Posts tagged freelance
Tips for freelancing mums: Keeping expectations low

Over the last few months and even the last year, working out how to continue my graphic design work whilst being a mum has been a tricky challenge and quite a learning curve. I know there are lots of other mums out there who are running a business whilst raising kids and trying to get the balance right and are always doing the juggle. Frankly I am in awe of them all! I want to share a bit of my experience so far in case it's helpful to others in the same boat and so I am starting a little blog series called 'Tips for freelancing mums'. There will be five posts which I will publish once a month and I will share some of what I have learnt so far (pretty sure there is still so much to learn!).

So let's dive into the first post. As you can see from the title it is about keeping expectations low, and although that sounds negative I don’t think it is - it's one of the most helpful lessons I have learnt, and am still having to learn since becoming a mother. 

Pre having a baby I was in control of my days and how things panned out. Yes, someone or something might throw the odd curve ball into the mix which meant things didn’t go to plan, but usually I could plan out my days and they were fairly predictable. I knew how much time I had to get things done and I could make plans accordingly. When you have a baby it is a whole different story. When you wake up in the morning you have no idea how your day is going to pan out. Yes you can make plans to do things - but that doesn’t mean your little human is going to be on board with those plans. He/she might have other ideas. Also, just when you think you have got the hang of a routine he/she seems to have fallen into (this usually lasts for about 2 weeks) they have a growth spurt or something happens and it all changes again!

I guess napping is a big area that has been a struggle for me, since realistically that is the time when I get to work on my business. When he was younger and not moving around, if he was chilled and happy I could maybe get some stuff done while he was awake, but now that he is moving and so engaged with the world around him that is impossible. So yeah, nap times are a big deal to me. 

Reuben hasn’t always been a good napper, but I guess things change as they get older. When he was younger (maybe 4-7 months) he would only do half an hour naps which I found so frustrating, because it wasn’t really long enough to get your teeth into anything, by the time you have rushed round the house tidying things up, made yourself a drink, sat on the sofa for a few minutes to relax - that was it, the nap was over! So annoying. Every now and then he would do a longer hour nap or maybe even longer and that would be amazing, but could sometimes also be frustrating because I assumed it was going to be 30 minutes and so hadn’t necessarily planned to use my time very well or effectively. As he got older though he did start to do more regular, longer naps. For a couple of weeks (it was a dream!) he was doing two naps of an hour and a half each, everyday and I was able to get a lot done. Recently he has been in the process of dropping down to one nap and seems to be starting to do one longer nap in the middle of the day. 

What I have started to do is to break up my work into very small tasks. Things that can be done in 15-20 minute amounts of time. It is a different way of working for sure, but it means that if he wakes up after half an hour, hopefully I have crossed off one thing from my list and although it's frustrating it feels like I am moving forward. If he wakes up after 2 hours, well then I have enough time to get 4 things done on my list with a bit of time for tidying, snacking and instagram scrolling too. 

I have realised for me that the battle is a mental one - and this is why I called this post 'keeping expectations low'. On the days when I had a long list of things to get done, and I only managed to get one done - I would feel disheartened, frustrated, annoyed that I didn't have more time to spend on my business - instead of enjoying the precious time I was having with my baby. On the days that I had in my head just one small thing to get done (but a back up of other things to do if I found that I did have time) then I would feel more content. I moved forward with my business, I took a small step in the right direction - yes it wasn't moving forward at the speed I hoped but at least it was in the right direction. And sometimes it's just a case of letting go and living in the moment. I really wanted to make sure I enjoyed the time I had with Reuben as I knew it would go quickly and that I would never have this time with him again. I definitely didn't get this right all the time, but there were plenty of days with him asleep on me on the sofa where I did nothing but lie there and soak it all in. 

One last thing to say, please don't put too much pressure on yourself especially in the early days. In the early days I definitely aimed for a no pressure approached and just did bits of work on my shop here and there because I enjoyed it, and found it nice to have something non-baby related to think about. It was only when Reuben got to about 9 or 10 months that I started thinking about taking on clients again. 

I hope you have found this helpful. Everyone's experiences and journeys are different and I would love to know how you have found juggling motherhood and freelance, and if you have any questions or any topics that you would like me to cover in future posts just let me know!

This Month // March

So last week was the first week after such a good run where I didn't manage to post 3 times in the week. Up until then I had been consistently posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the routine has been working well for me. Last week though I was feeling ill, work got on top of me and I decided to just give myself a break and not worry about it. Anyway I am raring to go this week and looking forward to a shorter working week because of Easter. Here are some of the things that happened in March. 

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1. This month was really exciting on the shop front because I had lots of Mothers Day orders. Thank you so so much if you ordered one. You kept me busy and I had so much fun packaging them all up. I am still loving working 4 days a week and have lots of plans for the shop

2. The weather has improved significantly and I have been walking LOADS. It has actually been really inspiring and I have snapped so many lovely shots on my walks to and from work. 

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3. Have been working with the lovely Sally at Bias Boutique in Peckham which means I get to visit the shop and drool over all the lovely products. I'm enjoying growing my freelance client base - if you have a project you would like me to work on I would love to hear from you! 

4. I have been loving the blogging.  I am developing my content and trying to work out which posts you like and which not so much - and despite the slight blip last week, posting 3 times a week seems to be an achievable amount at the moment. 

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5. We took a trip to Cardiff and went and watched the Severn Bore - Did you know that it is the second largest tidal range in the world. There's a geeky geography fact for you. It was actually a little bit disappointing, maybe I had built it up a bit in my head - but I always have fun going on random adventures like this with my family! (I had to brighten up this image to make it not look so grey and depressing!) 

6. I have been trying to be a bit better at noticing the details around me and have been sharing a few of the photos on instagram with the hashtag #noticingthedetails. Totally join in if you fancy! 

I am looking forward to April. We have a bit of time off over Easter and are going to tackle lots of jobs around the house. It is our wedding anniversary and we are going to Bristol for a weekend to celebrate. I am also looking forward to a day trip to Brighton to see one of my fave friends! 

Hope you all have a great Monday!

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Juggling 9-5, Freelance and a shop
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For the last year or so I have been juggling a 9-5 in-house design job, freelance clients, blogging and also setting up my own little online shop. Making it all work, getting everything done and not getting overwhelmed has definitely been a juggling act and quite a lesson in time management, but I thought I would share a little bit of what I learnt, as I know a lot of bloggers and people with creative projects have full time jobs too. 

1. Keep a notebook with you at all times - You never know when inspiration for a project or blog post is going to hit you so you need to make sure you have somewhere to write things down. Very often you won't be able to do anything about your idea straight away and so you need to get it written down so that you don't forget and so you can come back to it later. When you are juggling different things you can't always work on things when you want to and so this helps to make sure you are ready when you do have the time. 

2. Make the most of small pockets of time - I have got really good at dipping in an out of things when I can. 30 mins at lunch time, some time before meeting a friend. Some people find it hard to work in such short bursts but for me it has seemed to be working and when I use these little pockets of time throughout the day I can get a lot done!

3. Lists, lists, lists - I do not trust my memory and so making a list of what I need to do and setting reminders are so important for me. I have several notebooks with lists of things to do (except I am trying to get better at keeping them all in one place! ha). As much as I love technology, personally I much prefer a handwritten list that I can physically cross off rather than one written on my phone. 

4. Learn to say no so that you are free to say yes - Remember you can't do everything. I think learning to say no will be a lifelong lesson for me, but I feel like I have been learning more recently that saying no is not necessarily missing out on something...it is actually making sure that you are available for something better. 

5. Automatic Scheduling - One thing I have only been really making the most of recently is scheduling content. I am gradually starting to do that with my blog posts and some of my tweets so that I can do the work and then forget about it when I am at my 9-5. 

6. Make the most of your phone - One thing I have started doing a bit is writing blog posts on my commute using my phone. I usually use Evernote as that is where I keep my draft blog posts but if you have a smartphone you could easily use the notes facility. I have found this a great way to use the time on my commute (or anytime when I am waiting around) when I am often daydreaming and coming up with ideas for my blog anyway. If you don't have a smart phone go old school and use a pen and paper that you can then quickly type up later.  

7. Be all there - now this is a tough one and one I am still working on it, but it is important to be focused and present in the task that you are doing, not distracted by other things you might want to be working on for your other job.

Anyway these are just a few of the things that have helped me and that I am working on. If you are also someone who is juggling allsorts, and have any other tips I would love to hear them! 

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