Freelancing with a Family

Contributed by Kathy Ehrich Dowd, freelance writer

Want to be there for your child’s every milestone, but aren’t ready to surrender your creative-yet-professional side after your kiddo is born? There is no perfect solution, but freelancing seems to come pretty close.

I have been a full-time freelance journalist since 2004 and have always loved many things about the gig — the flexibility, the variety of assignments, and the lack of commute to name a few — but I have never loved my setup more than these past 18 months during pregnancy and the birth of my son.

While other preggos lamented exhausted days filled with battling nausea during client meetings, swollen ankles crammed into “professional” shoes or the simple act of getting out of bed for work after a sleepless night, I slept in as needed, happily attended my Tuesday morning prenatal yoga class and worked comfortably, often in stretch pants and slippers.

I have become even more grateful for my freelance life after my son was born. While some full-time working away from home moms I know battle guilt because they feel they aren’t spending enough quality time with their kids and some stay-at-home-mom buddies struggle with the loss of their intellectual, “adult” side, I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

My son is now 9 months old and I feel lucky to have figured out a work/life balance that works well for me and my son — for now, anyway. I take him to daycare three times a week after his first nap (usually about 10:30 or 11, much later than most other kids whose parents need to rush out the door early in the morning). My parents are usually available to come on his non-daycare days as needed, and my husband can handle weekends if I need to work. When my son is home with me I will often work during his naps and can occasionally sneak in an email or two when he’s awake — I just have to keep a watchful eye to make sure he’s not biting the vacuum cord or getting into some other kind of crawling baby trouble!

What this all means is that I can spend hours in the playroom with my son singing songs, helping him learn to walk and simply marveling at this tiny person who discovers something new practically everyday. Babies are babies for such a short time, and I revel in the time we spend together. And, I must admit, I revel in our time apart, where I can pursue the journalism career I love, without the guilt.

Freelancing can be tough. It can be isolating, the work/cash flow can be uncertain and the administrative aspects of the job can be a hassle, but if you’re a journalist and also a mom (or dad!) to little ones, freelancing offers something so many careers do not: lots of flexible, unhurried time with the people you love most. To me, that is worth more than anything.

Kathy Ehrich Dowd is a frequent contributor to PEOPLE Magazine and has also written for TV Guide, USA Today, Women’s World, the New York Daily News, and many other publications. Learn more at

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