freelancing · kids · mom · motherhood

A freelancing mom’s interlude

September is almost over. Oh and I heard that Summer was here too. Did you see it by any chance?

People love Summer. I think I like it too but it puts my life into derail mode that I am not exactly looking forward to it, besides for wearing shorts, tees and sandals. I am not much of a Winter fan either but being a homebody, I am okay with rainy and cold days. When you freelance, you don’t really care about the weather. Well, maybe you could be a little bit jealous of those who take holidays without fearing of losing clients (now, try to explain that…). It gets worse if you freelance full-time including weekends because you have a rent or mortgage to pay.

Which translates to… an overwhelming freelance lifestyle.

The truth is I don’t have time to write a blog post these days but a few days back one evening while listening to Else Gellinek’s podcast interview with Paul Urwin, I said to myself: You can do this. Go and finish up that post you drafted.

Right. Where was I?

The Summer.

Work wise it was busy with only a few “clouds” of urgent projects lasting a couple of days due to a fashion translation which proved to be more tricky than it seemed, though definitely more fun than anything else!

But in July and August this year I also received some translation requests impossible to accept. Out of the new prospects who contacted me this Summer, I only accepted new assignments on the grounds of feasibility, reasonable rates and subject-matter.

During the Summer holidays when the schools (or kindergartens or day-care centres) are closed, when teachers take time-off for the whole Summer while being paid for it (sorry, had to vent about this), us freelancing parents need to find solutions for combining work and having our kids around.

The options vary according to your family’s needs and of course financial status but if there is another female figure in your family (usually your mom or mother-in-law) who can give a helping hand, it makes everything a lot easier. Actually it is a blessing and not just because of the baby-sitting involved.

If you live abroad, you simply pack your luggage and move your office to your parents’ house with your children. However, having a female figure around to help you all year round or throughout the holidays, is not feasible for all freelancing parents. Regardless of whether living grandparents live next door or in another country, if they can’t help or if they are not around (anymore), there is little you can do.

What’s a freelancing parent to do?

This Summer I chose a combination of options:

  • Sent little one to Summer camp for one week
  • Accepted assignments that were important and turned down offers that I saw no potential in
  • Worked on the staircase of our building facing the courtyard, while watching my kid play
  • Stayed with friends in a town by the sea for a few days

I must admit that the most exhausting part was not working on the steps of the staircase, even if I did get a sore back for a few days. It was staying with other people. Exhausting in the sense that besides working, I needed to pay more attention to my 5 year old who needed to adapt to an entirely new environment.

In fact, these new surroundings have shed a light on my own parenting strategy in some areas like working towards better discipline and respecting a parent’s need to be (talk) with others without interruptions. There is always room for improvement. Staying with my friend was a wise holiday alternative at this point of my child’s life. I may not have been able to tour Tuscany because when my translation was delivered, sunny days were over (can you believe it?), but my revamped parenting style might help towards achieving greater balance and less stress.

Before I go, I have a tip for future moms. Please understand me. It is given with love.

Running a business from home with children is a truly rewarding experience but it’s hard work. Therefore, before jumping head and feet into it, you may need to consider that one of the risks of having kids, especially nowadays when women have kids at a later age or when women live away from their parents, is related to raising your children without your mother or mother-in-law. If she lives in another country, you need to consider that in times of real need, she might not be there, whereas, throughout the Summer staying at your parents’ or mom’s house might not be a holiday option for you. Imagine if your parents’ house is in a huge and stressful city very far from the beach or if they go away on holiday too. What’s more, if your baby is small (not a newborn) and is not used to being with his grandmother and other people, it might be difficult to focus on work without being interrupted all the time. One way to prevent this is to visit your parents’ house more often. The attachment of a baby to his mother all year round is a lot greater when there is no grandma around. At least, this is what I think and of course I might be wrong.

Notwithstanding everything, parents have powers they only realise while raising their children. They can miraculously handle lack of sleep, impatient children, activities, overlapping deadlines meaning that they can become really good at freelancing.

***Like it? Share it. Have something to get off your chest too? Share it! Also feel free to send me a personal email at mgdp05 (at) gmail (dot) com in case you want to vent off-line).***

picture: Woman at the Virginal Jan Miense Molenaer 1630 – 1640

freelancing · kids · mom · motherhood · parenting · work life balance

Being a freelancer and a mom is a double act of courage

motherhood-uma-thurman-anthony-edwards-7_big
From the film “Motherhood” (2009) with Uma Thurman

Dear all,

You often hear about “work life balance”, juggling life and kids, trying to fit everything into 24 hours and into a lifetime. Most of it is true. Actually it’s more than true. We all do need to have balance even if in effect it’s not balance that we are targeting at when waking up in the morning to prep our kids for school. We do what needs to be done. If we are lucky to have “balance”, it will show later.

I am not so sure if terms such as “juggling” and “balance” can best describe what freelancing with kids is. I would go for other terms. It is an act of courage, patience, strong will and fearlessness.

Parenting teaches us

Actually, this fearless nature of parenting can show us ways to develop our business skills as freelancers not to mention that parenting can be a school of adults. With lots of exercises! Parenting represents a mirror of your psyche because it is through raising your kids that you get to really “see” who you are. And it is through parenting that you learn to “undo” or improve aspects of your personality.

Freelancers are no ordinary parents.

There are moms who juggle a job in the office with kids, moms who juggle a highly demanding career with a personal life without kids and ….there are women who juggle freelancing with kids. And for some reason, I think the latter is the most challenging of all because it means two unpredictable roles into one.

Freelancing with kids entails unpredictability

Unpredictability, work wise, usually has to do with overlapping and/or urgent projects, replying to urgent requests, receiving work from new clients (add your own). Unpredictability with kids… well, if you are a parent and you read this you know the drill.

But unpredictability is only a piece of the pie. Maybe a big one but the more time goes by, the more I realise that freelancing and kids entails another “risk” for moms who love to work and want to run their own business from home.

The need to do things

It’s the risk of doing too much and at the same time the risk of having people expect too much from us. Because they know we want to help. And we want to. It’s a genuine interest. They know we always squeeze time in. Until one day we see reality with bare eyes. But it’s not their fault. It’s us and our perfectionism.

That’s how – I humbly believe – you can at least remotely approach the issue of balance. By doing something about doing too much! And you need to start from yourself. The people around us, our clients, family, friends cannot be in the position to see that you are doing “un passo più lungo della gamba” (bite off more than you can chew) unless you put a stop to it. For example, it’s been a while I started emailing my translations very late in the evening so that they can be in my client’s inbox next morning. I do it for a specific practical reason but this way I also let them indirectly know that I am doing what I can so they can be more… gentle with delivery dates. 🙂 I think it works.

The image others have of freelancing moms

And what is it that people think we do? We freelancing moms sometimes get to be labelled as doing a bit of freelancing while raising our kids. Try tell this to that mom who delivered a translation at 11.59am which was due 12.00 after a very hectic day involving proofreading another text, prepping her kid for school, taking the laundry at the self-service laundry, replying to emails. Sounds crazy. And still, some parents do it.

I get the impression that by the “naturally blendable” nature of the two roles, we come off (not by everyone of course) as “moms that do some freelancing too”. But if this is the case, we are at least recognised as women who work full-time as moms! This type of recognition doesn’t happen everyday…

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in Italy freelance translators don’t have their own pension fund but pertain to the infamous “gestione separata” which translates to…. paying the highest rate for social contributions because (this is my own interpretation) we are deemed as people doing some freelancing on the side and not a real job.

A freelancer’s “full-time” job

Guess what! Freelancing can be a full time job and worst (full time is usually 8 hours a day while some of us work 10-18 hours a day). A mom can be freelancing (e.g. translating) from 9am to 5pm and then from 10pm till 2am, during weekends, while being sick and this isn’t freelancing on the side.

Of course, some of us may well start “on the side” whether we have kids or not.

But eventually our business grows. We grow, our business grows and our kids grow too.

Not courageous enough?

Along the way, we need to have a huge amount of courage. Personally speaking, I have a lot of work to do in this department. I am not sure if I am courageous enough for all this. But I try.

One day you might even find yourself say “Today it was cool. Today I didn’t run too much”, while enjoying a cup of coffee looking at the sea from the balcony of your dream house. That is when you might find yourself doing a bit of freelancing. Who knows?

M.

– Share your thoughts! Do you also feel that you need more courage to face it all? How do you find it?

freelancing · kids · mom · motherhood · parenting · translators

Keep calm and don’t panic (for parents who freelance)

keep_calm_and_don__t_panic_by_miss_cupcake1102-d4rzhud{be calm and help
your kids be calm too}
Parents learn the hard way. (Okay, sometimes, they learn the panic way. It’s wrong but it’s normal.)

Same way as most freelancers do. We can get iffy projects, suspicious projects, clients that don’t understand the work we do and expect lower prices and fast deliveries. We can’t afford to be too emotional. And most important of all: We need to give an image of calm, of self-restraint, of being cool.

Most of the time we only realise how crucial it is to be able to maintain a certain level of calm and self-control until we come across situations which test our patience.

How we react to those high hazard challenging situations shows how fragile we really are.

With kids, things get a bit more complex.

Why?

It’s daily routine!

Today’s tip is very simple yet very tough to always follow.

KEEP CALM

Which translates to enjoying a peaceful day of freelance work.

No surprise how “Keep calm and carry on” and a variety of versions has gone viral!

The name of the GAME is CALM.

Example

Your baby cries desperately because he/she cannot find a favourite toy. Keep calm and in a calm way explain that we are going to find it. You know you probably won’t but if you see desperation, show hope. Avoid saying things like “it’s nowhere to be found”. Don’t panic. Don’t try looking into the bin for it. Keep calm. It helps your kid to stay calm. Then, under a calm situation (can be the day after) you will say “still can’t find your toy, have we looked everywhere”?

The moment “it gets to you”, is when you know how fragile you still are.

And you want to be less fragile.

You must work on being less fragile.

🙂

M.