We need to talk about living the dream

It’s nearly midnight and I’m sat in front of my laptop. I’ve got a blog post to write, photos to take and social media to schedule. My phone pings and it’s a message from a friend. It kicks off yet another conversation about how I have the dream job. I work from home, I’m there for my children and the whole thing can be pretty exciting. But there are a few things you need to know about living the dream.

It’s not a dream – it’s real life

There’s no silver lining or fuzzy edges. My house is a tip and I shout at my kids. Bad things happen because that’s the way life goes. If you want to see what living the dream really looks like, pop round at bedtime. Anytime between 6.30 and 8pm in case you were wondering. There will be tears, tantrums and dogs desperate for a walk. My husband will probably be battling the children while I try to finish a piece of work I should have done hours ago. It will be chaos, just like any other home at bedtime.

Thursday photo #142 - dream big little one, you can be anything you want to be.

Living the dream takes a lot of hard work

I didn’t wake up one morning with the skills, knowledge and client base to be a freelancer. There have been several periods over the last few years where I’ve survived on a tiny amount of sleep. Regularly working until 3 am, up once or twice in the night with Lia and back up at 6 or 7 am to get on with my day. While I built up my business, I was audiotyping as well as blogging and writing. Everyone had deadlines and I can’t let people down, it’s not in my nature. And I was looking after the children full time. It was tough.

… and a little bit of luck

Taking the leap from a lifelong career to working freelance is massive. I was lucky. I gave up my ‘career’ a couple of years before having children. That was a huge decision, and it turned out to be the right thing for me. So when Libby came along and I had the opportunity to work from home, making that leap was easy. I trusted my own judgement because I had got it right before.

And about that working from home opportunity – I was lucky. A good friend was starting a business and she trusted me to work with her on it. Then when Lia came along, it was a small step from being employed at home to freelancing. Giving up a career to work for myself would have been too risky for me. The gradual steps that led me there allowed me to get to where I am today.

… and a lot of support

My husband still works full time. If he wasn’t bringing in that salary, we wouldn’t pay the bills. My work isn’t enough to keep us going by any stretch of the imagination. All it does is to give us enough money on top of his wages to allow me to stay at home with the girls. It means I don’t need to find a ‘proper’ job, I can be there for those milestones. But it’s still tough. My husband does a lot around the house, and without his support I wouldn’t be functioning.

It gets lonely

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sociable person. I’m happy with my own company. Give me a dog over a colleague any day. But even for me, it’s pretty lonely living the dream. I have nobody to chat to about the little things over coffee. What to do about this or that, how to pitch a piece of work or how my husband has annoyed me. Do you want an example? I got frustrated about the fact that everyone thinks my life is easy. It would have been great to chat about it over a beer to someone who was in the same position. But there was nobody, so instead – well you know the rest.

Working from home | So you want to work from home? It seems that everyone I speak to wishes they could live a day in my shoes. Running a business from home, being with my children full time. But it's hard, this is the reality. Do you still want to live the dream?

It’s a matter of priorities

At the moment, freelancing isn’t paying me a full time wage. So we’ve had to cut back on our spending and decide what was really important. For us, holidays matter – but they don’t have to be expensive. We’ve never been abroad as a family, our time will come for that. The girls rarely have new clothes and toys. With a few exceptions, they wait for birthdays and Christmas. And I can’t remember the last time I went shopping to buy something for me. But we have what matters. I won’t look back on the girls’ childhood and wish I’d had a more expensive pair of shoes.

It’s not your dream, it’s mine

I might be living the dream. I mean, it’s pretty amazing being able to work from home. But it’s not your dream, it’s mine. What I do won’t work for everyone, and it has taken me years to get to this point. Living the dream only works if it’s your own dream. You have to really want it. And as for me? I still have dreams. This isn’t the be all and end all for our family. We have a five-year plan that involves travelling for a year. And after that? Who knows. Perhaps I’ll settle down and get a proper job again. Wear nice clothes, commute to work and have a social life. But I doubt it.

Working from home | So you want to work from home? It seems that everyone I speak to wishes they could live a day in my shoes. Running a business from home, being with my children full time. But it's hard, this is the reality. Do you still want to live the dream?

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10 Comments

  1. April 10, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Love this post. It’s so true. Yes, there can be amazing opportunities that come from it but also, it’s an awful lot of hard work, late nights & early mornings. I wouldn’t change it for the world however, I am ALWAYS here to be a disgruntled colleague over a cuppa! Let’s meet after the Easter hols.xxx
    Louise Pink Pear Bear recently posted…We love scandi! Ubang clothing review and giveaway.My Profile

  2. April 10, 2017 / 8:40 am

    When I go into work I always say it’s my day off. A day to start put my feet up, drink hot tea and have adult conversations. It’s hard work being a mum and working in any aspect but working from home, when I am trying to write or post something can feel harder than going out to work.

  3. April 10, 2017 / 10:05 am

    I can so relate to this! You’ve done so well to get to where you are, but it’s not necessarily the ‘easy’ option. In many ways, getting up for work every day and leaving the kids in childcare is the easy option. You’re doing what works for you and that’s brilliant. I love freelancing, but right now the work is so thin on the ground and the money so dire. I’m grateful my husband earns good money, but we need my little contribution too! We’re not extravagant, but teenagers are expensive. This year we’ve got two school residentials and two big Scout camps to pay for, not to mention expensive grammar school uniforms and sports kits (hopefully for three kids!) and an astronomical school bus.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Amazing parents’ eveningMy Profile

  4. April 12, 2017 / 8:05 am

    Oh, this is totally my life! Like you, I was freelance before having kids so I just continued when the three of them came along. I love that I get to spend so much time with them, I’m so grateful for that,but the sacrifice is I am regularly up until 2am working and my husband and I don’t get much quality time. We have made sacrifices too. This year will be our first family holiday abroad – my eldest is now 7. We have been in our ‘new’ house for six years and everything still needs doing. Things are getting easier now I have two school hour days to work at home – but it can be really lonely. Still, I love what I do and I get so much time with my kids, I know it won’t be forever. Great post.

  5. April 12, 2017 / 8:45 am

    I have been living the dream now for over 10 years and I’ve now thrown single parenting into the mix of balls I constantly juggle and drop, it’s not an easy life, I’ll probably be single forever because I don’t have a workplace to meet someone in, I’m thankful I have photography because it’s easier to make an income than it is with writing but I still work countless amounts of hours and I get lonely so thank goodness for online friends. The thing is though, I wouldn’t swap back for anyone, I love not having a morning schedule, I love being able to walk Holly when I want to and setting and breaking my own goals! it’s not other peoples ides of perfect but it’s mine!

  6. April 12, 2017 / 9:44 am

    Love this! It’s not easy and yes the best bit is being there for your kids when they need you. But they don’t always get the best of you, because it’s hard work to fit it all in. Tiredness makes us grumpy! But it will always be worth it and I’m sure they will agree x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…A Day In The Life Of…Grumpy MumMy Profile

  7. April 12, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    I admire your work ethos, and I get what you mean. With studying in the evenings for the degree from when Toby was 2 weeks old until last year, and now working to get the blog off the ground (thank you so much for your support with that!), and with an extra now of training to be an examiner with a potential proper income coming in if I get it right, it has always felt that there is zero down time. I reclassified doing the dishes as ‘me time’ because it comes with less ‘muuuum, why is the sun yellow….’. Once a week I get half an hour in a café with my friend while our kids are in a Spanish lesson, and at £3 for both our drinks and teacakes it’s the cheapest therapy session on earth. Hopefully we’ll eventually be closer to you and we can grab that beer 😉
    Maz Hopwood recently posted…Fossil hunting at Bracklesham BayMy Profile

  8. April 13, 2017 / 8:11 pm

    So very well put. But you will have to come out next time us GlosBloggers have a meet up. We can meet up before I can ride a bike all that way too – as I can come in the car x
    pinkoddy recently posted…Could a Diagnosis have saved our heartbreak?My Profile

  9. April 14, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    I love this post, especially your reminder about how living the dream only works when it’s your dream. It’s so easy to look in from the outside and not see the late nights, the hard work and the sacrifices that come with “living the dream” – just the plus points. Like you, I’m lucky to be able to work from home and be there for the girls but it is tough at times and yes, it does get very lonely too.

  10. April 28, 2017 / 8:12 pm

    That is true you can’t live in somebody’s dream. It is individuality. I like your article, it is put into words that make sense. Thank you for sharing!

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