Recalibrating and finding a balance


Work from home

Being self-employed can give you so much freedom which when you become a parent is something I am forever grateful for but equally working freelance and for yourself brings along a kind of stress you don't get with other jobs. Your income purely relies on your own ability and productivity and what is currently on offer. Some weeks you will be inundated with work and at other times it can be worryingly slow, although even so I wouldn't change it for a minute. 

I have been self employed for a few years now and I have worked very hard to ensure I have a constant stream of work and a steady income although this year I have faced a few obstacles that have certainly taught me a few things about life as a freelance writer and blogger. Firstly I didn't take any maternity leave when my youngest arrived on the scene 18months ago, this was simply down to not actually having time to stop working, to put this into perspective I had emails asking for when posts would be going live, new campaigns, job offers and invoice requests on the day I gave birth. This fast overturn of work and the speed at which blogging moves is both appealing but equally quite pressured and things like growing your family when your naturally a hard working individual throws up certain situations such as not wanting to fall behind or keeping on top of a job you have essentially created out of nothing. 

Welsh coffee shop

Having a new little man on the scene however didn't actually impact things too much especially as when your documenting parts of your life you can make it work but what I didn't expect was how much I rely on technology and that technology working and running smoothly. 

At the start of the year my Mac started running painfully slow,  then my email was hit by a virus causing more havoc. I took my Mac in to be serviced and they couldn't find a reason for it being so slow even though I felt the hard drive was on the way out I was reassured it came back fine on the tests so they completely wiped my laptop of everything back to factory settings and started again. Initially it was working fine then the issues started again and one day it simply wouldn't turn on, the hard drive had failed, what was worse is I discovered not everything I thought had be saved to the cloud actually was saved and because it had been working so slowly when transferring files to my external it often didn't save all of the files. Losing around 3 weeks worth of work may not sound like a lot but when you think of videos and edited photos some of which cannot be repeated or draft posts while trying to maintain all your current work commitments it's a whole lot. Luckily a lot of my clients were understanding, these things do happen and even though it was not my fault being self employed means the buck stops at you and no one else, which can be a blessing and a curse. 

Bodlon Cardiff

I have finally started to feel like I am back on top of things with the support from my family who have given me the much needed time to redo work, it's also made me realise how important it is to get a good work life balance because things do happen and you don't want that to cause stress that follows into the home environment. I have also found that it's not worth getting upset about things that are out of your control, to try and be more mindful of the small victories you achieve each day and to enjoy those little moments that will provide the calming balance you need.

Here are my top 7 tips for dealing with work related stress and when things go wrong

1. Breath
2. Get out of the house and go for a walk - stepping away from a frustrating situation really helps put things back in perspective.
3. Make yourself a clear and doable plan of action
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends
5. Think about how you can prevent it from happening again - I'm thinking about leasing a laptop as well as getting better insurance for all my business related equipment because then cost of replacing things won't be an added stress.
6. Keep a good line of communication going with clients
7. Don't let it consume you and make time for yourself and your family.

If you feel stress and anxiety are really becoming an issue that is affecting your daily life than talking to a professional could be an option, wether on your own or as a couple as finding harmony in the home is important for all those involved. You can now access counselling or professional help online making it easier than ever and could be an option that would work well for you.

Coffee art


It is also really important that you streamline your workspace as much as possible, upgrade your laptop if possible and any other apps you need. Consider getting a Virtual assistant if your feeling especially overwhelmed. You could also think about working from the convenience of your home with a SharePoint site from and a cloud Desktop from the leading provider of hosted virtual desktop.

So with taking the last tip in hand this Monday we started a new tradition, it's Johns day off and each week we are going to explore a different coffee shop in around Cardiff. I had been to Bodlon, in Whitchurch before but not with John and  though it was the perfect spot to enjoy a flat white which some welsh cakes as well as pursuing all the local kitchenwares and Welsh products from food to hand made crockery, pillows and up-cycled furniture.

Flowers indoors


I think when it comes to working from home, growing a family, sharing bills and being creative, modern parents and especially mothers today wear a lot of different hats, that does mean at times some compromises need to be made to keep that workable balance between doing what you love, making an income and being hands on and highly with your children's lives but I love our busy and beautiful life and I know that 9 to 5 wouldn't suit either of us. I'm really excited about what the rest of the year has in store and where the job I love will take me and my family and I know that even when things occasionally hit the fan every now and then that one definition certainly comes to mind - Mamas are strong even when sleep deprived!

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  1. Hey Laura, I'm so with you on how tricky the balance can be. There are as many tough things about freelance as there are brilliant things. Sounds like you've had a challenging few months and I really feel for you losing all that work.

  2. You're so right about technology - my PC is on its last legs and there's a lot of shouting at it! Love your idea about taking a break and exploring Cardiff - funnily enough I suggested the same thing to Mat the other day so perhaps we will bump into you guys. One thing I really need to do is plan better and get some sort of work day schedule so I give the kids as much time as possible x

  3. It is so hard isn't it?! IT's tricky enough to keep on everything but when you add children and sleep deprivation into the mix, it's so tough. Going from being employed (when other people sort out everything) to doing it yourself is good, but all the little things like chasing invoices can become such big things, can't they?

  4. A timely and interesting read Laura. Earlier this week I read a post from a designer friend who ended up being whisked off to A&E one morning out of the blue and the consequences for her business (it's worth a read if you have time, I retweeted it earlier this week) Anyway I have also been doing a lot of thinking about commitments and modern motherhood. I am going to embrace slow blogging next year and be very very picky about collaborations. More than once in the last few months I have felt I've been churning out stuff out of obligation and not from the heart and I also feel slightly uncomfortable with the growing commercialisation of blogging, which isn't to say I feel uncomfortable accepting money, I just feel uncomfortable being in a position where I might make someone feel their life is lacking if they don't buy what I'm promoting.... Gosh, this was meant to be a comment and it's turning into a blog post...... don't be surprised if you see this all regurgitated in a post in a few weeks (slow time!)

  5. This was a great post - I definitely need to take more time to myself but with the peaks and troughs of work I'm sometimes worried that if I don't accept commissions then I won't get any more. Really good tips.

  6. I count myself really lucky that my baby days were over before I turned self-employed, as it must be so tough. I find it hard even justifying a week off - I've no idea how I'd cope with maternity leave.

  7. It's so hard, isn't it? A lot of what you've written here is very familiar! Loving your new Monday tradition, that sounds like a good plan and fun, too


Lovely comments

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