By Felicity Pearce
Freelancing. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it. When we have real jobs we idealise it and fantasise about it, but never have I been more grateful for steering my career in this direction than when I became a mother (which happened, incidentally, many years before I thought it would).
There are still many issues facing working parents, particularly mothers, so I wanted to make this a positive post, focusing on how it is easy to make it work for you when you’re a freelancer.
When my firstborn came into the world, an amazing thing happened. I became a superwoman. I always suspected this was how it was from watching my mother, but it’s true. What actually happens is that time becomes such a rare luxury that it is really appreciated and not wasted. I can get three people ready in the morning in the time it used to take me to shower and my productivity levels are not comparable with pre-mum me. It is sometimes a question of adapt or die, but I’m still here, and still translating! I admit that I can’t pull all-nighters anymore, but rather than staying up and working until 2am, I will go to bed early and rise before 5am, while the house is still quiet and my brain is fresh. In the two hours before the rest of the brood wake up, I can do more work than I used to do in a day (it’s the best time for proofreading!). And in summer I get the bonus of enjoying the truly magical light of the new day, (pre-mum me only ever saw this phenomenon before bed, during the Erasmus era).
Here is an example of how my use of time has changed:
- Two hours pre-mum: faffing on Facebook, answering an email or two, making tea, reading some articles (start real work after 2-3 hours).
- Two hours now: tidy house, put wash on, answer all emails, do invoices, translate for 1 hour.
But on the subject of adapting, I do now prefer working in cafes and other spaces (something Claire will expand on here later), just to get away from all the chores calling out to me at home. And I don’t take the crazy big and urgent jobs I used to, just in case an unglamorous emergency comes up.
I also know couples where the dad loves working from home. Whichever way around (or even both, if the relationship can take it!), freelancing is a great way to implement flexible parenting, especially if, as in our case, this parenting takes place in an expensive city like London and far away from free babysitting grandparents.
Oh, and bilingual/trilingual kids. #translatorsdoitbetter