This article is part of our free Financing to Freedom series which teaches moms to make a part time income on the side through FREELANCING.
The motto of the Peace Corps is “the toughest job you’ll ever love” – and that’s a great motto for parenting, as well. Single parents know that when you’re the only one doing that job, there’s a lot of time involved. If you’re one of the millions of single moms who also work outside the home, you probably can’t imagine finding time in your already busy schedule to do any freelancing. Getting into the freelancing business can be worth it in the end, though.
Why would you want to freelance? Well these 3 reasons should be reasons enough:
- You’ll have a source of income that is guaranteed by how hard you work, not on whether a CEO thinks your job is worth budgeting for.
- You’ll be dealing with clients instead of a boss, and negotiating your own fees instead of hoping for a raise.
- You have the choice of turning your freelancing into a part-time or full-time job, or using it to get money for special occasions or purchases throughout the year.
In other words, freelancing is a job that depends on you.
“But my family depends on me!” is what most single mothers immediately say. That’s true! And we’re not saying that you need to give up family time in order to start freelancing. However, you need to learn how to fit freelancing into your current schedule. Read this article for some foolproof ways to organize your schedule to make more time each week, and then use these four tips to make the most of every minute of the day. And of course, read our article about how to start making some moolah article freelancing.
Use Your Networking Skills
You’ve probably heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Not too long ago, almost everyone in the United States stayed in the same general area as their relatives, sometimes just building on another wing to the family farm. There was almost always someone to help with child care, to call for advice about a baby’s fever or cough, or just to take the kids for a morning so Mom could get some work done around the house. These days, many people move from city to city, especially if they’re looking for work, and family can be far away and unable to help. That’s when single parents need to build up relationships with neighbors and friends who also have kids, so that they can share some of the responsibilities and chores. Here are three ways to network with the family next door:
- Share carpool days. If you don’t live near a school bus stop and the school is too far for your kids to walk or ride their bicycles each day, you’re probably driving them to school every morning, and maybe even picking them up in the afternoon. That’s a lot of driving time, and can really add hours to each week if your own job is located in the opposite direction. Look for families in your neighborhood who also have children at that school, or one close to it. See if you can set up a carpool schedule so that each parent only has to do the school commute once a week.
- Organize play dates on weekends. If you work during the week, you depend on weekends to do some of the chores you can’t get to between Monday and Friday. If you’ve ever thought that you could do those chores a lot more quickly without your children interrupting you or distracting you every few minutes, you’re not alone. It generally isn’t hard to find at least one other parent who would be willing to trade off time on the weekends, with all of the children in both families at one house or the other for a few hours. This works best if the children are around the same age and can play together, but often the other mother will be happy to look after your napping baby while her own children are playing in the next room.
- Combine or trade off time-consuming chores. Yardwork, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, ironing … the list seems endless. But you’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade work or combine it among two or more families. For example, if one person has an electric lawn mower, they could take care of several houses on one sunny morning. In return, the other families could offer to take care of that parent’s children for a few hours, or pick up groceries at the store on their next shopping trip. Some people even like ironing clothes! If you’re one of them, you’ll probably find a lot of other parents who would be happy to trade a few hours of child care for a basket of freshly-ironed shirts and tops.
Another good place to network is in the virtual neighborhood of the internet. There are a lot of other single parents out there, and they share ideas and tips with each other on website forums. There are parenting sites, stay-at-home mom sites, working mother forums, and more. Homeschooling sites are also a good place to look; parents who homeschool are taking on a full-time job teaching their children, and they know about time management and time-saving tricks. Here are some good sites to start with:
- www.workingmother.com: This is the online publication of Working Mother magazine, which has great ideas for single parents who are working full-time jobs and focusing on career success as well as their family.
- www.parenthood.com: This site has helpful articles, and is also a good place to find links to online and print resources that are specific to your local area.
- www.parenting.com: Whether you’re looking for advice on parenting, cooking, health and safety issues, or fitness tips, you’ll find it on this site. This is another website affiliated with a nationally-published magazine.
- www.homeschool.com: The forums here are full of good suggestions, and you can find all sorts of things on this website that will help your kids with their math, science, and English skills, whether you’re a homeschooling parent or not.
You can find blogs written by moms as well, like the popular Rage Against The Minivan (www.rageagainsttheminivan.com) or The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com). They’re fun to read and often have helpful hints for daily life.
Get Your Kids Involved
As we mentioned above, you might be thinking that the best way to save time doing things is just to keep the kids out of your way so you can do them efficiently. However, keeping your children involved in even the chore-based aspect of family life is a good way to spend time with them and teach them responsibility. Even smaller children can be surprisingly good at certain tasks, and using “reward points” like marbles to fill a jar can be a good motivation – they know when the jar is full, you’ll bake them a treat or buy them an ice cream cone.
Some freelancing jobs require you to do research, and a library is a good place to do that research. You can take the kids with you to the library and get the older children involved in helping you find books on the shelves, or finding specific information inside a book. Even if they’re not able to help you, there are usually reading areas where they can pick out their own books, library story times to keep younger kids occupied, or free library computers with games or internet access.
On the other hand, you could look for ways to …
Get Your Kids Out Of The House!
Have you already thought of parents who might be willing to trade play dates, after reading the first part of this article? There are other ways to get some free time for your freelancing, too. Even if you have just a few quiet hours to work, you can be very productive. For a lot of parents, the only way to get that quiet time is to have an empty house. That means you need to think about activities for kids that are in safe and supervised locations, but where you don’t have to be the one supervising them all of the time. What is available in your area really depends on where you live, but here are a few ideas:
- Community centers. Most neighborhoods have a community center with play areas indoors and outdoors. Some will have organized sports teams, or arts and crafts classes, and many of these activities are free or available at a low cost. Other centers simply provide the space and some of the equipment, and make it available to people in the neighborhood. Older children can often use community centers as places to meet, hang out, and play sports after school. For younger children, look for supervised activities on the weekends.
- If you belong to a church, you already know about the activities, day care, and after-school options run by volunteers that many churches provide. Often, churches open up these activities to non-members as well, so it’s worth looking at the programs offered by the churches near you, even if you don’t worship there. In your own church, you can offer to exchange your time helping with some activities in order to get supervised child care when you need it later.
- YMCA/YWCA organizations. These groups often provide opportunities for older children to participate in sports or learning activities, and groups like Big Brother/Big Sister match up responsible teenagers and adults to spend time with and mentor younger children, especially when their parents are at work.
- Parks and recreation centers. Although the activities and facilities you’ll find here (swimming, basketball, weight rooms, and so on) are usually not free, you may be able to get a discounted price depending on your income. The activities here are often supervised, making it a good place for children of all ages.
- Check with the school your child goes to and ask about after-school classes or activities. This might be a tutoring session to help your child with their math or spelling problems, or a special class in science or robotics that they’re interested in. School sports teams meet after school and on weekends, so encourage your kids to find a sport that they enjoy, and get them enrolled. Even though this might mean a bit more time spent driving them around – especially on track meet or away-game weekends – the hours of practice time will keep them exercising, and keep them out of the house.
Choose The Projects That Fit The Time
Freelancing takes time. How much time that takes depends on the type of work you want to do, the type of projects involved, and the number of projects you accept each week. There is a wide range of time slots: some jobs will take you less than 15 minutes, some might take you 3 hours, and others could take several days to complete. You’ll need to get used to picking the projects that fit the free time you have in your schedule. You’ll also need to work on making free time to fit longer projects when necessary.
Freelancing writing jobs vary depending on what the client wants. When you’re calculating how much time it will take, don’t forget to add research time if you’re writing on a topic you’re not familiar with. On average, a 500-word article will probably take at least 30 minutes to write. You’ll need to have 30 minutes where you can concentrate, however – each time you lose your creative train of thought, you’ll have to start over (read our guide on article freelancing)
Data entry jobs can be large or small, one-time or ongoing. Depending on how fast you type, you could get through quite a lot of work in a short period of time. If you can break down the job into smaller segments, this is a good job to fit into 15-minute slots of free time, because it’s not creative work for the most part.
Virtual assistant jobs can also be good ways to use time slots that are of different size, because these jobs require you to complete small, medium, and large tasks for your clients. Keep track of your tasks and sort them by the amount of time they’ll take. Make separate lists for each category, and check them off as time slots of each length open up in your day and week.
Social Media marketing jobs can be a good part time job you can work from home. While this might not be considered ‘freelancing’ it’s an interesting possibility we should mention. You could hire yourself as a freelancing social media expert and work with different websites/businesses. What is this job? Well many companies need someone to write press releases, manage their facebook page (get followers, likes, post articles, respond to comments, etc), manage their blog, manage their instagram and twitter. Years ago, this used to just be a tack-on job handled by in-house employees in their spare time, but social media marketing is now a big big thing and a full time job in itself. Of course, don’t expect to suddenly land yourself as Nike’s twitter poster or the person controlling Adidas Intsagram page. But there are plenty of small businesses that need someone to do that job and are willing to hire someone to do it — which means you. Now, you may be able to fake your way into this position on a freelancing website, but I highly suggest you start things off by getting some experience first by creating a facebook page, and instagram page then making it someone popular with lots of followers. If you can get some popular pages running on your own, it’s the best portfolio to use to land yourself a job and to show potential clients.