Viewing category ‘A mother's work is never done’

Cornered Office

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/

Learning a good thing from doing a stupid thing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot

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I made a giant mistake today. Actually, it was a tiny mistake, but it felt like a giant one to me. It felt bad.

But let me back up a minute, first.

I mostly talk, in this space, about deliberate business decisions related to my career as a freelance writer. I don’t talk about my personal blog all that much because, honestly, while the personal blog certainly opened the doors that allowed me to make a career out of writing, my personal blog isn’t “work.” I make very little money from it, and other than a handy sort of living portfolio, it doesn’t figure into my professional life nearly the way almost everything else does. When I’m talking about “making my living as a writer,” that’s not what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, the personal blog is how it all started, and it’s where I’ve been writing the longest, and it’s (arguably) what I’m most “known” for, so it’s not unimportant. And I’ve been writing there coming up on nine years, so it’s all old hat for a pro like me, right?
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How much of a schedule do you need?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Now I'm free(lancing)

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If you work from a home office, chances are you’re already well-acquainted with the phenomenon where everyone else in the world who isn’t a freelancer assumes you just don’t have a job. (Do I sound bitter? Maaaaaaaybe just a little.) Show up for one middle-of-the-day event and suddenly everyone assumes that “flexible schedule” means “I would be happy to put down the bonbons and appear at your beck and call as often as you’d like.”

I’d love to say this happens more often if you’re a parent—small people in our care seem to come with various obligations at school and elsewhere—but I’ve heard plenty of similar stories from my child-free colleagues as well. Sometimes people expect that if you set your own hours, you must always be available. Funny, it doesn’t exactly work that way.

There are actually two separate issues just about every freelancer I know has to grapple with at some point, regarding scheduling:
1) The expectation that you are always available,
and
2) How much structure you require in your day to get stuff done.
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For 2013, I visualize… [fill in the blank]

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Well. Here we are, almost at the end of 2012, and I think we can all agree that it’s been… uhhhh… kind of A Year. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you the worst part. Between the deaths and the illnesses, the various miscellaneous crises and the broken bones, I think it’s safe to say that 2012 is pretty much my least favorite year of… well, ever. (Beating out the year my first marriage imploded, even. It was a bad year, folks.)

Part of me wants to curl up and mourn the massive hit my business took this year, and part of me wants to pat myself on the back for still having a business, given everything that’s happened this year. But then I think I hardly deserve that pat, either, because the nature of many of this year’s crises meant that letting the business go under wasn’t ever an option (financially, anyway).

Now that we’re at the end of the year, I’m ready to look forward and try to figure out what comes next. Only this year, it feels so very different from years past.
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Mobile office, yes indeed

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Part of the reason I wanted to freelance instead of working a “regular” job was so that I could be more available for my kids, and my schedule more flexible. So it’s at times like this I remind myself that this is exactly what I wanted.

See, right now I’m in a cabin. In the mountains. With my son’s school! Or, at least, many of the children from my son’s school. Many lovely, delightful, oh-my-gosh-so-very-loud children from my son’s school. We are on an extended field trip and I’m sure it’s going to be lots of fun… even if I cannot hear myself think, at the moment.

But it’s okay, because I have my computer, and my wireless modem, and even though I’m theoretically helping to shepherd way too many kids as they run around in circles and scream at the top of their lungs (I’m sure it’s educational, somehow), I’m also managing to sneak away to do a little bit of work.
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Relearning balance, a.k.a. “for me”

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Balancing all the various facets of my life has never been my strong suit; sometimes I manage better than others, but the fact remains that even during my “best” times I often joke about my life being a series of “short attention span theater” vignettes. I race around, wearing my various hats—I’m a mom! I’m a writer! I’m a wife! I’m a volunteer!—and if things are going relatively well, most everything gets done and I feel pretty good.

But right now I don’t feel good. In fact, I pretty much feel like crap all the time. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and the last however many months of stress have definitely left their mark. I’m working less, ostensibly to give me the time to take care of everything else, yet I feel like I’m accomplishing pretty much nothing in every area of my life, at the same time. (It’s a nifty party trick, if you feel like accompanying the final “TADA!” with a demonstration of exactly how long it’s been since you bothered to, say, dust your house.)

And then came the inevitable question: “What are you doing for you?”
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Blogging awards: My love/hate relationship

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

7 Comments


I am blogger, hear me… pimp myself?

In my experience, there are two kinds of bloggers out there: Those who write because they love writing, and those who write because they love attention. (Occasionally you find a third type: those who love writing and love attention, but overwhelmingly I would argue most bloggers are one or the other.) Now, you could make the argument that someone who only loves writing would never put their words “out there” for others to see, but to me having an audience reading what you write is part of the overall process. I love to write, but I also love to share that writing with others.

I don’t love attention so much, but of course to some extent it’s part and parcel of the blogging life. Put a website online and people are going to see it, comment on it, want to interact with you—that’s kind of the point. But as an introvert writing online suits me because I an interact with others in a way that’s limited; responding to comments and emails is easier for me that lots of face-to-face interaction.

Every now and then, I find myself receiving some sort of nomination or award and then I’m… deeply conflicted.
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Does back to school mean back to work?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Now I'm free(lancing)

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It used to be that I spent summer feeling pulled in twelve different directions; feeling like my kids weren’t getting enough of me, feeling like I never got enough work done, feeling anxious for school to start and then guilty that I wanted it to, etc.

This summer has been different for a variety of reasons. With one kid in the hospital, nothing feels normal, ever, and so our family has taken to referring to this time as The Summer That Wasn’t. Even if that wasn’t the case, though, my youngest is nearly a teenager—if I felt like I had to work a non-stop, “regular” schedule in the summer months, I could do that, now. There wouldn’t be any “Mom! Mom! Hey Mom! Moooooooom!” going on. (Okay, that’s a lie. That still happens, but when I tell him to stop he laughs instead of throwing himself to the floor for a tantrum. Heh.) Still, our family schedule is off and the beginning of school changes things.

This week my husband went back to teaching at the university and my son went back to attending our beloved “Hippie School” (a homeschool collab) three days each week. Yesterday and today I had the house to myself for the bulk of the day, and I was free to work unencumbered.
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Finding work focus without doing actual work

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I think I’ve been pretty honest, both here and elsewhere, about how tough this year has been for my family. For months I think I tried to operate on the assumption that the Bad Stuff was temporary, and if I could just tough it out a little bit longer, things would go back to normal and that would be that. (Ah, naivete. I miss you!) By the time my kid ended in the hospital for the third time, though, it became clear that 1) this wasn’t going away and 2) any new normal we might someday attain would be very different.

During the first hospitalization I all but stopped working. Slowly, once my daughter was home again, I tried to pick up where I left off. Then she went back into the hospital and I stopped again. Then she was home but things were still busy and stressful and I really hadn’t even gotten my feet back under me when this last hospitalization happened, and now she’s been away for far too long and I’ve continued to struggle with finding that elusive groove where I can get stuff done.

I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on what my continued difficulty is—aside from “life kind of sucks and it’s hard to care about anything other than my child right now” which may be true, but doesn’t excuse me from working—but I accidentally figured out a way to jump-start myself again.
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Reclaiming my independence

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

4 Comments


Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the USA, and most everyone around me—if you believe the television and radio—is getting ready to kick back at a barbecue with some frosty drinks. Independence in this country is heavily about charred meats and the right to imbibe alcohol. Oh, and there’s also the Blowing Stuff Up aspect, I guess.

Me, I’ve had a rough few months. My family is having a difficult year. For a while there, I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to continue working, as flexible as my freelancer’s schedule supposedly is. The idea of simply taking tomorrow off to hang out with my family feels crazy in the wake of recent life. It definitely feels like I should take the day to buckle down and catch up on work. After all, most folks will be taking the day off, so maybe I’ll finally catch up!

I’m not going to do that, though. Part of what I’ve lost over the last few months is any semblance of balance in my life. Work has suffered, yes, but so has everything else. I’ve become someone who merely reacts, rather than acts. My life feels like a series of crises, and I’m just here with a fire hose turning towards the nearest fire, then the next nearest, etc.

In honor of the holiday (not to mention because I just can’t take it anymore), that all ends this week.
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Does your business have an emergency plan?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Head hitting brick wall, My boss is an idiot

3 Comments


I am practically the neurotic poster child for being ready for anything when it comes to freelancing. I’ve been writing here for years about all of the things you need to take into consideration before going into business for yourself—everything from handling your taxes to having redundant computer backups to making sure your work is diversified enough that one client or one particular area of expertise can’t take your business down if there’s an economic downturn.

I dropped out of Girl Scouts, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped loving Being Prepared. The truth is that I am given to anxiety, and knowing what to expect—or that you’re in a position to weather even the unexpected—is the best offense against that anxiety.

And it’s true that I have come through several disaster-level (smallish, but still) setbacks as I’ve plodded down this path, learning as I go. I’ve had the catastrophic hard drive failure without appropriate backups in place. I’ve had the IRS slap my knuckles before I turned over my finances to an accountant. I kept going even when layoffs were happening all around me (and sometimes even to me).

Today I want to tell you about two things emergency-prep things; one, I did just right. The other, I got all wrong.
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