Having been self-employed before motherhood, and now as a mum, I am finding out that the challenges involved are very different. Gone are the days of working 60 hours a week (thank goodness!) and only having myself to think about. Here are the things that have helped me to stay sane and get sh*t done over the last two years:
- Make a schedule and stick to it
Making sure that you have specific days for working, and others for spending with your family, will help you to make sure that you work the number of hours you need to get things done. When you are self-employed, with no-one to answer to, it can be easy to either work yourself into the ground or take too much time off. Decide how many hours you need to do each week, and make a realistic schedule. Children also respond well to a routine, so they will be happier if they know where they are going to be each day.
- Schedule in some ‘me time’
This comes up on every single list of tips for mums, working mums, self-employed mums, stay-at-home mums and everything in between. It’s arguably the most important point on this list. By taking some downtime from work and family, you can be more productive when you are working, and a more pleasant person for your family to be around. And knowing that you have that time scheduled in will make it easier for you to focus on work and family the rest of the time.
- Accept help
And also ask for it. You might not be lucky enough to have people throwing offers of babysitting at your feet (I’m not!) but don’t be afraid to ask around. You’ll be surprised how many people will be happy to help out, but just didn’t think to offer.
- Learn to say no
When you work for yourself, it can be easy to say yes to every offer that comes your way, for fear of turning down the wrong opportunity and missing out. However, when you’re a mum, you have to recognise that your time is more limited, and you need to manage the expectations of your clients and your customers. This means saying no to requests that don’t align with your objectives, or that you simply don’t have time to do. This will avoid you wasting your time, or being forced to break promises.
- Give 100% to whatever you’re doing
When you’re at work, try to forget about everything else and concentrate on the task at hand. You will be more productive and this means that when you’re with your family, you can turn your phone off and give 100% to them too. My tip: Use a time-tracking tool (such as Toggl) to help you stay on track.
- Get a dedicated working space
This might take the form of a room in your house, or even a corner of a room, or a desk in a coworking space. This will help you to focus when you’re at work and it also means that you can shut down your computer and leave work behind when you’re done for the day.
I hate the expression ‘time is money’ but this is literally true when you’re self-employed. If you pay someone to do a task for you, you haven’t simply spent money, you have saved yourself time, which can then be spent on earning money! Identify those things that take you a lot of time, that you don’t enjoy, and that you can offload onto someone else. And do it. For lots of people, accounts and tax returns fall into this category.
- Make time for your other half too!
I’m really bad at this one. I make time for my son, for my work, and even for me, but I have a terrible habit of neglecting my other half. He’s very understanding, but I’m making an effort to put aside time once a week to spend with him, even if it’s just vegging in front of Britain’s Got Talent with a bottle of wine together!
I would love to hear about your experience of being a self-employed mum so please do Tweet me @hackneymama or comment below!