Juggling Motherhood With Being Self-employed.by Claire Chircop
Going self-employed has been the best decision for my & my family, but it’s not without its difficulties. Being self-employed and being a parent is pretty blooming difficult! It’s a constant juggle of responsibilities which can so often leave you feeling like you’re failing at either one of your jobs. Work too much and you’re struck with mum guilt. Parent too much and you’re struck with a loss of earnings. It’s such a tricky one!
I chose to quit my ‘regular job’ and go self-employed to spend more time with my family. It’s why a lot of women find themselves turning to freelancing after having children. I’m still making a semi-decent wage whilst seeing my children grow up. It sounds ideal, it sounds like I’m a mum boss, but it’s HARD! Let me share my tips for juggling motherhood with being self-employed.
As terrible as it sounds, we rely on money. I wish we didn’t. In fact I wish we lived in a world where money wasn’t even a thing and we were all equals. But money matters. Being completely honest I could never do what I’m doing now without the financial stability of my husband. I’m privileged to be in a position where the money I make from being self-employed acts as ‘bonus money. That’s not to say I wasn’t money-savvy before going self-employed. Before making the leap I’d built up money from maternity leave as well as going back to work for a year in between. I knew I was going to make the jump, I just didn’t know when. Planning in advance has been massively beneficial for me especially when I was first starting off and cash flow was a little slow.
It's worth setting up a separate saving account for the taxman. Once you make over a certain amount of money, a proportion of that will have to be paid back as tax like you would in regular employment. I suggest setting up a separate account so a percentage of any money you're paid can be instantly transferred and forgotten about until it's time to pay.
I work around my children the majority of the time however once a week I get an afternoon's childcare. This time is SO precious! As hard as I work around my children, working around nap times, night feeds and bedtime, nothing beats knowing I have a set few hours each week to properly knuckle down and get stuff done. Just being able to switch my mind from being mum-Claire to work-Claire is so beneficial.
If you can, I'd really recommend looking into childcare, even if it’s just a few hours a week. The self-employed person I am with childcare compared to without are two totally different people. With two totally different work outcomes.
Work from different places.
I’m a mother at home & I work from home. It’s quite difficult to differentiate the two lifestyles. When I first went self-employed I’d work downstairs at a little desk in the living room. What I’d found is that I’d constantly see jobs that needed doing around the house. I’d be working, but I’d also be doing the washing or unloading the dishwasher. My work time was getting invaded by mundane house jobs I can (sort of) manage to do around the children.
I then began working upstairs in the spare bedroom. The space isn’t the nicest, nor is it the most motivating, but it’s a space I can fully immerse myself in work. Similar to having childcare, juggling parenthood with being self-employed is all about being in the right frame of mind. It's nice to go in there and be work-Claire.
I’d also recommend taking yourself off to a nice coffee shop to get work done. Treat yourself to a latte and a cake and sit down at your laptop. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much you can get done. I always thought I’d be too busy people watching, but it’s actually really nice to get totally in the zone of working.
Understand that you might not be able to do it all.
Nailing a work-life balance isn’t easy. In fact, even now eighteen months into being self-employed, I don’t think it’s possible. I’ve accepted the fact I’m not going to be able to do it all. I can’t have my cake and eat it. It’s just not possible. As much as I want to work 37.5 hours a week like the average person does, it’s just not feasible for me. Some days I can cram in five hours of uninterrupted work, others I’m lucky if I have half an hour to myself. You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth and understand that as much as you’d like to, you can’t do everything.
Are you self employed? How do you manage the juggle?