How I Juggle Freelancing and Parenting (and Stay Motivated in the Process)

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Audra Rogers is back by popular demand after her previous post was such a hit. It’s no wonder – Audra is a hardworking mom and an up-and-coming freelance writer, which makes her very relatable to the Horkey HandBook audience.

Today she’s back to tell us how she makes it all work and keeps herself motivated in the process. In her words, “it takes planning, organization and staying away from the ‘comparison monster’.”

Tell us your secrets, Audra!

There’s a bouncy ball stuck in my bathroom sink right now, and there’s a small piece of cheese mashed into the carpet. I am sitting here with a coffee, listening to the hum of the dryer as it finishes up the last of the two loads of laundry I had to do this morning after my toddler got sick several times in the wee hours of the night.

Being a parent with a dream isn’t easy.

I wouldn’t trade my job as a mom for anything in the world. But as I’ve tried to get a writing career off the ground while raising a family, my emotions have run the gamut from, Why am I even bothering right now? and When is it ever going to be my time? to Man, I can really crush this! and then thinking Maybe I should just wait until the kids are grown…

The Challenges

It’s easy to feel like you’re being left behind when you’re always in stop-and-start mode, especially when you see others find success.

“But envy doesn’t pay the bills, perseverance does.”

I had to sit down and figure out how I was going to find time to make a writing career happen. When would I write? How would I learn and grow? Can I work at home and still make sure the kids don’t burn down the house at the same time?

Well, if you try to work from home without childcare, the kids will burn the house down. On days when that seems like a possibility, work itself seems impossible.

So on those days when I’m not able to get a lot of writing done, I look for ways to still feel like I’m making steps toward a freelance writing career without neglecting my family. Here are six strategies that help me stay motivated as I juggle freelancing and parenting.

1. Do One Thing Every Day Towards Your Hustle

Do one thing every single day, big or small.

My accomplishments are usually small. I really enjoy listening to entrepreneurial podcasts while I’m making dinner or folding laundry. My favorite podcasts at the moment are on the Beyond Your Blog site. Each episode is an interview with an editor from a large publication that shares how to get published on their respective sites. Beyond Your Blog also has mega-lists of sites that pay writers in different niches.

I also follow a lot of Facebook pages for freelance writing, pages for publications I write for and those I want to write for. I rarely have time during the day to sit and really concentrate on all of the articles I want to read, so I choose the “save link” option that is now available for any article on Facebook (found in the upper right drop down menu of the article itself).

This way I have a great reading list of productive stuff when I have quiet time. Saved articles are located under “Favorites” next to the bookmark icon marked “Saved.”

2. Work in the Margins of the Day

I sat down and figured out the short bursts of time in my day that I could use to write or learn something. For me, that’s an hour and a half in the morning before the kids get up, a two-hour block of time in the afternoon when my toddler takes a nap, and two or three hours after the kids go to bed at 9 PM.

I have now worked up to the point that I am able to invest in a preschool for my toddler two days a week for five hours to give me extra freelancing breathing room. I really hit it hard on those days. Believe me, the time flies very quickly and I fit as much writing in it as I can. Despite having this time, I don’t always get to use it for writing, because life happens.

So I stay mindful of the margins and I still use them.

3. Keep Organized and Track What You’ve Done

I keep a few spreadsheets on my desktop. One details every single pitch I’ve ever sent, who I sent it to and when, so I know when to circle back and follow up, or when to try another site.

I also keep a spreadsheet called, “The Yay File.” As in yay, this is the stuff that was accepted! When I’m feeling discouraged, I like to be able to go back and see what I have accomplished. It is a good snapshot of the big picture and it helps keep me on track when I feel like I’m not getting a lot of work done.

(Note: Gina keeps a praise file, which is similar, but geared towards when people say nice things about her or her business. It doubles as a feel good source of encouragement and place to pull testimonials from.)

4. Stay Away from the ‘Comparison Monster’

The comparison monster bites. Do not feed that beast.

Someone may be absolutely killing it, but you often have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Maybe they’re staying up all night and really hustling and hitting it hard, so they deserve to find success.

Remember, every single person was new at one point, and they were probably once in your shoes. Seeing their efforts come to fruition can only be an encouragement and fuel for you to know that you can do it too.

5. Do. Not. Stop.

I remember feeling so down in the dumps and discouraged in the beginning.

I felt like my progress was as slow as molasses. It’s painful to want something so badly and have to wait for it. But stick with the freelancing dream. As you gain traction little by little, it will light you up from the inside.

My success has definitely come about from a really slow burn, but boy is it feeling hot now!

6. Invite Your Kids Into Your Dream

This is huge. Let them see what you’re doing. Tell them what you are doing; talk about what your dream is. They will help you celebrate wins. This is my favorite conversation in the house with my young sons right now:

Me: Yay, mommy!!!! (yes, I celebrate out loud in front of them).

The kids: Let me guess Mommy, you got another article accepted!

And we all clap and cheer.

I am still giddy every single time I am published. I include them in my celebration because I like them to cheer me on, and I think it sets a wonderful scene for their future career choices.

In Conclusion

As we speak, I am writing a few feet away from a feverish, sleeping toddler. One of my big writing days was cut short so I could be here to take care of him. But I don’t dare complain because home is exactly where I wanted to be in the first place.

Hang in there parents, you can do one small thing now. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow and steady wins the race!

And please excuse me, the buzzer on the dryer just went off.

How I Juggle Freelancing and Parenting (and Stay Motivated in the Process)Audra Rogers is a freelance writer in the niche of parenting and relationships. She’s been featured on The Huffington Post, Babble, BlogHer, Scary Mommy and Moms Magazine. Audra’s home on the internet is Real Honest Mom where she shares about her personal experiences in parenting, personal finance and DIY with honesty and humor.

For all the parentpreneurs out there, how do you juggle parenting and growing your freelancing business?

Photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

42 thoughts on “How I Juggle Freelancing and Parenting (and Stay Motivated in the Process)”

  1. Hi Audra – love this post! It mirrors exactly how I feel at the moment. I really appreciate and need the reminder today to keep going. Best wishes as you continue pursuing your writing career!

  2. I love this, Audra! That comparison monster has really bitten me. I am new to this, and trying my best not to compare myself to others, but to find inspiration and you really are an inspiration!

  3. I agree that drawing the kids in is huge! If you set a goal that they can get behind and share it with them (more family time with Daddy, more travel, more money to buy wants and not just needs, etc.) it’s amazing how that changes their perspective. It’s no longer “mommy is ignoring us on the computer” it’s “yay mommy is writing so we can X, y, or z!”

    Good post Audra!

  4. We have a “meeting of the minds” in our house on Wednesday nights. My husband and 10 year old sit with me and we discuss how we can get more clients (while my 3 year old colors and chimes in as well). It only lasts about 30 minutes, but they get to see what I am doing day in and day out. I work part-time in the hospital still, which I like, as well as parttime online schooling for an advanced degree, so my time spent writing is like yours. I get up before the kids, write at naptime, and also at night time.

    The key is to STAY ORGANIZED. My boys have their own “projects” to help me with and they enjoy it. It gives them some “say” in things as well. When I land a new client or something big, we all celebrate!

    Motivation is hard sometimes (especially since I have been fighting some virus), but hopefully will continue to pay off!

    Good read 🙂

    Gina – LOVING the happy hour Fridays! Keep it up!!

    • I still get discouraged too from time to time too, Brian. I take a step back for a few days, and it helps fire up that hunger again. Stick with it, it’s worth it!

  5. I am a freelancer (7 years now) and also the mother of an almost 2 year old girl. She gets my attention almost all day long and I squeeze in some work at night (9-12, if I am lucky). It’s OK, she’s my priority right now and it’s still working business wise.

    I do need to be VERY effective though, which is not a bad idea. Instead of wasting time, I focus and earn my money in less time, while also enjoying my family life.

  6. Great job, Audra! You are so right about learning to work in the margins of the day. I’m a single mom to one and also work full time. My life is ALL about the margins! My writing often happens in the wee hours of the morning and during my daughter’s visits to her grandparents. Oh, and that coveted (but often rare) Saturday when we we have absolutely nowhere to be. Congratulations on your success

    • Thank you Taralyn, I still do what I can in the margins because if I don’t, I inevitably lose my writing days to life, lol. Thank you for sacrificing as you are, your daughter is watching and it’s a great example of chasing your dreams 🙂

  7. Wow, Audra! Really impressed with your tenacity! I have been struggling with a slow start and feeling really overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Along with all that comes the insecurity of whether or not I CAN do it.

    It’s so encouraging to see how you juggle it all and that it’s coming together for you! Thanks for the motivation. 🙂

    • Thank you Cheri, it’s not always easy, I think the key is to never, ever stop no matter how slow you feel like your progress is. One day you will look back and say, wow I have come a lot farther along than I thought! Keep going!

  8. I love your post, Audra! As a mama-preneur I can relate to much of this post, especially the part about questioning everything you are doing. I think work at home parents with young kids all struggle with similar feelings but never giving up is key. I often struggle with wanting to grow my business to facing the reality that I can only do so much and that’s okay. Love hearing other’s tell their tales. Get it girl! 😉

  9. Audra,
    These have been my exact thoughts this past week. I have so many dreams and ideas that run through my mind all day that I know I can be successful at. It is just hard to find the time with two small toddlers. It’s inspiring to see others doing it because it lets me know to keep working hard even if it is one thing at a time. Thank you so much for writing this article it has been very helpful.

    • You are welcome Lori, I’m so glad it encouraged you. Slow progress is still progress, and it will pay off, I promise. And you also get to take along two precious littles for the ride, and they will get to cheer you on. Keep going!

    • Yes, tantrums and toddlers! I know them well 🙂 I’m still somewhat in that season, but I still make time for dreaming. It makes that precious time that much sweeter! 🙂 And when I feel good, it trickles down. Blessings, Shelle 🙂

  10. Great post Audra, and one I can totally relate to…that Comparison Monster is a killer! Thanks for the encouragement, it really helps to know that there are many of us walking the same path and that it CAN be done!

  11. Love this. Comparison is a beast and I live in it everyday. Your tips are awesome. Sometimes I lose track of why I started a business in the first place. I currently practice all of your tips. Thanks for giving me the extra push I needed.

  12. Thanks for these words of encouragement, Audra. I’m the mom of a teenage daughter and preteen daughter – distractions happen in a bigger and more dramatic way now, but I try to keep my eye on my goals even if I can only make slow and steady progress…it’s still progress. = )

  13. Audra,

    I am going to be a father soon and I am so glad that I took the time to read your article. I’m going to save it to Evernote so I can reference it after our baby is born. Thanks for the good advice!

    Andy

  14. Very good advice, especially Numbers 1 and 5. I’ve found that even if I read new posts and learn something about freelancing that I didn’t know the day before, or find words of affirmation such as this post, that’s still progressing toward the goal.
    Number 5 is important—-you’ll never know how things would have turned out if you bail, no matter how frustrated you get. If you get discouraged and disgusted, instead of quitting take some time off to regroup and you’ll come back with renewed energy.

  15. Great post! Hope your little one is feeling better.

    I negotiate my writing time with playtime. I write until 9:00am and my three year old gets mommy play/outside time. The times don’t always work, but the system does.

    The biggest thing for me is to keep the errands(whenever possible) and housework (except daily cleanup of the kitchen) to the weekends. I dedicate a block of time on Saturday and Sunday so I don’t have to do it during the week. Huge difference to my worktime during the week. I also have dedicated days for business stuff, and personal development separate from my writing time so I don’t forget them. 🙂

    My two kids are in bed by 8:30 and use that time to catchup wisely to write or catchup on tasks.

    • Great point on balancing work time with play time Elke, I have found that works too. I also started delegating some of the housework so it lightens my load a little bit. Thank you for sharing your tips, it’s great to know how others do it so we can be prepared when our seasons change 🙂

  16. I’ve been getting more convicted lately about two things: taking care of my teens needs (attending basketball games, STILL tutoring my almost 18 yo, fixing them school lunch or breakfast sometimes because they are overwhelmed) comes before my writing, but I have to quit letting taking care of my family be an excuse for not writing. So I need to learn to write in the 15 minute margins, in the doctor’s office, and when the girls are noisy.

    • It can be a tough balance Vicky, and I agree often times the kid stuff needs to come first. It is a dance and an ebb and flow, but as long as we keep moving towards writing it is all worth it. I find that it really affects my moods if I’m not writing or learning in some form 🙂

  17. I have a 5 month old and decided to jump head first into the freelancing business when I was about 2 or 3 months pregnant with him. I have been fighting terrible post partum depression and anxiety. The final kick that showed me I needed to get it moving in high gear came from my husband a couple weeks ago. I average 200 to 300 dollars a month writing and I just got a part time work from home job that pays between 1000 and 1500 a month. I hope that as I get more used to my new mom roll I can grow my business like I planned.

    • You are in the trenches in more ways than one Brittany, it’s important to take care of yourself as well. PPD affects a lot of people and it is a serious thing. It’s okay to push pause, especially with a new baby and pick up what you can or slow things down. It’s great you got another part time job, but you come first too 🙂 Hugs!

  18. Phew, it is so good to know that I am not alone! I’m sitting here now with my toddler beside me, playing on the Kindle, and I’m battling Mummy-guilt because shouldn’t I be doing something with her instead of doing my work on the computer? Well, she is happy and healthy, so no, we are alright actually. Big praise to my fellow parentpreneurs out there!

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