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Experiences of a freelance parent
Rhiannon James

We spoke to freelance parent Rhiannon James about her experience of juggling parenting and self-employment during covid.

I am a solo parent. I have one daughter who is reception age and am pregnant, baby expected in March. I am currently working full time on a contract - saving what I can for mat leave.

My daughter has been able to go to school since Christmas as I qualify as a critical worker. This has made such a difference to both our mental well-being as well as practically allowing me to work - which would not have been possible if I’d needed to homeschool full time as well.

With no other adult around, it would just not be possible to try and work as well as maintain focus on what a four-year-old is doing. Her attention span is great but she relies a lot on me and constant intervention to keep her occupied! The fact that she’s been able to go to school between nine and 330 has really helped. 

We still have the period after school where I attempt to do some work and she gets a lot more screen time than is ideal!I was pretty worried about the closures when they were announced - especially as the decision was so late in the day. No acknowledgement of the fact that people would have no alternative childcare options.

If I’m not working, I’m not earning and that thought was pretty stressful due to my current condition. Work were fairly magnanimous in acknowledging that there would be an impact on productivity but as a product lead, it’s hard to do reduced hours in practice.

On the flipside of course I was worried about the risk of exposure to my daughter in school and didn’t really know the best thing to do. I think this time I have attempted to feel less guilty about the things I cannot do. We are only human and it is not realistic to be fully present in either role when homeschooling and working. 

Having said that, I have accepted that I often need to finish work later in the evening - which is not a behaviour I would recommend to anyone in normal times and would normally expect myself to have better boundaries/discipline around working hours.

As a result I would say I have completely deprioritised time for myself. This is not something that is sustainable and I definitely feel that my cup is not overflowing! I am just about managing the household and house admin but feel like there is no time for relaxing or replenishing my own energy. I need to try and rebalance what’s on my to do list!

In terms of a magic wand the main thing that would help me would be another adult/childminder provision so my daughter can actually have attention whilst I finish the working day.

My words of comfort to anyone in this situation is be kind to yourself! Switch off the inner-critic and know this is hard to manage for everyone.

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