By Andrea McArthur
It’s been a few months since I started this freelancing from home gig. I have come to the conclusion that I am well versed in design, however it’s everything else which is challenging; the quoting, the time management, the finding clients, the business side. Recently though, I had a realisation when I was at a friends house. She works for an Arts organisation and divides her time between the office and working from home with her kids and it was only then did I realise that I don’t have nearly as many distractions or time management stresses as working Mums. So with much respect, and considering that I don’t have children myself, I have interviewed a fellow freelancer who explains to me how she manages to juggle work and children.
The Stats: Studio: Duosista www.duosista.com.au Industry: Graphic and Web Design Title: Freelance multi-talented designer Name: Kylie Meller Location: Brisbane/Toowoomba Studio Location: Home (remotely for change of scene) Children: Two angels, Flynn (3yrs) & Summer (2yrs)
What inspired you to make the leap into working for yourself? Flexibility. The flexibility to manage my work and the kids in my own time. I wanted to be able to spend my days with them and was happy to work nights to do that, but working for a studio did not allow for that flexibility.
On average how many hours do you work? I would work 40-50 hours a week.
Do you have your children at home with you during working hours? If so how do you juggle both work and children? I did at first I had my kids at home with me when they were little, but once they started crawling I found it harder and harder to work. Originally I had a nanny two days a week to watch the kids while I worked, then when they reached 15 months we decided to send them off to daycare so they could share their time with other little people.
My biggest lesson I have learnt when working at home with kids is to be organised, work while they sleep and be prepared to work nights so that your days are free to be with your kids.
It is a constant juggling act, I have been able to over come that guilty feeling when you think you are not giving enough attention to one or the other. For me the other lesson that I have accepted over the years is that my kids are only home for such a short time (currently they are home for two working days a week), so when they are home with me, they take propriety over work every time.
I schedule emails to be sent the day after I have worked during the night and I make myself available for client phone calls each morning. After that time I use the answering machine and return phone calls at my convenience and when home noises are at a minimum.
What are a few things on your life to-do list? I am currently ticking off one of my life to-do list items and that is leaning to print with a letterpress. It has been an interest of mine for quite sometime and I finally made the leap this year to purchase my own. My other big goal is to move the family to France to live for a year or more, I’m am currently spending time working out ways to ensure my business can be carried on no matter where I am living.
Professional goals that you are currently working on? Restoring my 1950’s Heidelberg Windmill Platen Letterpress back to it’s former glory and having a range of stationery ready for Christmas.
Any special tips you have to stay organised throughout your week? Prioritise your work, ask people what there timelines are on projects and schedule your work to suit, keep a really good project/time keeping program to keep you on track and schedule certain days to do certain tasks.
Do you regularly talk to other freelancing mothers? Yes I sure do, and I would die without my network. I network closely with two other Mums (one has twins), we share our workload and look after each others clients when we are away on holidays or off looking after sick kids.
What do you wish you had known before you started freelancing with children? I wish I had worked out how to value my time better, I spent the first few years in my business just trying to work out how to quote my jobs. I wish I had spent more time when working in studios understanding their quoting processes so that I could better understand the value of design when heading out on my own.
I would like to thank Kylie who is a busy Mum and multi-talented designer all at the same time – working from home to enjoy more time with her children like many Australian women. Researching into the world of working mums has left me inspired and ready to get on top of my own time management issues.
To finish I have pulled together (with the help of other mothers) a few additional ideas for Mums balancing between running a business and children at home.
- Arrange work around your children’s sleeping patterns. (Work nights to leave your days free like Kylie). Sometimes this is not possible so plan activities, create a children’s office space beside you (get your children involved). Also pre-prepare tasty snacks to have on hand when you are on deadline.
- Use an answering machine instead of always picking up phone calls and return the important calls later. You could also use other communication platforms such as email or Messenger where your clients can’t hear any noise.
- Squeeze in quality work time before your family wakes up. Ouch, this one sounds tough, but my mother used to always tell me in order to actively get things done I needed to wake up at 5am.
Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and a soft spot for organisation. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. Andrea works as a freelance graphic designer in Brisbane by day and lectures in graphic design by night. You will find her sharing design related goodness via @andyjane_mc www.andyjane.com