made! For ex­am­ple, this Mother's Day we loaded Mum with gifts, and ev­ery sin­gle one of them was wooden.

Hav­ing par­ents work­ing from home has taught me that if you work hard enough, you can achieve great goals. And if any­one ever asks me, “Do you like hav­ing your par­ents work from home and homeschool­ing?” The an­swer would be, "I don't like it – I love it!"

JR do­ing what he does best. Jada - sis­ter, daugh­ter, writer, artist. Toy ex­pert, Sawyer, tests out one of his dad's cre­ations.

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