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?

translation · work life balance

September chaos among luggage and five translations

Dear all,

Returning to Italy yesterday evening with a handful of luggage, boxes, bags to find four translation projects waiting in my email (all four clients wrote yesterday while I was on the way back home), while another one is currently underway (good thing I worked on the ferry…while a group of Portoguese travellers were singing) is NOT what I had in mind.

Not to mention that I’d need three days to clean the house and I need to go out to sort out bills, payments etc. Good thing I’m not doing this alone.

To show you how bad it is, I’m not ready to send my little one to school even if that would help speed up the unpacking and cleaning process.

Two months of absence has its drawbacks I guess if you freelance but if it wasn’t hard where’s the fun? (my little one just brought me a glass of water which translates to something that looks like a smile).

Hope your September is exciting too.

Magda

balance · tips for freelancers · translation · twitter · work life balance · writing

Chickenpox, headache, a walk in the park and the meaning of it all

thomson memorial park
Nature as a setting for some “me time”, for recharging and connecting with yourself and with people.

 

Dear friends and readers,

During April, there was a week or two that I had it tough. I had a headache that took a few days to go away and this was after my 4 year old went through chickenpox so part of it was due to not having slept properly for at least a week.

But it wasn’t just that.

What made my headache worse was that I immediately started working on a translation that came in during the end of the period that my kid was home. Taking no time to do something about the headache and having no alternatives, I proceeded with the translation in hand hoping that my headache would go away.

Taking a break from parenting or freelancing (the two go hand in hand) is always a mission impossible, unless it’s for a couple of hours and always during the week while my kid is at school – which isn’t really a break – so I knew deep inside that this was a “normal” situation that I just had to endure.

Chickenpox is part of the process.

Having spoken with other parents, I was happy that my four year old had it now and not later. I heard of moms and dads who went through chickenpox along with their kids and it was a horrible experience for them.

Back to the headache now.

As I went along translating and doing all the other things I needed to do I kept realising that it’s impossible for someone not to be able to take a break. A break from the computer. Because it’s the computer that I blame for that headache. Well, not exactly the computer but you know what I mean. After intense translation work or an intense period of whatever (chickenpox) you need a break from it to help you see clearly.

Thing is I usually never take a break from it (not until when the chickenpox bout as you will see later). And besides translation work, I have other projects going on (let’s call it “writing, rewriting and deleting”). I don’t have a strict daily writing schedule but if an idea pops up (and it just so happens that ideas spring up while translating), I will write it down regardless of headaches, slight aches ..and other minor or major events.

So if I wasn’t translating, I was writing. But besides writing, there’s the temptation of Twitter which I have covered previously in the post How freelancers (and Twitter enthusiasts) can tame the #procrastination beast.

About Twitter. Even if I believe in its power and its magic in finding like-minded spirits that in real life and in your neighbourhood would have been impossible to locate, you need to know how and when to draw the line. That line that reminds you that you are not dedicating enough time to your side projects.

I decided it was time to find that golden line, hold it well, keep it straight and never let go.

After that translation was delivered, I took a long walk in the park with a friend and it was great. I kept my phone in the car. That felt even better.

That walk was like an antidote to everything that happened to me during the chickenpox period and afterwards. It was a revelation. I actually went to walk three times with my friend along with other people who joined us. Walking in the park with others is priceless. It’s also a time to connect with people offline and not just to connect with yourself.

That’s why the experience was something to write about.

Which translates to… taking a break from translating in order to write.

To write about headaches of course and about how crucial it is to take a break from it all, to let yourself experience something completely different, to embrace a state of mind that is pure, that is light, that nurtures you physically, that gives you food for thought.

Thought that removes those 140 character boundaries of tweets from our life.

That wasn’t a normal headache. It was a warning. An opportunity to finally do something different.

Walk in the park or go on the swing with your kids (I do it often – oops, did I hear a squeak?).

If you don’t have time to drive to parks you would love to go to or different locations do something different in the place you go to on a daily basis.

The baby park has tremendous possibilities. I get to talk with moms, read Dostoyevsky (a few paragraphs each time will suffice) and take notes.

The name of the game is less online and more offline, less tweeting and more working. I’m sure there are many of you out there that feel the same way. Share your thoughts.—

Thank you for reading…

A presto,

Magda