5 Hacks for combining freelance work with parenthood

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Freelancing itself can be kind of a hassle sometimes, despite its advantages.

One of the best aspects of working from home, especially when you’re a parent, is that you won’t miss out on anything with your children. You’ll be able to spend time with your kids and pocket the money you would have given to someone else to care for them.

But that’s also the dilemma. You’ll have to care for your children while you work, and the logistics seem impossible to figure out.

Thankfully, plenty of people successfully navigate life as both a parent and a freelancer.

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Here are a few tips to help you on your journey:

Have a special workspace

You won’t get anything done if you’re sitting in the living room with your laptop, watching the same cartoon for the tenth time in a row. You need your own desk at the very minimum, even if you don’t have your own office.

You can always bring your baby monitor with you. Things like video baby monitors are invaluable tools in this situation. If your children are old enough to play for a while without a constant eye on them, just make sure they know they can come get you if they need you.

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Seek out the most flexible clients

You need to be able to work around your commitments.

Picking a client who needs to conference call with you every day around the same time you need to make lunch for your kids is probably not a wise move.

You may not be able to take on clients who need rapid turnarounds on larger projects.

When you’re browsing through Gumtree, keep an eye out for clients who have a more casual approach to work. You’ll want someone who can send you a list of what they need done during the week.

If you finish early, that’s great, but you may need some padding on your deadline.

Get a great planner or whiteboard

Kids do a lot of stuff! Ballet, soccer practice, and birthday parties are also a part of your schedule.

As a parent, you also know that things pop up out of the blue. You need to set yourself some guidelines to adhere to. Write in important commitments you have with your kids, and write in your deadlines for your freelance work.

When you see it written out on a calendar, you’ll be able to plan your work much better without having to make sacrifices.

Don’t set an impossible standard for yourself

The Brady Bunch wasn’t based on a true story, and even if it were, Carol and Mike still had Alice to prepare the meals and handle the chores.

You’re not going to be able to work a predictable 9 to 5 every day, and because of that, you probably won’t be able to cook a four course meal every night and wash all the dishes by yourself.

Consider prepping weekly crock-pot meals that you can set and forget for a few hours while you work.

If your kids are at the age where they can use a little pocket money, pass some more chores off to them. Five dollars here and there is a lot less than what you’d spend on childcare or transportation if you worked away from home.

More on Millo: “How I built a freelance career while travelling the world”

Remember to take time off

With a job away from home and a preset schedule, you took off the days that HR gave you. If it didn’t feel like enough, you knew to take more time off because you missed your kids.

Take at least one day off a week. For the future, schedule and save so you can afford to take off a week or two, just like cashing in your vacation time.

Quality time still means a lot, especially with your family. You won’t be able to enjoy the small moments if you need to rush through them to finish your work. 

It’s important to remember that there will always be days where you’re ready to tear your hair out. You’re busy, the kids are arguing over the cheapest toy in your whole house, and you just want to wrap up a big job.

Not many people have the luxury of being able to care for their kids as they financially support them, and believe it or not, you are lucky!

Over to you – What advice do you have for balancing freelance work with parenthood? Leave a note in the comments below!

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About Susanne Loxton

Susanne Loxton is a business enthusiast who combines her interest in career with a passion for writing. On a daily basis, she works for Aubiz, a compendium of knowledge about companies in her native Australia.

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Comments

  1. Susanne,

    Great Article! I freelance and Im taking care of a 15 year old.
    It is challenging!

  2. Thanks for writing this article. Sometimes it’s good to hear someone else explain how lucky we are to be able to do both.

    Cutting out daycare at the start of the year was one of the biggest challenges to my business, but also the most fulfilling. I get to play a bigger part in my kids lives, whilst also attracting the best clients who get it, and in some cases doing exactly the same thing. Do I get stressed out? Absolutely. Do my kids get frustrated with my having to work while they’re at home? Often. Do I get to down tools and go to the park with them whenever we need too? You Betcha!

    I’ve become a better communicator as a result of working at home with kids. I’ve become more honest with my clients as to what’s going down at home. The kids aren’t an excuse to get around unrealistic deadlines, they’re part of my life and part of doing business with me.

    • Hi Damo,

      Thank you for this. Children grow up so fast, and whatever lessons we teach them while they’re young will profit later in their lives — it is crucial that we are for them during this special time.

      Granted, staying home for work AND for your children alike may be challenging at times, but it’s all going to be worth it in the end — and you get to combine the two in one!

      Susanne

  3. Well stated. I’ve been working from home since my twins and son was born. Now that they are 11 and 8, one great constant that works is including them in the work process as real world learning tools.

    I make sure to sprout it in small spurts to avoid boring or overwhelming them. For example I taught them how to read color books and to choose color schemes and walk them through the creation process. After years of teaching, one of 11 year old “hired” me to illustrate and layout her first children’s book. She is now learning what it’s like to be the client.

    The teaching aspect keeps us all close while I still work which a huge win in our house!

    • Hi Dionna,

      Thank you for sharing your story! This is what I love about freelancing — that you can accompany your children in their learning about world and life, guide them in the right direction and show them the things that matter all while you don’t miss out on your professional opportunities.

      Well, you’re a living example that being a great parent and maintaining a career can indeed go hand in hand!

      Susanne

  4. I started freelancing when my first daughter was born and initially felt uncertain about my decision, especilly because I felt lonely and was not used to the unpredictability of getting work to make ends meet. Now eight years have passed and I am very happy about chosing to be a freelancer. I love my work and the freedom of managing my time, even if it means juggling a lot, I am the one who is in control.

  5. I found you’re blog via Google and I have to say. A Massive Thank you so much, I believed your article was extremely informative
    I will revisit to see what further great information I can recieve here.

  6. Hi, Susanne, your article is so inspirational. I agree with you, about combining the freelance work with parenthood. I’m a newbie in translation business and I’ve four grandchildren with me. So far I’m still happy … in doing both, my activities as a freelancer and my special role as a nice grandpa.

    Kind regards,
    Hadie

  7. Yes, we are lucky. And work hard.

  8. Thanks for the article!
    I am a freelance translator and mother of 2 homeschoolers.
    Sometimes things get out of control, but nothing compares to the possibility of sharing with your kids every single day!
    🙂