Vacations From Social Media: The Story of the Self-Employed

I am a single mother of two and work from home as a Freelance Writer. This works for my family, as I have the flexibility to work when the children are at school, but can still get some writing in when they have sick days. I can balance volunteer opportunities during the day with working into the evening when necessary. And if something big falls into the schedule, like the upcoming March Break, I can still enjoy the time off with the kids by working a little more beforehand, sneaking in little bits while they are entertaining themselves, or scrambling to make up missed pieces afterwards. I may not be looking at Freedom 55 anytime soon, but my children appreciate the time I get to spend with them, as do I.

The more challenging piece of working from home is usually Summer Break. There is no way I can schedule two months worth of writing in beforehand. And as much as there might be some benefits, I can’t exactly just drop clients for the summer while I go on vacation. They would go elsewhere to get their needs met and I would have a pretty skimpy budget to work with, what with the lack of money coming in.

Being self-employed means I don’t have the luxury of vacation pay. No work, no pay. Definitely a drawback of the job.

So how does one handle vacations when you are self-employed? The smart thing would be to set up a rainy day fund or fill a vacation jar with money to pay for and tide you over your holidays. Telling your clients you are taking a holiday usually goes over reasonably well too. Most of my clients are small businesses, so they get the importance of time away from business. If I schedule in the bigger pieces (scheduled Facebook posts and blog posts), then a small income still comes in despite the active time away, and your client’s social media profiles don’t dry up entirely while you are gone.

Unfortunately though I usually can’t 100% step away from the web. Invariably something big pops up in a client’s world as soon as I am offline. I can’t take the chance, so usually check my emails semi-regularly even while on vacation. My phone needs to be charged and I feel like I have to scan client’s social feeds, just to be sure I don’t miss an outraged comment, timely inquiry, or some other vital piece of my client’s online world. The web never sleeps. Hence, I need to keep half an eye on it.

That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but again, it is the sacrifice I make to choose my own hours. I still mostly get a break, but have the security of knowing I have something to go back to. One has to pay for your vacations somehow, right?

If you are self-employed, how do you handle vacations? Do you walk away cold turkey, work throughout, or just never take one for fear of your world imploding while you are gone?

Vacations are a balance game; one eye on social media & the other as far away from it as possible
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A Latte Moment

One of the perks of working from home is the ability to leave home when I want to. Today, I dropped off the kids at school, picked up a book from the library, then headed home to do some social media work for clients. Twitter reminded me it was National Coffee Day though and suddenly I wanted one. Sure I could have brewed up a pot at home, but I also remembered it was market day at my favourite farmer’s market.

Drab weather be darned, I headed out!

Now I sit in a busy cafe, sipping a latte and wondering how else to fill my afternoon. Should I go home and clean off my desk? Fall cleaning for the home office is on my to-do list. Perhaps I should wander around downtown and snap a few pictures to fill albums with fresh content? I am always in need of pictures to highlight blog posts and other social media updates. Is there a story just waiting to be discovered right here in this room, if I look and listen hard enough? Stories are everywhere.

I think I will sit for a few minutes more and think about that…

A little latte for National Coffee Day
A little latte for National Coffee Day

Sick Days

There’s a reason I work from home. It’s not because I don’t like talking to people (because I have been known to talk to grocery store clerks, random people at the gym, and, yes, my cats). It’s not because I prefer working in my PJs (because I DO get dressed every day. I swear!). It’s not even because the pay is better, as the taxman scratches his head when he looks at my income taxes every year and wonders how I do it.

No. The reason why I work from home is so that on days when my children are under the weather, I can be home to take care of them. Hair appointments can wait. Running around can happen another day. Writing still happens when my babies are resting. And I have the comfort of knowing that I am exactly where I need to be for the people who need me most.

Kid #1 down with a case of ick

Fading Days of Summer

Summer is zipping by; almost gone! We are well into August and the days are counting down to every parent’s favourite time of year—Back to School! As much as I deeply love days spent on the beach, nights by the campfire, and waking to the sound of nothing more annoying than birds chirping, I too have checked the calendar to note how many days are left of summer;

18 days to go!

As much as I put in the effort to keep writing in the summer, more often than not my clients are the only ones who see much fresh content on their pages during summer break. My personal time gets divided between spending quality time with my kids and catching up with family and friends. Words are something I read in other people’s books as I lie on the beach working on (not my manuscript) my tan.

I know that as a writer I should practice my craft every day, but when I step away from WiFi, I do my best to leave the office behind. I cram writing assignments into the few days when my children are in summer camp or otherwise occupied on the lower level of the house. The occasional babysitter helps me get to a few events too. This year the girls have even come with me to capture a few moments for clients as well (they loved the day at the playground). “Take your Kids to Work” days were fun, seeing me in action talking to people and scribbling it all down, so as to work my magic with words once we returned home.

Realistically though, I could use a return to routine. I have picked up a few new clients this summer and cannot keep putting them off due to extended vacations (Sorry I can’t work. It’s time for G&Ts on the beach). I have to pay for all those road trips somehow! So, as much as I will cherish the last of my sleep-in days over the next two weeks, I think it’s time to dip my pen in the ink again.

And the bonus? It’s only 10 months til next summer!

Summer Sunset on the Beach
Fading days of Summer

Believe

Scarlet cup
~Sometimes we have to look a little harder to find the beauty in life~

 

So my coffee date got rescheduled. Right after I got all excited and wrote my last post about it. Sigh… ☹

But I am not going to let that get me down. As writers, we are slaves to deadlines and I completely respect that. So I used the setback to push me a little in other directions. Meeting new writers is great, but I happen to already know some great writers and it’s high time I reconnected with them too.  So today I will be meeting with the lovely and talented Suzanne for a cup of conversation in the village.

Working from home is great, but the routine needs to be shaken up a bit every once in a while with human interaction. And I am due. I am looking forward to hearing about her life, her writing, and the teaching she does. I just might share a bit of my journey too. Our paths have had a similar bend that somehow drew us together and I value sharing those stories to benefit each other.

And I have to share that Suzanne inspires me. She faces the hurdles life throws at her and keeps going. Even better, she writes about them. I know she writes to understand, to process and to pull strength from those around her. We all have challenges and hers have been monumental in the last few years. Writing has been a way for her to weather her storms. While she might not always see her strength, I do, and I suspect she will emerge larger than life when she least expects it.

Why? I believe.

I believe in the power of hurt to transform. I believe in the power of self to fall on your knees, but continue to crawl. I believe in opening your eyes in the morning, even when you don’t know what the day will hold. I believe that tomorrow holds magic. And promise. And that we can all access that if only we believe.

Optimist? Sounds like it. But without the power of positive thought I wouldn’t have kept going when life threw storms my way. I wouldn’t have started writing my pains, sorrows and questions in journals even when those words wouldn’t change the outcome of the day. And I certainly would have put the idea of writing a book out of my head long ago. Those stories aren’t dead though. They still want to be told. And they will be. Because writing is sharing, and sharing helps to lighten many loads. And sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration from friends to keep those words alive.

So today I look forward to sharing a few words with an amazing person and basking in the inspiration I know she will fill me with, whether she realizes it or not.