The Full Remote Working Parent Guide to Never Missing a Deadline
As a remote working parent, you might feel as though the world is laid out before you. Your peers are envious about you being able to work from home, but it’s not the bed of roses that they think it is. As with every family, emergencies happen. Kids get into trouble that needs you to be there to sort it out. Luckily, because you work remotely, you can consistently deal with the demands of your family. However, can you manage to hit your deadlines while having to juggle your kids and work-life balance?
Remote Working Has its Benefits to a Parent
For those of us who spent years of our lives chained to a desk, the idea of freedom from a freelancing job is a professional benefit. However, from the perspective of a remote working parent, there’s so much more that we can devote our time to. Remote working allows us to plan our own schedule. While that may be scary for some, as parents, we understand the need to schedule. If we didn’t, our kids would NEVER leave the house on time. We can spot the benefits as a parent almost immediately, through these overlooked but important advantages to setting our own work time:
More Time with Family
The New York Post notes that as much as 60% of parents think they aren’t making enough memories with their kids. While this might not be due solely to work, we all know that once you get your time back as a freelancer, the lion’s share goes towards raising your kids. Additionally, that means we spend less money on daycare for our children. Between the precious moments you get to spend with them and the money you get back from not having to pay a sitter, this particular advantage pretty much pays for itself.
Being a freelancer means having exceptional time management skills. Typical office jobs tend to be relatively rigid, requiring regular check-in periods. As working parents, it’s obvious that this puts a strain on what we’re able to do with our kids. If an emergency arises, then we have to rush for a superior to grant us time off. In the worst working situations, we even get a glare from the HR manager who thinks we’re making the whole thing up. The flexibility that you get from being a freelancer allows you to put your family and kids before the job because you no longer are controlled by someone who doesn’t understand the importance of family.
Less Time Wasted in Meetings
Meetings aren’t ALL wastes of time. For the most part, attendees mention a lot of issues, but the business does almost nothing to deal with them. Harvard Business Review mentions that the most productive meetings tend to have eight or fewer people in them. One of the most significant advantages of working for yourself is not having to set up or go to meetings. You know what you have to do and how to do it. Being a self-starter as a remote worker ensures that you don’t end up wasting your time in meetings. Many professionals set prices on meetings, ensuring their clients don’t waste their time with useless banter. Companies are less likely to waste time in a meeting if they have to pay for it.
The cost of going to a day job can make a paycheck shrink. Depending on how far you are from the office, whether you carry lunch or buy food daily, and the added expense of clothes for work can take a toll on a family’s savings. The Balance suggests that commuting can cost some Americans as much as $2,600 per year. When you’re working remotely, you don’t need to buy anything to eat, since your kitchen is usually well-stocked. You have the time and the energy to experiment with your meals and find out what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, there’s no waste of time or money getting to and from your home to your office. In many remote workers’ cases, the office is usually right down the hall from their bedroom. Here’s a handy tool that you can use to calculate the amount of savings your remote work lifestyle offers you.
Challenges of a Remote Working Parent
Remote work isn’t as easy as other people think it is. It’s still challenging to juggle all the things that you need to do. You need to meet deadlines, and you can’t forget to pick your kids up after school. Both as a parent and as a remote worker, some challenges present themselves during our daily lives. Some of these can be easily dealt with, but others can linger and lead to more significant problems later down.
It’s easy to get distracted as a remote worker. Business News Daily mentions that social media distractions have cost the US economy as much as $650 billion annually. As a remote worker, you don’t have a boss to tell you to get off the phone, so the onus is on you to keep to your task. Sadly, in between social media, the kids, and other distractions, it’s far too easy to say you’ll do just one thing and end up wasting hours on a non-work task. While productivity apps do help, they might simply be another notification to fiddle with on your smartphone that takes away your focus from the job at hand.
Remote work from an established company usually has deadlines for payment. However, if you’re freelancing, the gig economy is a wholly different scenario. Some clients don’t pay until they’ve verified the work is what they want. Others leave outstanding invoices for months. As a freelancing parent, this can prey on your mind, since it means that you might not be able to meet your obligations at the end of the month. Proper financial management and having a buffer is a good way around this problem. Still, being more discerning in your clients, or having a handful of clients that pay consistently on time may be the most effective way to hit your payment deadlines.
Work isn’t the only thing you’re doing. At home, you are likely to have a lot of other things going on. Between deciding on meals, helping the kids out with their research projects, and working on your own tasks, you can quickly get swamped and feel helpless. The Muse reminds parents that being the caretaker of their kids is just a temporary thing and that being overwhelmed will eventually pass. Far better advice is that you should be able to adapt yourself to whatever happens. We can’t always plan for everything, but having a plan in place that’s flexible goes a long way towards battling the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Changing Your Mindset as a Remote-Work Parent
As a remote working parent, your mindset has to adapt to a different reality than most of your peers. Sure, you may be the envy of a lot of people you hang out with, but that’s just the appearance of freedom. Truly embracing the lifestyle of a working parent comes with adapting your mind to the situation. You set your goals and your hours. The goal to keep in mind is hitting those deadlines head-on. As a remote worker, it’s one of the most vital parts of the service you provide.
Plan on Working Some Late Nights
You might not be able to get everything done for a particular client on time unless you burn some midnight oil. Working nights might occur less often as a remote worker. However, it’s something that you should also factor in your estimate for the job. Sometimes, it’s a means to an end to land a new client or impress a particular agency that may have more work for you in the future. See it not as a waste of time, but as an investment in future income.
Aim for Clients with Smaller Jobs
Parents know how hectic life can get in the space of a single morning. Having regular clients can make for dependable pay dates and regular work. However, if you aren’t sure about your schedule, you may want to consider clients with smaller jobs. These jobs might have shorter turnover times, but that means you can get more of them done. Additionally, because of the turnover time for some of these jobs, you might be able to be flexible with the deadline dates. If you feel as though you won’t be able to hit the set date, then adopt the mindset of thinking about the required deadline as a few days earlier to guarantee you some wiggle-room. There’s a handy resource you can use to help you locate micro jobs or small tasks located here.
Deal Primarily with Individual Clients
If you’re working as a freelancer, you’ll have to deal with both agencies and individual clients. Agencies tend to be challenging candidates to work with because of their demand and their inflexibility of scheduling. Direct clients, on the other hand, allow you to discuss your schedule with an individual. They tend to be more understanding and can work around your schedule to make sure that you can hit their deadlines. Additionally, direct clients sometimes send new work to you in the form of referrals. As a parent, we can never predict what’s going to happen, and direct clients tend to be far more forgiving when having to shift a deadline due to a family issue.
Don’t Be Too Proud to Ask for Help
While your kid does think you’re a superhero, you do suffer from fatigue, just like regular people sometimes. Burnout is a significant problem in the remote work community. Being constantly on-the-go dealing with kids and life alongside a flexible job takes its toll. You don’t have to do this alone, though. If you’re inundated with a job and can’t meet the deadline because you need to invest more time with your kids, you can ask one of your professional acquaintances to do you a favor. Meeting the deadline may require you to ask for help to do so. It doesn’t make you any less of a professional if you do.
The Work-Life Balance We Need
The journal Work and Quality of Life mentioned in 2012 that remote working has the potential to enhance work-life balance without significantly impacting productivity. Remote working parents have the same challenges as regular remote workers, with the added drawback of having to care for our families. We still have to meet deadlines on schedule, but with the demands of a family hanging on us, we have to rearrange our delivery dates and times. Remote work allows us the freedom to do that, and with a well-planned schedule and the correct kind of mindset about our work and clients, we can consistently get those deadlines sorted out.