In the many categories society assigns to mothers, the freelancing mommies have the envy of other mothers for the supposed flexibility of their schedules. Yet those envied work at home moms have another story to tell – especially when there are young children involved. Being a working mother of any caliber is tough, but when the balancing act of working at home is a free-for-all, you can count on things getting a bit crazy at times. Making it all fit perfectly is definitely a work in progress.
Compartmentalize Your Day
All that freedom and flexibility you’re supposed to have as a freelancing mother is essentially nonexistent. The truth is your family comes first, your life comes second and your career fits in the cracks left behind. Rather than getting frustrated that you can’t sit on the patio with a laptop while the children and dogs play about your feet, just accept that you’ll need to break up your day into pieces to make it all work. Mornings are kid-time. Toddler nap time is work time. Evenings are family time, and nights include a bit more work. “Me time” is noticeably absent, but that’s just life as a WAHM.
Don’t Fear Childcare
Many moms stay at home with the intention of working a bit while the little one plays lovingly nearby or they plan on taking on that full-time job in just three hours a day. As with many things mommy-related, it just doesn’t usually work as planned. When you make a decision to stay home with your children, especially if the plan requires working from home, you’ll likely need some help along the way.
Unless you’re eliminating sleep from your daily routine, there are not enough hours in the day to cram in that full-time freelance career with the full-time job of raising young children. Have a mother’s helper come in a few hours a day or look into the part-time childcare programs offered in your area. These options are less expensive than full-time childcare and can offer a balance between work and family responsibilities without busting the freelancer budget.
Make Your Family Visible to Clients
You are setting yourself up for a fall if you’re trying to pretend to clients that you’re not working at home with young children underfoot. You might like giving the impression of working in your own quiet office, but letting your clients know that children are part of your life will give you some much needed wiggle room when those two-year-old molars break through or the stomach bug comes home with the oldest as a treat for the whole family.
Rather than trying to hide your family behind your professional façade, be open about your other obligations and use communication as the powerful tool it is. Your professionalism and hard work on projects will show clients that you’re not using your children as an excuse. But making it clear you’re a mom and staying in touch with clients about delays through that week-long family bout of vomiting will go a long way to establishing long-term work relationships.
Set Your Hours and Stick to Them
If you’re successful with your endeavors, there is a temptation to keep adding more clients and more projects. Soon you’re working every moment you’re not mashing bananas and organizing toys in clear plastic boxes. Not only does your stress level increase, but it takes only the slightest mishap in the family life to put you behind schedule and potentially out of sorts with your clients. As a freelancer, your reputation is everything. Keep yours intact by deciding how much you’re realistically able to work to keep balance in your life and make that number your sticking point.