Let me set the scene for you:
It’s currently 12:48 a.m. I’m sitting in a dark living room with the ‘80s Hits station playing retro music, a sleeping baby on the couch next to me, and I’m hunched over a glowing computer screen working on what had better be my final project of the day.
When I started freelancing, I was excited about all the new possibilities my chosen profession was sure to bring. While I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be glamorous, I somehow didn’t envision listening to The Cutting Crew singing “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” while I balanced my laptop on a Boppy pillow and cringed every time a dog barked for fear my toddler would awake and demand to be nursed back to sleep while my deadlines slipped by.
It’s actually pretty amazing how much parenthood informs my freelance writing business. I was elated when my daughter finally learned to nap without being held, because it meant I could sneak in a couple of extra SEO articles a day. That joy was dashed when she went from two naps a day to only one. I’m still grieving the loss of the morning nap.
Even my work environment is arranged around the baby’s needs. Believe me, I’m not sitting here in the dark as Cher laments her inability to turn back time because it’s part of my “process.” In reality, the music helps keep the little one asleep, and turning on the lights would obviously result in a less-than-productive environment when she started wailing from the inconvenience. Heck, I’m actually a little chilly, but I can’t turn off the air conditioner because it’s providing the oh-so-important white noise that makes this late-night writing possible.
I’m even half afraid to get up at the moment for fear of tripping in the dark over Curios George, a sippy cup, or a copy of Hop on Pop. It’s not my safety I’m taking into consideration, mind you, but the fact that stepping on one rogue peg puzzle piece will cause me to yelp and thereby wake Sleeping Beauty.
Don’t get the idea that I’m complaining, though, because I am definitely not. I chose this career for exactly this reason. I make my own hours (even if they do end up being at one o’clock in the morning sometimes) so that I can be with my sweet girl. I didn’t have to ask a boss for time off to take her to her 18-month well-baby visit today; I just did it. Any time I want to, I can ask her what the rooster says (“er-er”) or to hug me tight.
Like Bobby Brown says: It’s my prerogative.
You have to do that thing with the air conditioner, too, huh?
What you wrote up there is exactly what I want. Who cares what time it is, I’d get to be with my kids. And possibly have a relationship with my husband.
I’m happy married with no kids yet (but really hope to in 2 yrs.!). My husband and I always say, “We can barely take care of ourselves, how are we going to take care of a baby?!” Seriously, I don’t know how freelancers like you do it!
Deborah Ng says
My son didn’t nap. Hated it. When he did nap, even as a baby, it was only for 20 minutes at a time. This is why I tiptoed to the kitchen table at 4:00 a.m. to work until my son was old enough to spend the day in school. I miss holding a snuggly baby sometimes, but I don’t miss trying to get work done during those sleepy hours.
I love this article! Even though I don’t have kids working during the day is interesting with my little four-legged office assistant. He’s a spoiled one. Night time is best when he has settled down and the white noise of the kitchen exhaust fan sets the mood…heavenly!
Simon James says
I have no children but I keep just as unsociable hours for some reason. Perhaps I am genetically predisposed to children due to the hours I keep and, as many would say, my mental state.
Hmm, who knows what the future will bring!?
It is a pretty awesome feeling to be able to spend so much time with my daughter. I feel sad for my neighbors who rush around to get their little ones dressed and fed before speeding off to daycare and work. There are some down sides, but I definitely appreciate my life the way it is.
So it can be done! I love this article. Thanks you so much for the encouragement.
Carol Tice says
Hi Deb —
I think you need to raise your rates…you’re always blogging about your insanely long hours. I have 3 kids and I work about 30 hours a week and make a very fulltime living, mostly just during their school hours. Remember, one day that afternoon nap will be gone too…you need to work smarter!
Deborah Ng says
@Carol – That post was written by the talented Lorna Doone Brewer – she needs to raise her rates too but hopefully not soon – I want to be able to afford her for a while.
I just read this and realized that this is one of the reasons I am trying to launch my freelance writing career now. I have a full time job and write on the side. I am getting married in two months and want kids in a few years. I want what you have even though at times I am sure that it is absolutely not glamorous, but convenient and you still get to do what you love, write!!
when I was breastfeeding, I’d put a pillow in my lap and breastfeed WHILE interviewing for articles WHILE transcribing the interview into my computer. Not sure how I developed that skill… LOL!
When my son was a baby, I’d put him in a bouncy seat or a swing while I did phone interviews. Now that he’s a preschooler, I admit to resorting to offering him time to watch another episode of “Sesame Street.”