Friday Perspective - {Guest Post} - The Best of Both Worlds

7:00 AM

Hi Everyone! Happy Friday. As you read this I will be in LA attending my grandfather's memorial services. I have a guest post for you, something that I have been thinking about - trying to be a more legitimate freelancer. How do people do it? So here is one mama's perspective:

The Best of Both Worlds: Juggling a Freelance Career with Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom written by “Evelyn Pearce”

The decision to go back to work or become a stay-at-home-mom is a tough choice for any new mother. In today’s turbulent economy, sometimes returning to work isn’t even a choice – it’s a necessity. A study carried out by Working Mother backs this up showing that the majority of women surveyed wanted one arrangement but felt like they had to settle for another. It also indicates that the majority of working mothers feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids whilst the majority of SAHM feel just as bad about not contributing to the family finances. In short, nobody’s happy.

At times like this many people think that working from home on a freelance basis is the ideal solution; a way to save money on childcare and spend time caring for the family while still being able to earn an, often lucrative, income. I have to admit that I was one of those people. I thought that my job as a freelance copy/content writer would be easy to juggle with motherhood, but that was before I actually gave birth - back when I knew precisely nothing about babies and their demands. Eight months along my bumbling journey into motherhood the bags under my eyes, chaotic home and mounting pile of papers on my desk prove just how wrong I was.

The preconception that freelancing and motherhood is a way of achieving the ‘best of both worlds’ is just that – a preconception. In fact, often you feel like unable to fully commit to either aspect so really it’s more like the worst of both worlds. Being supermom whilst simultaneously running a successful business is hard work, frazzling in fact. But it is do-able. Ultimately finding the right balance is a very personal thing and different things work for different mothers, but here are a few tips that I’ve learnt from my experience as a freelancer and a mother.

Routine is key (but flexible works too)

For the first six weeks of my son’s life I was in that daze that tends to engulf a lot of new moms. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep, perhaps it’s the new and overwhelming sense of responsibility or perhaps it’s the trauma of childbirth – who knows. Either way, I was feeding on demand, sleeping intermittently and definitely not thinking about work.

However when things settled down a bit I found that routine was good for both my baby and my career. Getting him into a bath/bottle/bed routine meant that he began sleeping for longer at night (hallelujah!) and timing his naps and bottles during the day meant that I knew when and roughly how long I’d get to work for. Of course his routine will change as he gets older and I fully predict days on the horizon where nothing will get done due to unforeseen illnesses, extra curricular activities and so on. In these instances its pays to have a flexible mindset – don’t ditch your routine completely but accept that now and then it may get thrown off course and you’ll find yourself working outside of your usual working hours.

The beauty of being a freelancer is that you can pick your hours in conjunction with the demands of your family life and your clients. Now and then this will mean adjusting a routine but in general you should commit to your self-set working hours in the same way that you would commit to an employer in order to get the job done.

Accept that you’ll have to make sacrifices

It’s just not humanly possible to give 100% to every aspect of your life 100% of the time. There will be occasions where you may need to sacrifice one area of your life in order to make the other one work. Maybe you’ll have to say no to a social engagement, live in an untidy home or turn down a potential client. I’ve had to do all three and yes, at times, it did make me feel guilty, dejected and downright grumpy. At times like this you need to assess your priorities, decide what is most important and practical then find an acceptance (even a begrudging acceptance) in making the necessary sacrifices. There’s just no other way and beating yourself up about it will make things worse.

Don’t take on too much

Similarly, if you feel like you are having to make so many sacrifices that your career, family life and general happiness is suffering then it’s time to re-evaluate. A feeling that you’re simply unable to keep all of the balls of your busy life up in the air is a sign that you’re taking on too much and this will be ultimately detrimental to all areas of your life. In these instances don’t be afraid to ask for help, take a break or simply say no to some of the demands that are being placed on you.

Consider childcare

When I first mentioned putting my son into a childcare for one day a week I was met with a lot of confused stares and comments like ‘But why? You’re at home all day’. Sometimes people just don’t understand that caring for a baby and working are mutually exclusively concepts – I guess they never tried to breastfeed while typing. My son loves his time at kindergarten. It gives him some extra stimulation, a change of environment and the opportunity to mix with other kids. It also gives me one full day to commit solely to my work and catch up with household chores.

I’ll let you into a secret – some days I hire a car for the day and take myself off for a long drive into the country or a shopping trip. Some days I do nothing at all. The well deserved break and crucial 'me' time is worth every cent of my son's childcare costs.

Enjoy it

Most freelancers work this way in order for them to pursue a career that they love. In my case it’s writing. For others it could be design, artwork, business or crafts. There will invariably be times when you’re tired, stressed and a little unhappy. But if you find yourself constantly disillusioned with your job then perhaps it’s time to start looking elsewhere. You don’t have to quit work altogether but maybe something new with more structure could be the way forward for you. Work is about so much more than a paycheck and you should never have to sacrifice your love of your art for monetary purposes.

Thank you Evelyn! I'll see you all when I get back, whenever that may be. In the meantime, please stop by these lovely blogs:

and now for something completely different - a little fun (not that the above blogs aren't fun):

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