with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
In honor of the upcoming holiday—and because I’ve started sliding into Holiday Hosting Mode—I just couldn’t quite stomach an all-business post today.
(I hope you’ll forgive me. Come over on Thursday for some pie so I can make it up to you, if you don’t.)
I think a lot of us talk a lot about how other aspects of life have prepared us for various facets of running a freelance business, but today I’m turning that notion on its head; instead, I want to look at the things I’ve learned from freelancing that have absolutely made hosting a large holiday meal more doable, for me. (And no, this story doesn’t start with “Drink more,” although I can see why you might suspect that.) The truth is that working for myself has uniquely prepared me for the rigors of the Thanksgiving meal gauntlet, I think.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned through working for myself, and how they’re applicable to turkey roasting and beyond:
Plan it out. My organization skills weren’t awful before I started freelancing, but they’ve definitely improved ever since I began setting my own schedule. The first year I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner I cooked everything on Thanksgiving. Never again! In recent years I’ve planned the menu weeks in advance, then been able to break it down into components that could be made ahead and frozen, made the day before, etc.
Be ready for snags. Yeah, first I said plan it out, then I said be ready for it to all get messed up. That’s a lesson from freelancing, too. Ideally “plan it out” includes a little padding in the schedule, but even if it doesn’t, an ability to roll with the punches is definitely something I garnered from life as my own boss.
Being your own boss isn’t the same thing as being an island. If I’m hosting, I’m in charge. Just like how I’m the boss of my business. But in business I work with others (and sometimes cater to the whims of others), and in planning a big meal I enlist the help of others. There were years when I felt like I had to do it all myself, and/or like I couldn’t ask anyone else to pitch in. Those days are over; there’s no shame in asking for assistance, even if it’s just another hand to help peel potatoes.
The perks of being at home include comfort. I’m not saying I never dress up for dinner, but really, just like when I’m working from home, part of the advantage is that I get to be comfortable. If you come over I’m not going to be in baggy sweatpants for Thanksgiving, or anything, but neither am I going to be wearing heels. So there.
Remember the goal. There’s plenty of projects that don’t end up quite the way I envisioned them. And I’ve yet to host a “perfect” meal. In the case of work, maybe I remember that this job is one I’m doing for the money, or that job is one for the line on my resume, and the rest is just gravy. In the case of dinner, the goal is to enjoy family and friends, and really, no one cares if I forget the rolls or if the gravy is a little lumpy.
Reward thyself! There’s too many years where I felt like hosting meant I had to be perfect, the house had to be spotless, and then the dishes had to be tackled as soon as the last fork was laid down. Good enough is good enough, these days, and assuming I remember all of the other items above, the dishes can wait and yes, I can have another piece of pie and laze around a bit that evening.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, everyone who celebrates! Enjoy it!
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