Building a (freelance) life. {How She Does It}

Building a (freelance) life. {How She Does It}

Today we’re continuing the How She Does It guest post seriesToday’s post comes from Jessie Weaver, who you may know as Vanderbilt Wife. Join me in welcoming her to the blog! 

I had trouble telling people I was a stay-at-home mom.

I left the workforce and moved to a new city all at the same time, beginning a life anew as a SAHM with a 14-month-old daughter. When people asked me what I did, I felt the need to justify.

“I’m a stay-at-home-mom … but I was an editor. But I’m a writer. But I have a blog. But …” I didn’t want to just be a mom.

I did continue to work for the company I “retired” from on a freelance basis. I was able to copy edit at home after buying asking my parents and in-laws to buy me an iMac and the expensive software I needed; looking back at the few editing opportunities that came my way, I wish I had asked for writing classes instead!

With my connections at the company, though, I pitched a few articles for their magazines that were published. Now, more than four years later, I’ve written countless articles, have a monthly recipe column in one magazine, and have done compilation, writing, and social media management for one of their magazine’s blog communities.

As I’ve grown into a more confident writer, I’ve grown my blog a little, too, into a space where I write freely about my own struggles as a mother of three little ones, an incompetent housekeeper, and a person of faith. (And recipes. Lots of recipes.) With the advent of Pinterest, I make a little money from sponsored posts, Google, Amazon, and other affiliates. Because we feel comfortable between my husband’s teacher salary and my own freelance income, we’ve chosen to donate my blog earnings for the past year, which has been a great joy. I feel more free as a blogger than I ever have in almost eight years of typing out thoughts and recipes.

And how do we make it work? We have a unique situation. We live on campus as dorm parents at the high school where my husband teaches. He goes into work early during the school year (often leaving by 7), but he’s almost always home by 4:30. I squeeze work in while the kids are playing or watching TV and the baby is napping, during our afternoon rest time (MANDATORY!), after my husband gets home, or after bedtime. I’ve been known to hire a babysitter during the day if I have deadlines to meet – it’s well worth the $20 to me to have uninterrupted writing time. Usually by 8 p.m. I am too beat to think straight, so I know my best work needs to come out early in the day. Summers, when Mr. V is off, is my best time for planning and big writing projects.

I’d like to diversify – pitch to more magazines, do more editing. (Right now I edit e-books occasionally.) But these things are on hold until my babies are all in school. And that’s OK. It’s a few short years, and I am still in the game and work enough to feel like I have a sense of self outside motherhood.

A few weeks ago I was getting a pedicure with a fellow blogger and friend. The technician asked me what I do. I said I was a stay-at-home mom. My friend said she was a work-at-home mom … and that I am, too!

Oh, yeah. With all the bottoms to wipe, mouths to feed, time-outs to supervise, books to read … sometimes I kind of forget.

Jessie WeaverJessie Weaver writes about faith, parenting, books, recipes, and being an abysmal housekeeper at her eponymous blog. Formerly writing as Vanderbilt Wife, Jessie is trying to be more comfortable in her own skin and helping others to be, too.

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  1. Virginia says:

    Great post! Nice to “meet” you, Jessie! I had a hard time not feeling I had to define *why* I was a stay at home mom when I made the big switch. Now I so casually say “homemaker” when I asked. I can’t even remember when I stopped defining why. 🙂

  2. When I first stayed at home with my daughter, I had a hard time not referencing my old days as a high school teacher.
    Now as a stay at home mom who writes in the cracks, I can feel weird talking to other SAHMs about my part-time writing thing that is a funny blend of hobby and maybe-someday-income-earner.
    I so enjoy hearing the perspectives of other SAHMs who juggle raising babies and writing. 🙂

  3. I remember those early days too and all the “buts …” It was such a sudden transition really! I had been a writer and editor for years and a mom for 2 months! I too work as a freelancer now, and I love it. I love the flexibility it gives me, and I like the challenge. I mostly love how it allows me to be there for my kids, but it’s nice to have a quick answer at my husband’s Christmas party too 😉

    • I think that really is the issue – it was a sudden transition! Now that it’s not so sudden I can hardly remember when I had a career outside my home. I love being a freelancer!

  4. Steph says:

    When I first started staying at home I had a really hard time not justifying it as well. And afternoon rest time is MANDATORY around here also. I’d likely lose my sanity without it!

  5. Okay, I seriously want to know where she gets a babysitter for $20!!! Way to go!

    i love the ways you have found to fit so much into your life – it sounds full and rich and wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

      • I’m just up in Knoxville and $10 an hour is common, unless it’s less than four hours or so. I feel like I can’t ask anyone unless I’m willing to spend $40…maybe it’s just me! Also, I tend to hire college or grad students and their time is more valuable. I need to start checking out the high school gals now that my little ones are more self sufficient. Have a great week!

  6. Anne says:

    Glad to read how you do it, Jessie!

    Do you think we (myself included) have trouble saying ‘stay-at-home mom’ because it doesn’t describe all of our interests? I love that I get to stay at home with my kids (and I homeschool, too), but maybe saying something a little extra tells the other person more about us? Just wondering out loud…. 🙂 Best wishes to you! 🙂

    • I am never sure how much is pride and how much of it is simply that – being a mom is NOT the only thing about me! Just because I don’t have a full-time job doesn’t mean I am not an interesting and well-rounded person, right?

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