June 13, 2011 at 10:12 am #20828
Sometimes when we talk about the issue of balancing work and family as freelance writers, we think mostly (or only) about having children in the mix. But finding balance is a challenge for many freelancers, whether or not they have kids or a spouse.
You might be balancing your work time with your kids' nap times or school hours. You might work an unusual schedule so you and your spouse can work the same shifts and spend more time together. Maybe your pets cause an unusual challenge for you, having to be around you all the time you try to work. It could even be the challenge of dealing with other family members you no longer live with — maybe they don't take your work seriously and think you're always available to hang out or run errands for them because you don't have a “real job” in their eyes.
I'm not married yet, but it's also not too far off in my future. And kids will probably follow not too long after. But the biggest challenge I've dealt with so far is the last one I mentioned above. When I first began working for myself (freelancing in PR, not solely writing) my closes family members either didn't seem to “get” what I did or didn't have a lot of respect for it (mostly my mother who continued to clip job ads and drop them off whenever she saw me).
Things only changed when someone needed a significant amount of money quickly, and I was (shockingly) the only person in the family to have it. I went to my safe, whipped out the cash, handed it over, and told them “no rush on paying it back.” I've never received another job ad or criticism from family members about my work. Instead people just ask how things are going (you know, “normal” conversation rather than judgments).
This isn't a terribly uncommon issue freelancers can face, and you won't always have that opportunity to shush the doubters. If you had to deal with the same, how did you overcome it? Or are you still struggling to get family to respect your work as a freelance writer?
No matter what your biggest challenge is in balancing work and family life in freelancing, I'd love to hear about it. Even if we aren't all dealing with the same things right now, we may in the future. So let's help each other out by sharing our experiences and how we've gotten through them or found a way to make various aspects of our lives play a little bit nicer with each other.
JennJuly 30, 2011 at 4:54 am #21086
My biggest challenge in finding the balance is making sure that the little time I have is productive. With my daughter turning nine months on the fourth, I have definitely seen a lot of changes in my business. I don’t work my favorite hours, I work naptimes and a distracted playtime or two during the day and balance my husband’s crazy shifts of Army duty. I have a fraction of the time I used to in my pre-mother days. I had to change my target market so that I could bill more per gig and take on fewer gigs. Anyhow, with my parenting style I have to work very hard to get things done. I practice attachment parenting-no ignoring a crying baby for me or leaving her to play by herself. I breastfeed on demand, which can take up eight or more hours each day. Luckily, I have found a way to bond with my baby and get things done, especially during breastfeeding that includes a nap.December 6, 2011 at 3:34 am #21130
Thank you so much for opening up this topic.
Freelancing work has indeed become a great challenge for me for the same reason you mentioned that it is not a ‘real job’ to their eyes. By that I mean they think it is okay to just disturb me anytime they want to. They think that just because I am working at home, I can still do the household chores. That is so not true as you probably understand.
That reason and a lot more keep me distracted from work all the time. It took me a lot of time to realize that working from home requires double the discipline and time management.
What I did first was I had to make it clear to the people at home that they should not disturb me when I am working. I had to set up a separate isolated room for me to be able to concentrate on my work. I even had to use a time tracking tool to be able to focus, be more organized and more productive.
So far, this method has been working for me. Slowly, they also have understood the fact that I am actually ‘working’ from home. I learned that in time they will understand how it really is to work from home. It’s a relatively new industry so people just won’t understand it yet.
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