Starting a freelance business is an amazing opportunity to be your own boss, set your own hours, and make your own income. But there are some things that you should know before taking the plunge into freelancing, especially if you’re a parent.
Keep in mind that all of these problems have solutions! But it’s a good idea to be aware of them before you jump feet-first into the world of freelance projects, especially as a parent. Here are some of the very real and unfortunate downsides to starting a freelance business as a parent.
It’s difficult to have days off.
One of the great things about having a traditional job is that you have set days off. Whether it’s weekends or vacation days, it’s nice to know that you have some time built into your schedule to relax and recharge. But when you’re self-employed, there are no set days off. You can take a day here and there, but ultimately, you’re responsible for getting the work done.
You’ll always be working.
Even if you’re not physically working, you’ll always be thinking about work. When you have a traditional job, you can leave work at the office and forget about it until the next day. But when you’re self-employed, work is always on your mind. You might be taking a break to play with your kids, but you’re still thinking about that project that’s due tomorrow or that client who’s been giving you a hard time.
It can be harder to get childcare.
If you have young children, it can be difficult to find quality childcare. And even if you do find someone to watch your kids while you’re working, it’s going to be hella expensive in the United States. This hurdle becomes a bit easier once your kids are going to school, but if you homeschool your kids or they’re still little (mine are) then childcare is an ever-present challenge, especially if you use video calls for your job.
You have to be disciplined, which is very much a learned skill.
When you’re self-employed, there’s no one telling you what to do or when to do it. You have to be very disciplined in order to get the work done and meet deadlines. This can be a challenge, especially for parents who are used to having a set schedule.
Your income can fluctuate greatly, especially in the first couple of years.
One of the biggest challenges of being a freelancer is that your income can fluctuate from month to month. Some months you might make a lot of money, and other months you might not make anything at all. This can be difficult to manage, especially if you have financial obligations like a mortgage or car payments.
You have to wear many hats.
When you’re self-employed, you have to do everything yourself. This includes things like marketing, accounting, and even customer service. It can be a lot of work, and it can be difficult to keep up with everything. Freelancers are often experts in their area of expertise (shocker, I know) but can struggle with some of the other hats that they have to wear, like seemingly endless email threads, Slack messages, and video calls.
You might feel isolated.
Working from home can be isolating, especially for parents. When you’re used to working in an office with other people, it can be hard to adjust to working by yourself all the time. You might miss the social interaction that comes with having a traditional job.
It’s not always exciting.
Even though being your own boss and setting your own hours sounds great, it’s not always as exciting as it sounds. A lot of the work that you do as a freelancer is mundane and repetitive. You might find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, and it can be easy to get bored.
You have to be patient. Freelancing takes time to build up.
When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, it can take time to build up your client base and get steady work. You might have to hustle for a while before you start seeing any real success. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re used to getting paid regularly.
Owning your own business is inherently stressful, including one that you operate from home with kids present.
Contrary to popular belief, working from home in your PJs is not always as “soft life” or “slow-living” as it sounds. Especially with kids! Kids, especially little kids, are difficult to work around no matter how cute and/or “well-behaved” they are. My twins walked in on multiple video call interviews I had when they were 2 and 3 years old. And I don’t blame them for that – it’s just the reality of working from home as a parent.
And the stresses of owning a business are very real. I’ve already touched on a lot of them in this post, but freelancing is often portrayed as relaxing on the beach with a laptop and a margarita and that’s just not real life. You can get there eventually if you want to, but you’ll probably be grinding it out for several years before that opportunity arises.
Putting it all together: Cons to freelancing as a parent
Despite these downsides, there are also many upsides to being a freelancer. These problems all have solutions, also – so it’s not as though these are innate and unsolvable issues with freelancing. I actually love freelancing and highly recommend that you try it out if you’re looking into it.
If you’re thinking about starting your own freelance business, weigh the pros and cons carefully before jumping into that situation. Being aware of the potential roadblocks and potholes you’ll encounter before you make that leap will help you prepare for them and make a decision that’s best for you and your family.
Check out my list of 17+ freelancing business ideas for parents here and good luck with your freelancing journey. Feel free to comment on this post below if you’ve got a question or addition for this list! 🙂
Related posts about working from home: