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