As a divorced mom of 3 kids, the summers are a killer for me.
I can’t afford to stop working while my kids are home from school for two months.
And like many of you, I don’t have any family here to back me up.
So, it’s tough. It’s frustrating. It’s tiring. It’s HOT.
If you feel the same, it’s no wonder. Just look at what we’re up against:
- Affordable summer camps end in mid-July.
- Summer camps in August are crazy expensive.
- Kindergartens charge you DOUBLE for the month of August.
- It’s too hot for kids to play outside for most of the day.
- You don’t have vacation days.
As a freelancer, slowing down in the summer means more than just giving up on earnings. It also means missing out on opportunities, which can be even more painful, especially when you are just starting out.
I’ve survived 9 summers as a freelance writing mom. Every year, I tried to tackle the challenge of reaching September 1st alive by making the most of the flexibility that freelancing offers.
I tried working before dawn, pushing through all-nighters, hiring babysitters, taking my laptop to the gymboree, the swimming pool and the basketball court.
This is me in August 2015, when I challenged myself to make 10,000 NIS in 14 days while caring for the kids full-time with no help.
After almost a decade of experimenting, I’ve concluded that as a freelance writing mom, you have 3 ways to approach the summer. None of them are perfect. Each one requires its own sacrifice, and it’s up to you to decide what you’re willing to give up on.
1. Work at full capacity and pay a ton for childcare
You won’t earn as much after all the camp and babysitter expenses, but you will retain clients and secure business for the long term. I chose this option during my first summer as a freelance writer and after my maternity leave in 2010, to continue growing my client base after 6 months of down time.
2. Work at half capacity or less and be with your kids
Use the affordable camp options that you have in your area to carve out some work time and take the rest of the time off to be with your kids. Let your clients know in advance that this is your plan for the summer and be prepared to take a hit financially. I choose this option last year and took the opportunity to fly back to Toronto with the kids to visit family in August.
3. Work at full capacity AND be with your kids
This one sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Well, let’s look at a day in the life of someone who chooses this option:
5:30 am – Wake up before everyone else does and start working.
7:30 am – Brush the kids off to watch TV for at least another hour so that you can complete your writing.
9:30 am – Start a busy day with the kids (meals, outings, fighting, drama, showers, more fighting, etc.)
9:00 pm – Return to your laptop and continue where you left off in the morning.
12:00 – Go to bed and do it all again the next day (and the next…and the next).
With this option, you keep the money coming in, but you burn yourself out at the same time.
No matter how you twist or turn it, you can’t have it all. Anyone who tells you that you can, is lying. The reality of summer in Israel magnifies this truth for me every year. Something’s always gotta give and you just need to decide what it will be: money, clients, time with your kids or your sanity.
This year, I plan to use option 2 because it offers a precious gift that you can’t get with option 1. And with option 3, you’re too damn tired to appreciate it. Spending more quality time with your kids is one of the greatest gifts that comes with being a flexible freelancer.
Now it’s your turn…
How do you plan to survive the summer? Are there any challenges that you will be facing that I haven’t mentioned here? Share your opinion in the comments!