Before I had Oscar, I had a very naive idea of how I would mix the freelance life and parenting. I’m not sure if I assumed I’d have one of those children who happily just sat down doing one thing for ages, or I just assumed that I’d have more energy than I do. But the honest truth is that, on the days I don’t have nursery or childcare, I find it extremely challenging to get anything done. I think there’s a lot of pressure on mums who work from home to achieve so much – and being a mum on it’s own can be challenging enough. Someone recently asked me how I get so much done – and I honestly don’t feel like I do, I just happen to be fairly visible online. 21 months on, I still feel like I’m not achieving enough.
So, I thought it might be interesting to share a day in my freelance life, before and after having Oscar (on a day when I don’t have him in nursery).
Before Kids: Wake up at 7am, feeling (fairly refreshed). Sit in bed scrolling through e-mails. Saunter to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and breakfast. Scroll through social media. Put shower on. Wash. Put bra on. Dress. Meditate. I’m ready for the day.
After Kids: Wake anywhere between 5-6.30am. Scramble out of bed to be greeted by the noisy but smiling alarm clock/child. Go downstairs with Oscar and give him his milk and breakfast. Put kettle on. Put Peppa Pig on. Scroll through emails. Put kettle on again because I forgot to make tea. Make tea. Play hide and seek. Forget tea. Drink cold tea like it’s a shot of Sambuca.
Before Kids: Sit down at desk and work through To Do list. Take conference calls.
After Kids: Sit on sofa and keep Oscar busy with building bricks/cars/Disney movie/something in the garden if the weather is nice. Try to reply to e-mails/tweets/Facebook comments while he’s distracted. Stop half a dozen times to pull him off the walls/stop him eating the toys/stop him filling his toy box with water/applaud him for stacking a high enough tower. Repeat. Give in after five e-mails and join in with play. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch. Eat lovely, healthy lunch.
After Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch for two. Oscar refuses lovely, healthy lunch. Throws it on the floor. Put fish fingers in oven instead. Return to lovely lunch, now cold. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Drink tea and proceed through To Do list.
After Kids: Kid goes down for a nap. Mad panic about what to tackle first in the 1-3 hours of nap the toddler takes. Work, housework, shower? Procrastinate by mindlessly scrolling through phone for first 30 minutes. Panic a little more. Finally focus on e-mails, writing content and planning ahead. Take a conference call with one eye on the baby monitor, praying they don’t wake up mid-call. Throws wash in machine (last lot of wash is still in the basket, unfolded and un-put away). Debates whether to jump in the shower or baby wipe wash. Finally put on bra. Quickly dash around the house doing a five minute tidy. Child wakes from nap.
Before Kids: 6pm rolls around and you finish up for the day. Write tomorrow’s To Do list, and enjoy an evening of dinner, Netflix, social media scrolling and blog post writing. Maybe even venture outside and socialise.
After Kids: From 5pm, I have grand ideas of the many things that will be achieved after bedtime. As soon as Oscar is in bed, anytime between 7-8pm, I’ll collapse on the sofa in an exhausted heap. Half an hour later, realise I’m still watching Peppa Pig. Two hours later, collapse in bed.
Obviously, the ideal is that as someone who is self-employed, I should have the flexibility to just not work on the days when I don’t have nursery for Oscar. Reality is a little different.
But would I change it for a job? No! I love what I do, my freelance life is just as much a part of my identity as being a mum is. I love that I can be at home to see all the cool things my son learns to do. I love that there’s not as much pressure to be a polished mum all the time (because, no one apart from Instagram can see me at home). Plus my boss (me) is pretty understanding of the days when not much sleep has been had and all I want to do is have a day watching Trolls on repeat. Being a freelance, work-from-home mum is certainly a privileged position to be in, even with its challenges.
Oh, and this is really only very short-term in the grand scheme of things. In just over a year, he’ll be applicable for the free 30 days of childcare a week. And I’ll be sitting at home, working and missing him horribly. So if you’re going through these early years of freelancing and parenting, remember that it’s not forever! And you’re doing far better than you think you are.