Many of us parents who work in an office dream about working from home in our pj’s, being our own bosses and having the freedom to take our kids to school and pick them up without a care in the world. But is it really that easy? Elin Crowley is a mother of three and has recently taken the plunge and set up her own businsess as a freelance artist working from home. In this article she shares her experience and her tips for other parents who may be thinking of doing the same.
As I sit down by the computer after putting the kids to bed and start thinking of writing something half decent for Mam Cymru, the kids in their turn come to the office door – ‘Mam, when are you coming to tell us a story” (Note they’ve already had two). ‘Mam when are you coming to say Nos da’ (For the 5th time), I feel like the crappiest Mum sending them away saying ‘I’m not here, I’m in work, just pretend I’m not here’. They must think I’m crazy!
This is what I hate most about working from home. But chill kids, this lifestyle means that I can wake you up slowly in the morning and make you banana pancakes (that part is a lie), take you swimming and make you hot cross buns after school, ok?!
I’ve already started with a negative, but the positives out way them without a doubt.
It’s thanks to the kids that I became a freelance artist in the first place. It’s something I never thought I’d get round to, a pipe dream because
1 Lack of confidence
2 Thinking I didn’t have it in me because of 1) Lack of confidence.
After having my third bambino in 2016 and thinking sh*!, how will I get them up, dressed, ready, travel an hour and get to work by nine without looking like Worzel Gummidge after a bad nights sleep? I decided that working from home would be the sensible option.
WHAT DO I DO EVERY DAY?
Every day is different which suits me fine. I have periods of time when I’m just working on art work and commissions, sketching and cutting lino plates, travelling to Aberystwyth Printmakers to print, and then periods of time when I don’t make any art at all (sad face). I spend more and more time on the computer (bleh) marketing my work, contacting shops and galleries, organising work in Fairs, looking for new projects and opportunities and writing applications and project ideas, and when I’ve really lost my mojo, tidying the office.
What I truly love about my job is that I can develop every idea that pops into my head. I can experiment and give something a go. This is really liberating. I’m sure half of those ideas that at the time were ‘the best idea I’ve ever had’, get chucked to one side and never materialise, but at least I gave it a go and I rarely feel frustrated or in a rut. The downside of this is that some of your time is wasted on ideas that come to nothing (and time is money right?!).
When you take the plunge and become freelance, the uncertainty does feel daunting. It didn’t cross my mind that I would be twiddling my thumbs. I was aware that I’d have to work extra hard to make new contacts, find new projects, come up with new ideas and make things happen. But this has come naturally because I absolutely love what I do.
I’ve been so fortunate that I made good contacts and friends over the years, and have been lucky to recieve regular work from my previous employer, Arad Goch.
My first big project as a freelancer came from Arad Goch when my youngest was 9 months old. The job was managing an arts project wth 3 creative practitioners between 3 schools. I enjoyed this project so much and it gave me so much confidence (when confidence is often very low after you have a new baby).
I’m available to apply for various community projects which keeps things interesting, and I get to work with creative people from different backgrounds which is awesome.
If there isn’t a project on the go, I have time to do my own art work which is always a good thing.
A WAY OF LIFE
The best thing about being freelance and working from home is that if I feel I’ve lost my mojo, or things aren’t working that day, I am free to go for a walk with the dog, a run or (highlight of my life) put a load of washing on to save another job when the kids are home. Being able to do this has reduced my stress levels immensely.
I don’t have to check my watch on the my lunch hour and be tied to a desk if it doesn’t feel good that day. I’m happier and healthier and I have more energy. On the downside, I find it hard to switch off and there is always a to do list in the office which is on my mind. But that’s my choice and it suits me fine. I can work at night if I choose which frees up time the next day to be with the kids and do normal things like wrestle Magi into brushing her teeth in the morning.
ADVICE FOR ANYONE THINKING OF BECOMING FREELANCE AND WORKING FROM HOME?
If you’ve got an idea that you feel passionate about, and if you are willing to work hard, go for it! It will take your life over sometimes, but that happens when you’re employed as well.
Discuss everything with your partner / close family. Make sure you communicate well, discuss your ideas and vision, and make sure they are fully behind you because you will have to depend on them sometimes to make it work. I couldn’t do this without the support of my lovely husband and family, especially my Mum who regularly puts my needs in front of her own so I can finish work (and not get stressed!).
The fact they they also believe in what I do means I don’t doubt the importance of it (not for too long anyway!) when projects don’t go to plan or I have a rubbish fair etc. I am so grateful to them for their support.
Elin’s Mothers Day Gift to our Readers!
To celebrate all wonderful mothers like mine, I’m giving all Mam Cymru readers 20% off everything on my website www.elincrowleyprint.cymru until Mothers day (31 March). Just use the promotional code MAMCYMRU to recieve your discount (minimum spend of £20).
Mam Cymru would like to thank Elin for sharing her experience and her advice with our readers. Don’t forget to take advantage of her discount knowing that you are also supporting a hard working and lovely Mam with her business! To keep up with the latest news and products from Elin follow her Instagram and Facebook page. Go Elin #MamPower X
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.