I’m split at times about how kids affect my working life. In many - okay most - cases I feel very limited by having kids underfoot or in the house when I’m working. But other times I wonder if I’d be as effective as I am if my children didn’t already have me so well trained.
It takes a lot of dedication and discipline to freelance from home. As I sit here, a book I started and the newest episode of Glee are calling my name. But I won’t stop writing to give in to the temptation. I can’t. I have work to do and only a certain amount of time to do it in. Fortunately, I’ve been practicing self-sacrifice, or as we mothers like to call it, “setting priorities”, for years. And that is why working with kids can be such a productivity booster.
There Is No “Later”
My boys figured it out very fast. When I tell them we’ll do something “later”, they know it means we’re probably not going to do it if they can’t pin me down to a specific time and date. Sadly I try and fool myself sometimes with the same trick. I plan to do something “later”, but it rarely works – it would be like losing an argument with myself. I know there is no “later”, because if there was, I’d have been using that time for years to do the things that need to get done around here. I work during my work time, because there simply is no other time.
90 to Nothing
Try telling a young child to go back to sleep Saturday morning when he pops awake at 5:30 am. (Thanks, Daylight Savings Time.) Just try and close your eyes for a few seconds in the afternoon with two young boys playing ninja in the house. Every moment at home with children you’re engaged in some way – you’re either listening carefully while you try to pretend you have free time around the house or you’re actively involved playing, breaking up arguments, soothing hurts or reading stories.
The concept of downtime takes on a whole new meaning after kids. I’ve yet to meet a mother who lounges about on a Saturday morning wondering what she will do to keep from being bored until she goes back to work. Instead every morning is the start of a daily marathon and you must pace yourself. Guess what? So is work! When you finally have those hours to sit down and work, you can’t screw around surfing the web or playing Facebook Friends.
Fortunately, we don’t require a warm-up period. We can pop out of bed at 5:30 to the sound of crashes from upstairs, and we can start cranking out billable hours in a matter of moments when those little sleepy eyelids finally close. We know that there’s only a certain amount of time available between eyelids closing and eyelids opening and not much time at that. Productivity experts ain’t got nothing on us!
Don’t Look at Me in That Tone of Voice
I hope I can say this for all mom-writers out there, but I’m afraid some might not have realized the true combined power of motherhood and writerhood just yet. Mothers have immense power over their children when they choose to use that power it wisely.
You can also turn assertive mothering into assertiveness in your business. You wouldn’t stoop to argue with your child over candy for dinner – it’s just a firm, “No – that’s not something we do in our house.” So don’t argue about things you don’t do in your business. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve snapped off with a “Because I said so!” tone of voice(text?) before I could even think about being “softer” on clients.
Surprisingly it’s paid off – as it turns out clients in my market like to know that a freelancing professional is assertive enough to know and state her mind. They don’t want simpering, apologies and gentleness. They want someone who is firm, assertive and tough when she needs to be and nurturing as necessary.