Raising a family and running a successful freelance enterprise are both equally satisfying, but many parents feel they have to choose between the two. If you’re facing this dilemma, rest assured that you don’t have to give up freelancing to take care of your kids.
One of the first steps to freelancing while taking care of your children is to build a space where both of you can coexist. On one extreme lies an office space where children are welcome to visit and play at any time. On the other extreme is the freelancing parent who hires an outside caregiver to watch their children for part of the week. Both types of work environments have advantages and disadvantages. Spending lots of time face to face with your kids helps build strong relationships, but it can also make it difficult to get work done. Outsourcing part of your child care allows you to get work done while still enjoying the flexibility that freelance work can provide, but the costs required make it a difficult proposition for many parents.
You’ll likely find that your ideal working environment falls somewhere between these two extremes. You may be able to take a few hours every day while your kids are napping or playing elsewhere to get work done alone. You may also be able to take advantage of childcare services from grandparents or summer programs. You may even find that chaos doesn’t really interrupt your ability to work, making a combination office and playroom a workable choice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you.
It’s important to be able to say no as both a parent and a freelancer. If you’re doing both jobs this skill becomes doubly important. You may have to tell your kids that you can’t play right now if a big deadline is coming up. Likewise, you may have to turn down an offer if a client needs you on an important family day. Focusing on the important tasks and events and saying no to the distractions allows you to be fully present for all the things you want to be there for.
Finally, spend time reevaluating your freelancing and parenting arrangements. As your children and your business grow you’ll find their needs changing. If you need to spend some time out of the house each day to work or if your kids need more attention than your business does, it may be time to change tactics. Sticking to an outdated model will only result in poor work and unhappy kids.
Finding a balance between freelancing and parenting can be difficult, but there are few things more rewarding than having a business that allows you to be with your children.