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Having a baby when you’re freelance

The flexibility of freelancing as a new parent sounds like a dream but there are practicalities. Here, freelancer and mum to two, Caroline Corcoran, shares her tips…

Be adaptable

If you’re used to keeping your own work hours, you’re probably used to being at a laptop at 5am/midnight/any time in between. Now you’ll need to be even more adaptable. Work whenever you have time available (and feel alert enough).

Shedding the 9-5 is one of the perks of being freelance. Take advantage of it now you really need it. You might find it easier to work over weekends and take days off during the week. This is especially true if your partner, family or friends are around then to help with childcare.

Be efficient (AKA get off Facebook)

You know how before, you faffed around for half an hour on social media before you did any actual work? Or sometimes wasted half a day reading about Kim Kardashian? Yeah, that won’t fly now if you’re trying to juggle your work around a baby’s schedule.

Try to stay focused and save your procrastination for other times. Or you might find yourself lagging permanently behind and feeling anxious. Being disciplined and setting time limits for social media, emails or making phone calls will help.

Have a back-up

Sometimes, even a carefully laid plan can fail. That’s why having family/ friends/ babysitters that you trust and who can take your child for a few hours while you power through some work can be invaluable.

Don’t feel guilty for using childcare

Some freelancers can feel bad about using nursery or childminders when technically they are ‘at home’. But that’s purely logistics. Sure, you’re at home but you’re not chilling in front of the TV.

Whether you’re at a desk in an office or in a corner of your bedroom, your work is still work. So if childcare works for you and your family, do it.

Give yourself wiggle room

One day, your child will get chicken pox. Another day, they will nap for 15 minutes instead of their usual two hours. While it might have been alright to take it to the wire before, now you have to give yourself some wiggle room.

Work further ahead than you did before or take on less work, but never work right up to a deadline when you’re juggling a baby. Especially now you’re dealing with their erratic schedule of teething, growth spurts and colds.

Try not to get office envy

It can be easy to romanticise parents who are in an office. These well-dressed humans existing in the real world having a cup of tea or going to the toilet in peace. But you know what? They also envy you and the time you get with your child. Not forgetting no commute. Try and remember that on the lonely days.

Build your own tribe 

Developing your own freelancer network could be a worthwhile investment. That way you do have your own ‘water cooler’ when you need to let off steam about the challenges of working with a baby. 

Learn to say no

The freelance mentality is often to hoover up as much work as you can because you never know when times will be leaner. When you have a baby, it’s hard to work like that.

Work out how much time you have. And be honest about it because you don’t want to end up with work stealing a Saturday family day, a rare date night with your partner, or – the worst – sleep, which is what will happen if you over-commit.

It’s ok to be selfish about your time and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Also, take time in the early months to do no work at all if you possibly can. You’ll need it to get your head around having a newborn baby. And the last thing you want is the added pressure of work in those ‘don’t-get-them-back’ weeks.

Find time for yourself

When you are working as a freelancer, you will have to adjust your time around your baby’s routine. But it’s very important to take care of yourself to avoid burnout. You need to manage work as well as your baby, so your own health and wellbeing is important.

Try to find one day a week or even one afternoon when you switch off your mobile and focus on your family. A refreshing break will help you recharge while taking care of your personal needs and energy levels.

This page was last reviewed in June 2022.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our NCT New Baby courses helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

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