When I decided to take the leap into freelance writing, I knew deep down that working from home was going to be both very exciting, and very daunting. I was so excited about the idea of saying goodbye to midnight shifts and 40 hour work weeks, sipping my coffee in my pajama pants and feeling “so much less stressed”.
Let’s all laugh together. I have a five year old son and a two year old daughter, and in the initial days I was fighting back my tears and desperately trying to keep my head above water.
Truly, the first couple of weeks I felt like I was at such a loss. I call these the wasted weeks. I did not know where to begin with writing. Being home consistently was a whole new world for me, and I kept finding that whenever I would actually sit down to do my work, there would be some form of interruption. I kept letting these disruptions consume me, to the point where I was getting no work done at all. I became overwhelmed and let a couple of weeks slip through my fingers without accomplishing any projects.
Moms you get me, my stress had stress and I was stressed about my stress.
My feelings had a couple of large underlying causes to them. For one, I was switching so many things in my life at the same time. I realized I just felt out of place due to not having a “real job” outside of my home anymore, and had major fears that I would not be able to contribute financially to my family. I was scrambling to come up with a new routine that worked well for me.
That’s when it finally dawned on me, I just needed a routine. I needed to structure my days so that procrastination would become a thing of the past.
Everything changed when I accepted that I was not feeling overwhelmed due to working too much, it was merely because I was not setting aside adequate time for my writing.
So here are my tips for mommy freelancers out there:
Set aside the time you need!!- Figure out whether you like getting up early, staying up late, or do not mind working while your little ones are awake. No matter what you decide, set aside that time as your “work time”, and abide by it. You will be happy that you did.
I like doing work early in the morning before my children are awake. It helps me to feel like I have a head start on the day, and after a couple of hours I can step away for a break from my work, and get into mommy mode. I dedicate the rest of my morning to the kids and then usually head back to the computer at some point in the afternoon.
Baby gates are your friend!!- Do what you have to do to get a tiny bit of personal space. From my experience, trying to type with a little one climbing on your lap and poking at the letters on your keyboard is a losing situation. Perhaps you want to keep your office door open, just put a baby gate in the doorway so that you can listen to what is happening, or even just put a play yard around your desk. Give yourself permission to have a private work space.
Get a desk!!- If you have a dedicated area to your work supplies, you will stay so much more organized and treat freelancing like your job. While every once in a while I do indeed work from the comfort of my own bed whilst watching Bubble Guppies with my daughter, I know that sometimes by brain is thankful for a desk to sit and focus at.
Have “quiet time”- Every day in my house we have quiet time. My two year old takes a 90 minute nap and my five year old has time to himself in his room. During this time he can watch a movie, play with toys, color- really whatever his sweet little heart desires. He just can’t bother mommy. This gives us all time to recharge for the rest of the day. I use quiet time either to finish work, do some chores or take a rest. It really depends on the day.
Give yourself permission to have off days!!- Some days just won’t go as you plan. Your kids will fight, someone cries constantly or gets sick, your kids just neeeeeeeeeeed you to hold them all day or the world will end, you get distracted by playing outside for several hours, or just cleaning up a ton of messes. It happens. Forgive yourself for these days and move on. Just make sure productive days are your norm and non productive days are few and far between. Take a breath and let them go.
I set my kids up with different activities, craft projects, and movies. I try to keep things fresh and take advantage of the times that they are busy, and work around the times that they need me to be mom.
May your coffee be stronger than your children. Keep writing.