freelance parent

How to Balance Between a Freelance Career and Being a Parent

Building a freelance career is tough but adding parenthood to the mix makes the situation even more challenging.

Running your own business often involves long working hours, your absence over the weekends, and late-night shifts to meet a tight deadline. In order to help your freelance business grow, you will need to put those hours in. Unfortunately, that means making a serious compromise with your personal life. The guilt is going to be real and it will even impact your ability to do a good job.

Is it possible to find the balance between being a successful freelancer and a good parent? You will need to get organized and you’ll need to establish clear boundaries but accomplishing the two goals is something you can do.

Maximize Your Efficiency

Try to remember your work day before the birth of your child.

How much time did you spend on Facebook? Scrolling on your phones? Watching videos that are completely unrelated to your area of specialization?

You had an entire day at your disposal but you probably didn’t utilize all that time to the best of your ability.

Your freelance career after the appearance of the little one(s) is all about efficiency. The number of hours you’ll have to dedicate to work is going to be limited. Making the most of them will depend on maintaining focus and setting your priorities straight.

Start the night before, after your child goes to sleep. Determine the tasks you’ll need to complete the coming day and the amount of time you’ll dedicate to each. Start with high-priority items on your list. The ones that could wait should be featured towards the bottom.

Do your best to create a distraction-free environment for the time you plan to dedicate to work. Have your partner take the child for a walk. Block those distracting social media and the websites you waste your time on. Going into full productivity mode will allow you to accomplish a lot more in the limited amount of time you have than you’ve ever been capable of before.

Take on the Projects You Can Handle

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Multitasking professionally and being a parent will very often be incompatible.

You will need to reassess the amount of work you’re capable of doing.

Take on exactly as many projects as you know you’re capable of finishing. That may be one or two in the beginning. Eventually, your child will grow older and you’ll have more time to dedicate to your freelance career.

Don’t be afraid of increasing your rate (especially if you already have enough experience and a good reputation) and reducing the number of projects you’re working on.

It’s also a good idea to negotiate manageable deadlines with your clients. Give yourself some wiggle room. Emergencies happen – kids get sick, they need extra care and soothing. Make sure you have a day or two on top to successfully finalize projects even in the event of unexpected complications.

Consider Daycare

All freelance professionals taking care of kids are familiar with this scenario – playing with a baby all day long to start working in the evening.

This modus operandi is sustainable for short periods of time. Some do it efficiently for one or two years. Extending this kind of existence for longer periods, however, will lead to complete exhaustion sooner or later.

If you feel overwhelmed and you believe that you’re neither a good parent nor a good freelancer, daycare may be the solution you’re looking for.

Freelance work allows you to take care of your child for longer periods than what employed people accomplish. That’s great but it shouldn’t come at the expense of a total mental breakdown.

Daycare, even if you use such a service for a few hours per day, can help you concentrate and get your job done. At the same time, your kid will be spending time with their peers, they will be learning independence, and acquiring an extensive set of new skills.

Outsource Some Simple Tasks and Grow Your Freelance Career

The period after the birth of your child can provide amazing career growth opportunities if you’re smart and strategic about introducing changes.

It’s a good idea to start considering such changes before the birth of your child.

Are there mundane, repetitive parts of your job that are keeping you away from the more complex and specialized elements? Outsourcing these tasks will leave more room for creativity, strategic planning, and expert work.

You can either hire a freelancer, look for a company to outsource to, or get an employee for your own business venture. All three models of allocating work to someone else have their advantages. Choose the option that makes the most sense financially and in terms of the workload you want to hand over.

Learn to Say No

Having the power to say no is crucial for all freelance professionals but even more so for those who need to take care of young kids.

You will sometimes receive offers you’ll find difficult to turn down. Your regular clients may come up with requests that expand the scope of work you’re doing for them right now. If the respective project doesn’t make sense currently, you have the right to say no.

The same applies to your family situation. It’s very important to share responsibilities and have clear rules that both you and your partner follow. They should know which hours you are dedicating to work each day. If you get a request to handle household chores during those hours, you have the right to say no.

Give Yourself a Chance to Breathe

Burnout can occur easily when you’re trying to juggle two massive responsibilities like being a parent and building a freelance career.

When planning your day, you shouldn’t be focusing solely on your job and your family.

You will also need to plan a bit of off-time.

Giving yourself a chance to relax and get your batteries recharged will be the key to the success of both your personal and professional endeavors. Don’t be afraid of asking for 30 minutes to an hour a few times per week that you can dedicate to your favorite activity. Give your partner the same courtesy and you’ll both feel a lot more adequate and successful in your new roles.

Forget About Doing Your Job While You’re Taking Care of the Kid

Have you envisioned the following scenario – your child peacefully assembling a puzzle on the fluffy carpet while you’re working on the laptop with a big smile on your face?

Forget about this scenario!

It exists in your fantasy and in Hollywood movies.

Babies, toddlers, and young kids are generally considered notoriously bad independent players. There may be some exceptions out there but most kids will want to have their parent’s full attention.

If you try to work while you’re taking care of your toddler, you will experience one of several possible disaster scenarios. One is making a big mistake while trying to accomplish two things. The second one is giving up and leaving a project for another time. It’s also possible to complete your project but you may end up with a toddler who’s going through a full-blown tantrum because you’re not paying attention to them.

It’s better to spend quality time with your child and focus on your freelance career when someone else is taking care of them. You’ll find yourself much more efficient and fulfilled this way.

Enjoy Family Vacations as Often as Possible

Being a freelance professional gives you the amazing opportunity to dedicate more time to your family.

Use that opportunity to the best of your ability.

Work hard but don’t forget to live hard after a project is done.

Family vacations, even if you just take a weekend trip together, can give you the fun and excitement that you’re missing in day-to-day life.

You will be spending quality moments together and you’ll also be distancing yourself from work. By doing so, you’ll get to tackle new projects fully refreshed and energized.

Time off is not time wasted, especially if it’s spent with the people you love the most. Your freelance career makes that possible – don’t blow the opportunity to create amazing memories together.

Final Thoughts

As much as being a freelancer and a parent is a blessing, it comes with a distinct set of challenges.

The beginning is going to be difficult and chaotic. That’s something you need to prepare for and anticipate. In time, however, you’ll get better at prioritizing major tasks, getting organized, and maximizing productivity.

Come up with a clear distinction between your personal and professional life, as much as that task seems impossible right now. Even if you can dedicate an hour a day to your job right now, do introduce the new routine. it will stick, it will evolve and in time, it will make things so much easier for everyone involved.

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