Transitioning from Full-Time to Freelancing: A Guide for Parents Seeking Flexible Careers

As a parent, significant life changes can feel daunting. Many proven techniques exist if you need help navigating your journey for a flexible career.

woman sitting on couch

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The latest freelance trends 

Remote work has skyrocketed in popularity, leading to more opportunities than ever before. Now is the best time to take advantage of the trend and seek a flexible career. If you secure a position while the market is hot, you can establish yourself in a stable, comfortable role. 

Even those without impressive resumes or degrees have found success. In fact, 31% of full-time freelancers have a general diploma or haven’t graduated high school. Whether you’ve spent the last few years as a stay-at-home parent or only have a basic skill set, you can thrive in this line of work.

Although you might think raising children while working from home puts you at a disadvantage, it’s actually beneficial. In fact, nearly 50% of freelancers have two or more kids — and still have more time for socializing, relaxation and family bonding than salaried workers. 

How to navigate challenges for a seamless transition

Navigating freelance careers is normally challenging, so doing so as a parent can be especially tricky. Fortunately, multiple proven methods exist to help you seamlessly transition from your full-time position. 

Build a client list

Even though you have your whole family behind you, navigating the transition from full-time to freelance can feel daunting. Before making the switch, explore your job opportunities. Building a solid client list will help you form expectations and relieve pressure.

Stick to a routine 

While you don’t have to stick to a traditional 9-5 schedule, maintaining a routine helps you prepare for whatever life throws. Whether you measure your workday by project completion or hours spent at your desk, stick to it. 

The goal isn’t to avoid interruptions. Instead, it’s to manage your day effectively. Shifting your priorities to accommodate the unexpected is much easier when you have a set schedule. A structure improves time management and can lower stress.

Working odd hours is proven to be more effective. Since most people aren’t productive throughout their entire workday, focusing on your job when you feel focused is far better. Once you find what works for you, make it your new normal. 

Seek flexible clients

You’re seeking a flexible career, so it’s reasonable to assume you won’t want to work with demanding clients. Get comfortable saying “no” to people who want to overwork or expect too much from you. Even though you might feel you’re in no position to deny their requests, doing so won’t impact your success.

Expect unpredictability 

Every parent knows life plans don’t always fall into place. While some days may go smoothly, you’ll spend others breaking up fights and working around rambunctious children. Set realistic expectations and pick up soothing intervention techniques.

Communicate boundaries 

If your children are old enough, set clear boundaries with them around your workday. They should know when to enter your workspace and how to behave. If they’re too young to grasp rules, do the work for them — use sound-proof panels to dampen noise and separate your “office” from communal spaces as much as possible. 

Discussing expectations with your partner is also essential. Establish whether they want you to do chores or manage the children’s schedules while you work. Even parents who’ve worked from home before would benefit from this talk, considering self-directed freelance work carries different assumptions.

How to achieve work-life balance while freelancing

If you explore the opportunities freelancing provides, you can achieve your immediate and long-term professional goals while raising a family. 

Find support at home

Usually, companies offer resources to help guide and assist workers. For example, employee resource groups provide crucial support to those who need extra help. However, freelancers can’t get the benefits salaried workers have. Finding your strength elsewhere is vital to success when you work independently. 

Without colleagues, you must focus on what matters — your family. Surround yourself with their pictures and take breaks to spend time with them. If you need additional help, countless public support groups exist online. 

Lean into flexible routines

Interrupting your workday to attend to your children, finish chores or run errands will be tempting. Instead of feeling like you have to choose between your personal life and work, make them mesh. For example, you can have a different daily start time or take extended breaks for school drop-off and pick up. 

Take full advantage of schedule flexibility — make it work for you instead of working around it. According to a survey of 13,000 remote workers, around 77% of people are more productive at home than in the office. In other words, you’ll still achieve success working odd hours. 

Practice professional self-care

While most parents need to spend more time on self-care, they usually put their family first. Although that effort is admirable, you must relax to avoid burnout and realize your long-term goals. Whether you take a nap or bask in peace and quiet, make sure to schedule time for yourself.

Lean into flexible income

Remember, you can adjust your hours if you need more budget flexibility or want to take a break. Considering nearly 50% of people make more money freelancing than they did at their last job, you have plenty of wiggle room. At the end of the day, you are your own boss. 

While this line of work allows you to adjust your income, you’re already saving. In fact, almost 40% of freelancers save $5,000 or more annually while working from home. Use this knowledge to your advantage and make the most out of your setup. 

Learn to ask for help

Many people don’t realize how challenging raising a family while working can be. If freelancing starts to feel overwhelming, understand you can ask for help from your partner, children and friends. Whether you ask them to keep the noise down or take on extra chores, know the people you love will help you succeed. 

Parenting as a professional 

Although transitioning from a full-time salaried position to freelance work can feel daunting, motherhood is all about tackling the unknown. If you prepare to navigate challenges and get support from your family, you can achieve great things in this line of work. 

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