Does anyone have the answer to what work-life balance really means? I'm striving (unsuccessfully, thus far) to find it. I work full-time for a software company, plus I do freelance writing for two different companies. When I started freelancing in 2009, I had just graduated from college and was desperately trying to make ends meet in my first taste of actual real life (paying rent). I had a brand new English degree and some debt I'd accumulated while in school, so I searched craigslist for jobs that would supplement my income. I sent my resume to hundreds of faceless addresses, so I was surprised to hear back from one, especially when they wanted to schedule a phone interview.
In hindsight, I'm lucky that I wasn't taken for everything I have (which wouldn't have been much). The company asked for my bank account information for the direct deposit and hired me on the spot. I naively handed it over, but thankfully, they were legit and I've been working for them ever since. In the beginning, the assignments were sparse and the topics were strange. I remember writing articles about poker tournament winners and why gift cards make great holiday gifts. In the first year, I probably made a total of $500, but that was still exciting. For the first time in my life, I was getting paid to write. And that was something.
In the second and third years of freelancing, work was spotty and I'd be thrilled every time I got some. The company started a Facebook page for the freelance community, and the top question asked was "how can I get more work?" Writers dwindled and before long, my plate was filling up with assignments. I made a habit of never turning down work, unless I was on a marked out vacation, because I always wanted to be one of the top writers who received the assignments. I'm not actually sure if this helped, but now I get so much work, I am often swimming.
At some point, I hope to transition from a full-time employee to a full-time mother, but I want to keep one foot in the career that I love by continuing to freelance. But at this point, I feel like I'm working more than I realized I would. When I get home from work, I pick up my daughter from day care and we have a few hours to spend together. Part of that time is spent making dinner, part of it is spent doing some exercise (a necessity for my mental health), and then she goes to bed around 7:30. Weekends offer more time to spend together, although I find that I am less patient because I'm still learning what she needs when she screams or how to get her to eat more than two bites of a meal.
And with so much work coming in, much of of the "free time" I have in the evenings and on weekends is spent writing. If you've ever clicked on an article with "Top # Places to Eat" or "The # Best Nissans for Families," there's a good chance I wrote it. Other businesses request content on specific topics to post on their websites, blogs, etc. and I write that content. I also write car reviews for models I've never even seen and describe entrees at restaurants in state I've never visited.
I've gone down a rabbit hole with this post. My overall message is that I don't have a good balance because I work a lot. And I'm afraid that my daughter is suffering for it. But I'm not sure how to change it right now, because work is what keeps us stable and comfortable, with food on our table and warmth in our home.