The Life of a Freelancing Mom
Today is National Freelancer Day. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know such a thing existed until a friend tweeted me about it (@theatregleek1, you guys). Still, I’d like to think they’ve created this national day in my honor. Or, more specifically, I’d like to think they’ve given me a prime opportunity to finally hammer home to my Mother-in-Law exactly what it is I do.
You see, she “doesn’t understand” my job. It’s not a real, actual, job, apparently. She can’t work out why, now that all my kids are at school, I don’t take a job as a lunchtime supervisor at my kid’s school. Can you imagine the horror? Can you??
So what do I do, and why is it so confusing to so many? Well, I work as a Freelance Entertainment Writer. As such, I write regularly for many sites, which gives me a regular income. On top of that, I contribute to other sites, maybe once or twice a month, and occasionally I will pitch an idea to a different site altogether, and get it published.
I work from home, on my own schedule and yes, I can work in my pajamas if I so wish. I also have no guaranteed income, no paid vacation leave, no sick pay, no health cover… the list goes on. I write for a minimum of 60 hours a week. For every perk of being a freelancer, there’s at least one pitfall. You know what though? I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
The hours are long, the pay unrewarding, the comments from readers can be devastating or uplifting in equal measure, and trying to work around my kids is a nightmare at times, but I never, for one minute, regret my choice.
My daughter has a disability. Over here in the U.K., kids finish primary school at 11 and move up to secondary school where they will stay until 16. The transition for her is huge and I’ve lost count of the amount of meetings I’ve had to attend, or calls I’ve had to make, to ensure a smooth transfer for when she moves on in September. I can take the time out to do that, and to attend all her necessary hospital appointments, but I have to work much later into the evenings, or longer hours at the weekend to compensate.
I never switch off. My phone has roused me with news stories in the early hours of the morning (curse you, time zones!), I’ve spent vacation time writing the latest movie casting news up while my kids play in the sun, and travelling anywhere without my laptop or tablet is unheard of. I get twitchy without wifi, because I know I’m potentially missing out on news that could earn me money.
As a mother of three, juggling a household, being a parent, and working full time, is tough for anyone. For all those (mother-in-law included) who wonder what I do, here’s a typical day:
6:00- Wake up, catch up on emails, reply to important ones, check twitter for trending news and interactions, reply as necessary, identify potential stories.
6:30- Make breakfast, pack school lunches, see to daughter, do laundry, tidy house.
8:30- Walk kids to school
9:00- Work out
10:00- Run any necessary errands as quickly as humanly possible (I am a master at speed grocery shopping.)
11:00- This is the absolute latest I can start work. Most days I start by 10 and work solidly until 3.
3:00- Collect kids from school
3:30- Return home from school, supervise homework and reading while simultaneously working. Work until 6.
6:00- Dinner, baths and bed (for the kids, not me!).
7:00- Work until 11 or 12.
Midnight- Provided nothing major has occurred, I go to bed!
….And repeat! That’s my day. It changes, of course, as I said above. At weekends, I try my hardest to keep Saturdays as a family-only day, but things happen, such as the unveiling of the new Doctor Who companion. That’s massive news in my line of work, and family time has to take a backseat. No site will care if you miss a deadline because you were baking cupcakes with your kids. Favorite celebrities die, and you have to write an obituary with tears streaming down your face. My kids get sick, and I have to type with one hand while mopping their brow with the other. School gets out for the holidays and I find myself trying to entertain small people by day and then writing until three in the morning. It’s tough, but you know what? I was born to write. Words are in my soul, be they creative or informative, and I would never swap my job for anything.