Eleanor: Design and Illustration
Modern design and illustration by Eleanor Grosch


Freelance + Toddler

It's difficult to run your own business. It's also difficult to be a parent. We've all heard this and we all believe it. But how can a person make it work?

Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, my day works out like this in order of priority:

1. Hazel: She's awake for 10 hours and she's home with us.  This is a lot of Toddler time!

2. Sleep: I have to allow 10 hours of sleep these days because it's still interrupted. Hazel wakes up a few times a night :( for a lovely 18 month regression. Once she's back to a "through-the-night" situation, I can get 8. 

3. Work: I realistically NEED a few hours of work in the morning, and then I'll finish things up if needed in the evening. I've become an absolute machine when it comes to efficiency because I have to be. After lunch, Peter takes over on work and I mind Hazel.

4. Some time for me and Peter: I love to get some snuggle/Netflix time with Peter after Hazel is in bed. This is my wind down time. 2 hours.

5. Me: This one comes last for now, but I make sure to get alone time for a workout or an occasional friend date.

So, how can we make this all work? 

First part: time management. As soon as I get an assignment, I start on it. I don't care if sketches aren't due for a week, who the heck knows what a week can bring?  That's seven days of things that can go wrong, so I figure to do the work NOW and let the craziness of life come in at its own pace. Another coping strategy I like to use is breaking large projects down into manageable chunks per day: 60 illustrations over 15 days: that's only 4 illustrations a day!

Second part: flexibility.  With a freelance business as with a little one, each day presents a set of challenges that are outside yourself. One day, there's an unexpected bill in the mail, another, a sick child. It's hard to deal with these things especially when they stack up. It can get a little crazy, but if you keep a sense of looseness and flexibility, nothing can rock you too much!

Third part: naps. Hazel needs an afternoon nap that ranges from one hour to two. This is bonus time for getting things done. Thank God for naps! She's happily well-rested and we're ready to play again after a nice long nap.

And last in order, but really first in importance: Peter. If he weren't home with us this set up wouldn't be possible. I need him to mind Hazel in the morning so I can work. He takes over in the afternoon, and that's my time with Hazel. We figured this out through trial and error, and it's working for now. I'm aware, though, that every day is different and even this loose-ish plan usually requires juggling and re-scheduling. 

Peter often takes Hazel out in the morning for a coffee/treat date so they can have some quality time and I can get a house free of noise to concentrate on work. We have a saying around our house: "a cup of coffee is cheaper than day care!" Since we can't commit to the cost of child care, I think it's fair to let the family have a little fun at the coffee shop :)  He'll often use this time to sketch ideas for upcoming projects and Hazel can "sketch" in crayons too.

The hardest part of working with a little one is probably that constant threat of the unknown. It can be psychological torture if you let it! But, as we all soon realize, the sooner you can go with the flow, the better.