The Wealthy Freelancer has two excellent posts by Dianna Huff on “Tips for Making Money as a Work-At-Home Freelance Mom.” Part one is here and part two is here. Having freelanced since my daughter was an infant, I heartily agree with almost everything Dianna says, but I’ll chime in with some of my own agree/disagree thoughts here:
- I can’t agree strongly enough about the need to present a professional image when you are a work-at-home mom. If you want to play with the big guys, you have to play by the rules of the business world, which do not include having a screaming child hanging off your leg while you’re on a conference call. There are ways to work around this; try to steer your clients toward using e-mail to contact you, etc. But in my opinion, a work-at-home mom absolutely needs a) a dedicated business phone line or phone number and b) some block of time where she knows she can be uninterrupted in the office.
- I have to slightly disagree about the day care issue. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of putting my daughter in day care when she was really little, and I felt that one of my main reasons for freelancing was to be able to spend more time with her. Granted, a major factor was that my husband was able to take a year off working after she was born, but even after he went back to work, I really preferred to use an in-home babysitter who came several mornings a week while I was working. Between 2-3 hours with the babysitter and my daughter’s afternoon naps, I was able to get in a pretty decent work day without using day care (and no, I’m not trying to ignite a debate on whether group day care is positive or negative for very young kids, just saying that it didn’t appeal to me!).
- A shared frustration: as Dianna alludes to in several of her points, I wouldn’t trade working at home for anything, but I do think that we work-at-home moms are often caught between the world of the working mom and the world of the at-home/full-time mom, without exactly fitting into either category. It frustrates me as well when people seem to feel that because I work from home, it’s unreasonable that I can’t volunteer for their activity/pick up their child/have a lengthy phone conversation during the work day because I’m, um, working! However, I do really enjoy that when my daughter needs or wants me to participate in a school activity during the day, I can almost always be there.
- I also think it’s important, for those translator-moms who have very young (below school age) kids, to realize that things get a lot easier as the kids get older. There was a point when my daughter was 3-4 years old when I was working at night 5-6 nights per week in order to have her in half-day preschool instead of full-time day care, and I felt as if I was constantly teetering on the edge of sanity. At that point, I really debated whether I was doing anyone any good by freelancing, or whether I should just put her in full-time day care and work regular hours. Now that my daughter is in school for a full day, life feels much more normal; I work while she’s at school, then we spend the afternoon together doing something fun. A couple of nights a week I work for a couple of hours, but I feel that this is a worthwhile trade-off for the extra time that I have during the day. Fortunately, my husband has been able to negotiate a 4-day work week with his job, so he uses his day off to spend an afternoon with our daughter too, giving me one day a week when I can put in a long day without arranging for extra child care.
Other translator-moms, any advice out there!