So, how do you balance a freelance design studio, super demanding children, one chilled out partner, staying healthy AND run a crazy busy household?
Ok ok ok, just look at this picture and you'll see why we just get it done! Look at their faces... Oh my goodness - these two are easily the best part of me and both of them display my weird quirks all the time - not that' I'd ever tell them that - its just cool to know!
Life as a freelance graphic designer
When I made the decision to run my own design studio, honestly I had no idea what to expect. It was a decision kind of made out of necessity. After I had Bodhi, I was keen to make the transition to a more creative career. I did the study while he was little, got the Diploma and then thought - um where to now? If I went to work for someone else, who would look after my children in the super long school holidays? Who would be with them before and after school every day? Honestly it was easier I think to give it a go myself and hey, if it didn't work out I could try something else. 9 years on and The Little Workshop is still here...
I work only part time and am super transparent with all Clients that my availability is only during school hours! I have an extended team when required on various projects so I always have backup should I need extra resources. It's been really refreshing to see a lot of my clients encourage my effort to be a working Mum and to be honest I have never had any negative feedback about availability. Either I've been super lucky or I've managed my time well (I like to think it's the latter).
If you're a working parent then you know this lil emotion well. Guilt is something that is ever present, we feel guilty when we're at work that we're not with our kids, when we're with our kids we feel guilty that we're not doing enough in the business (let's face it you can always do more). It's a constant struggle and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been 'that Mum' on more than one occasion saying 'just one more minute' while trying to send a last minute email or finalise a design... Honestly the older I get the less that little feeling creeps in. I think in a way it's good for our children to see us work. Great for their developing minds to know that to get anywhere in life you need to put in the effort. When I feel this little guilt monster creep in, I have to literally zoom out of my mind, take a helicopter view for a moment and remember why I'm doing it.
I'm the absolute worst at consistency of living a healthy life. I start a new buzz diet every Monday - oh I've tried them all - paleo, 5:2, keto etc you know the drill. Literally right now I'm starting the new FAST 800 by Michael Mosley - I crack myself up - but I'll never stop trying. I also know my best friend is coming for dinner this weekend so that's out the window already! I try to get some exercise in and as I sit here writing this article, I've just returned from the physio who is dry needling my back as I 'sprained my spine' - at the gym last week doing a pathetically weak kettlebell squat!!! seriously who does that - I didn't even know you could sprain your back? But let me tell you - it hurts... A lot.
I try to meditate but honestly my thoughts run away in my head and I can NEVER focus on my breathing - hopeless - but I always try again.
So there you have it - my effort at trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle. The main takeaway here is that I will never stop trying. I think that is the important part of life - it's a journey and as long as you consistently try then that's OK.
I guess what I'm saying is that I really enjoy the freedom of running my own business - I have to make balancing family and work an art form - albeit a messy one and hey I'm a designer right - if I can't do it, who can? My freelance design studio allows me the flexibility to be available to my family and take on projects with a clear schedule in mind. I guess in away I need to be MORE organised because I have limited weeks in the year that I undertake Client work.
It's tricky being a freelance creative. I'm not going to say it's always easy because it absolutely is not - sometimes is super difficult to to switch between Mum mode, graphic designer mode, business developer mode, administration guru mode and everything else you need to do in order to run your own design studio. If you're thinking of starting out on your own, you do need a super positive support structure with you.