I can not RELATE anymore to another freelancer who does not have a child's schedule to work around. I have noticed that I have even stopped reading certain blogs because of it!
I had my daughter almost two years ago. It was a life changing event. I knew it would affect my work, but I was not ready for just how MUCH it changed my work and creative process. In the beginning, I found myself getting bitter and angry at my daughter when she would wake up after only a 30 minute nap. Didn't she know I was in the middle of an extensive type study?!
I had to step back and evaluate my priorities. My daughter trumps any logo. I love to streamline and brainstorm and so I put my own situation under the microscope. I discovered some simple tips that worked for me and hopefully they will work for you also.
1. The secret to the work/life balance. There is no secret people! Please stop reading blog posts searching for the answer. It is individual and changes on an hourly basis. What works for you is just fine. Track your own schedule and your child's schedule to discover the best times to work. Remember, nights and weekends are now options.
2. Accept routine changes. I noticed I would get mad when my daughter would unexpectedly take a short nap. Then one day, I just accepted it. She obviously did not need any more sleep. I took that to mean that the design project I was working on while she napped was not fully developed in my mind. It was time to step away from the computer and take a brain break. In most cases, that extra time to brainstorm, was highly beneficial to the design outcome. Accept that the routine will change and view that as a positive to your process.
3. Ask for help. If you have a really big project or tight deadline coming up, ask for help. There are so many options available once you start looking. If you can afford it and feel comfortable, look into a nanny. If that is not in the budget, maybe see if a trusted neighbor could watch your child for a couple of hours. Maybe even hire someone to watch them right in your home while you work.
This summer, a high school neighbor watched my daughter 3 days a week for 3 hours a day for $8 an hour. I re-designed my blog, updated my portfolio and finished some big client projects. Sure it took me all summer instead of one week, but I got it done and my "only child" was able to play with all the neighborhood kids. She is better and smarter as a result and we now have a trusted network of neighbors, parents and new friends. Win. Win.
4. Work smarter, not longer. THIS IS THE BIG ONE. The key is streamlining. I used to work 7 hours a day. Now I work 4 hours a day and my work has never been better. I used to research on Pinterest and Google for hours. Now I search Pinterest during naps and at 11:00 pm right before I go to bed.
• Assign simple tasks to naptime such as answering emails or comments, project research, sketching and composing blog posts.
• Save focus driven work, like designing a logo or building a website, for after bedtime or on the weekends. When you are in a focus work time, work. No spinning off down the internet rabbit hole. GET. IT. DONE.
If I have a project, I work 8:30 pm (my daughter's bedtime) to midnight. I am naturally creative during those hours anyway. Maybe you are a morning person. Try working a little before your child wakes up.
5. Merge child & client schedule. Make sure you are sensitive to merging your child's schedule with your client's schedule. Pad your timelines to allow for any unseen child issues, sickness, bad days, doctor appointments, etc. I let all my clients know up front that I am a working parent. Most clients understand and don't mind. Most of them are working parents also!
Remember that a project is just a project, but you only have so much precious time with your child. They should come first. Period. No client pat on the back can outshine a kiss and a hug from your little ones!
You can find other FREELANCE 101 right here.