I am a single mother of two and work from home as a Freelance Writer. This works for my family, as I have the flexibility to work when the children are at school, but can still get some writing in when they have sick days. I can balance volunteer opportunities during the day with working into the evening when necessary. And if something big falls into the schedule, like the upcoming March Break, I can still enjoy the time off with the kids by working a little more beforehand, sneaking in little bits while they are entertaining themselves, or scrambling to make up missed pieces afterwards. I may not be looking at Freedom 55 anytime soon, but my children appreciate the time I get to spend with them, as do I.
The more challenging piece of working from home is usually Summer Break. There is no way I can schedule two months worth of writing in beforehand. And as much as there might be some benefits, I can’t exactly just drop clients for the summer while I go on vacation. Ultimately, they would go elsewhere to get their needs met. Plus, I would have a pretty skimpy budget to work with, what with the lack of money coming in.
Being self-employed means I don’t have the luxury of vacation pay. No work, no pay. Definitely a drawback of the job.
How to Handle Vacations For the Self-Employed
So how does one handle vacations when you are self-employed? The smart thing would be to set up a rainy day fund or fill a vacation jar with money to pay for—and tide you over—during your holidays. Telling your clients you are taking a holiday usually goes over reasonably well too. Most of my clients are small businesses, so they get the importance of time away from business. If I schedule in the bigger pieces, then a small income still comes in despite my active time away. It also means client’s social media profiles don’t dry up entirely while I enjoy a much-deserved holiday.
Unfortunately though, I usually can’t 100% step away from the web. Invariably something big pops up in a client’s world as soon as I am offline. I can’t take the chance, so usually check my emails semi-regularly even while on vacation. I need to charge my phone and I feel like I have to scan client’s social feeds, just to be sure I don’t miss an outraged comment, timely inquiry, or some other vital piece of my client’s online world. The web never sleeps. Hence, I need to keep half an eye on it.
That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but again, it is the sacrifice I make choosing my own hours. I still mostly get a break, but have the security of knowing I have something to go back to. One has to pay for your vacations somehow, right?
If you are self-employed, how do you handle vacations? Do you walk away cold turkey, work throughout, or just never take one for fear of your world imploding while you are gone? How do you create work/life balance?