How I Freelance as a Parent with Small Children
When I became a mom, I felt like my professional life would be on hold for at least a decade. The relentless barrage of newborn sleep deprivation and the demands of a high-needs infant caused me to quit my conventional 9-5 job. Once a comfy dual income couple, we became a single-income family that was living on ramen noodles and Bon Jovi prayers.
The cost of living in our area didn’t give a flip about our basic needs. As our savings dwindled, I knew that our new life demanded that I have a job with flex hours for us to make it. However, all the weekend and night jobs out there paid little, while daytime work would leave me with a sad $4/hour profit after the costs of daycare. That’s when I knew that for me, I needed to work from home.
Long story short, I became a freelance writer, and I love it. I love it so much that even now that my first baby is 4 years old and I have a newborn, I’m still doing it.
Anyone who knows what small children are like will wonder how this is sustainable. After all, small children are messy, volatile, and attention-seeking. The truth is that each day is a circus to some degree. However, I’ve adhered to some key tactics that have kept my mommy freelancer ball rolling.
1. Time is my most limited and precious commodity.
When I first started writing, there was no boundary between work, downtime, and child rearing. My home office became a war zone of plush toys and the occasional rotten milk sippy cup. I knew that I had to make some changes. Here’s what I did (and currently do).
- I set early bedtimes for my kids. For example, I get them to bed at or before 7:30 pm.
- I block out the busiest part of the day for my family so I won’t have to work during dinner, playtime, or bedtime routines.
- When my kids are awake and can’t be left alone, I do household chores and all the tedious things that don’t involve the brainpower of writing great content. Therefore, when they’re asleep or away, I can devote myself to my work completely.
When your kids are very young, you need to start slow. Your best writing will be done when you’re undistracted, usually early in the morning, during nap times, or after bedtime. Though this means that your days will be extra long, you’ll slowly build a clientele. By the time your kids get older, you’ll gain more free time during regular business hours and have the ability to earn more through the relationships you nurtured in your early writing career.
2. I take only what I can handle.
I’m occasionally tempted to pick up that 8,000 word eBook on a highly specialized topic, but then I restrain myself from clicking “accept.” I then think to myself, “will I really have the time or energy to do this job justice while my daughter/son is sick/teething/being a toddler”? If the answer is no, then I stop myself and then promise that one day I will do a project this grand.
As I got more comfortable with writing, I found it possible to write rough drafts when my kids are awake. However, I never submit anything while on parent duty. The errors I make when distracted make me laugh when I review my work the morning after! Only after reviewing and editing with a fresh mind do I submit anything to clients.
As my time is limited right now with a fresh baby on board, I prefer short blogs that are between 300-500 words. I’ll move on to longer blogs and whitepapers as life gets more predictable again.
3. During more demanding parenting stages, I get help.
Contrary to what you may imagine, babies are a freelancing mom’s dream. They sleep a lot during the day. Ages 1- 3, on the other hand, are the most challenging. They’re incredibly clingy, are awake for hours, and have intense emotional and social needs. It becomes almost impossible to do any real work while they’re awake as they start cutting out naps too.
I fully admit I’m no supermom when it comes to toddler mayhem. To solve this problem, I have invested in part-time childcare after my daughter became a walking tornado. Having 100% certain quality work time boosts my productivity (and sanity) immensely. She also enjoys her time with her friends. It’s a win-win!
4. I make to-do lists.
With small children, your brain is going to be all over the place. To combat mom-nesia, I make sticky notes for jobs that need to be done and when they’re due. Being at home can make your attention divided, but having clear deadlines and knowing when you need to complete them will make you feel more organized and in control.
Freelancing is a Mother
Being a mom is amazing but it comes with interruptions, messy days, repetitive days, and many sacrifices. However, freelancing has empowered me to stay in the workforce and generate a decent income while meeting the unique needs of my kids’ early years. One day my rugrats will be in school and I will look back on the crazy days of naptime order rushes and the late nights and smile. I already know that this wild ride will have been worth it.
Alicia P is a freelance writer who specializes in the field of real estate writing but she is also adept at creating content for health, medical, and beauty topics as well. She has been working at a real estate office for nearly 3 years and has seen the ins and outs of the industry. Outside of WA, she also writes for real estate agents and brokerages, delivering curated content on time, every time. Alicia has written professionally for over a year and has completed over 500 orders for a diverse pool of satisfied clients across different writing platforms and services. She frequently creates blog posts, web content, articles, and product descriptions.