Spotlight on Michi

Panelist Michi Turner talks about her journey from an unsupportive office environment to a freelance career working from home

I am a freelance graphic designer/illustrator and mom of two. Ione is 4, Arrow is 22 months. Ione is totally energy-filled and rambunctious and has a mind of her own. Arrow is a quiet little dude who loves to cuddle.

They are so different! Ione attends PS110, and was previously involved in a couple different daycares, nanny-shares, and pre-school. Arrow is currently in a co-op playgroup, and a part-time nanny share.

The Journey

With my first child, nothing really changed. I went back to work, and didn’t really explore any options beyond daycare or a nanny-share. I pumped in a bathroom stall everyday for 8 months, was constantly asked to over-perform at work, I was sleep-deprived - we were asked to leave one daycare, and one of our nannies quit - it was a difficult time.

When I was pregnant with #2, my employers told me that I would not get any maternity leave pay or health insurance, so I already had it in my mind that I was not going back to an unsupportive environment.

I started freelancing on the side to build up a client base, and kept working throughout maternity leave (thank goodness for sleeping newborns!) so that when I did leave my full-time job, I had a fall-back option. It was at that point that I started a branding business with another mom so we could work together on larger projects. 

Making it Work

My schedule is very flexible, which works with my kids’ schedules, but it is never the same week-to- week. I have set hours for child-care so I try to go to meetings and get most of my work done during those times (most mornings), but in the afternoons I switch back to mommy-mode.

I usually start working again after the kids go to bed. My partner and I have also scheduled our early-evening time so that we can alternate days, i.e. some days he has the kids and does dinner/bath/bedtime while I work, or vice versa. 

If I have a big deadline or project, I will often jot down notes, or type into my phone, while I’m watching my kids. But I don’t sit down at my computer if I’m with them. It just doesn’t work; they can totally sense that I’m tuning out and they tend to need me even more. If possible, we stay outdoors until dinner time. If I’m inside, the temptation to start working is too strong, so there’s less distraction if we’re outside.

I now also have a few babysitters I can contact in a pinch. Because we don’t have family nearby, we have to outsource child care when we need it. It helps to have a partner with normal work hours, as we can tag-team evenings.

Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learned

Burn-out is a reality when you’re working full-time, caring for a little human, cleaning, cooking, all while trying to maintain your own identity. Ask for help. Hire help if you need to. Also, self-care is EXTREMELY important. Go to the gym, go to a therapist, get a massage, go out with your friends without your kids. Make things easy for yourself, and don’t try to do it all!


To view Michi's portfolio, check out michiturner.com and to hear more of her insight and experience, join us this Friday at 6p at Wild Was Mama for our next panel discussion.

Spotlight on Kelley

Panelist Kelley Vaughn-Kauffman talks about juggling two kids and her workload as a freelance graphic designer.

 

My boys...

“I have two children: Everett 5 years and Reese 3 years. Everett is in Kindergarten at PS 34 (which is across the street from our apartment) and Reese attends preschool at Williamsburg Head Start."

 

My schedule...

"I have chosen to arrange my freelance schedule in a way that allows me to pick them up daily and spend the afternoon with them. We go to the playground after school or something random yet close to home like throw rocks in the river, meet up with friends. I love this because they are still really young and I feel fortunate that my work allows for this.

My schedule is a bit tough but it works for now. I drop off the kids in the morning and trek all of one block back upstairs to my desk by 8:30am. I stop working by 2:15 to pick the kids up at the end of their school day.

I give them 100% (as much as possible) from 2:30-8:30pm. My husband comes home from work at 6, the family eats dinner and we both do the night routine with the boys and they are asleep by 8:30 or 9pm.

Pat returns back to work and so do I. Although, he goes back to his workshop and I just go into the next room. We both work at night from around 9p-1am. It can be brutal. This happens about 5 nights a week. We have to make up the time somewhere, so there goes the night!

We take a break on either Friday or Saturday nights - we all get takeout and no going back to work!"

On balance...

"I try and give 100% to work and 100% to the kids-but that has to happen separately.  Fortunately now, being completely separated happens because of school, so that makes it easy. 

I really had no idea before kids that you couldn't work with them in the room. I used to think, "oh, I'll just work when the baby is next to me"....HA. NO WAY. That didn't work. Oh man."

My support...

"I would say that one thing that has helped tremendously is having an amazing partner with a somewhat flexible schedule! He works many, many hours (even overnights 1-2x a week) yet he manages to come home every night for dinner/kid-time/ night routine. Pat plays around with them each night - wrestling, pretending to be a monster, chase, stuff that our boys love to do. I find this kind of play is the key to a lot of things, especially with boys. It's their way of bonding.

He repairs and builds tube amplifiers for the music industry for a living (not many people do this, so he is always busy). We both work around our kids' daily routines. This happens out of necessity (uh..no money leftover for sitters!) but also out of choice. With two kids, it helps to have a great partner! It's a two-person job a lot of the time.”

 

Meet Kelley and hear more of her story this Friday, Oct 14 from 6p-8p at Wild Was Mama at our Back To Work panel discussion. We will have plenty of time for questions and are look forward to a lively conversation. Tickets are pay what you wish and children are welcome, although childcare is not provided.

Please purchase your ticket in advance of attending: