If you ever thought of freelancing on the side as a mom or dad, you might have different reasons to start.
For a lot of parents, the primary one is the potential for flexibility.
[Freelancing] often allows you more freedom over your schedule. But it’s not always plain sailing.
If your child has a fever or wants a play date, as a freelancer, you have the ability to stop work and tend to your children.
The role often allows you more freedom over your schedule.
This in turn translates to your ability to bring in a full-time salary while also making the most of your time with your children.
But it’s not always plain sailing.
The greater freedom you experience in your work and scheduling can be just as likely to translate into chaos in your home and work life.
Part of the solution here is to set strict boundaries in various areas.
We’re going to take a look at why this is so important and how you can act effectively.
Why Set Boundaries?
Your first step in setting boundaries as a freelancing parent is reviewing why they’re vital.
This not only gives you a reason to implement them in the first place but it also informs your motivation for sticking to them down the line.
For example, if you think closing your door while you work, will lead to no disruptions, you’re wrong!
It’s important to allow these disruptions while you set boundaries.
For help, check out the most important reasons you need set boundaries.
1. Sets Expectations at Home
One of your main motivations for freelancing is to spend time with your family, right?
But at the same time, this can’t be a freewheeling situation that disrupts your work time.
Setting strict boundaries at work can help make sure your kids and your partner know when to expect you to be dedicated to work and when you are free to spend time with them.
For example, your husband may take your little one to the park in the morning and feed them lunch so you can work from 8-11 or so.
3. Clarifies Relationships with Clients
Maintaining a solid clientele helps to make sure you can maintain your career as a freelancer.
But this doesn’t mean they can run roughshod over your life because they have business priorities they want you to take care of.
Setting boundaries at work means your clients can be clear on what to expect from you and when. In turn, they’re less likely to overstep the mark.
One way to do this is to set work hours – clients can reach you from 12-5 M-F, or you can state no client calls on the weekend.
4. Supports a Healthy Balance
No freelancer likes to appear inflexible in either their home or work lives.
But setting boundaries at work isn’t about denying access to your attention or implementing arbitrary rules. Rather, the intention is to make sure there are clear lines of separation between the different aspects of your life so you can keep them balanced.
When you achieve a healthy balance between the two, you can give your best to both and protect your mental wellness.
Where Should You Draw the Lines?
So, you know why setting boundaries at work can help you be an effective and present freelancing parent.
Your next challenge is to identify where to place them to have the most impact.
You don’t need to focus on all areas, but pick the ones you need the most structure.
1. Your Schedules
When you got into freelancing, it was likely to give you the freedom from the rigid schedules you face in traditional workplaces.
But using scheduling to create boundaries between your work and home life is crucial to your wellbeing and productivity.
Even if you choose to alter or rotate these every week, it gives you a hard timescale to focus entirely on work before cutting off entirely so you can focus on your family.
2. Your Operations
You need to treat your freelance career like you’re running a small business.
As such, when you’re starting out, it’s important to formalize elements of your operations.
This should include gaining clarity on the minimum skill level you need to maintain so you can get training whenever needed.
It also involves creating a solid business plan to highlight the purpose of your business and the goals you strive toward. Perhaps most importantly for your family, set budget boundaries you need to achieve each month so you limit expenditures and maintain a steady income.
3. Your Space
One of your most practical boundaries will be allocating an area of your home for your work.
Be strict here, even if you don’t have an entire spare room for your home office.
Section off a dedicated space specifically for work.
Above all else, this should be a space you can walk away from at the end of your workday so you can focus on your family and personal life.
How Can You Maintain Boundaries as a Freelancer?
Deciding where you set your boundaries at work is only half the battle.
For these to be effective and have a positive impact on your family and work, you need to maintain them.
This can be challenging, but some protocols can help.
1. Clear Communication
You need to prioritize clarity in your communications about your boundaries with both clients and your family.
This isn’t about laying down the law.
But be frank with everyone about why you’re setting strict lines that apply to them and how this helps to maximize the quality of the time you dedicate to them.
This may need to be refreshed every so often, but it can avoid confusion and frustration for everyone.
It can take some discipline, but to maintain your boundaries (so you don’t burnout), you should aim for them to be consistent.
It helps your client by knowing exactly what to expect.
From your kids’ perspective, it reduces the potential for confusion — you can also link home boundaries to your work ones to help support this.
Most parents agree too much screen time can be harmful to the wellbeing of both kids and adults.
One tactic you can use is making a formal screen agreement between you and your child that sets out the terms and limits of their device use.
This can allow use for some time if they complete their homework or chores.
However, you can also make your own freelance screen time agreement with them.
Commit to finishing on time and hanging out with them.
This helps maintain consistency and also keeps you and your kids mutually accountable for your actions.
Setting some boundaries in your freelance activities can ensure you and your kids can get the most out of the experience.
Stay clear on how boundaries can help you and make sure your lines are drawn in a variety of areas.
Importantly, take actions to maintain these boundaries in the long term.
It can take a little extra attention, but being clear and consistent about your boundaries makes you a more effective freelancer and a more present parent.