Freelance mum life: The truth
In September 2016 I made a life changing decision. I decided to pack in my secure, well paid, full-time job, managing the corporate communications department of my local police force to become self-employed.
Why? I loved a lot of the job – the variety, the challenge, the fast-pace, but for lots of reasons I was becoming someone I didn’t like very much. I was stressed, run down, and most worrying of all, I wasn’t being a very good mummy or wife.
I carried out a lot of research into becoming a freelance PR consultant. I knew I had the skills and the knowledge to do this kind of work for myself, I just had to suss out if the work was out there and whether it would pay the bills.
Turning to freelance life was a massive change. A lot of people have the misconception that being a freelancer working from home is a luxurious way to work, full of freedom, being your own boss and enjoying the comforts of home whilst earning a decent wage.
There are some amazing points, and it was definitely the best decision I could have made, but here are my top truths about freelancing:
It’s almost impossible to say no.
Anyone who is self employed will tell you, turning down work is the hardest thing to do. You live in fear of the work drying up, so you take on everything, ‘just in case’ demand slows down.
There’s no such thing as ‘the working day’
The biggest reason I moved to freelancing was to be more family focused and to have the flexibility to be at home more for my son (now sons). This has happened, but it means you pack a huge amount of work around mum duties. I can often be up at 5:30am with the baby, carry out a full-on day of mumming whilst also answering calls and emails, before starting ‘work’ at 8pm when both kids are in bed and finishing way after midnight when it all starts again. Weekends are also rarely ‘days off’.
You become a work demon whenever you’re child-free
I’m lucky enough to have amazing support from my parents and my parents-in-law, who provide me with regular childcare. Now that my youngest is 1, I’m starting to work 3 full days a week, and on those days, when I’m in my house, on my own, in silence, I swear no one in the world types faster! Those hours are so precious, it’s staggering the amount of work you can get through!
Getting paid can be a nightmare
When you’re an employee, getting paid is relatively simple. Money appears in your bank every month. The same amount (roughly), on the same day. When you’re a freelancer, people pay on their terms, and the gap between finishing a job and seeing some cash can be soul destroying.
You’re jealous of everyone’s Christmas ‘dos’
There’s no drunken office party, the secret Santa would be a bit of a flop, and there’s definitely no Christmas bonus!
I had my second son in November 2017 and was emailing clients within days of him being born. Luckily everyone I work for couldn't have been more understanding and accommodating but I couldn't cut out work for long. Jack came on his first trip to London so I could present at a meeting when he was less than 3 months old and he was at Brands Hatch with Damon Hill for a press launch a few weeks after that!
I hated being distant from my son and my husband when I was at a senior level of employment. I wasn’t around all the time and I think that became normal to my son. Now, I don’t do every school pick up but I’m there so much more and I love that he knows that.
You know other school mums and dads
When I was employed, I would do two school runs a week so felt massively disconnected to school and to other parents. Now, I enjoy seeing other parents, and love the fact that I’ve seen their kids grow up next to mine. I’m definitely known as the one that’s always late, but they do know who I am!
There’s no dull day
Being freelance is exciting! There’s variety in every day because you either move from project to project quickly or you work for a number of clients at the same time. When work ends, it’s exciting finding new stuff to get your teeth into.
You can get those little jobs done
Yes, you work like a demon and cram as much productivity into work time as possible, but you are yards from your kitchen where you can quickly load the dishwasher, or you can quickly hang the washing out.
You drink all the tea
All the tea…all day
And the best one…..
If I don’t want to work, I don’t work. I never compromise my quality of work and I never let a client down, but as long as I meet deadlines, and deliver on targets, I work when I want to. No one is expecting me to sit at a desk at the time they dictate, no one is telling me when I can go on holiday. I don’t have to ask anyone if I can go and watch my son’s assembly. It’s my life and I decide. I'd never say never to returning to employment if that's what I needed to do, but for now, it's the freelance life for this mum.