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Note from Lisa: Have you ever thought about the material things in your life that make it possible to do what you do? Some items make freelancing a bit easier (and more fun!). That’s why Stef is here today. She’s sharing five must-have items to help freelancing moms optimize their routine (and get more done.)
Take it away Stef:
I am the mother of a three-year-old boy who just started preschool. This event brought many changes to our routine, which I would have been afraid of a year ago.
As I have been a stay-at-home mom since he was born, I am considering freelance writing so that I can work part-time. So I had to learn how to be flexible and adjust our routines whenever needed and fast as possible.
While developing my portfolio and studying, I experimented with tools that helped me become more organized. They are perfect for freelance moms developing new skills as they balance housework, parenting, and work.
Managing all these roles can be tricky, so organization and planning play an essential role while walking the path of remote work.
Discovering My Own Needs
It all started with making notes of my routine. I could visualize parts of my day that needed improvement to find the best time to take a session from a marketing course or keep up with my reading.
That was crucial because when I am alone with my child, watching a video or lesson is impossible as he will require my attention, and my learning will not be productive.
Even when my husband is at home, it is challenging to have study time because my son comes to me all the time to check on me.
Oh boy, how exhausting this can be. Instead of complaining about it, though, motherhood has been teaching me to be a creative woman.
Yet I have discovered that he forgets I am there when I am doing housework. Hmmm… more thought is needed here…
Anyways. Here is a chance to keep up with the online courses I was taking.
Then I started washing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom wearing wireless earbuds.
1) Wireless Earbuds
I love being able to keep only one of them to be able to hear when someone calls me. Plus, I can leave my smartphone a few meters away without getting annoyed by the headphones’ wire. Oh, how I hate this.
I’ve found a better advantage, though…
We used to have a baby monitor, so I could always watch videos during my son’s nap without worrying.
Unfortunately, we had a baby-throws-the-monitor-on-the-floor accident, and we lost our device.
As our son was old enough to climb down from his bed independently, we didn’t need to buy a new one, and now I wait until my son calls me, and then I reach him.
So the wireless earbuds became handier than headsets because I could watch videos while leaving my other ear free to listen to my child.
Another critical point is that their size is perfect for taking in my shoulder bag.
What I do more often than watching videos, though, is reading.
So my second item also fits in my shoulder bag just fine: an eReader. My Kindle was my best friend when I was breastfeeding in a dark room or had to hold a sleepy child on an airplane.
Whenever I found an unexpected open spot on my schedule, I could read technical books or novels, mark important passages to export to my computer later and take notes on bookmarked pages.
This item is the most essential on this list for me, even though a few years ago, I could curse someone for suggesting that I study in a digital environment.
Well, one of a freelance mother’s most critical soft skills is flexibility, adapting to new circumstances, and getting the best out of every obstacle.
Another obstacle I found while trying to become a freelance writer was being able to check my cell phone sparingly.
Being able to control FOMO and select good quality content to consume and the correct time to do it will affect productivity.
Also, like many children, my son is sensitive to me using a smartphone instead of playing with him.
And I confess that on stressful days I would scroll my Instagram feed for too long that he would start a challenging behavior to get my attention.
To avoid opening social media apps at inappropriate moments, I synchronized the most important notifications, such as WhatsApp, for my husband or clients with my smartwatch.
That left me with no excuses to check my phone every minute or so and let me focus on getting calmer without dopamine stimuli from social media.
Another thing is that I can set up timers for important shifts in our routine, increasing predictability in our day and helping me be present.
4) Portable Speaker with Bluetooth / Alexa
I know many children aged three can play games on a smartphone or watch cartoons on TV. Still, my husband and I decided to postpone those activities as a leisure option as much as possible.
It may sound ironic since I mentioned technology many times, but I advocate that children benefit more from active playing at three. In other words, contact with nature or drawing is better than watching a cartoon or playing games passively.
There are moments, though, when we want to listen to some music or a story. So listening to podcasts is an alternative to screen time.
Thus, I allow my son to listen to up to 25 minutes of podcasts when we need to slow down and rest a little bit throughout the day.
And for that, having a portable speaker is very useful because I hate holding my phone and end up making my son interested in pushing my phone buttons instead of listening to the story.
Another good point is that this can be a moment to settle down and relax when I start overthinking about work and clients during my time with my son.
5) Water Bottle
Finally, after listing so many techie items, this one might sound a bit old school, but keeping a water bottle with me has helped me to get enough water during the day.
I have learned that my body needs frequent hydration to operate at its optimal energy level.
Drinking less water than my body needs makes me feel more tired than I am. And when having a busy routine, this is something I need to avoid.
Organization Takes Time
Becoming more organized is a habit. Try different ways until you find what works best for you.
Be patient and kind to yourself, and remember that learning a new habit is like climbing a steep mountain – it requires some endurance too.
I hope my experience with those items could have helped you understand your routine.
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