As a Mum and a Freelancer (in that order) I often struggle to balance the two competing worlds. Like most Freelancers I find that in terms of work it’s either feast or famine, and as a Mum the responsibilities are constant, as is the guilt, but that goes with the territory, whatever I did I’d feel bad, it’s a no win situation.
As a Freelancer I work from home, which means that technically I’m around whenever my family need me. I can do the school run, I can be there when my son is poorly to care for him, I can take time out during the school holidays to spend time with him. I do all of that and more, but it does mean that I also have to put in long hours in the evenings, early in the mornings, or my weekends are spent slaving over a hot laptop while my 9 – 5 husband spends time with our son.
Whilst I can see the benefits of working *for* someone else, for me the benefits of being a Freelancer far outweigh that. Although the work and the hours I put in are never constant, I am able to be more flexible with my time. This means I can create and maintain a good work/life balance, or at least strive to.
My tips for creating and maintaining a good work/life balance are…
- Protect some time for family, for me 5 – 7pm are family time, where we eat together, talk about our days, have bath-time, read stories and snuggle.
- Go for a walk. Being stuck at my desk all day is miserable and not why I became a freelancer. Go for a walk round the park, get some fresh air and exercise and take a brain-break. You’ll be more productive after.
- Accept help – enlist family and friends who don’t mind entertaining your child for a few hours occasionally. My son loves his Grandad and spending time with him is a special thing for them both.
- Don’t try and multi-task. If you’ve got a few hours of family time, focus on the family.
- Work smarter, not harder. If you’ve magically got a spare hour to spend working, you can accomplish a lot in that hour, set time limits for tasks and see what you can achieve.
- Be organised, even if that’s not in your nature. To do lists, a filing system, record keeping however simple will save you time. Having my own workspace has really helped with this.
- Go to work – some people get dressed for work, or have a pre-work morning routine. I get myself a drink and plonk myself at my desk and get cracking.
- Family comes first – for me at least. If I need to stay up and work until 3am to catch up then so be it. My son is only young for a finite amount of time and he comes first. Always.
- Make friends. Freelancing can be a lonely life. Find and nurture a group of like minded fellow freelancers around you, they will save your sanity and sometimes your bacon!
I have found that by having a small circle of freelancing friends they can offer me advice, practical support, contacts and the feeling of having colleagues; we even go on “work nights out”, which is nice.
I’ve recently discovered Hiive. Hiive is a creative network that offers users a portfolio platform, job opportunities and access to careers resources. Hiive is designed to encourage discussion and collaboration within the creative industries and is an incredibly useful network for freelancers. I have joined and think it’s well worth a look and can help you to balance your work and home life.
I love freelancing, it’s changed my life and my family life for the better. It’s not easy, in fact it’s bloody hard work. Finding the right work life balance is a constantly shifting task. Having an understanding husband is half the battle, but the rewards in terms of quality family time are worth the late nights and early mornings.
What are your tips for creating a good work-life balance?
In association with Hiive.