What no-one tells you about freelance work and being stay at home mum

So you imagine giving up your office job and becoming a freelancer? You think about being able to work in your PJ's, pick your own hours and do something you love. We've all had those thoughts at one time or another...whether dictated by wanting to pursue our passion project or because we have babies and young children we want to be at home for.

When I fell pregnant I quickly found the male dominated industry that I was in was not very forgiving of pregnant women and experienced discrimination. Going through this whilst pregnant was awful and stressful and I often wonder how many women out there are going through something similar.

I had already been working a side hustle through my blog for some years and had a couple of small freelance jobs, and soon it became my full time occupation. Once the Little Inspiration was born it became difficult to work around the constant feeds, reflux episodes and need for cuddles so I took a slight break until things started to settle again and then did bits and bobs until around 6 months.

I then started to ramp up on freelance writing and marketing opportunities and having done this for a while now, I have realised a few things about it. Whilst all of the first paragraph applies and I have indeed worked in my PJ's and around my own (read: the baby's) hours, here are some of my other observations:

- You never get a break, like, never! 

The joy of choosing your own hours is somewhat negated by the fact they are not really of your choosing as a mum. You work hurriedly during nap times, jumping at every little noise from the baby monitor, afraid that your ten minutes are up. You type like the wind whilst simultaneously planning the next three meals for every member of the family and shoving loads of washing in. When baby is awake, you can forget getting anything done as they take joy in banging their cute, chubby little fingers over your laptop and demand to be picked up. So instead you perform your role of mummy and then after dinner is done, bath time and bed has been taken care of, instead of settling down to an uninterrupted hour or two of TV, you pick up your laptop/phone to start working again. Your weekends are spent making the most of having another pair of hands around to childcare so you can get more work done. You are permanently tired. Been up all night with the baby, you still have to work and not just until 5pm.

- It is seriously isolating

Being a mother is isolating, completely the weirdest thing ever but despite being the busiest and least alone you have probably ever been...you feel so lonely and isolated. Add onto that a job that is confined to late night and early morning emails, sitting alone staring at a screen, and not actually having much human contact at all, it is a very lonely experience. Gone is the camaraderie of a team, the office banter and friends to lunch with. Even being able to share the load is null and void. It is all. on. you.

- You can never stop looking for work

The security of waking up each day and knowing (generally) you are going to the same job is not there. With many freelance contracts being fairly loose, you can find that one ends and another one starts, all in the same day. Even with agreements in place, you don't know if you'll be on the same job next month. That means you're in a perpetual sales mode of seeking new contracts and fulfilling your old ones. Sometimes there are lulls, where not much work comes in, and other times there is too much and you wonder how you'll get through it. Your family's financial security is never fully certain and you argue more with your partner, if you're lucky enough to have one, because they feel the burden of making sure there is a stable income coming in. You feel guilty if you slow down a bit but guilty if you take on more work, because at the end of the day, someone or something is suffering.

- The future is...uncertain

Linked to above but more about your career path, you worry that if you want to get back into the workplace in the future it might be difficult. Or that even if you had to, you could never get used to having a boss again and dealing with all of the S.H.I.T that goes with organisational culture. You may be spoilt by working for yourself and you might actually have lost skills, the ability to work with others, or your personality. (jokes, but also a little bit serious). You want to set a good example for your children about how hard work pays but then you don't know if freelance life is one you would wish for them.

- You need to be everything to everyone

You are sales, marketing, operations, labour, manager, financial adviser, cook, cleaner, carer, stock taker, buyer, project manager on the your home renovation and everything else that is not chief earner. When you work for yourself you have to be a Jill of all Trades and that means learning new skills and wearing multiple hats. When you work from home that also means you take care of all home and child related tasks. Even the most supportive partner in the world is not around for 99% of household or baby related work that needs to be done, so you do it.

- It can kill your passion

If you are working full time on your passion project, whether that be your blog or upcycling furniture, what was once a fun outlet for your creativity can become a bore, a chore and fun no more. Turning anything into your full time job and money maker is always going to be a challenge as it changes the focus. Just beware that you might need a new hobby to get some much needed downtime, if you ever get any again. :)

- The guilt

This only really applies when you've got a little one about but occasionally you might get a bit of help from a family member, nanny or friend and whilst you're upstairs working, you hear them crying. Your first instinct as a mum is to run to your baby and scoop them into your arms. You wonder what has happened to them, are they being cared for properly and are you a bad mum if you ignore it and carry on working. If you do go and see them, you find yourself unable to leave without upsetting the poor bubba more, whoever is watching them feels checked up on and you work flow is interrupted. Trying to gain some separation from the house work and childcare whilst you are in the home working is very hard.

Overall working from home is great and there are many upsides, I'm my own boss, a digital nomad and have a portfolio career where i get to dabble in various projects, but, it's important to know it's not all sunsets and roses. I love that I can mostly be there for my baby whilst earning a living. I can take the afternoon 'off' from work and do mum things with the Little Inspiration. Even just being around for cuddles and to watch them as they change and develop every day is so worth it.

But yes, I do sometimes wish someone else was taking care of a fussy toddler's meal times, and I could sit and have a hot drink, or a wee, in peace during nap time, rather than rushing to my laptop to type out as many words as I can fit in.

Now being pregnant with number two and my house/ workplace being a building site, life has taken on new challenges and we'll see what life as a freelancer holds.

What are your tips for balancing mummyhood and life as a freelancer?

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