How I Nurture My Freelance Business and My Family at the Same Time
Being a freelancer is a pretty awesome gig for a mom. Having the freedom and flexibility to earn a living from your home, set your own hours, pick your kids up from school or rearrange your day if someone gets sick is something many working moms dream about.
Freelancing does, however, come with its challenges. Being your own boss requires a set of habits most of us didn’t pick up in our early years, like being intentional with the 24 hours we have each day. It’s easy to become distracted when you work exclusively from home (laundry and dishes, I’m lookin’ at you), or conversely, to succumb to the temptation to work non-stop because your office only steps away. Add the beastly time management struggle of being a mom and things can get ugly, fast.
That’s why, as a freelancing mother, I know the key to my success is being able to manage and use my time wisely. Owning my day is vital not only to running my business but to create a mom life I love.
Here’s how I do it (and how you can too):
- Get Crystal Clear on Your Priorities.
The true way to manage your time when you’re a mom is to get crystal clear on what you want out of life, both personally and professionally. You must understand what your biggest goals are from a “big picture” level. I recommend having a maximum of three annual goals for both your personal and professional lives. Once you know what those are, you can back into what you need to accomplish on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis to achieve those goals.
From there, you just have to be intentional about planning. Every Sunday, I do a mental dump to get everything on the to-do list in my head out on paper. It doesn’t matter what area of my life the task pertains to; if it’s floating around in my head, it goes on the paper.
Next, I prioritize each item by whether it’s something I must, should or would merely like to do. As a general rule, if the item counts as self-care or supports one of my annual goals, it’s a “must do.” Once I’ve assigned priorities, I simply time block the must-do items first. I don’t try to find room for the “should dos” or “would like to dos” until I’ve calendared the most important items.
To ensure I’ll actually honor my time blocks each day, I minimize distractions using the “Do Not Disturb” feature on my smartphone. I am also very intentional about when I calendar certain tasks. For example, I never put pressure on myself to complete important tasks during the hours of 6 AM through 8 AM because I know my children will need me. The same is true for the hours of 6 PM through 9 PM.
Planning my time this way
The most important goals at the heart of everything I do, allows me to make a massive impact in the 24 hours I have each day. There is a very real relationship between deliberately planning out your week in advance and feeling confident and powerful.
- Stop Doing Everything Yourself!
Being a time management ninja requires more than simply time blocking. It also requires you to be deliberate about not wasting time. And that can be tricky when you’re a mom because there are literally hundreds of things that must be done in your life each day. The key to having a freelance career and a mom life you love is realizing that not all those tasks need to be done by you.
To successfully nurture your family and your business at the same time, you must allow someone else to do the tasks on your list that you absolutely don’t love doing or aren’t contributing to your most important life goals.
Generally, that means:
- Stop doing your own grocery shopping and Target runs. That’s what Instacart and Shipt are for! At this point in the pandemic, you’re surely familiar with these services, but in case you’re not, suffice it to say they both provide personal grocery shoppers through an app that will pick up the items you select from participating stores and bring them right to your doorstep.
- Immediately Cease and Desist from Cleaning Your House, Doing Your Laundry, and Washing Your Dishes. Unless, of course, you absolutely love doing that stuff (and if you do, I want to meet you). If you don’t, stop. These tasks are so easily outsourced. Plus, if your family is anything like mine, they won’t give a hoot who folded their socks and hung up their shirts. They’ll just be happy to have clean clothes at the ready. The same goes for the spotless toilet and crumb-free floor. Find someone trustworthy and within your budget at care.com.
- Don’t You Dare Wash Your Own Car! I never ever wash my own car because I don’t love doing it. I don’t even love driving to a car-washing place to get it done. But as a mother of two littles, you better believe that my car gets filthy. My solution? Washé, “the app that cleans your car.” It’s like Uber for mobile car detailers. It’s not available in every state yet, but if it’s in your area, you must check it out.
Here’s how it works. I open the app and select the type of wash I want. They range from $25 to $160, and they even have a “sanitize” option now to address COVID-19 concerns. Then voila! A Washér in the area will take the job and head to my location. And while my Washér is in my driveway washing, waxing, and vacuuming cheddar bunnies from my car, I sit in my house being productive in the air conditioning. When my car has been restored to her shiny, litter-free self, I get a ping and pay the Washér through the app (no contact!). Best. Thing. Ever.
- Hire a Virtual Assistant. This one is a game-changer. A virtual assistant can free you up to focus solely on those parts of your business that cannot be done by anyone else (like in my case, writing and creating content). I highly recommend Maria Carras, who has dedicated her life’s work to the virtual assistant industry. For free (that’s right, I said free), Maria will help you find the perfect virtual assistant. Obviously, you still have to pay an hourly wage for the services your assistant provides, but you get to name your price.
- Let Someone Answer the “What’s for Dinner?” Question for You. A couple of nights a week, it can be a total lifesaver to have someone else cook dinner for you. There is no shortage of folks who want to help you get dinner on the table quickly, from local chefs who will cook and deliver meals to you from their own weekly menu to nationwide services like Hello Fresh and Home Chef.
And if you’re like me and you love to cook but don’t want to spend the time needed to painstakingly plan your weekly menus, you can lean on fellow mompreneurs, like Kristy Baranovskis from Klean Eating with Kristy, whose business is dedicated to creating weekly menus, grocery lists and recipes for you. Easy! Also, not time-consuming.
Remember, to have it all, you cannot possibly do it all. There are people out there who are eager to help you. Let them.
- Take care of yourself.
When you’re raising kids and a business at the same time, it’s easy to forget about yourself. The day-to-day grind of keeping the small humans in your house fed, bathed, But here’s the kicker: you cannot be the business owner and the mother you want to be unless you make yourself a priority.
It’s like that safety training all airlines make you watch about what to do in “the unlikely event” the cabin loses pressure: put your mask on first, then help others. If you aren’t functioning at your highest and best, you can’t show up for anyone else.
Brushing off time for self-care because you’ve convinced yourself that every waking moment of your life should be spent either building your business or taking care of your family will not serve you. You will eventually burn out, and you’ll probably build up a whole bunch of resentment too. (In the airplane example, you might even faint). And then what good are you to anyone, especially your kids?
Remember, to be the best mom, best wife, best freelancer, best anything, you must take care of yourself. Put yourself at the top of the list. Set aside time every single day to meditate, exercise, intentionally breathe, or read, journal, or pray. Put your mask on first.
But most of all? Be nice to yourself. Give yourself a ton of grace. Harmonizing the demands of motherhood with having a freelance business isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But it is one of the most rewarding.
You got this, mama.
Nikki Oden is the founder of Your Ideal Mom Life and host of the Love Your Mom Life podcast. She teaches working moms how to own their time and crush their goals—without the mom’s guilt. She is also a lawyer, a happy wife, a mom of two, and creator of the Super Mom Starter Guide. Download it for FREE to learn the three things all moms who are rocking it know!