ThisClose: Reflecting on my WAHM Status

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In the next few days I will complete my biggest freelance project to date as well as wrap up a CRAZY three months of work. I have learned so much about life as a freelancer in the last few months, including how awesome it is to have steady work and how stressful it is to have steady work with young kids at home. My hubby has been my main source of support while I’ve averaged twenty hours or more of work a week since early August.

I plan to continue my life as a freelancer in the coming years, though I am hopeful to have some rest between now and January to collect my thoughts, plan some fun holiday time with my family, and strategize on how I want to grow my business. Truth be told, having freelance income is something our family could use on a monthly basis, so I need to determine the best channels to pursue to make that happen without finding myself buried in too much work. This world is truly feast or famine, and I have experienced both this calendar year.

Working from home has many advantages. Steve and I can balance our working time so our kids never have to be in day care, which is something I hope to avoid doing while I am “home”  (Nora spent nearly three years in full-time care and Carson ten months while I worked in the corporate world). I can keep my skills current and be “in the trenches” while I raise young children and am out of the full-time workforce. I can get a break from my mommy duties and turn my brain to something else for several hours a week; I am thankful that my work is very stimulating and interesting (just lately, I’ve proofread a book on evolution, copyedited a journal on black music, and consulted on a college essay submission). And, of course, I receive checks for all of this work, which helps cover preschool tuition, our YMCA membership, and other “extras” like birthday parties and house updates.

There are some disadvantages to this lifestyle that I’ve discovered in the last year as well. As I mentioned, the work comes in at unpredictable rates. For several months (thankfully during our move) I had little work, and I panicked about my plan to make some extra money from home. However, once summer hit, several publishers gave me unbelievable amounts of work, and I had to balance many projects at once. I am also responsible for paying taxes on my income, which has caused some anxiety as of late. When my workflow was light, I didn’t worry about squirreling away money for Uncle Sam because I thought our usual tax return would cover my extra income. However, with this deluge of work, I have earmarked checks from specific jobs to go straight into the savings account to cover my taxes come February/March. Next year I’ll have to plan to save throughout the year to avoid this issue. I also struggle finding balance with various commitments I’ve made that don’t pay. I really felt the crunch a few times this fall when the church newsletter I edit coincided with a large volume of paid work (and other activities involving my kids). However, I am going to keep up the volunteering to provide balance to my life.

So, there you have it. A summary of my life as a real work-at-home mom. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be the hands-on mom I want to be while staying active in the workforce. However, both roles are constantly changing, so I am cautious of what 2015 will bring. I’ll keep you updated!

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