Confessions of A Freelance Mom: Monotony Is A Creativity Killer

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark | Unsplash

Parenthood is hard, Freelancing is hard. They both require all of your attention and focus. When you’re a parent it’s 100% of you all the time 365 days a year, no days off, no vacations or sick days. You are the monster checker, a boo-boo kisser, a nurse, a short order cook, a playmate, a teacher, and so much more. Parenthood is the ultimate long-term sacrifice.

Freelancing is equally demanding. Working for myself as a freelance designer is the hardest most demanding job I have actually done (outside of parenting of course). I don’t get to be just a designer; I also have the responsibility of being a project manager, bookkeeper, office manager, and my own IT department. You are the CFO, CEO, President and the janitor; balancing it all can be demanding mentally, physically and emotionally.

From afar, freelancing seems to be the best of both worlds. You have the “freedom” of deciding when you work, who you work with and what projects you take on. While being home with your children allows you to be present in every aspect of your child’s day-to-day; when you’re not distracted with work that is. To be there for all the first’s is an incredibly, amazing privilege.

When I started down this road, these were all the things I thought about, a check-list of all the pluses and it seemed like a no-brainer. After nearly a year of this, I still feel like I’m no closer to figuring it out; most days I still feel more like a mom than a freelancer. The majority of my days still revolve being a mom first and foremost, because at the end of the day my kids come first, no argument. Especially if you have a young family, like I do with kids five and under.

The thing I didn’t anticipate was the monotony of being an at home parent. I never consider having days on end filled with laundry, a seemingly bottomless sink of dirty dishes, and that never ending game of “what’s on the floor now?” after I just did a lap around the house picking things up while my two-year-old naps. I also anticipated having a little more help with all the mundane household chores that need to be done on a daily/weekly basis.

It’s this monotony that I struggle with today. I’ve reached a point where my days feel like I’m stuck in a loop and every day feels the same as the last. Or better put, like someone simply hit the pause button when I go to sleep, then hits play the moment my eyes open and things just pick up right where I left off the day before with laundry needing to be finished and dishes that still need to be washed.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids more than anything in this world and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them. But like most things in life, parenting has seasons. Let me just be frank here by saying sometimes it sucks. Both literally and figuratively. It is all of me, non-stop around the clock whether I have the energy for it or not, whether I’m feeling it or not and it can be exhausting. And like most jobs that happen outside of the home, I don’t get to leave because I’m always at work and always on call.

We always talk about freelancing like it’s the Holy Grail of work-life balance. We like to highlight the good stuff, and leave the other bits outs because no one wants to hear that, right? Wrong. I would have loved to hear about all of the challenges that come with freelancing and raising a family at home. I would have loved to know what obstacles others faced. But like everything else we share, we want to curate what we show to the outside world because we don’t want anyone to know we have seasons of struggle.

I have recently found myself in just such a season and it hit me the hardest yesterday morning. It should have been a great day because I managed to achieve the ever elusive full night of sleep. I was in bed and lights out by 10 pm which rarely happens these days; but best of all no one woke up in the middle of night fussing or crying, which means I sleep like I did in college. I woke up at 5:30 the following morning to a chattering toddler, which I didn’t mind, being that she wakes up in such a good mood in the mornings, it always puts a smile on my face.

We walked out of her room with her running to the kitchen and saying repeatedly in an almost sing-song kind of way “cereal, cereal, cereal mommy!”I poured her a bowl and sat her down. My husband was already up and had made coffee. As I walked over to pour a cup; I noticed the pile of damp clothes that I had forgotten to lay out to dry the night before, (in my eagerness to get to bed early). Then I remembered I needed to fold the load of clothes I put in the dryer last night before bed and move the last load from the washing machine over to the dryer; as I walked back to laundry room I felt my mood shift instantly — as I walked past the pile of dirty kids dishes waiting for me to wash that could no longer be ignored. My refreshed mood after an honest to God, good nights sleep was instantly snuffed out by the start of yet another day just like the last, filled with the duties of keeping our home running smoothly.

From mid-November to January I take time off from clients and work for a little down time at the end of the year to work on personal projects and plan things out for next year. However, the last few weeks I have been so overwhelmed with the endless amount of things to do around here piled on top of all the extra goings on of the Holidays. I have somehow managed to go full throttle in mommy-mode and I can’t seem to find my way out of it. I feel like a tire stuck in the mud, and the faster I try to go the bigger the mess becomes and the deeper the hole gets. I’m really starting to struggle with it.

I am a creative person by nature. Creativity has always been a huge part of my life; it’s the thing that brings me inter-peace when my world feels topsy-turvy. There is just something about making things that calms my soul. I can lose hours creating something and it will feel like almost no time has passed. And while parenting can be creative, when you dealing with a toddler you are constantly jumping from one activity to another, leaving everything incomplete and unfinished, everything is done at a hurried pace and just as I’m starting to enjoy the coloring or building, she’s ready to move on.

As much as I love being a mom, as much of a privilege and an honor it is. I don’t do well with monotony, it kills my creativity. I start thinking less and less about all the projects I want to work on, all the topics I want to write about and all the things I want to build and become overwhelmed with all the day-to-day duties of being a mom and a wife.

Being a working parent is hard and I’m still trying to find my rhythm with being a freelancing mom who works from home with a toddler that’s home with me all day long. Honestly, for the most part, I love it, but it is definitely a process I’m still learning to navigate. I thought I had a plan for handling all the day-to-day aspects of managing a home with four people and two dogs living in it, but of course, even the best-laid plans can fall by the wayside if no one is following it.

All this said…was it worth it? Absolutely. I fucking LOVE my baby. It’s an obsessive manic full body love. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I would just have different expectations about what parenting…is really like while also managing a career. — Jessica Hische

So for now, I will simply keep going, keep moving forward to find my way out of the monotony of the everyday need to do’s and try to remind myself that like all seasons this won’t last for very long.

Veronica is freelance designer, find me most places @hellodomeier. For more about life + family check out my blog WahyldlyWe. Currently working on a podcast called The Merger about life as freelance designer + raising kids full-time.