Self-employment and Fatherhood - the perfect combination or oil and water?

A few days after my last blog, life changed.

On the 19th February, five minutes before the clock changed the date, our son Jacob decided to join us 12 days early. Many had told us that he would likely be on time or a bit late being a first baby. Jacob clearly had other plans.

So first off, I have a good excuse for not putting any new content out recently. My note from the teacher comes in the form of a small person who needs me way more than anyone ever has done.

But the main reason for writing this is to share my short experience of the continuous juggling of being a parent and being self-employed. I’ve written before about the benefits and challenges of working at home. The last nine weeks have shown that I knew nothing yet…

Making It Work

There are plenty of pros and cons to being self-employed and having a young baby. On the plus side, you’re home a lot more. You can manage more of your time to make sure you are there to change nappies, do feeds at all hours, and allow your other half the chance to do the basics like having a shower without it becoming a logistical pain in the ass.

You can work into the evening to give you time to be with your child and partner during the day. The later efforts are fuelled by more regular visits to coffee shops (always a good thing in my book!), sometimes to get your fix, others to get you all out for some fresh air. You can nip out to the shops to pick up things you suddenly realise that you need. Or don’t need but are willing to try just to see if it stops the crying. And you can truly be part of the whole process by being available for the important appointments with the likes of the doctor or the health visitor.

A regular working view for me these days. As one sleeps, another types…

A regular working view for me these days. As one sleeps, another types…

I’ve also discovered the value in doing things in the early hours, before the world has risen and the sky has any light in it. I’ve caught up on podcasts, articles I’ve been meaning to read, and cleared a fair bit of my Netflix queue as my son uses me as a human pillow in the dark. I’ve even come up and started developing some new work ideas in the wee hours.

Most important of all, you don’t feel like you are missing the golden moments of your child growing up. And there’s no price that can be put on that.

The New Pressures

But then there’s the flipside. For a start, you don’t get any paternity. The longer you are off, the less money you are earning to support your family. I had to cancel meetings and training sessions with Jacob arriving early, and thankfully we managed to get them rearranged. But if that hadn’t been possible, it was going to hit my wallet pretty hard for my monthly earnings. Being your own boss already comes with insecurities and imposter syndrome. Yet becoming a parents steps that up a gear. There’s a new reliance on my success.

And yes, being at home means we can spend quality time together. But it also means I have to step up the discipline to make sure I’m not going through to hang out with Jacob all the time. Which is far from easy, I can assure you.

Lastly there’s creativity. It doesn’t always flow when you’ve had an hour and a half worth of sleep. You need to force yourself to focus, and at times just getting the basics done feels like an achievement. The first four weeks were really tough on that front. I’m not sure if I’m now more hardy to the lack of recharging, or if I’m just getting better at resting at other points throughout the day, but things are definitely on the up there.

As I sit here, having just finished my third coffee of the day, it hits me how hard it’s been to reintroduce myself back into the working world since Jacob joined us. Making time to bond with my son, support my wife, keep my business going, get things done around the flat, plus everything else that needs done, has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had. And likely will continue to have.

I wouldn’t change for the world.