Can you have a successful freelance writing career with kids?
Of course, you can! In fact, it’s one of the most flexible and rewarding ways to work while raising your family.
You don’t need to beg your boss to let you leave work early so you can watch your kids’ end-of-year concert. And no one will know if your little one breaks out in chickenpox on the same day you’ve landed a major new client.
It can be tricky balancing freelance writing with kids, but with a little practice, it will become more of a juggle than a struggle!
When Will You Work?
Productivity is a key part of being a WAHM and at the top of your list will be working out when you’re going to work and what you’re going to accomplish with the time.
This will usually depend on the age of your child.
Babies and Toddlers
A newborn might take 5 or 6 naps of only 20 minutes each during the day before (hopefully) settling for longer overnight.
This can be disheartening, but know that it won’t last forever and there’s still plenty you can achieve during these 20-minute blocks. You might carry out research for your next article, edit and upload content you’ve already written or create a small batch of social media posts.
Stay focused on getting your newborn into a routine and developing positive sleep associations to help them move towards taking 2-3 longer naps during the day.
Older babies and toddlers will usually nap for 2-2.5 hours each day which is a great stretch of time to work on your freelance writing business. Many successful writers work for as little as 4-5 hours per day and nap times can make up as much as half of the working day.
But where do the rest of the hours come from?
Yep, I hear you and it can sometimes feel exhausting trying to create time that doesn’t seem to exist.
The best time management news I can give you is Parkinson’s Law –
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
This means that whether you give yourself 2 hours or 30 minutes to complete a task, you’ll still accomplish the same amount. So, having limited time doesn’t always have to be a negative so long as you use it well when your little ones are very young.
Your best bet is to study your child’s routine and work out where you have the hours to spare.
Some writers might grab an hour early in the morning before the rest of the house is awake! Others might work better later at night knowing that everyone has finally settled.
When you only have limited time available, it makes sense to batch your tasks together. This means grouping similar activities in clusters and zapping through them in one hit.
For example, you can batch your:
- cold pitching
- client emails
- social media engagement
- blog commenting
- image sourcing
- WordPress uploads
Young Children in Nursery & School
Truthfully, you will find it much easier to focus on your freelance writing business once your children are attending nursery or school.
The challenge then will be to scale your business to match your available hours but that you don’t take on too much work so you’re swamped during school holidays.
Make sure you draw the lines between when you’re being a mom and being a freelance writer extraordinaire!
You might have spent the best part of the school day writing and communicating with the client. So, after school, you can be available for your family to go to swimming lessons, help with homework and enjoy playdates.
Planning Your Home Life
So, you know which hours of the day you’re going to dedicate to your writing, but that won’t stop the household chores from mounting. How can you fit in cooking, cleaning, shopping, and errands on top of running your business?
Your key to work-life balance is all in the planning. Make lists so there aren’t any surprises during the week.
- Meal planning and shopping for ingredients
- Laundry days
- Birthday parties (and gifts)
- After-school clubs
- Packed lunches
- Prepping for spelling tests etc.
Knowing exactly what is happening each day will give you a lot of freedom and take the pressure and panic away.
Know That Plans Sometimes Fail
Whether you have 1 child or 8, family life is often hectic, and your plans can go out of the window.
There will be times when you have a deadline looming and your child has the flu, or they suddenly drop their lunchtime nap. Or maybe an unexpected pandemic turns you into a homeschooling mom for six months. Let’s face it, none of us saw that one coming!
But what we’ve learned over the past two years is that everything is flexible and adaptable and sometimes you just need to go with the flow.
Planning for things going wrong means completing your writing projects way ahead of your deadline to give you that flexibility if something unexpected happens.
Remember too that it takes a village to raise a child, so don’t be afraid to ask for help sometimes. Ask your partner if they can spare an hour or two to help, take your in-laws up on their offer to babysit, or text a friend and ask if they could host a playdate to give you a little extra time.
Working With Your Kids Present
If you occasionally find yourself needing to work while looking after your kids, that’s ok. Of course, you’ll get mom guilt, we all do.
But your kids are usually happy doing what they love best …. playing!
Set up some activities and open your laptop so you can get cracking while they’re in earshot. It’s a great idea to rotate their toys so you can bring out something they’ve not seen for a few weeks – the novelty value will usually buy you some extra time.
If your kids want to be involved in what you’re doing, then depending on their age you can try to include them in basic tasks like choosing a nice image for your next blog post or reading your social media posts, and clicking the ‘Like’ button.
For older children, you can show them how to use WordPress – you’ll still have uploaded your post AND you’ll have demonstrated a useful skill for a future freelance writer in the family!
Out & About
There’s a lot you can accomplish on your phone too, whether you’re sitting in a soft play center, chilling at the park, or waiting for their piano lesson to finish.
Download Google Docs and bash out some social captions or make a list of blog post headlines that hit you when you’re on the move. Keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas and use good old Google to research your next story.
Outsourcing your business tasks
As your business becomes more successful, you will free up time to spend with your family by outsourcing time-consuming tasks like:
- Blog article outlining
- Social media engagement
- Cold pitching
- Post uploading
- Pin creation
Experienced virtual assistants can cost as little as $10-20 per hour, so this should be money well spent once you have a few clients under your belt. Perhaps this is even a job a willing teenager could help you with?
Know What Works For you
Every child, every family, and every freelance writer is different. We all have varying schedules, kids at different ages, partner workloads, and times of the day when we feel most creative. So, the best advice you can take away from this is to plan a routine that works for your family.
The key is to develop a plan that you can stick to, work on finding time management and productivity tricks that save you time. And above all else, take care of yourself!
Don’t beat yourself up if you have a busy day and need to quickly heat a pizza up for dinner. Make a mental note of what you could do differently and aim for a better balance tomorrow!
About the Author
Rebecca Noori is a freelance writer covering topics related to careers, entrepreneurship, HR, recruitment, productivity, finance, and leadership. Her writing career began back at uni when she worked for TimeOut. More recently, she has spent the past 7 years creating long-form blog content and white papers for a range of B2B clients. She is also a contributing author at Mama and Money, FreelancerFAQs, and Clever Girl Finance.
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