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The Most Burning Questions Asked of a Freelancing Mama: “How Do You Do It?”

Read Time: 3 min

It has been my experience that as soon as “regular” people, or those that don’t have their own online businesses, find out what I do, they always want to know two things:

“How do you do it all?”

-and-

“Can you show me how to do what you do?”

Usually the second question is accompanied by some information about how great he was at writing essays in college or the wonderful stories her daughter wrote growing up and how freelance writing would be just wonderful and so on. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that the first question is often accompanied by a shaking head and a look of utter disbelief that I can possibly do more than work a 40-hour week and watch Lost in the evenings. But that head shake of disbelief might have been because I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost, but more on that later.

“How do you do it?”

Ask any mother how she gets through her day with young children and she’ll tell you she just does. There’s not really an optional program here so you just get things done when they need to get done. The working mother is one more step up the ladder of chaos and mayhem in her life, and when you get to the freelancing mama, all hell breaks loose. How do you do it all in a day? You just get do what you can to keep your head above water while making sure your children are happy, healthy and look good to take attention off your slovenly appearance.

It’s not exactly mindless. In fact, you have to be pretty sharp to balance it all. The daytime, at least around here, is dedicated to my children in the early morning, my teenagers during the day, my children again in the late afternoons and evenings and then my clients and my own meager projects get my nights once bedtime for youngsters rolls around. I’ve tried mixing up my hats and doing two things simultaneously, but years of experience have shown me that I do best wearing one at a time, although I’ve been known to answer emails wearing any hat at any time.

If you want to add what boils down to a full-time career into your off-time from raising children and/or working the “regular” job, you’ll be sacrificing just about everything else “normal” people do during their off hours. You give up your down-time and most of your freedom.

That means you’ll want to record all those episodes of Lost in hopes that someday you’ll be able to watch them. Your weekend plans will now revolve around client assignments you've made months in advance. You don’t go to parties at night without rearranging your schedule for the next two weeks to build in those three hours of fun. Wait! Who am I kidding? Moms of young children don’t go to parties that don’t involve inflatable bouncers and pizza. Aside: Those parties are awesome; you get early kiddo bedtime those days and more time for work!

There isn’t a clear answer to the question, but if someone is really interested in how it all fits, I usually just tell them to think of all the time they sit on the couch or spend lounging about in bed with wine because they are tired after what they think is a long day. If you take all of those hours and work during them instead, you get enough hours in your day to be a freelancing mama. Most of them look slightly green at the thought of giving up the couch or wine every night, but who am I to judge? Someday I'll have my own wine,  and I'll have seven years of Lost to catch up on.

And just how does this slightly obnoxious hard-working mama answer people who want to know:

“Can you show me how to do what you do?”

That one will just have to wait for now. But I can tell you now that it’s not pretty.

4 thoughts on “The Most Burning Questions Asked of a Freelancing Mama: “How Do You Do It?””

  1. Actually, your mom may be right – we just do it… was probably a mom that suggested the Nike slogan.

    I do, however, try to bring some organization to my writing, actually scheduling it.

    Reply
  2. Great Post, Rebecca. I’m a mom to four kids ages 9yrs to 3yrs and a full-time web copywriter. When someone asks me to help them get their freelancing off the ground, finding out it’s not just some easy way to kick back and watch big-faced bills roll in separates the serious from those who aren’t quite ready to put in real work.

    Rebecca said: “If you want to add what boils down to a full-time career into your off-time from raising children and/or working the “regular” job, you’ll be sacrificing just about everything else “normal” people do during their off hours. You give up your down-time and most of your freedom.”

    Truer words were never spoken. We freelancing parents do what we must.:)

    Reply
  3. Rebecca – I love, love, LOVE your series here at AFW. I’m expecting and you make me even more excited. It takes a special kind of gal to handle it all, and you prove that. I’m just certain I can as well.

    Reply
  4. LOL – It’s always nice to see I’m not the only slightly psychotic mom running around with a wet diaper in one hand and a W-9 in the other. It’s a tough life, but I’d never trade it. Well, I might take an evening in front of the couch with no cares in the world, but I think I already tried that when I was a teenager and got bored in a few hours.

    Reply

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