You’re a freelancer and you’re a parent. Me, too. Can we talk for a minute? I mean, I love my son more than anything in the world. And yes, I enjoy being flexible with my time. Isn’t that what freelancing is supposed to be about? All that independence giving us the freedom to work when it’s most convenient for us…
So why do I feel like I have no time, I’m up every night until two in the morning completing my assignments, and my to-do list is still a mile long?
Because it’s summer. And there’s no school. You don’t realize how much you value all that delicious, quiet, alone time, until it’s ripped out from under you.
So here are a few of my survival tips. If I don’t make it through to September, please make sure you tell everyone still waiting for work from me that it was on my to-do list.
1) Keep your house clean.
When times are tough, it’s time to go back to basics. When your kids are not in school, they are probably under the impression that all bets are off. No getting dressed, no making their beds, no going to sleep or waking up on time. And they’re probably right. But if your kids aren’t in camp or some other organized activity, the creeping disorder of their mess is going to make it into your work space sooner or later. Stop that in its tracks. At the very least, keep your kitchen and bathroom clean, because those are the real sanity busters. Make them help, the lazy slobs.
2) Make your lists.
More important than ever, is to have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish in a given day, and when. Deadlines don’t stop just because school is out. Figure out which blocks of time are non-negotiable and let your kids know you are off limits during those times. Bargain if you must. Let them watch extra TV or video games. Grit your teeth, and schedule some quality time in the evening or the weekend, when you can all go swimming or to the park or a museum together.
3) Get some adult support.
If you are part of a two-parent or better yet, multi-generational household, you may be in luck. Coordinate with your spouse wherever possible to gain some relief time from the long days. Single parent addendum. There’s no one to hand-off to... Arrange trades with your kids’ friends’ parents – one day the kids are at your house, one day they all go over to their place. Depending on your kid’s age (mine’s 12), they often do better in pairs, so they can occupy each other. Hanging out with their friends as often as possible is key.
4) Beware of the patience testers.
These are the conversations that are designed to see how well you are at putting all of your theories about non-violence into practice. Here’s an example:
My son: Mom, I’m hungry.
Me: OK, just a minute.
Fifteen minutes go by.
My son: I’m starving!
Me: OK, I’ll make you a sandwich.
Forty five minutes later, after I’ve ripped myself away from the computer and am preparing something in the kitchen.
My son: Is that the only bread we have?
This is the moment where you get to show off all that deep breathing and serenity work you’ve been practicing in yoga class. Go on. Make me proud. Don’t yell…
5) Enjoy your education in special subjects.
Having you around all day is an open invitation to your child to share with you everything about his latest obsession. My son's is Mortal Kombat. Apparently I’m the good luck charm. He comes and sits next to me when he’s downloading new bonus features. He tells me all about the characters and their powers, their moves and their fatalities (lethal moves). There’s more, but honestly, a lot of the time when he’s going on and on about the game, I can see that his mouth is moving, and words are coming out, but I’m not really hearing anything.
If I sound kind of cranky, it’s because I am. My house is a mess, I haven’t eaten yet today, and I know I’m going to be up until the wee hours again tonight. Maybe a sandwich. I’ll check and see what kind of bread we’ve got…