Swallowing Marbles (or “The Absolute Best Thing About Self-Employment”)

This one goes out to all you parentrepreneurs out there. My entire world almost came crashing down this morning because of this tiny little marble. Shortly after breakfast, our three year old walked into the kitchen and declared that he had eaten a marble.

We start trying to figure out, okay, what do you do with this? And we decided not to change it. We call the doctor. They said we should probably go get an x-ray and make sure that it’s not getting stuck somewhere. So my wife is off to the hospital, stops by the preschool to drop off our middle child at school on the way, and then gets to sit for several hours in the ER waiting room. This leaves me at home with our oldest, who is homeschooled.

He’s normally home in the morning anyway, and I get to do work. For as potentially earth shattering as this situation could be, much of our routine is left unscathed. I say a prayer and then I get back to work.

I take a couple of client calls. All in all, it’s a pretty normal day, except for the fact that one of my kids is in the ER, which, by the way, they ran the X rays and they found nothing. Apparently, my son is a liar, but I’m counting that as a good thing. In this instance, I’d rather he be a liar than have to have surgery to remove a foreign object from his body. My wife gets back, settles in and we catch up a little bit and we have a conversation.

It’s very reminiscent of a conversation that we’ve had several times in the past to go something like this. I am so thankful that you work from home. Me too. Several years ago I was actually interviewing for different jobs and I realize each one of them would have me commuting up to an hour one direction, so that would be at least 2 hours on the road every day. You multiply that out.

That’s a month gone every year, a month that I don’t get to spend with my family. Honestly, it would probably be more than that because I’d have to leave before they’re up and eating breakfast and I’d probably get back after they’d have dinner and probably very close to when they’re going down for bed. So I wouldn’t share any meals during the day with my family. And that just didn’t sit right with me. It also helped that I didn’t get a call back on any of the jobs, but I digressed, but I did decide I wanted to stop looking at least for a job like that and kind of start forging my own path.

I’ve been doing some freelance work on the side. In addition to my job at University where I’ve been working at, I was able to grow that to the point where I was able to leave my full time job altogether and start my own business. And while that comes with its own set of challenges. And when I say I’m flexible, that doesn’t mean that I only work when I want to. I need to be disciplined.

I need to actually work and earn a living. But if something comes up and I need to take a break for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, go run, pick up a kid from school because my wife is running our other kids to the emergency room. I can do that, and it doesn’t stop everything. It doesn’t derail my whole life. If I was working in an office an hour away in Center City, what would I have done in this case?

I feel stuck. I feel so removed. I can’t help in an emergency, and I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all, and it doesn’t have to be an emergency. It could just be a lazy morning.

Kids are just taking a little bit longer to get their act together and out the door. I want to take a long lunch to spend a little extra time with my family or catch up with a friend. I don’t need to rush to get back to the office. I have a schedule I have meetings to keep, but the flexibility is just so sweet. Ever since I started working for myself full time, which hasn’t been that long.

The flexibility has been such a blessing. I don’t need a private jet or a huge house. The time that working for myself affords me and my family is so precious and I would really encourage you to just take stock of your life and what you really want out of it. I have a lot of investment in my business, and when it’s not my family, I’m working and trying to grow this thing, but at the end of the day, it’s for my family. My business is not the end game.

I have something else in mind, and I want you to have something else in mind, too. When your kid eats a piece of glass, go help them. If you are considering working for yourself. If you feel like you are missing out on life, I would highly encourage you to weigh your options and see if you can change things up. I don’t know if you watch Marvel’s.

What if I’ve been thinking about alternate realities a lot? I’m just thinking of another life where I’m still working a full time job. Maybe I went and took a job in the city and I was trapped downtown when I get a call from my wife saying she’s running to the hospital. What would that cost her? And how would she manage wrangling three kids?

She probably need to find child care, especially in this pandemic eager where you can only take one kid in with you to the doctor’s appointment. Her hands would be tied. My hands would be tied. That would be so stressful and scary and for nothing. Because my kid was a liar.

Our day would have been completely derailed for a tiny glass marble that didn’t even exist. Flexibility and your ability to set your own schedule. Another conversation my wife and I had recently was just how fragile things are, how uncertain things are. If you watch the news, it looks like everything could come crashing down any moment now. Maybe it could, or maybe everything’s going to be okay, but just realized there’s so much that is out of our hands.

If everything comes grinding to a halt or an asteroid crashes into the Pacific Ocean, will you have enjoyed the life that you lived? It got dark a little bit, but you get what I’m saying and don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Yolo your life away and just be completely unhinged by wise. Work hard to establish a good foundation to live the life that you want. Play both sides.

I know it takes some finessing to find that balance, and you might not really understand what balance looks like until you become a little unbalanced and you find yourself in a bind and you learn what your limit is. And when you need to start swinging back and try to center yourself. Dad, buddy. Hi. I was just telling everybody how thankful I am that I get to work from home and spend more time with you and your brothers.

I’d be pretty sad if I had to work somewhere and I had to leave before you woke up or wasn’t able to join you on field trips and other fun stuff like that. You want to say something? Hi. How’s your Viking boat? Good.

Do you like having me around? I love it. We didn’t stage this. See what I mean? If I was working in the city, the only person who would be dropping in was Tom from Sales.

I understand not everybody has the option, and it might not be a good option for everybody to work for yourself. Set your own schedule. Having a full time job where you have benefits and a steady income is a really nice thing to have. Don’t get me wrong. If a full time job is able to support the lifestyle that you want and is able to give you enough time with the people in your life who matter the most to you.

Cool. But if not, if you feel like you are shackled by a rigid schedule and you are missing out on some of the sweetest moments in life. If you feel like you are creating more stress and anxiety for you and your partner and your friends and other people around because you can’t be as available as you’d like to be, then I would strongly encourage you to weigh your options. Consider making an exit or some sort of transition to get to that place where you can be a little bit more available.

And if an asteroid lands in the Pacific this afternoon, you’ll say, “Dang it… but at least I made the best go of it.”

And I don’t have that many regrets. You never know what sort of marbles life is going to throw at you at any given moment. Be greedy with your time. Don’t give it away easily. It’s the one thing that you cannot make more of.

It’s. The one thing that you don’t know how much you have. What’s one of your favorite things about being self employed or what are some challenges you face regarding time management, work life balance, or you’re considering self employment? Do you have any questions? Reach out!

Originally published at https://selfemploymentsidekick.com.

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