How to balance freelancing with being a mum

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For many mothers in the UK, freelancing has become a great way for them to grow their careers around their children.

According to IPSE’s ‘Women in self-employment in 2022’ report, 15% of all freelancers are working mums, 56% of women chose self-employment to seek the choice of where to work, and 63% chose self-employment to gain greater control over their working hours. Whether it’s through providing creative services, to turning a favourite craft hobby into a moneymaking side hustle, there are plenty of ways to earn money while still prioritising the most demanding job of all – being a mum.

The thought of becoming your own boss may seem daunting, especially with children to consider. However, just under half (46%) of all self-employed women surveyed had been their own boss for over six years, suggesting that self-employment can be a sustainable career choice.

In this article, we explore the ways you can effectively balance the responsibilities that come with being a mother whilst building your career as a freelancer.

Finding community

As a mum, you’re often juggling various responsibilities at any given time, and being a freelancer is no different. Although the flexibility that comes with being your own boss may seem enticing, finding success takes a lot of hard work and commitment. Fortunately, there is a lot of support available that can help you grow your business and manage your work responsibilities effectively.

- For anyone starting out as a freelancer, getting your business noticed by the right people and building a roster of clients can be difficult. Finding online communities that understand the unique challenges that come with being a mother and a freelancer can provide you with a wealth of support in helping you build your business. Mums in Marketing is a great resource that provides working mums in the marketing space with valuable networking opportunities, job listings, and specialised training courses. They also have a community message board that allows you to connect with other working mums to receive support and share ideas.

Doing It For The Kids is an excellent online community for freelancer parents that regularly share advice and guidance on challenges, from managing your taxes to childcare.

Freelance Mums provides award-winning, child-friendly business networking events that support, promote and connect freelance mums.

Shelance is an online, international community dedicated to providing independent, female creative talent with a platform to “get seen, found, and booked”. Their LinkedIn page also regularly promotes new creative freelancer opportunities, and they host a monthly support group where they share valuable insights into topics such as, “developing a creative portfolio” and “how to set your rates as a freelancer”.

Managing your time

As a working parent, managing your time effectively can be one of the largest hurdles to overcome, especially when you’re starting out as a freelancer. According to recent research by Timewatch, “38% of people say they spend up to an hour a day on tasks or meetings that aren’t important to their role” and “76% of people said they would be prepared to spend between 15-30 minutes a day using a time management system if better time management saved them 90 minutes, reduced stress and improved their reputation at work”.

If your children are in childcare or at school, taking advantage of those golden hours between 9AM and 3PM is valuable – but as every parent knows, poorly children or issues with childcare can change a well-planned work week very quickly. Where possible, allow yourself extra time when providing delivery dates for clients, in case something unexpected happens.

We recently researched a list of some of the most popular time-management apps here that can help you build an effective work schedule, so you can find a way of working that suits you and your family, and still feel productive. One aspect of time management is also figuring out when and how to take time off as a freelancer, a topic that we have explored in further detail here.

Taking care of your finances

One of the biggest challenges that parents face is managing the financial health of their family. In a recent study by The Mental Health Foundation, “one in three people (32%) said worries about ‘being able to afford to pay my bills’ made them anxious in the last two weeks”. On top of rent and mortgage payments, you may also have to factor in living costs and the price of childcare. As a freelancer, managing your finances correctly will allow you to make smarter business decisions. It will also give you a clear view of your income and expenses which is essential as you plan for the future and wellbeing of your business and your family.

We explored the top 5 accounting apps for freelancers that can help you ease the burden of accounting admin so you can find more time to focus on growing your business.

Case study – Keeley Smith

Keeley Smith is a self-employed mother of two whose career has adapted to suit her young family’s needs.  She has spent nearly ten years practicing as a lawyer at a top commercial firm, but whilst on maternity leave with her second child, decided to make the move into freelancing.

Headshot of Keeley Smitch, a self-employed mum of two"The corporate lifestyle and demands felt different when I became a mum. I decided to take a leap of faith and quit – it was scary leaving the world of law behind but becoming my own boss really has changed my life! I wanted to be present for my girls and now I am my own boss, I don’t miss out on the all the special moments at home.”

She is now working as a freelancer, providing business support services, specialising in commercial contracts, business compliance and operations management.

From her experience as a freelancer, Keeley highlights that “it can be so hard to step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself out there, but choosing to take that leap might be the pivot point that changes your life forever! We can all be extraordinary and achieve our goals, we just have to be brave enough to go for it.”

For more tips and advice on how to navigate your own journey as a freelancer, check out our Help & Guidance Hub for Professionals here.

The information provided is for general purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. Readers are advised to consult with suitably qualified professionals prior to making important life decisions, such as changes to employment status.

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