It’s been a few weeks since I published anything new here at Freelance Parents. I’m sorry if you wondered where I’d disappeared to. The truth is that it’s been a difficult time, as a friend fought the last few weeks of her battle against cancer, leaving behind her incredibly brave husband and eight year old twin girls.
Needless to say, it’s difficult to focus on work when something like this happens. On top of the great sadness you have for everyone involved, it suddenly feels as though each moment spent away from your own family and friends is a moment wasted.
The experience has really made me reassess my priorities.
Although I’ve got my freelance client work neatly packaged into timeboxes which suit my family, running the Freelance Parents website has been stealthily eating into evenings that I used to spend with my husband or organising family life. I’ve been nowhere near as rigorous in protecting my time because this is my own project, and one I’m very much enjoying.
Although it’s normal to have to put in a lot of extra effort when starting up an exciting new business and to make sacrifices of our own spare time, we need to watch out for when too many of those sacrifices are being made by family and friends.
The flexibility that freelancing gives you can be a double-edged sword.
With no-one else to tell you when or how much to work, there is always a temptation to do more. The office is right there at home and can draw you in. Sometimes this is with excitement over a project or the knowledge that the more work you do, the more you’ll earn. At other times, the pull is from an endless to-do list.
A continuous stream of email and social media alerts on your phone can also take you away from the family even when you seem to be present. I’m certainly guilty of scrolling through my Twitter stream whilst waiting to be served plastic fishfingers from my five year old’s tea trolley.
And when you feel as though the possibilities for your growing business are infinite, and you need to investigate them all right now or you’ll miss the boat (or is that just me?), it’s all too easy to start turning down invitations from friends – how can I possibly spend three precious hours just having a casual coffee when I’ve got all this stuff waiting for me to make it happen?
I thought I was sticking to my own Freelance Parents manifesto of putting my family’s needs before my business, because I was doing all of my work on the blog when the children were asleep or in the few non-client hours I have when they are at school. But super-late nights and a continually wandering mind don’t make for a great mummy or wife.
These last few weeks have been a harsh reminder that every moment with my family is a precious thing, and so is my own health. I’ll be protecting both of them rather more from now on.
To that end, I’ll be spending much of December planning Freelance Parents work, rather than frantically writing and publishing posts in my usual just-in-time fashion. There’ll be one more post here before Christmas, then I’ll be getting ahead on a new set of posts for January that will round off the Start Freelancing series – all about setting up your business processes. So let me know if you have any questions about managing finances, invoicing, record-keeping, proposals, contracts, insurance or anything else slightly tedious but extremely important! 2014 will also bring interviews with successful freelancers, more posts for those of you who are already up and running and lots more freelancing resources.
I’ll still be chatting and answering questions on the Freelance Parents profiles on Twitter and Facebook throughout December (although perhaps not quite so quickly as before as my phone might be on a high shelf while I play Pop to the Shops). So, do keep in touch and have a fantastic Christmas.