KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Survive Summer Break When You're a Parent and Self-Employed

Many editors choose self-employment because they want to have more time with their families. But how can you as a freelancer enjoy some quality time with your school-age children during summer break and still get work done?

Hold a family meeting to discuss everyone's needs during the summer. Talk about daily schedules, child care plans, the children’s plans, and your work plans. Discuss with your partner, if you have one, how having the children around more often for the summer will affect work for the two of you, and if necessary, make arrangements for temporary changes in how you handle child care.

Consider reducing your expectations for how much work you'll get done during the break. After all, the children's time off offers you a chance to relax a bit too. If you reserve a part of each workday for doing something fun with them, this will help them realize that you'll always make time for them, so they'll be more inclined to give you quiet time for concentrating on work.

Discuss home-office rules with your children:

  • Who is allowed to answer calls to your business land line or cell phone?
  • How is everyone to act when you must be on the phone with a client?
  • How will you signal when you're available versus unavailable to talk with family members?
  • How is each person to handle any emergencies that come up during work time?

Work with everyone in your household to put together a daily schedule for the summer break. Yes, it should be flexible for when unexpected chances for fun come up—say, a trip to the beach or a museum. But a schedule will let everyone know what to expect and will increase the likelihood that you'll get the time you need for work.

You may want to schedule time each workday for the children to read by themselves while you’re working. This will increase their reading skills and give you more time for concentrating on editing.

Consider planning some time each workday for the children to be out of the house, so that you have uninterrupted quiet time. You can trade child care days with friends or nearby relatives: They host your children on some days, and then you host their children on other days. Also, sending the children to local day camps that meet their interests (such as acting camp, science camp, art camp, robot-building camp, cooking camp) may be a good choice, depending on your budget.

Schedule workday lunches with the children. They'll look forward to this time with you, and you'll get a break from work. Lunch doesn't have to be indoors. If you picnic outdoors nearby, all of you will get time together and some healthy vitamin D from the sunshine. And getting away from editing for a while will mentally refresh you.

Most important, though, is that you not be too hard on yourself during summer break if things don't always go as planned. I've been editing with my children around for 18 years now, and I'm still refining how I handle it.


Unknown said...

Any suggestions for a newly-freelanced editor with very young children at home (both under five years old)? Trying to build up steady work but not enough yet to afford childcare.

Thanks for all the advice you post on your blog. It is a trememdous help for newbies like myself. :)


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Josephine, I couldn't afford child care at first either when I first started freelancing full time. Here is a guest post that I wrote on blog of a colleague who has a very young child herself:

Sprints: Freelancing with a Baby or Toddler Around

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

The link to the "Sprints" post that I provided above no longer works because the post has been moved. Here is the new link:


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