“Still, every hour I was at work was another hour I wasn’t with my kids.”
I was a preschool teacher before I made the switch to freelancing. I loved teaching three and four-year-olds, implementing activities that boosted their skills, watching them grow, playing with them, and working with kids who have special needs like my own son. Still, every hour I was at work was another hour I wasn’t with my kids.
For six months, I fiercely struggled to make a decision. Should I ramp up my side gig of freelance writing? I’d done this for four years prior for some extra cash. I wasn’t sure if I could turn it into a full-time job. Finally, I decided to just go for it. To my surprise, I landed clients quickly! I’m talking one client in the first week who could pay me more in a month than my teaching job did and two smaller clients a couple weeks after that.
Only four months later, I was able to turn in my two weeks notice and start my comfortable new life as a freelance writer. And that’s when I began working from home and building my own schedule.
“I’m talking one client in the first week who could pay me more in a month than my teaching job did and two smaller clients a couple weeks later.”
Forming an At-Home Business
It sounds like freelancing kind of fell into my lap. In some ways, it did. But I still had to work my butt off to form a legitimate business as any other business owner would. I spent a lot of my time during the first six months of my new career immersing myself in everything I’d need to know as a business owner, from paying my own taxes to forming a business entity. Networking with other freelancers was the single best action I took in the beginning, and one I encourage anyone else to do if they want to begin a freelancing career.
Freelancers who’ve already been through their first year and beyond can answer a lot of questions. I joined freelance Facebook groups whose members would answer my newbie questions about applying for a business license, invoicing clients, and more. I still am a member of several of these groups but today, I shell out advice to others.
Everything is confusing as a new business owner. It’s in your best interest not to try it alone. Contact your state’s Secretary of State office to learn more about licensure, grab an accountant to make sure you’re setting up payments and taxes correctly, and look into health insurance for freelancers. Remember: as a business owner, you’re responsible for your pay and benefits, so getting it all set up as soon as possible will help you run things more smoothly in the future.
“Everything is confusing as a new business owner. It’s in your best interest not to try it alone.”
Balancing a Business with Mommyhood
Here’s the thing: Working from home is fantastic. I won’t even try to say it’s not. But it’s also tough, especially when you have to be Mom at the same time. For my first year of freelancing, my son was only in preschool for two six-hour days a week. I loved having him home with me on non-preschool days, but it was a struggle to work when all I wanted was to play or snuggle with him.
I started waking up about two hours earlier than him (that’s 4:00am here, ladies), just to get a solid head start on my work. This simple tweak alone let me take a longer lunch break that would turn into a park adventure or a special stop for ice cream, meaning more quality time with my little guy. It also helped my son start to understand that, if he gave me uninterrupted time to finish writing, I’d have more time to spend with him.
Some days were tougher than others, like when he was sick and needed extra cuddles. There were days I’d have no choice but to sacrifice some work time during the day and make it up at night once he went to sleep just to meet my clients’ deadlines. Truth: Focusing on writing when a little one is cranky is damn near impossible. In other words, if you don’t have a flexible schedule for your work from home job, you might want to consider some child care options—or at least a whole lot of pre-made busy bags!
Both my kids are now in school full-time. That means I get a solid five hours of work in every day between dropping them off and picking them up, plus I still wake up two hours ahead of them for extra writing time. After school and on the weekends, I’m back in mom mode, helping with homework, cooking dinner, and rushing the kids off to their practices.
This freelancing, work-from-home Mama wouldn’t have it any other way.★
Amy Boyington is a lifestyle content writer who also contributes to popular online publications like Reader’s Digest. As a work from home mom who loves what she does, Amy helps other moms balance their personal and professional lives through her blog, The Work at Home Mom.
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