Freelancing, Family and Flexibility
I’m 25 now, so the last seven years have meant a gradual shift of my relationships with my parents and siblings. Instead of being my parents’ kid, I’m now an adult in my own right. And after getting married a few weeks ago, I’ve become officially part of a new family.
But that doesn’t mean that my emotional ties to my relatives are any weaker. If anything, my relationship with them has grown stronger over the past few years. And the fact that I’m a freelancer has definitely helped, in a couple of key ways.
I can work from anywhere with an internet connection. I’ve written blog articles at conferences, at airports, in libraries and in coffee shops. Of course, I prefer to work from my desktop at home, with everything set up the way I want – but the fact that I’m not tied to a particular place of work has made family life so much easier.
When Paul and I lived in London, I could visit my parents in Oxford for a week or more at a time: vacation allowance wasn’t an issue. Usually, I had emails and writing to keep up with, but I still had plenty of time to spend chatting to my parents, hanging out with my siblings and going shopping with my granny.
A few months ago, we moved to Oxford (with a lot of help – practical and financial – from my parents). Yes, the move involved a bit of upheaval, but my work continued essentially uninterrupted. If I’d stayed in my “normal” day job, I’d have had the hassle of finding a new job in Oxford.
As well as having no regular place of work, I don’t keep regular hours. This isn’t just a consequence of freelancing itself, but of the way I’ve chosen to set up my business.
I very rarely get phone calls from clients – most communication is carried out via email. Most of the editors I write for aren’t even in the same time zone as me. So there’s no need for me to be at my desk during office hours like Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.
I’ve also set up some passive income streams (if you’re a writer and interested in learning more about those, Thursday has written a great ebook called The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Passive Income). I quite literally make money while I sleep: I’ll often wake up in the morning to find that I’ve sold an ebook, or that some advertising revenue has come in. This gives me a bit of extra flexibility over my time, as my income doesn’t dry up altogether if I don’t work for a week or two.
Having such an open schedule has meant that, in the past few weeks, I’ve been able to do things like:
- Walk down the road to my granny’s for a cup of tea during the daytime (when my parents and brother are at work)
- Take a weekday “off” to enjoy Paul’s birthday with him
- Meet up with more extended family (my aunt, uncle and cousin) during the day time, while they’re on a school break
- Have my sister round during the day time, while she was on summer vacation from university
These are all little things – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. I love my work, but I also love my family. Having the flexibility of freelancing means that my family don’t have to fit into my evenings, weekends and limited vacation time – I can spend time with them more frequently.
My family have all been hugely supportive of my freelancing. They have a lot of confidence in me, which has helped me stay positive even in the stickier moments of running a small business – and their encouragement has meant a huge amount to me. I’m glad that I’m now in a position to give something back.
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(Image from Flickr by Liz (perspicacious.org))
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