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How to survive the juggle struggle – a guide for self-employed parents.

How to survive the juggle struggle – a guide for self-employed parents.

This is a guest post

Self-Employment is a gift. It’s also a bit of a curse, especially when you’re working at home whilst also looking after a small child (or two). Now don’t get me wrong, I love being my own boss, but it’s honestly not without its pitfalls. I’ve been working for myself for the last three years and I’ve learned a few things about it along the way.

 

Primarily, it’s not a one-way ticket to mega-money. Far from it. You quickly begin to realise that the steady stream of income you were once used to in the days of paid employment is something you massively undervalued at the time. That said, the first time you make a sale or get paid for your services, no matter how small the amount may be – that payment is worth its weight in gold to you.

 

The sense of satisfaction you get from creating and implementing your own workload is fantastic. It just takes a lot of time to establish yourself as a self-employed business, rather than ‘a mam who sells crap on the side’. You’ve got to switch that mindset off when you’re in work mode, otherwise, your self-employed dream will soon come crashing down.

 

The biggest difficulty must be the juggling. It is way too easy to take on more than you can handle, to begin with, and all this while you’re being a parent at home too. It’s tough to multi-task effectively when you work from yourself, not least because of the level of self-discipline required to make yourself do work.

 

That’s the key thing here; self-discipline. All well and good in theory, but when you’ve got a four-year-old hanging off your leg because she wants you to go and do colouring in with her – you feel like utter crap for telling her that you’re working. Then you eventually cave in and go do the colouring, because you’re a parent above all else, right?

 

Wrong.

 

Here comes the controversial bit. Part of being that parent is being able to provide for your kids. That sometimes means sacrifice. I believe that those of us who work from home can often have a tougher job on their hands because of the guilt we feel about shutting the door on our children when they want our attention. But it has to be done. Not all the time, but for certain times in your week, you need to make your work a priority – otherwise how else will you support your children long-term?

 

It’s all well and good saying that they need your constant love and attention, but just because you’re committing yourself to working for three or four hours a day, you aren’t shutting them out. You’re trying to do what you can to build the funds to take them on a dream holiday or help them to afford their first car. Whatever it may be, your work is purposeful and valid; even though it might not feel like it when you’re internally freaking out about ignoring your kids.  You need this time too – you’re your own boss now. So, boss yourself. You wouldn’t get away with putting your workload off till tomorrow if you were working for someone else, would you?

 

The juggling act is tough, which is why I really rate having a planner or wall calendar of some kind that’s visible to everyone in the house. I go through it at the start of each month and mark of the days that are going to be my ‘work days’. Obviously, this changes month on month – no one’s family life is as routine as they’d like! Mine in particular as I have to fit my work around my husband’s shifts and my daughter’s nursery schedule. But I make sure that I have at least two days in the week that I can allocate to ‘work’. The fact everyone can see it is important too. Those around you need to respect your working pattern as if you were going out to a job in the outside world. Just because you’re at your computer in the house doesn’t mean they can interrupt you.

 

Then there’s prioritising your actual work. I’ve started to do this with a bullet journal – in fact, I only started it yesterday but already I’ve found that setting five small tasks each day means that I’ve more chance of accomplishing them. The key is to not give yourself too much to do each day, otherwise, it becomes all-consuming and you inevitably end up procrastinating into nothing.

 

Set goals and give yourself a timeframe. For example, I have three hours between 9am-12pm in which to do writing-based tasks, as that’s when my daughter is at nursery. So, I allocate a morning slot to writing and give myself a little goal of 300 words. I’m on 812 so far. I have other roles that I need to juggle too, but again, plan them out and allocate a small timeframe for each one and you’re far less likely to get distracted.

 

Basically, my advice for those of us who struggle with the juggle is this; be kind to yourself, prioritise, remember why you’re doing it and actually boss yourself. Being self-employed is hard. It really is. You’ve got to make sacrifices. But the rewards are there if you’re willing to be disciplined and motivate yourself. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Author bio

Ar is a freelance writer and artist who lives in the North East with her four-year-old daughter. She runs two businesses outside of her writing work and also plays rugby with her local women’s team. Currently writing her first book, you can find her at https://actualar.co.uk, or on Twitter and Instagram @actualwriting.

 

 


 

 

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12 Comments

  1. 19th June 2018 / 7:03 am

    Hi, it can be tough and a juggling act but well highlighted about trying not to be too tough on yourself. Hopefully it can be successful and fit in around everyday life #triumphanttales

  2. 19th June 2018 / 9:58 am

    Self-employment, for me (although I am not), isn’t about earning mega-bucks. Self-employment allows the freedom to live the life you want to and have that flexibility. There was a time when I was employed and self-employed at the same time – now that was a juggle!
    #TriumphantTales

  3. 19th June 2018 / 11:18 am

    You’re obviously doing a great job! #triumphanttales

  4. 19th June 2018 / 11:33 am

    Yes, sacrifice is what we have to do … and plan well. #TriumphantTales

  5. 19th June 2018 / 11:48 am

    I agree that it is part of our duty to earn and support our kids. It’s a good example for them too. Also, you’ve got to expect to drop those balls every now and then when your juggling xx

  6. 19th June 2018 / 6:00 pm

    Be kind to yourself is a great tip. I juggled until recently work, a business, home educating and housework and it was too much. Sometimes easing up a bit pays its own dividends. #TriumphantTales

  7. 19th June 2018 / 6:49 pm

    Great tips, especially the wall planner for all to see #TriumphantTales

  8. 19th June 2018 / 11:49 pm

    it’s good that you’ve found a routine that works for you #triumphanttales

  9. 21st June 2018 / 3:29 pm

    Sounds like that you found a great routine and thanks for sharing it with us. #triumphanttales

  10. 24th June 2018 / 8:32 pm

    I had to work from home recently as my daughter was sick. It was the hardest day to not be able to do what she wanted me to do and I’m not self employed. It must take some strong discipline to make sure that you stick to your work pattern. #TriumphantTales

  11. 25th June 2018 / 9:02 am

    All great tips for being self employed #TriumphantTales

  12. 30th August 2018 / 2:27 pm

    Thanks for all your thoughts on this guys, much appreciated 🙂

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