Becoming a parent is an exciting and overwhelming experience. For many of us in the U.S., maternity and paternity leave is over too quickly, forcing us back to work before we feel ready.
Even when we know we want to work, and have planned to be a working parent, returning to work can be a choice that many of us begin to question.
Thirteen weeks after my first son was born, I returned to my university job, working on campus roughly twenty hours a week and another six to eight hours from home. I spent another 10 hours a week working as a Mental Skills Coach. I was working full-time, mostly out of the house. It wasn’t easy.
I always knew I would return to work after having children, but it wasn’t until my second son was born that I had a different idea of what my work would look like for our family.
I’ve always known that a traditional 9-5 job wasn’t for me, but I didn’t know how to transition from traditional work into something more flexible.
Then, 20 months into being a mom of two, I decided to leave my job at the university but retain my position as a Mental Skills Coach. I was finally working part-time, and most my work happened from home. It was then I discovered the world of blogging and freelance writing.
My career transitioned slowly over several years, and paid freelance writing was something I stumbled into.
But, once I was making money as a freelance writer, I constantly thought to myself “Why aren’t more of my friends doing this?”
Many of the now-stay-at-home-parents I know had careers before they had children. And, when they became parents, a number of them made a choice to leave the work force. Now- there is no judgement from me in this choice. Each family needs to decide what works for them.
However- I know that a lot of these same moms or dads would like to work a bit. They miss the mental stimulation that working and creating provides, but they don’t miss the traditional hours and being away from their children.
It seemed to me that freelance writing could be a great way for these individuals to work, but in a way that suited for their families.
After all, these are professionals with educations and experience; they have a lot to offer, but seemed to think it was all or nothing when it came to work, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
I also know that many of these parents talk about going back to work after their kids are older but aren’t sure how to keep enhancing their skills while they stay home.
How Can Freelancing Help Me Avoid a Resume Gap?
If you’re planning on taking a break from your career, it’s normal to worry about having a resume gap. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s just as it sounds.
A resume gap is a period of time on your resume where you’re not working. For stay-at-home parents, this could be when you stop working while your child is young, but gaps can also occur if you’re laid off and you don’t find employment right away, or you take a sabbatical.
Though there are ways to professionally address a resume gap, I want to present the idea that you can avoid one altogether by working as a freelance writer.
Wherever you are in your timeline of parenthood, consider freelance writing as a viable option to keep you in the work force and to help you to maintain your skills, while even developing new ones!
Freelance writing can help you earn an income with much more flexibility than a traditional job.
As a freelance writer, you can pursue as much work as you like, accepting jobs that meet your preferences for pay and timing. You can also work early in the morning, during your child’s nap time, or late at night.
Freelancing gives you flexibility that you may not have had in your earlier career, which is crucial for busy families.
Freelance Writing Bolsters Your Resume
As opposed to a gap of a few months to several years, listing that you have been working as a freelance writer can be very appealing to potential employers if you choose to return to your career down the road. Besides writing, you will also pick up marketing and content development strategies along the way!
Additionally, you may be responsible for researching topics, interviewing people, or creating social media content. All of this gives you additional skills and experiences to add to your resume.
Working as a Freelance Writer Opens Doors for Other Opportunities
You might begin freelancing with the thought that it will fill the gap until you return to a more traditional job. However, you might find that one freelance opportunity leads to many more.
The gig to fill in the gap could even become a career!
Or, freelance writing can take you in directions you never imagined:
Ex: I formally stepped into freelance writing after starting a blog; through blogging I became skilled at navigating social media platforms, specifically Pinterest. When a site I regularly contributed to needed a Pinterest manager, I quickly applied and was hired. All of these experiences have led to new ones that now make up my very enjoyable career. Even a year ago, I couldn’t have predicted the work I would get to do.
But… Can I Really Be a Freelance Writer?
Yes. Yes, you can. Back to the parents that I know: I don’t think many of them even consider that the skills and experiences they have are ones that they could be hired to write about.
Now, the caveat is that you need to be a decent writer or be willing to work on developing that skill.
You might have fantastic technical or specialized knowledge but if you don’t have the ability to write about that in a way that people want to read and can comprehend, then you might not be ready (yet) to become a freelance writer.
So, if you are skilled at writing, or have the drive to develop those skills, then freelance writing could very well be for you.
There is no shame in taking time off from work to be a full-time parent. However, if you want to work a bit, either to avoid a resume gap, or to simply work a bit because it’s important to you, then consider pursuing work as a freelance writer.