Five clever ways to balance freelance work with motherhood (and stay sane)

Are you struggling to juggle your freelance work with being a mum? Read five clever ways you can make it work (and stay sane)!

A number of years ago it was thought that multitaskers could get more done in a shorter space of time than those of us who have to do one task at a time. However, this has recently been largely debunked – science shows that multitasking actually makes us slower and more prone to making mistakes.

As freelancing parents who combine a career from home with raising kids, this means that we need to work intelligently to ensure that we juggle the various tasks required of us – and don’t the ball in any area.

Five clever ways to balance freelance work with motherhood

This is the real science of effective multitasking. And to help you master it, here are five tips to help you make the best out of the time you have, and stay sane!

1) Set down ground rules

Working as a freelancer requires great tenacity and commitment on your part. But so too does parenting. In order to make sure that both get the attention they deserve, set down some ground rules from day one.

You will need some ground rules for yourself, and some for your children so that everyone knows what is acceptable and expected of them. This will make the house a less stressed, more enjoyable place to be.

Rules for yourself will include setting reasonable demands on yourself. This includes not taking on projects that you know are going to take more time than you can give them.

It’s also important that you maintain a good routine for everyone in the house- children need structure in their day, so ensure that meal times and bedtimes occur at roughly the same time every day. This will, in turn, help you to structure your workload into manageable chunks.

You may also want to set yourself ground rules in relation to time off, or family time. We all need downtime, and your children need time with you when you aren’t constantly checking in online. My parents were always strict about taking weekends as family time, and though it is something I struggle with, it certainly is an ideal I aspire to.

Rules for the children will centre on respecting your workspace and time. Needless to say, such rules are easier to maintain with older children, but should be established from a young age. Try to schedule calls for when the children are not active in the house, but if you must take calls when they are playing let them know and ask them to play quietly in a different room, but, in turn, try to keep the calls as short as possible.

2) Work while others rest

Perhaps the most powerful weapon in your arsenal as a freelance parent is sleep time. With small children around you will get a couple of slots throughout the day when the house is quiet as they rest. So have your work ready to jump into when this opportunity arises.

Older kids don’t nap that often, but if your children rise to go to school at 7 or 8 am, then an hour or two of work before this can be a great start to the day.

As we tend to be shattered by evening time, having done a full day’s work and child minding, there is little point in trying to work in the evening after bedtime as well. Unless, of course, you find that this is your most productive time.

But whatever you do, don’t try to burn the candle at both ends, or you will soon find yourself burnt out.

3) Enlist a rescue buddy

Just as sometimes kids demand that they come first, there will be also times when work simply demands to be put first.

So when there is an important deadline approaching that you know you’re under pressure with, have someone on standby to help you out for a couple of hours. This could be a paid babysitter or nanny, a friend from your network of freelance parents, or your own parent who might be able to take their grandchildren in for a few hours.

This escape hatch lets you get what you need to do done so that you can continue your home/work routine without having a breakdown in the process.

4) Take exercise together

As a freelancing parent, you need to make the best use of your time. Taking the kids out at one time and then hitting the gym later by yourself is not the most productive solution.

Instead, combine your exercise time. All freelancers need at least some exercise to keep from burning out and to stay healthy. And so do kids. So arrange to do an activity together that gives you both exercise and can be fun for everyone involved.

If you have very young children, this may just be a walk in the park with the buggy, while older children might like to hit the swimming pool. Enjoy this time together to keep you all fit and healthy.

5) Go with the flow

Children have a habit of throwing schedules out of order and disrupting life in their own unique way. Although this can be frustrating when you have deadlines to meet and clients to satisfy, remember that children grow up very fast.

What you complain about today will be a fond but distant memory tomorrow. With this in mind, remember that you are freelancing for you, so that you can maintain your lifestyle in the way that you want it. When your youngest gets a foreign object lodged in their ear necessitating a morning in the doctor’s surgery, try to be grateful that you are in a position to be there with them, instead of grumbling about work.

Working as a freelancing parent involves using two very different skillsets simultaneously. We need to plan, prepare, execute and create while also caring, cleaning, feeding and all of the other tasks that go into raising a child into a well-balanced human being. It is no small task. The ideal way that we can ensure our best is to allow adequate time for everything that needs to be done.

Steer clear of the idea that cooking the dinner while working on your laptop at the kitchen counter is more productive than doing these tasks independently.

Old-fashioned multitasking can cause a 40% drop in productivity, while a more nuanced approach of allowing time for each task will ensure that each project gets your full attention for better results.

Need more tips on finding time to work?

If there’s one topic we never tire of, it’s smarter ways to work in the same amount of time! Here are some of our favourite productivity articles:

Sophia Mest is a Content Manager at BizDb, where she aspires to put her writing passion into practice and spread her words across the world. She spends her free time travelling and exploring the wonders of nature. Follow her on Twitter.