Family first – freelancers need family time, too!


Today, I’m heading to the airport to fly to my home state (California) to visit my parents. I make this trek at least three times a year. My Mom and Dad are both in their 80s, still at home, and could use a hand with a few things these days. I go home and try to be Martha Stewart – leaving them with meals for at least a week after I go. I visit my sister and a few friends. I even have clients that I work with each trip (write-off).

I feel stressed before any vacation, family time, or day off. After all, I have commitments, a to-list that won’t quit, and a one-person operation that stops when I’m gone. It’s also hard for me to break from work during these visits. I am improving, but I will still drive “to town” tomorrow morning and hit a Starbucks to check emails. My parents don’t have internet, and because I’m on AT&T (city cell) and my parents live in Verizon country, I don’t have strong enough service to hotspot on.

Here are things I do to remind myself that work is not #1 all the time:

  1.  My to-do list is never-ending – Just because I’m missing a day and a half of work doesn’t mean my list will explode in size. It’s there all the time!
  2.  99% of clients can wait until next week – Unless it’s a dire emergency, things can wait until next week
  3.  Clients understand that family comes first, and perhaps we aren’t the best fit if they don’t.

Here are things I do to let my clients know I need family time:

  • I let clients with active projects know I’m leaving to visit my parents and that I’m not readily available there.
  • I let the phone ring, listen to messages, and call back while I’m at my parents – this way, I shorten the callback because I know something about their reason for calling.
  • I put an autoresponder on my email that I’m out of the office.
  • I usually don’t change my voicemail message because I’m terrible at changing it back.
  • I work the weekend before I head out of town, so I feel like I have covered my days off.

For any freelancing, self-employed web designer, taking time off when you are busy is hard. However, I remind myself that none of us will live forever. It’s not the deadlines we meet that will be what we are most proud of. The people we love, those we care for, and those who care for us are the most important, valued, and treasured things in our lives.

RESOURCES: Wanderful World – How to Take Time Off as a Freelancer (+ Not Feel Guilty as Heck)

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Cami MacNamara

Cami MacNamara has 20+ years of experience running a small, profitable, one-person web design business, so she can walk her dog whenever she likes. #WorkingSoloWP / Twitter / Instagram