On the face of it, freelancing and parenting seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Where office hours restrict parents from participating in daytime activities with their children, freelancing offers a more flexible schedule that yields more freedom to join the PTA, ferry kids to Karate practices, and more.
But the reality of freelancing-while-parenting is far more challenging than new parents (or new freelancers) may expect. Here are 5 tips for juggling the joys of parenting with the responsibilities of freelancing:
1. Start with a strong foundation
Freelancing can be precarious. Ideally, you or your partner have been freelancing for long enough that you have a steady stream of clients and a solid income. You’ll want to ensure that you’re able to secure adequate healthcare for both you and your children, so taking some time to do due diligence in regards to what kind of family plans you can afford and what standards of care you expect.
Under ObamaCare, if your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, your children may qualify for CHIP – which offers coverage up to age 19.
Finally, it’s important to have enough savings amassed that you can handle the many unexpected expenses of raising a child.
2. Secure childcare
Yes, maybe you’ve decided to go freelance to spend less on childcare, but have you ever tried to meet a deadline while calming a child going through the terrible twos? You’re going to need some help.
Luckily, freelancers have more options available than just the traditional (and often expensive) nanny route. Some freelancers have formed childcare co-ops in which parents take turns watching each other’s kids. This approach requires a lot of clear communication, however, it’s important that parents share similar parenting philosophies and goals, behavior and discipline policies, as well as remain reliable to one another within the group.
Some co-working spaces have begun to offer childcare as part of membership. NYC's first coworking space with childcare, CoHatchery, states that its mission is to “empower parents to pursue big careers without compromising parenthood.”
The space has co-located, but separate children’s areas, as well as breastfeeding rooms and children receive a uniquely curated curriculum created by early childhood specialists. The company launches its first location in Park Slope July 11th but plans to roll out additional locations all over the Manhattan and Brooklyn.
3. Have a support network
A strong community is a boon to any freelancer, but for a freelancer / parent, having a support network is imperative. Freelancing can be lonely and, as any stay-at-home mom will tell you, parenting can be pretty lonely too.
It’s important to have a support network that will pitch in when times get tough, or simply pick up the phone when you need to have an adult and non-work-related conversation. Trying to go it alone is a recipe for burn out, so reach out – it will make you a better freelancer and a better parent.
4. Separate work time from parenting time
Although it may be tempting to do double-duty with your time, you risk causing the quality of your work and your parenting to suffer. Give yourself the gift of focusing 100% on the task at hand. If you have a deadline looming, make childcare arrangements.
Conversely, let your clients know during which hours you are available – and which you are not. Be assertive about your boundaries; it will help keep your life in balance.
5. Consider outsourcing
Before becoming a parent, you may have had time to DIY a lot of aspects of your business, but kids make a great case for outsourcing some of those administrative responsibilities. A virtual administrative assistant can help you keep those business management tasks up to date, but outsourcing doesn’t just stop at the desk. Many household chores can be outsourced – leaving you with more time to focus on making a living for you and your family.
Freelancing can be a solution to pursuing a robust career while experiencing the joys of parenthood, but like all good things, it will take a little extra work to find your balance.
If you’re freelancing in NYC, consider looking into Co-Hatchery – it might be the solution for you! Pre-registration ends this Friday – use the code ‘freelancers&cohatchery’ to get $50 credit on your first month’s fees.
Are you a parenting freelancer? What tips do you have for freelancers thinking of becoming parents – or parents considering the possibility of going freelance? Share in the comments below!