As I am writing this, my two-year old son is screaming like crazy and I have no idea why. He’s been screaming and yelling for 5 minutes now and none of my attempts to calm him down have been successful. So, with my blood pressure slowly rising and frustration ready to kick in here as well, I thought about this question: can you be a stay at home parent and successful blogger?
I know, being self employed, working from home is a dream come true. You can become a professional blogger or do some freelance writing for others while enjoying the company of your little kid(s) and living a worry-free life. Sounds idyllic? It sure does, but let me assure you that it’s nothing than fantasy. Pure, beautiful fantasy.
Just like any job out there, being a freelancer or blogger requires a lot of focus. Although some can work in noisy environments or with the music turned on, I personally need silence to be able to focus on my thoughts and get them right on paper. I need a silent environment to be able to brainstorm new article ideas, blog ideas, business ideas. And as soon as I get my creative juices flowing, it’s a waterfall that can’t be stopped.
And then, it all goes into the abyss: “Daddy, I gotta pee!”
Being a stay at home parent is a choice that we make for various reasons. It’s usually the stay at home moms who know what I’m talking about, but lately the number of stay at home dads has increased drastically. Gender doesn’t really matter here, though, because each of us will eventually feel the need for some side hustles. Get some work done, bring in some cash and dream about early retirement, traveling the world and so on. Being self employed and a stay at home parent – this sounds like a match made in heaven.
The truth is completely different. The real job – the real, time consuming, non-remunerated job is being a stay at home parent. You will indeed spend time with your kids, but that is everything you can do. The little bundles of joy are charming and cute but they can be some tiny mess-making monsters as well. Sometimes, looking at the room that I had just cleaned a few hours ago, I can’t understand where did all that garbage came from. Sometimes, we go to the toilet to perform a basic task and 30 minutes later I have the kid taking a bath because he somehow managed to get everything from the toilet on his tiny body, I am doing laundry because the clothes got dirty too and so time flies and it’s soon midnight and you wonder why the hell weren’t you able to complete that blog post you started three days ago.
Of course, I am slightly exaggerating this, but the truth is that being a stay at home parent and earning a living as a self employed freelancer, blogger or anything else is really difficult. And you can’t really believe it or experience it until you are really there: your son(s) or daughter(s) will always find something unexpected for you to solve, answer or do. Especially as they are young and highly unpredictable. I believe (actually, I really hope) that as they get older you can reason with them and they will give you some more time, but right now I’m getting none. Bits and pieces and never enough. Having two jobs at the same time – now that’s impossible!
So how to do it as a stay at home parent and freenlancer / blogger?
You don’t have many options, but they are all doable without adding too much extra pressure: I wake up slightly earlier than everybody else to do some of my own work while it’s all silent. 60 minutes are enough to start with, but you can go as early as you can. Be careful though, you can get exhausted pretty soon and a cranky, tired parent is worse in the long run for both jobs.
Kids also use to take a nap: mine fortunately sleeps anything between 60 to 120 minutes per day, and that’s pure gold – that is the time when I get most of the work done. It’s at the middle of the day and sometimes I even get a 10 minutes nap time if I am lucky.
Finally, take advantage of the afternoons. The “after 5” bonus, as I call it: but this is highly unpredictable. The idea is that you should take advantage of the other parent returning home and have them spend some time with the kid(s), while you get your alone time for some extra writing. You can also get some extra time after the little one(s) go to sleep or while the other parent is putting them to sleep/reading their stories/bathing them and so on. These all depend a lot on the way your family works together: some can get more time here, some will get less. And it’s no two days the same, but every extra moment means potential extra dollars for your dream. So take advantage of them!
The most important thing, in my opinion, is to learn to defeat frustration and disappointment: you will rarely manage to complete all the things on your daily to do list and most likely you won’t be able to write as much as you wanted to, answer to your e-mails and do general business-related stuff. You have to embrace and accept that for the time being because it’s extra stress you’re getting, and extra stress is not something you need.
Being a stay at home parent and running your own business as a self employed is really difficult, but with some tweaking, a positive attitude and the understanding of the fact that you can’t turn it into a real full time job yet, it can be done. There are quite a few very successful bloggers and freelancers out there who also double up as stay at home parents, some managing to bring 5 figures per month from their side hustles. So it’s doable. Let’s all get there soon!