You know that feeling when you think you’re being neither a good mother or a good employee…you’re neither there for your kid’s Easter parade or able to attend your department’s weekly meeting (why oh why do they hold it at 4pm?!). We’ve all been there, and many are still there battling their conscious every day.
If you are reliant on your income then you can’t just jack in the job, so you feel completely and utterly trapped…pedalling to the tune of your employer and seeing your kid for a stressful 30 minutes at each end of the day.
But there is another way. 6 years, 3 start-ups, 1 baby and lots of soul searching has led me to my 6 figure family friendly life, and it’s something I truly believe that any mum who has the will can achieve. Along the way I’ve tried or thoroughly researched just about everything (that’s legal!)…except knitting finger puppets and selling them on eBay. I’ve attempted forex trading, betting(!), filling out market surveys (fine if you want to earn below the minimum wage), selling all sorts on eBay and joining a direct sales program.
But it’s none of these that have given me the beautiful balanced life I live today. What is it then? Well, freelancing.
Freelancing is ideal for mums, however it rarely gets a mention. Perhaps it lacks the glamour of entrepreneurship, but let’s be honest, it’s not glamour we’re after, but a realistic way to replace our current income that works around our kids.
So if not glamour, what does freelancing offer and why do I recommend it to any 9-5 (6, 7, 8?!) mummy I meet who will listen?
- The number one reason I love freelancing is that you can work on your own terms. I work from home, and as long as I deliver what I have agreed with my client, they couldn’t care less what hours I work, or if I work in my pyjamas. I am in control. If my daughter is unwell, I can drop everything to look after her. I don’t have to apologise to some boss cos my kid is sick.
- You don’t need to invest any money in getting started, so there is no getting into debt with freelancing (no other business requires zero up front capital)
- You can start to earn immediately (a friend I recently help got her first client within 10 days of our first conversation and 2 weeks later had two steady clients)
- You can use and build upon your existing skills, so you can charge a decent amount and you can feel like all that pre-kids’ education and experience hasn’t been wasted
- You can start researching, validating and getting started while working your current role
- You can get started before giving up your day job – so you can have the certainty that people will pay for your skills and no ‘leap of faith’ is required
- You don’t need to do any selling. There are dozens of websites out there which are essentially marketplaces for freelancers, where potential clients post work they need doing and you pitch for it. I know many mums hate the idea of selling (me too, the though makes me feel ill!) but with freelancing, you don’t need to sell…no cold calling or having doors slammed in your face (phew!).
- You can freelance in just about anything. Many mums I’ve worked with have refused to believe they have any skills that others would pay for until I’ve taken them through the process to uncover the skills they have…that are actively being looked for. Often they are surprised by the simplicity of it. So unless your only work experience is being a nun, then you will have skills that people will pay you for.
Of course, there are other options to free yourself from your daily grind, however I don’t think now is the time for starting up a business / becoming an author / retraining to do something completely different and here’s why:
- this whole idea isn’t about the money – it’s mostly about the freedom to be there for your kids (and a bit about the money…replacing your current income).
- Time is so precious – you don’t want to waste time when you have kids as you will regret it – we all feel guilty enough as it is, so you want some level of certainty before you start. This is almost impossible with most other routes.
- Many options require upfront financial investment – debt is not a great option when you have a mortgage and kids (so restaurants and coffee shops are out – not that they’d give you kid friendly hours!)
- Raising finance for a business takes you to a place where you are no longer the boss – you’re reporting to the VC who invested to you. So that takes you away from the dream, not towards it. (Note I still have plans for this kind of business, but once my kids are much older…and I’m much wiser 🙂
- Doing a business that will mean having employees at some point also takes away from your freedom – you have to lead by example so if you’re only in the office between school drop off and pick up, your employees may do the same without you being the hard working example they need.
So if you are mum to young kids and desperately looking for a way to escape the 9-5, please don’t feel there are no options, or no decent alternative. It takes some time upfront (no more than applying for a different job would) and a recognition that you won’t be earning 6 figures from the off (you can build up to it), however it is a brilliant and legitimate way to develop your career in a way that works around family life.
I love having two days during the week with my little girl, and on the other three seeing her for a couple of hours each side of the working day. I also love that it’s her birthday tomorrow so she won’t go to nursery – we’re taking her out for the day instead. We don’t have to count holiday days – we take as much as we want, and once she’s at school, we’ll all take the school holidays off. Fourteen weeks a year of holiday – oh yes, that’s another great thing about freelancing!