How do you get that work/life balance? I am always trying to balance the needs of my young children with the needs of myself, my partner, and my business, and it’s hard! I am sure other working parents must feel the same a lot of the time.
I chose to have children and for me bringing them up myself is very important. I want them to be instilled with my values and morals but also be confident enough to go out into the world and form their own views when it is time. However, I need to earn a living in order to look after my children! I wanted to work from home, so I can always be around for them and started my proofreading/writing business when my daughter was a baby (she is now 4, going on 14!). I managed by working evenings and weekends and even getting my husband to take time off if I had a big job to complete. But as my business is expanding and I now have two children, decisions have had to be made!
So, I am paying for childcare for my one-year-old, to free up some time for myself now my daughter is at a nursery. I appreciate a lot of people have to do this if they go back to work but childcare is SO expensive. When you are self-employed it is very hard to balance because I need to ensure the time I pay for allows me to earn more. But ideally, it will also allow me to actually relax occasionally of an evening and catch up with Game of Thrones or do something fun at the weekend not just work.
So how do you do it? How do you balance work and home? Small businesses notoriously eat into evenings and home life, especially as emails are accessible on all our phones now. Should you have rules about giving yourself time off? Should you have set times for spending time with your family? Also, don’t forget yourself! Self-care is a real buzzword at the moment, but it really is important. I do try and plan spa days and nights out regularly to give myself a break from family AND work. It helps me to remember why I wanted to work for myself in the first place, every once in a while!
But what happens when things don’t go to plan? I’ve recently had a nightmare month. March was a virtual write off business wise. My young son who is not even 2 yet got very ill and having already had a couple of weeks of barely any sleep whilst he seemed to not quite get over a virus we suddenly ended up in hospital.
To cut a long story short, I had to spend two weeks in a hospital with him as he has a liver abscess, which is as bad as it sounds. We were then on home leave for two weeks and had to visit the hospital 3 times a day for IV antibiotics. He is on oral antibiotics and weekly checks now. So, funnily enough, work had to take a back seat!
It’s been incredibly stressful and I’m lucky that a couple of my regular clients were very reasonable and had a lot of empathy and gave me the time I needed. I’ve had to face up to the fact I’ve missed out on some new clients, but it has been impossible to take on new work until the last week or so. The signal in the hospital was troublesome and I just wasn’t in the right headspace to concentrate. When children are ill they are all you can focus on and it is all-consuming.
We’re now settled into a new routine and I feel like my brain is functioning again! So, I need to make up for the downtime! It’s been a real eye-opener that my business is so vulnerable, but as a sole trader, there’s not much I can do about it really. I am going to look into working alongside another proofreader in the future, perhaps build a business relationship that involves covering one another’s work in an emergency.
It almost made me question my choice to be self-employed but actually, that gave me far more flexibility than a standard job would have, and it has given me a chance to be there every single step of the way with my son.
Juggling work and a family is always going to be a challenge but if you are determined enough you can make it work, and for me, the quality of life it gives me is unrivalled as I dislike too much routine and I love being my own boss!
Guest post contributed by Rebecca Pay.