When I decided to become a freelance translator, I imagined my future in a certain way: publishing houses, big projects to be translated, a busy day. Gradually, I began to tell myself to be careful, not to forget to take a break and breathe, because translation is not an easy task. It is even quite difficult and even unstable if you are not organised. But all this didn’t scare me, until one day, when I became a mother and, 16 months later, mother for the second time. I had to reconcile the new “double” mum status with my life as a freelance translator.
The struggles of being a freelance translator and a mum
Lately, I’ve found myself giving the same answer to questions such as: “Can you take the children to school?”, “Can you go out and buy this book/new pencils, etc. for…?”, etc. My answer is usually “Oh, I’ m sorry, I have an urgent deadline for this morning, I have to deliver this project before noon! Do you mind doing it for me?” And yes, there was a time in my life when I was more involved in my children’s life because they were young and therefore at home.
But today they go to school five days a week. I know I could accompany them and finally meet the mums and, why not, make new friends
— especially knowing that I have only lived in this country for four years and I don’t have many friends—. And, yes, I sometimes think that my life is a little solitary because of my profession. I think maybe this life is not for me; I’m too sociable and I like to have a good chat, often… very often! However, I like translating so much… what should I do, then?
Combining the life of a mother with the profession of a full-time freelance translator should not be difficult. Here are some tips that I “try” to apply myself as much as possible, to be a good freelance translator, and to be an active, present mum at the same time.
Get out of your house, socialise, even if it’s to “chat” for 10 minutes with the mother of your loulou*’s friend
Deadlines are important, and customers always want a fast translation, but you can also organise your time around your children’s schedule, or at least make the time to take them to school.
You will say to me: “Yes, all right, but why? Isn’t it easier to let our partner do it knowing that they already have to go out to work? Why do we have to go out too, knowing that we can use this time to work?”
Dividing the days of the week between you and your partner could be a good idea. It will give you a reason to get some fresh air and socialise. You can make friends and, by talking about your job, you can even make new customers. A friend of the brother of your loulou‘s mother can become your best customer. Don’t forget to always have a business card with you 😉
You can work in public spaces
Cafés with Wi-Fi, public spaces and parks, libraries… There are many places where you can work alone, carrying your computer in your bag, without becoming lonely. Who knows, you could even meet other independent-professional parents or other mothers who prefer to work this way to have a more sociable life.
You can work in a team
You can rent some office space and go there when you want and when you need it. Many of these spaces are generally much more than just offices for rent, they are collaborative spaces where people share knowledge and skills. There is always a need for a translator, your skills are useful for many and you know it well! Also, you may meet other translators, or even parents who have the same concern (and you can share advice with them).
You can register with local associations
If you have a social character, but your job keeps you in front of the computer at least 8 hours a day, and you devote the rest of it to your family, you can join local associations. They give you the opportunity of meeting other parents and neighbours. Also, you can create your very own association or simple weekly meetings of independent professional parents in your area! You could work together a few hours per week sharing your experiences while feeling less solitary. Who knows, one day you may be so many that you might need to rent a space for independent-professional parents working in several different fields.
I think there are many methods, you just have to reorganise your agenda and get to know other parents with whom you can share some hours of your week. Establishing your loulou‘s school as a place for socialising at least a few times a week can be a good start to becoming a more active mum.
* loulou is an affectionate nickname for a child, in French
This article was originally written by Gabriela Kouahla, a Romanian translator, interpreter, and proofreader.