10 Essential Tips for the Self-Employed …

work from home

One of the weirdest things about self-employment, is that nobody teaches you how to be self-employed. 

You just….do it. And make a lot of mistakes along the way.
Over the last 17 years at the Freelance Coalface, I’ve learned a few really valuable things that, had I known them at the start, might have saved me a grey hair or 50.

So here they are, in the hope that they do the same for you:

1. BEHAVE AS IF YOU ARE AT WORK. Because you are. This sounds embarrassingly simple, but few of us do it. We slob around the kitchen in our pyjamas at lunch time, send half-baked emails while frying bacon (a piece of culinary multi-tasking no chef would attempt), lose Very Important Documents because we were arseing around on Facebook and forgot to press ‘save’, make work calls from the bath and do our self-assessment online tax return at 11.58pm on January 30th, while downing gin and weeping into the phone at the nice girl at HM Revenue and Customs who sorts us all out…until next year at the same time.
None of this is very conducive towards producing good work…or being offered more.
Even if you work from home, it’s just occasionally a good idea to pretend you are in an office.

2. BE A GOOD BOSS The deepest, most damaging trap that most self-employed people fall into, is not treating themselves right.

It’s obvious why; everything costs, and we pay for everything. From the cheapest essentials like pens and paper right up to the Big Guns of a new laptop or monitor, we cough up for the lot.
There is no stationary cupboard to raid; no Tech Dude who will fix a computer or magically replace a broken mobile phone (whose contract is paid for by the company). Everything we eat, drink, write on, communicate with, wipe our bottoms with, print out and travel on, is paid for by us.
And so, because we are all skint, we try to cut corners everywhere, scrimp, starve, and deny ourselves the basics that we need in order to do our job WELL, and without going insane.
And so we go insane.
So be a good boss, and treat yourself as you would expect an employer to treat you. If you travel for work, travel well. Don’t rent a cold, damp room with no desk or proper lighting, as I foolishly did this Summer.
Be a flipping employed ADULT. Stay in a hotel. Have a nice breakfast. If your ‘properly employed’ partner were going away on business he or she would be in a nice hotel, having drinks on the veranda before going out for dinner with clients. Again.You deserve this too. It’s not a luxury. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, or have to justify. It’s part of being employed, and you will work better for it. 

3. GET PAID. I am terrible at this. Getting and doing the work is the fun part. Actually making sure I’m paid for it feels like an extra chore I have to do, when my brain has already signed it off and zipped onto the next thing.
Over the last seventeen years of freelancing, I think I’m owed literally £1000s in unpaid work, and expenses. I am just hopeless at keeping track, and chasing people up for money. And most of my self-employed friends are the same.
So please, please don’t let this happen to you; keep a note of every piece of work you do – and only tick it off when you have been paid. You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet to do this for you, though they do help. In the Olden Days we did this is notebooks, and that still works: if it’s not ticked off, THEY OWE YOU MONEY. So go and get it!

4. BANISH GUILT. You know how it goes: I’m at work, so I feel guilty about not being with my children. I’m with my children, so I feel guilty about not doing my work. It’s classic lose-lose, and SO many of us do it.
SO DON’T!
When you work, work. When you don’t, don’t.
Easy to say, I know, but if you say it out loud to yourself, and really try to put it into practice, it can work.
In my experience, men are (generally) much better at this than women. When they go to work, they are at work, whereas we haul 10 tonnes of maternal guilt around with us on our aching shoulders all day. And it’s hard to do that without collapsing.
So learn from them, and lose the guilt.
The funny thing is, many children much prefer it when you do this. Mine hate when I try to combine work and parenting, and fail at both. They much prefer when I just say, ‘guys, I need an hour to finish this article’ and just go and DO it, like a calm, working adult setting a good example of work-life balance, rather than trying to write a column while mending a Lego castle, baking a cake, helping with GCSE maths, and shouting at everyone in the process before crying myself to sleep on the landing floor. For example.

5. GET DRESSED Amazing how many people who work from home don’t. I know it’s lovely to be able to hang out in trackies and eat cake all day and ‘work’ on the sofa. And for some people this really does work. But for most of us, getting up, getting dressed and getting into Work Mode really is better for our psyche, and results in us being more productive and professional. It doesn’t have to be a full-on SUIT. But at least not the thing you just slept in, is a good plan. (If you’re a bee-keeper or an astronaut then just wear whatever you have to, to survive.)

6. TAKE A BREAK. You know that thing they say about running a business being like a millstone around your neck? Well I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to live with a millstone around your neck, but I’m pretty sure it’s very bad for you. And sometimes you need to take it OFF.
Take a holiday. Allow yourself sick leave. Have at least one day per week off, even if it can’t be at the weekend. Allow yourself these things! You need them. Yes, you are the person who suffers by not being at work; but you are also the person who suffers if you never stop. And so do those around you.

7. GET A RAISE. You are worth what employers are prepared to pay you, and as your experience goes up, and (one hopes) with it your skills and standard of work, so this should be reflected in your pay. In a ‘Proper Job’ you would have regular Appraisal Meetings with your boss, at which point you would, every so often, go for it and ask for a pay rise. And we can, and must, do the same. They might say no, of course, but you can at least ask, or just increase your standard Day Rate a little bit. Inflation is real, and your income needs to reflect this. So don’t under-sell yourself. How else are you going to afford the £400-a-week caffeine habit of the self-employed??


8. SLEEP WITH YOUR BOSS
Self-employment is one of the only situations where this is not only not frowned upon, but would probably be positively encouraged by your partner. Especially if they could watch. We self-employed types get few perks. This is one. Take a break, flirt with yourself and see where it leads. Then, ‘refreshed’, get back to sending angry emails to sub-editors who are ruining your work. Just make sure you quit Skype before you start…

9. USE WORK-SPEAK I learned this very late in the freelance game, and it’s improved my professional life immeasurably. It applies especially to working parents, whose home and work lives have the terrible habit of meeting in the playground and getting into a massive punch-up.
Here are some career-savers. Use them:

  • “I’m picking Ellie up from school” = I am in a meeting from 3.30-4.30.
  • “We’re going to Legoland for the day” = I am not available on that day.
  • “Jake is throwing up and can’t go to school for 3 days” – I am on annual leave.
  • “I can’t answer that now, I’m at gymnastics with Maisie = let me ask my PA, when she’s back from lunch.
  • “Ohh, I’m SO sorry, haha, I forgot – Mummy brain!” = NEVER NEVER NEVER. Ever.

Speak like a professional and they will treat you like a professional. Which, I have learned, is a lot better than a person in a ball-pit, covered in rice cakes and snot.

10. SAY NO. Self-employed people almost NEVER turn down work. And all of our employers know this. This is why they often treat us like desperate, drooling little puppets, desperate to dance to their every tune, throwing URGENT work at us at the last minute, demanding it NOW! and knowing that we will nod feverishly and get to it immediately, even though it will half kill us. And they actually didn’t need it all that urgently at all.
Sometimes such keen-ness and efficiency is essential, if you want any work at all, and want to get a good reputation. (Which you do. Trust me.)
But being occasionally unavailable ‘for work reasons’ (which we know means I am cleaning out the fridge drawer, but it’s best not to mention this) has the magical effect of making you instantly more desirable to potential employers, and thus getting more work in, in the long run. Try it. Just say, no, I have deadlines to meet, and I can’t do it today. But I can do it tomorrow.
It’s AMAZING how many times they suddenly say yes anyway, and you get to do the work in your own time terms.
Don’t be a drooling puppet. Be a professional self-employed person.

Oh, and finally, as a bonus….. 

HAVE A CHRISTMAS WORK DO. The most depressing time of year for the self-employed is Christmas. And when I say ‘Christmas’ I mean any time after mid November. Office Christmas parties spring up like zits before…an office Christmas party, with sparkly dresses, cocktails and hangovers filling everyone’s diary for weeks.

And what do we have? Nada, that’s what.

So throw yourself a party. Go on! Decorate your kitchen, put on a party hat and some killer heels, give a drunken speech thanking yourself for your excellent work and commitment to coffee-drinking this year, award yourself the Company Employee of The Year trophy, photocopy your bum, and snog yourself in the understairs cupboard. Go wild. You are deserve it.

You self-employed HERO, you.

Liz Fraser’s next book, Lifeshambles, will launch on 4th October 2014.

Generation X-tra Clean…

Xtra Clean

Good news; today’s teenagers are less likely to drink, smoke and take drugs than their predecessors, according to statistics from the Department of Health this week. This, it would seem, makes them the most sensible, healthy and fresh-smelling generation for a decade.

But…is it only good news?

I’m probably supposed to rejoice and crack open a can of sparkling mineral water to toast this announcement of Good Behaviour, Goji-berry eating and the death of the teenage hangover. As a mother of two teenagers myself, and with another hot on their heels, (or Converses, in their case) this wholesome living of our Youth should make me feel very happy indeed.

And in some ways, of course, it does. Tequila slammers, nicotine and hallucinogens are not exactly known for increasing life expectancy or improving general health.

But something about this Generation X-tra Clean makes me…uneasy. And it’s this:

Teenagers are supposed to rebel, and do Bad Things. They are trying to find out who they are – and who they are not – by ruffling their greasy Teenfeathers, getting them burned a bit, provoking their parents into an early breakdown, back-combing their hair into oblivion and fumbling about with tongues at school discos after a can of rum-and-Bacardi-and-gin-and-vodka-and-Malibu-and-coke.

This is an entirely natural stage of development from child into fully fledged Older Human, who still tries desperately to fumble about with tongues – though not in school discos any more, unless they want to be arrested – and now has a crippling mortgage and mild incontinence to boot.

Teenagers are supposed to experiment, take risks, and make mistakes. That’s how they learn what’s good, and what leads to a cracking hangover.
And, of course, they are still experimenting.

But instead of doing it grungily behind the bike sheds, on the school bus and down in the local park with a stained copy of Razzle…they are doing it somewhere else.

And, to an ever larger extent, that ‘somewhere’ is online. On phones. On tablets. On all the time.

And this is where some of my unease comes in.

Generation Xtra Clean conducts ever more of its important human ‘interactions’ alone, but with hundreds of people looking in.. They make friends by accepting Friend Requests. They express their personalities through following carefully-selected Instagram accounts; measure their self-worth in ‘likes'; see thousands of eye-wateringly sexual images a day on their phones if they want to, instead of by passing one well-thumbed top-shelf mag around the dining room in exchange for a KitKat (oh, just me then); and instead of a quick punch-up in the playground they have teenage scraps by silently but pointedly ‘unfriend’ing each other.

Yeah, take THAT you bastard! Click.

It all seems terribly measured, clinical and oddly unnatural to me.

So if I’m supposed to find this sober, controlled and ‘safe’ form of teenage living ‘better’ than the days when I staggered home from the pub in Oxford and played a game of ‘Try To Make My Pupils Look Normal So Dad Can’t See I’m Pissed’, usually before falling over into a plant pot, then I’m afraid I’m going to really struggle.

For me there is something cleanly dirty about hands-on, down-and-messy Old Skool teenage Badness and experimentation.
I would rather my children downed a can of Heineken with their mates in the park occasionally than spent two hours Snap-chatting posed Selfies of themselves in their rooms, with their doors closed, while watching the Great British Bake-Off on repeat.

I would rather they threw up at a friend’s party and thus learned about alcohol tolerance, and that Campari and Special Brew don’t mix and hangovers are bloody awful and mean you stink the next day, than spent an hour staring at Photoshopped images of Cara Delevingne online, and loathing themselves.

I would (almost) rather they had a smoke and snogged a sweaty, pubescent zit-incubator so hard the two of them had to have their braces separated by the fire brigade, than sat alone in Cyberspace playing computer games with people they don’t know, and listening to music whose key message is ‘Don’t I look hot? Please like my Instagrammed bare arse.’


It’s all just so…boring, apart from anything else. And if teenagers become so boring that they bore the adults who bore them (work with me here…) we’re all in trouble.

I don’t want my children to smoke, drink or take drugs. Really, I don’t. At all.
And I’m glad if teenagers really are living more healthily, in some ways.
But I think I would rather see them doing some old-fashioned Teenage Bad Things, getting dirty, relaxing a bit and learning first-hand about people and Life, than watch them grow up living ‘cleanly’ in a disturbingly manufactured, controlled but uncontrollable world they feel they can create for themselves, while having no clue how to deal with the hard knocks and bumps – and the tricky decisions – of Real Life because they’ve lived so little of it that they don’t understand how it works.

There’s a danger in that, to both their physical and mental heath, that I don’t think we fully understand yet. And its one we should be very cautious of.

See you all down the disco on Friday, then. Beers on me. Tongues optional.

What’s in your bucket…?

bucket

In two weeks’ time, I will turn 40.

This, for some reason, seems to be a much bigger deal than turning 39, even though it requires the same amount of effort on my part, ie none.
A lot of people have suddenly started asking me about my Bucket List, as if turning 40 wasn’t already bad enough without also implying certain death.

So to keep them happy, I have written my List Of Things To-Do Before I Kark It.

It’s quite a fun exercise, if only to make you realise how many things you can’t think of that you might actually like to do, and that don’t involve cake, telly or some variety of sex that would probably get you into a lot of trouble.
So that’s three already, then.

Here it is: 

1. Learn Czech. My mother is Czech. Consequently I’ve never understood a word she says. This accounts for quite a lot, I think. Perhaps if I spoke the language, I would finally know where she has put my packed lunch. And then tell her that I never really liked cheese anyway.

2. Fly long-haul. I developed a fear of flying 10 years ago. I’ve been trying to patent it and sell it ever since, but uptake is disappointingly low, frankly. This year I flew again for the first time since The Fear kicked in. My arms still hurt. Long haul is my next big step towards freedom, and free peanuts.

3. Revisit the best bits of my GAP year. It was much more stylish than my M&S year, which involved a lot of nylon. But I do want to see how much some places have changed…and relive the Days Of My Youth, only this time with receding gums and mild incontinence.

4. Run a marathon. I’m a runner, and thus everyone immediately assumes that I’ve run 26.2 miles in one go. Because that, obviously, is what runners do. Doing this would enable me to say ‘Yes yes, you are quite right. Well done you. I have run a marathon. Now leave me alone to carry on running 10kms.’

5. Learn to ballroom dance. Lifelong dream. No more to be said. I will do it. It will be beautiful. In my head.

6. Do stand-up comedy. Done! I had my first shot at stand-up this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. Nobody died, which I took to be a 5* review. I’ll be back…

7. Write fiction. Or write for a newspaper, which amounts to the same thing. I am a terrible story-teller, but I’m a dreamer, so if I could JUST turn some of those dreams into words, then I would have…some words.

8. Get a tattoo saying “I love Jake” on my arm. I don’t know anyone called Jake, but if I ever do, and fall in love with him, I’d like to be able to say I was there first.

9. Stop writing lists. Some work still needed on this one, clearly.

10. Get a bucket. Otherwise I’ll probably just lose this list.

So….what’s on YOURS?

:)

You can follow me on Twitter here: @lizfraser1

Paper porn…

PG

Not everyone is aware of this, but I write a spoof parenting advice column, from my alter-ego, the beautifully filthy, no-holds-barred Ms Parenting Guru.

She gets to say all the things I’m not allowed to say on the breakfast TV sofa.
Which is most of the things I want to say.

Here is the latest letter, hot off the PG press.
http://dearparentingguru.tumblr.com/post//paper-porn

WARNING: contains adult material. Thank goodness.

Enjoy :)

How (not) to park a bicycle…

bike racks

It was said once, by someone who knows about these things, that the best designs excel in both form and function.

A product needs to both look beautiful, and work well. And be easy to use.

Just occasionally something comes along that fails so spectacularly in both departments that it merits some kind of Epic Design Fail Award.

Yesterday, I came across one of these. It is a new bicycle parking facility at Cambridge station. When once considers that the word ‘facility’ derives from the Latin, facilis, meaning ‘easy’, I think it is used very generously indeed in this case.

So for anyone else who ever comes across one of these Epic Design Fails, I have written the following helpful guide to using them.

Step One; Parking your bike.

1. Spend 18 minutes looking for a free rack. Miss your train.
2. Find one free rack, up on the higher level. Sceptically ponder the likelihood of ever getting your bicycle on it, given that even when the ‘ramp’ is dropped down it’s still at least a foot above the ground, and then you need to hoik it up above your head. And your bike weighs approximately 3 billion kgs. Miss another train.
3. Decide that there is no way on this earth that you are ever going to get your bicycle up there without breaking your neck, back and spirit.
4. After further searching, now half a mile from the station itself, find ONE empty rack, on the bottom level. Do a victory dance.
Miss another train.
5. Start trying to squeeze your bicycle into the tiny gap between the two other bikes on either side, and underneath the ones above your head. Destroy your wicker bike basket as it gets wedged and scraped between the other bikes. Only manage to get your bike about three feet in, before it gets stuck.
6. Decide to leave it there, as you are about to miss a third train.
7. Realise that all of your bags are still in your bike basket, which is now unreachable, what with being buried several feet in front of you under the stack of bicycles, helmets and D-locks, and those metal racks above your head.
8. Duck down and crawl between the bicycles, smacking your head on the metal racks above several times, ripping your tights and getting oil and blood all over your coat, until, using a long pole, a fishing rod and your new-found Arm-Extending Superpowers you manage to JUST reach the handle of your bag, yank it out and drag it towards you along the ground.
9. Spend five minutes picking up all of the things that have fallen out of your bag during this maneuver. Decide not to crawl all the way back in to retrieve your mascara and granola bar, which you can see, covered in dust, near your front wheel.
10. Attempt to lock your bike to the rack, but realise that you can’t because that would require fighting your way back down the alleyway of head-banging, clothes-ripping hell. Leave it, and run for train, wiping blood off your lapels along the way.


Step two; collecting your bike.

1. Leave the station after a long, exhausting day, and spend ten minutes trying to remember where you finally abandoned your bike twelve hours ago, while bleeding from the head.
2. During your search in the pitch dark, walk straight into three of the higher level racks, which have either fallen down or just been abandoned there, presumably by other Epic Fail Bike Rack users who just want to GO HOME NOW PLEASE. Break shin bone. Swear loudly.
3. Find bike! Cry with joy.
4. Move to put all of your bags into your bike basket so that you can unlock your bike, but realise that you can’t because your basket is still completely unreachable, deep inside the mess of metal, handlebars and WD40.
5. Put all of your belongings onto the ground, where they get covered in dust, urine and discarded chewing gum.
6. Hit head on metal rack again, while trying to locate lock. Realise that you didn’t lock it in the first place. Swear again. 
7. Finally manage to reverse bike out of rack. Notice that basket is now ripped in six places.
8. Attempt to balance your wobbling bike with one hand while bending down to pick up all of your dirty bags, and put them into basket. Bike falls on top of you three times while doing this. Swear again. Cry from exhaustion and desperation.
9. Get all of your belongings into the basket, carefully negotiate the huge metal racks that are still jutting out into the dark, and start to cycle home.
10. Decide never ever ever ever ever ever to try and use the new, shiny, unspeakably ugly, utterly impractical £200,000 bike racks again, and lament the loss of the beautiful trees that used to throw shade on the lovely, simple, USEABLE bike racks of old. Refrain from saying ‘I remember when this was all fields!’, or spend any time thinking about what you’d like to do to the moron who created this Epic Design Fail. Or the people who decided to buy it….

Good luck. Remember; cycling is good for you. It’s just the parking that half kills you.

What they never tell you about morning sickness….

morning sickness

All over the world, people have been sitting down at their breakfasts, standing around water coolers (if these actually exist any more) and waiting for the bus (ditto), while trying desperately to get their unaccustomed tongues around the buzz phrase of the day;

“Oooh, I hear she has hypereme-, hypereremem-, no, wait, hang on, hypereemic- oh look, it’s really bad MORNING SICKNESS OK?!” (As opposed to ‘good morning sickness’, one presumes.)

Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or HG, are the words we’re all struggling with. 

And for anyone who has it, just keeping any food or liquid down
for more than five seconds is the what they are struggling with.

Kate Middleton has it, apparently. And this is why, despite having been around for Millennia, talk of its existence has suddenly reached breakfast tables and water coolers and bus queues, like a wave of ancient novelty.

Any woman who has ever had morning sickness knows that it is one of the most debilitating, HORRIBLE aspects of pregnancy.

And considering that there are approximately 43,784 horrible things about pregnancy, that’s pretty impressive.

After three pregnancies, all of which came blessed with three months of unbroken morning sickness, I would rather give birth again than endure another twelve weeks of constant nausea.
No really. I would. And mine were 9lb-ers.

Considering how common sickness and nausea are in the early stages of pregnancy, very little is made of how bloody awful it is. And myths about it abound.

Here are a couple of little factoids about morning sickness that nobody tells you:

1. It doesn’t occur in the morning. Or, at least, it doesn’t necessarily only occur in the morning. I had evening sickness with all three of mine. Every night, 5pm, BOOM. Hello nausea. Hello toilet bowl.

Some women have it all day long, every day. The deal here is that we buy these poor, pukey ladies very nice shoes, and let them watch whatever they want on telly. Forever.

Some obedient, rule-abiding women have it only in the morning, and tick it off in their How To be Pregnant book.

Others don’t have it at all. We tend to ignore these people, on the grounds of excessive irritation and unfairness.

2. There is no sickness involved. Again, this isn’t the case for everyone (an amazing thing about pregnancy is that not everyone’s experience is absolutely identical, and Just As It Says In The Book. I KNOW! What are we LIKE? Human or something??); some women throw up constantly, as if they’re falling out of a night club every three minutes. Others are never sick at all. Some are sick once, consider the job done, and efficiently move on to stretch marks and haemorrhoids, presto pronto.

Given the above, it’s a teeny tiny wonder they decided to call it ‘morning sickness’ at all, really. I’d like to have been there on that meeting, and set things straight.

The Most Hellish Three Months Of Your Life, might be one suggestion.

Or, Give Me Sympathy NOW, would be another.

The sympathy thing is a big deal.

There’s a woeful lack of it, because morning sickness provides nothing dramatic for us to show anyone and thus elicit any Sympathy Nods or gifts of nice-smelling creams or four-hour foot massages.

It’s not a broken leg or a bleeding head or a catastrophic lack of style.
It’s just…nothing.

And ‘feeling sick’ is not exactly very high up the International Sympathy Scale.
It’s down there with ‘I’m a bit tired’, (who isn’t), ‘Oh God, the wifi has gone down again’ and ‘what, no SOYA MILK for my latte??’

I think I dealt with it stoically.
Most days I would sit in a corner puffing tiny breaths from between my pursed lips, before wailing “I think I’m going to diiiiieeee!!!!!” at the top of my voice and then spitting the gallons of saliva that were constantly accumulating in my mouth into coffee cups that I carried around for the purpose, until, hours later, I finally succumbed to the blissful, sickness-free hours of sleep.

In subsequent pregnancies this was probably quite embarrassing for my older children, if such puffing and wailing and spitting occurred in the Wendy house of our local toddler group.
But frankly, I didn’t care.

I didn’t care about anything except NOT FEELING SICK.

One last thing to note is this; HG is not morning sickness.
Morning sickness is not even morning sickness, as we’ve just learned.

HG is a very very bad version of morning sickness. Really, superbad. Mothers can become ill very quickly if they don’t consume any liquids for a few days, and they really do need to seek help immediately.

And maybe now that Her Royal Highness has kindly shed some green-tinged light on a serious condition that affects 1% of expectant mothers, they will now all get the attention and help and sympathy they deserve.

And so should all the millions of you out there who are only having Normal Morning Sickness. It’s awful. I feel for you. I would feel sick with you, but I’ve done my time there so I’ll just do the Sympathy Nodding, if that’s OK.

Good luck. Keep breathing. (This is key, in most things…) Keep not going near foods that make you retch. Keep demanding those foot massages.
You are a HERO! And you will stop feeling sick eventually. Usually just in time to go into the long, dark tunnel of chronic sleep-deprivation that follows the birth.

Ahhh, it’s all fun. And one day they might even thank you for it.

 

Liz Fraser is the author of three best-selling books about parenting. Her new book,Lifeshambles, will be published in the Autumn of 2014, or as soon as she has finished it.

Ciggie, baby. . .?

HEALTH Passive 1

MPs have backed calls for a ban on smoking in cars in England and Wales when children are passengers.

Two things are amazing about this;

First, that such a ban didn’t exist before, and second, that there are people who oppose it.

Let’s just have an ickle look at some facts:

  •          Exposure to second-hand smoke has been strongly linked to chest infections and cot death in children.
  •          Research indicates that 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital.
  •          Smoking in a car creates a concentration of toxins up to 11 times higher than in a bar.

For those who are struggling with the fiendishly complicated numbers above, let me help:

Exposing your children to smoke is very bad for them.
If you do this, you are an arsehole.

Yes, it is your right to smoke.
It is also your right to be an arsehole. Of course it is.

But it is your child’s right not to have to sit in a car filled with toxic chemicals, while you exercise your Rights.

Just because they are smaller than you, doesn’t mean their Right to Life is smaller. 

It’s not about ‘controlling’ you, and squashing your freedom. It’s not about do-gooding, interfering health freaks taking your nicotine away.

It’s about not killing your child.

And if people are stupid enough not to be able to stop willingly poisoning their children, then Laws have to be put in place to try and protect them.
Simples.

Of course people will flout the Law. People who are that stupid ignore most intelligent things.
But it if stops one child from dying then it’s worth it.
It’s also about belonging to a society that recognises children’s rights, and stands up for them.

Well done all 376 MPs who managed to tell the difference between freedom and selfish arseholery.

The other 107 might want to go away and see if they can figure it out too.