Just over two years ago I started freelancing.
I was on maternity leave with Small Human and statutory maternity pay was crippling our finances. It was a real sink or swim moment; not just a case of tightening our belts. We needed a longer belt.
So, time to get a side hustle. Although, at the time I didn’t call it a ‘side hustle’, it was simply a way of affording to do things like buy nappies and eat food. I only did three hours a week, but it was enough to keep us afloat.
I won’t lie, it was tough going. I was new to parenthood. Small Human wasn’t a great sleeper. I wasn’t sure I was good enough.
But I was; my doubts were nothing but a misplaced imposter syndrome.
I’ve been freelancing on-and-off since. I had a six month break when I returned to work, but then I picked up another client late last year. Again, it hasn’t been easy juggling freelancing with work and motherhood. But it’s brought us so much. We’ve paid off £1,600 worth of debt, we’ve redecorated Small Human’s room and it’s – once again – keeping us financially afloat during maternity leave.
If you’re thinking of doing the same thing – this is what I’ve learned:
Take a long-term approach to balance
I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I write a blog. I work freelance. I work for a company. I co-run a house with Mr Thrifty Fox.
That’s a fair few balls to juggle. Some days, I feel like an amazing mother; we’ve baked, played puzzles, made train tracks, and they have wardrobes fully-stocked with freshly cleaned clothes. They’re happy.
Some days, I feel like an amazing freelancer. I’ve had meetings, pitched new ideas, networked and am ahead of my working schedule.
Some days, I feel like an amazing employee. I’ve had meetings, pitched new ideas, hit targets and kickstarted exciting projects.
Some days the house is clean and tidy, hoovered and mopped and has fresh flowers on the windowsills and the paperwork is filed.
But what I’ve learned in the past two years is it’s rare for these to all overlap at the same time. I’m a firm believer in that women can ‘have it all’ – just not in the same 24 hour period.
List, list, list
I love a To Do list. I always have. But they’re ridiculously important nowadays; if it isn’t on the list, it doesn’t get done. I categorise it – house, work, blog – and roughly prioritise. I start with a quick win, because it’s important to feel motivated before 8am and pre-c0ffee. And then I get cracking on everything else.
Just Do It
If it takes less than 5 minutes to do, just do it. It’s that simple.
Goals are pretty new to me. I’ve had them in the past but they were always floating in my head as opposed to being written down. Committed on paper. Now, I publish my monthly goals on Instagram (there’s nothing like public social media for making myself accountable) and have set longer yearly goals too. We’ve also got some five year goals to work towards as well.
I find them so important. On those days when I’m not sure I can be bothered to list another item on eBay or upload a picture to my Etsy shop… the goals remind me of why I should. I’ll be honest; it usually comes down to money. But now I have two small humans, it’s about them as well. You want them to have things. Opportunities. Adventures. Memories.
It’s cheesy, but believe in yourself – whatever it is that you want to do. Believe that you can start your own business. Believe that you can get that job. Believe you can get out of debt. Only you know what you can (and can’t do). Trust your instincts but be sensible, and…
Don’t Overstretch Yourself
Sure, I said you can have it all. But my definition of “having it all” is probably very different to yours. You cannot do everything. It’s simply impossible. Be time-efficient, but know your own limits. There are only 24 hours in a day and you need at least 8 if them for sleep.