5 Tips for Success When Freelancing with Kids
Working from home when you have kids is a challenge, to say the least. Juggling their ever-changing schedules against the demand of your deadlines, while trying to find some occasional downtime for yourself, can seem next to impossible sometimes.
Here are 5 handy tips for making that juggling act seem like a breeze, and maybe even increasing your income while you’re at it.
Scheduling is the key to sanity…
I can’t stress this point enough – schedule as much of your day as you can. Flexibility of schedule was a very attractive feature of freelancing for me. No more clock to punch, no more daily grind. I could work around the kids, and maybe even be more spontaneous and creative in the process. Right.
Children thrive on a set schedule, and so will your business. Sit down and prioritize your commitments for next week. Now create a to-do list, and give these tasks little appointments in your calendar. Think of it as a game-plan for the week. Knowing what to expect from your day will not only increase your productivity, it will also reduce your stress levels.
Find ways to use your child’s schedule to your advantage. If your baby takes a short nap mid-morning, use that time to make your phone calls. If junior has a play date at his friend’s house on Wednesday, schedule that time to complete whatever that thing is you’ve been putting off for the last two weeks. Be creative with your scheduling. The possibilities are endless. You might even find some free time you didn’t know you had…
It’s easy to lose touch with former colleagues and associates after you transition to the home office environment. I’ve found that keeping in touch with former contacts, as well as creating new associations, can greatly increase your chances of success. Your connections can provide you with referrals and recommendations, and even the occasional job.
Staying connected doesn’t mean dedicating precious hours every month to social functions, or anything like that. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn provide an easy way to stay in touch with former co-workers, and they can add their recommendations right to your profile. Sending a simple card for birthdays and holidays is also a good way to keep yourself fresh in someone’s mind.
I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to create new contacts is by joining a local organization or association. Not only do you share in the prestige that comes with membership, but many of these organizations have regular newsletters you may be able to advertise in. Maintaining a wide base of contacts and associates is one of the keys to success as a freelancer. It’s not always what you know but who you know that can pay off in unexpected ways.
With or without kids, it’s always a good idea to continue your education whenever you can. I don’t necessarily mean going back to school, though that is certainly an option. Contact your local Economic Development office and any community colleges in your area. Many times you will find they offer seminars or lectures either for free or a nominal registration fee. You can also expand your skills by teaching yourself to use new software or building a web page. If you have older children who are studying writing or computers, go over the course material with them. Even the occasional refresher on something you already know can help keep you on top of the game.
It’s OK to ask for help…
You don’t have to be a super-hero to see to everything on your to-do list, but having a support team will certainly make things easier. As deadlines approach, arrange for the kids to spend some quality time with Grandma or Aunt Sue. Many schools offer after-care, and some child care centers have special “drop-in” rates for part-time attendees.
Finding time to work uninterrupted may not be the only area where you could use a hand. There are lots of mundane tasks you can take off your list by allowing other people to do them for you. Enlist local teenagers looking for some pocket cash to weed your flower beds. Take advantage of meal preparation services to fill your freezer with no-fuss home cooked meals.
You might even consider hiring a maid service. This may sound a little extravagant at first, but I’m not talking about a full-time housekeeper. Even if you only use them once or twice a month, they can focus on suck tedious tasks as cleaning the blinds or washing the baseboards. When was the last time the top of the refrigerator was cleaned, anyway?
Use parenthood to your advantage…
There are many ways you can use parenthood to your advantage when trying to advance your freelance career. Volunteering your services for local children’s organizations is a good way to gain exposure for yourself while helping a worthy cause at the same time. You can also start a parent blog, giving you a chance to show off your skills while writing about challenges parents face. Don’t forget to link anything you create to your portfolio so prospective customers have solid samples of your work.
If you’re not a member already, consider joining parenting support groups, play groups or your local PTA. Again, you may find opportunities to beef up your portfolio by volunteering to design fliers or newsletters. You will probably meet other parents who are either self-employed or small business owners themselves, and you may even gain new customers.
There are a multitude of other ways in which you can use parenthood to your advantage. Be creative, and keep your eyes open to the possibilities. The opportunities for freelance work are only as limited as your imagination.