Freelancing when you've got a toddler
|Emily demonstrating the balancing act of freelancing with a toddler!|
When I was pregnant with my Daughter, I was working in an office job, 9-5, and freelancing on the side. Back then, I naively thought that I’d have all the time in the world once my maternity leave kicked in to develop my business and begin to live out my dream of freelancing full time. What I didn’t consider was that by the time I left my job, I would be so exhausted that I could barely sit at my keyboard for more than 10 minutes at a time, and my brain would be so focussed on preparing for the birth that I could think of nothing else anyway.
Well, my Daughter is 2 now, and it’s honestly taken me this long to get to a point where I’m making any headway at all. I’ve been marketing seriously for less than a year, because my job as a mummy, and having to go back to my office job part-time has taken most of my time and energy. Once Emily turned 1, though, I decided that she deserved better than a tired mummy who was always complaining about her job. She’s at an age now where she’s settled into a childcare routine and she can play quite independently (with supervision).
Still, it brings challenges, so I’d like to share some of my thoughts, experiences, and tips with you today on balancing freelancing and being a mummy to a lively toddler!
Time & Scheduling
Since I do still work part-time in the real world, one of my biggest challenges has been time. I’m usually away from my freelancing desk for 3 days of the week, which means that I have to make an extra effort to keep on top of my emails and social media during those days, and respond to anything urgent in my breaks. So for those 3 days, I tend to put in some freelancing time in the evenings, once Emily is asleep.
I’m extremely fortunate that I have a couple of very flexible childminders (AKA my Mum and my Aunt!), who are willing to help me out when I have projects on the go. Saying that, things do occasionally go wrong, so it’s vital that I plan and schedule my time carefully in order to get things done.
Another challenge is that it’s not always great when you’ve got a complaining toddler, and the phone rings with a query from a client. In those cases, I sometimes have no choice but to let the call go to answerphone, and find a way to call them back ASAP. Murphey’s Law states that the phone will always ring when your toddler is having a meltdown. You have no control over that, so go with it, and get back to the client when the situation is calmer, or your toddler is napping!
Another scheduling issue – sick days will always happen when you’re juggling projects, you’re in the middle of a marketing campaign, and you’ve got a zillion emails to deal with. I try to be as upfront with my clients as I can, and give myself a little bit of flexibility when I quote for a project.
Generally, my clients are alright with that. If I over quote my time a little, it means that I’ve given myself an extra few hours if needs be, but the client gets a nice surprise when the bill is less than I quoted. Everyone is happy, and there is no stress if I have a poorly toddler, or even a poorly me!
It’s not all uphill struggles, though. There are plenty of good reasons why I’m doing this, my daughter being one of them. Being freelance means that (in my current situation) I have a few extra pennies to maintain us while doing a part-time job. And in the future, I’m planning on growing this thing so that I can be even more flexible and make my main living from home. And that alone will benefit us all hugely.
If any of my readers are considering freelancing around babies or young children, I’d say it is entirely doable. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and commitment, but if I can make it work, anybody can.