How is parenting as a freelancer?

Without a doubt having a child changed everything. We don’t nearly go out as much alone as we used to. We travel, but to places like Sesame Place rather than the Caribbean. We don’t sleep anymore. Even the business has changed.

I love you, Joanna

Before I jump into it I want thank my wife for everything that she does each and every day. She is absolutely the rock of this household and family. Without her, I know you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

The goal I had at an early age on why I wanted to have my own business was so that I could have the time freedom to spend it with my family and friends when I want to.

I wanted to be around for first steps and first words. I want to go out on a random Tuesday afternoon just because it is nice out and not have to ask someone for permission to do so.

The day it all changed

When my wife and I had our son TJ, our first, it was a very different scenario than what it is now.

My wife worked full-time and after her maternity leave was up, she went back to work. Which meant that I was home with TJ. This was both very rewarding and stressful.

See before TJ, I had my schedule fully booked up with work and some days would wake up at 5 AM and work until 9 PM. Having a strict work schedule suddenly meant that every single day there was a lot left undone at the end of the day.

No nap, no regular time to take calls, crying in the background, crankiness all add up to not getting much work done. Maybe even lost a client or 2 in the process.

In case you aren’t a parent, babies under 8 months in age don’t care what’s on your schedule, the day is run by them.

I started to really think about how my business would be. I would need more flexibility than I currently had. I may have needed a different type of business altogether. Then the opportunity came when my wife would leave her job.

Tough decisions

I won’t bore you with all the details of the conversation, but when the opportunity presented itself, it was something that she really desired so that she could be around TJ and not sitting in traffic.

We had probably our most candid conversations ever over the next few days. She was half our income. She was the carrier of our family health insurance as well. She was the one contributing to our retirement. There was a lot that went into the decision.

This also was the time at which we realized that TJ didn’t like serious conversations. Every time my wife and I would talk about the leap, he would do anything and everything to grab our attention.

We decided that she would stay home and become the primary care taker during the day of TJ and I would continue the business and grow it in various other ways to eventually make up for the loss in salary.

My routine

Now, I wake up anywhere between 5 and 6 AM to get the day started. I end the day usually the latest 5 PM, most days it’s closer to 4. In between I try my best to take breaks and spend time, especially when there are days we take him to the Little Gym and other things.

Be better by 1%

I certainly can be better at this but I am trying to be better 1% every day through scheduling my time, guarding my time, and focus.

It’s that focus that sometimes can be my best friend and worst enemy. There are days where I feel like I’m super focused and others where I can’t focus if my life depended on it.

I’ve learned to leverage my energy levels in ways that I never did before. If I need to do some real deep work and know it’ll take time, I wake up even earlier because that’s when my brain works best.

Having the business I have allows me to take those random days off. Move things around so that we can take a long weekend and drive someplace fun. The time freedom is there, not fully, but close.

The business overall still isn’t where I would like it to be, but it’s getting closer. The time that I want to spend with my wife and son still isn’t where I would like it to be, but it’s getting closer. I know that all this takes time.

Lessons I’ve learned

The biggest change is me as a person. I’ve learned to be patient much more than I ever was. I’ve also learned that procrastination is your worst enemy. If something can be done right now in the time you have available, do it.

If I save it for later, there’s a good chance something will come up that will block it. Whether that’s TJ being sick, not sleeping, or some other client project will pop up unexpectedly.

I learned that I tend to take on too much and still working to be better at not doing that.

All these things are improving me not just as a business owner, but as a husband and father. The honest truth is that I am still working to improve all these things.

More than anything else though, I’ve reached a new level of happiness that I never imagined.

The balance is tough, in fact, I don’t even like calling it a balance. To me it’s more a mesh than anything, even if you are working full-time in a cube.

I wouldn’t give any of it up though for having TJ come in to the office and play with his trains for a little while.

Being around to watch my kids grows, smile, laugh, cry, pee and poop was my goal and it is my happy place.

I can’t imagine my life any other way. No matter what happened during the day with work, no matter how crappy or awesome it was, I know that I want to be present once away from that screen. My family doesn’t care too much about the work, they just want me for me. And I’m trying to be the best me possible.

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