3 Integral Tips for Freelancers Who Balance Work and Family
Crying. Crocodile tears. The long, drawn out, “Buhhh byyyeeee.”
This is the normal routine my 2 year old daughter takes when it’s time for me to go into my home office and work for the day. As a self-employed freelancer, there are so many benefits to working from home. I love that I can wear pajamas to work. I love that I can see my kids during the day. I love that I can eat snacks whenever I want.
However, it’s those moments of transition, the times I have to stop working because one of my toddlers woke up from a nap too early or the times when I am enjoying cuddling one of my kids but have to hop on a call that makes it really hard to manage both parts of my life.
For six years I’ve been a professional writer, but for the last two years I’ve been running a business by myself full time. As a mother, wife, and the breadwinner in my family, I’m no stranger to the pressures that come with trying to manage it all without having a nervous breakdown.
Over time, I’ve learned a few tricks that I’ve shared with other small business owners who struggle to find the time to devote to their families and their careers simultaneously. Here is what has worked for me in the past and has worked for many other entrepreneurs who have families at home.
Tip #1: The Goal is Not Perfection
People who are entrepreneurs are a special bunch, and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them. It takes someone with equal amounts of courage and crazy to take on running a business, and many of us get here after years of hard work and striving for perfection. Many entrepreneurs are used to succeeding, love a challenge, and like to win. So, telling someone with these characteristics not to aim for perfection is often met with skepticism.
The truth is, trying to be the perfect parent and have the perfect career is impossible. There are many times when one has to take precedence and when one has to take a back seat. Most days your attention will be split between the two, and sometimes either your career or your kids is going to feel neglected. What small business owners need to focus on is giving their best with whatever task is in front of them. So, if the task is dancing like there’s no tomorrow in the living room with the kids, then do it well (or as well as you can.) If the task is to convince an investor to give you a large sum of money, well give that your all too. It’s hard to do both at once, but if you put your focus on each one when you need to, you’ll be incredibly successful.
Tip #2: Pay Attention to Your Own Mental Health
Small business owners never stop. There is always more work to be done, more emails to answer, and more problems to fix. There is always one more client to pitch, one more phone call to return, and another idea to try to bring to fruition.
However, if you notice that you’re sluggish, uninspired, or just plain tired all the time, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your mental health. Sometimes a short vacation, a day away from the office, or a moment to yourself to read one of your favorite books is all you need to recharge.
Remember, in order to be present for both your job and your family, you have to be in excellent mental shape.
Tip #3: Allow Routines to Run Your Life
No one became wealthy by losing checks, having a messy desk, or forgetting to return emails to important clients. The same is true for family life.
In order to adequately give your best to both your family and your freelancing, put systems in place. If your children are young enough to still take a nap, try to put them down at the same time each day. If you get too many emails throughout the day, allot a specific time each day to answer emails and don’t look at your inbox again until that time the next day. These ideas won’t work for everyone but they are just to give you some ideas of ways that you can streamline and automate your life so you know what to expect each day and can have some idea of a schedule when it comes to your work and your family time.
Ultimately, trying to build a successful freelance business while being a parent is never easy, and there will always be demands from both pulling at you. However, with enough focus on your mental health, a commitment to routines, and the realization that you don’t have to be perfect all the time, you’ll be surprised just how happy and successful you can be both in your personal and your professional life.