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Can You Freelance Full-Time With Kids at Home?

Shortly after leaving my 9 to 5 job for full-time self-employment, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby!

I was really excited for all of these big changes in my life, but simultaneously terrified at the idea of balancing a business and a baby.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or would like to be? Unsure of whether or not you can juggle a freelance business at the same time. Here's the answer.

I worried about things like time management & childcare. And I was really nervous about those unknown outliers, like: What do you when the baby gets sick?, or How do you schedule client calls?

It’s true, having kids in the mix can make full-time freelancing even more chaotic. But you can definitely do it, it just takes a little bit of fine-tuning.

In my first month back after my maternity leave, I earned 25% more money than I ever had in my business.

I made more, even though I had more distractions at home. Why? Because I was forced to work smarter during the time I had.

So here are 3 sure-fire things that are working for me, my family and my business:

1. Get clear on your capacity & preferences

In order to be successful, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about how much you think you can get done each week. Don’t take on too many clients. Starting projects you can’t wrap up on time will only hurt your business.

When I got back to work after maternity leave, I started slow. I took on less work than I suspected I could handle. This gave me enough time to get used to my new schedule. And in just a few weeks, I was able to open up a few more retainer slots to some new, awesome folks.

The other thing that’s crucial to your success is allowing yourself to stick to work you love. I love spending my days with my son, but I’m also excited when it’s time to work. By focusing on offering services that energize me, I look forward to my work! So do it because you love it, not because you have to. Passion will help you power through exhaustion.

2. Get systems in place

Making the most of your working time is critical. Getting a to do list app in place is a great idea. I like Swipes and Todoist. You may also want to try out some productivity techniques.

I have a few apps that I love for this kind of thing. 30/30 is based on the Pomodoro Technique. (The basic idea is to work on one task for 25 minutes, then break for 5.) You may also like Commit to 3, which has you set 3 Most Important Tasks for the day. The goal is to complete those before you move on to anything else.

In Good to Great, Jim Collins says that you should be “rigorous, not ruthless.” This resonates with me a lot. These days, I’m rigorous about my systems and organizational techniques. But I’m not so fiercely committed to them that it prevents me from enjoying my time with my son during the day.

3. You need to “rope up”

I love this analogy. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey talks about this. It’s the notion that, when mountain climbing, you tie yourself to the other climbers to keep from falling. He says we need to “borrow strength from others.”

In other words, call your village. Get on the same page with your partner. Call Grandma. Hire a house cleaner. Do what you need to do to automate what you can, and outsource what you can’t.

We definitely took to automating when we were prepping for baby. We put a lot of household items on Amazon subscriptions. And we broke out the slow cooker and got a Roomba. It’s amazing to have a lot of those little things off my plate now.

But the real turning point was getting help from my people. I wouldn’t be able to balance my son and my business without my husband and my parents. My husband is a 50-50 partner. We split chores and childcare, so I’m able to get a lot accomplished when he comes home from work. My parents are a huge help, too. I work from their house 2 days a week, while they spend time with the baby. It’s a huge gift.

A few weeks ago, my son laughed for the first time. And I was there. I wasn’t in some cubicle somewhere. Or in an airport terminal. Or sitting in the car on a long commute. I was home with him. Building a business from home while raising kids is difficult. It’s an intricate balance. But you won’t regret, I promise you.

Julienne DesJardins Julienne DesJardins works with solopreneurs who are ready for major growth in their businesses. She is a digital marketing virtual assistant who specializes in systems creation, as well as email and social media marketing. Julienne’s Jumpstart Sessions provide bite-sized, quarterly coaching to new business owners looking for actionable support. Check out her free database of 40+ must-have tools for solopreneurs, covering everything from contracts to invoicing. Be sure to connect with her on her website or on Twitter and Instagram.

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Yes, please!

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • As I prepare for the arrival of my first child in a couple months, this gave me some hope! Thank you for sharing.

    • Julienne

      Glad to help! You and I both know you’ve got this!

  • Yes, you sure can! I’ve been freelancing for 7 years now, and I have two kids! I can’t do it without the support of my husband, and a part time housekeeper.

    When the kids were smaller, I found it helpful to break down tasks in 10 minute chunks, and I would work like mad in those 10 minutes. Then, I would attend to my kids and then tell them it’s time for me to work again.

    There were a lot of sleepless nights (still get a lot of those now), but I was there for every milestone. I was there for every bruised knee. I was there for every little thing. You are so right. It’s totally worth it!

    • Julienne

      I totally hear you on those “bite-sized chunks.” Some days, it’s the only way!

  • Yes! The biggest lesson I learned after becoming a mom (now of 2) is that all the work still gets done, but it’s in a different way than before I had kids.

    • Julienne

      A big, resounding YES to this. Those days of hitting FLOW for 8-10 hours are gone. But I’m still incredibly productive. Just in a different way. YES!

  • Tori

    Love your second tip about putting systems in place — prioritizing what needs to get done from day to day is something that I struggle with! The Commit to 3 app sounds like a great way to make sure that all of the important things get done — totally going to check that out!

  • Great post! I recently resigned my job to pursue building my blog and business form home and I have a little one… so these were great tips.

    • Julienne

      Welcome to self-employed life! This is great news!

  • Fantastic post, Julienne! I have a # of clients that are parents and it’s amazing how focused you become when you know your time is limited 🙂

    • Julienne

      Great point. Makes me think of that notion that the work “expands” to fit the time available, right?

  • Way to go! It’s so important to prioritize and put systems in place, for sure! It can be very distracting when you have children at home. I have an 8 year old daughter and she is very demanding of my attention, so it’s hard to balance time between amusing her and getting things done, but it is possible 🙂

    • Julienne

      Hey Cole! Yes, I hear you. Some days are more difficult than others, but it is definitely possible!

  • I’ve been working from home since my youngest was a baby, he’s 17 now 😮 The first few years were difficult, I didn’t have help or babysitting offers to reach out to. I think there’s a lot of trial and error that goes into it, you really have to find what works best for you and your kids, everyone’s house and experience is going to be different. Once you find your flow, it can be magical and very rewarding 🙂

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