Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The translating parent

Who are some of the busiest people in the world? Parents with young children. What other people are some of the busiest in the world? People running their own businesses. It may seem an impossible undertaking to be two types of ‘busiest person in the world’ at the same time. But precisely because it is difficult, it is all the more satisfying if you do manage to juggle work and family. With hindsight, I realise the past few years have been by far the busiest years of my life so far.

Here are my tips for combining a home-run business and parenting. Putting some of these measures in place can make difficult years a little less difficult:

- Lead two separate lives. I’m not just referring to an office door that you can shut behind yourself. Make sure that you only mention your kids to clients when this is really necessary. We’re all players in a fast-moving industry, and the only thing that usually matters is whether or not you can take the project. Have a second phone line installed too.

Proven ways of combining a home-run business and parenting

- Have a childminder. Have a childminder even if you know there will be days when clients won’t send you work. In fact, those days can turn out to be the most precious of all, for example – and we all know it’s important – for putting your marketing hat on. Marketing comes in many guises, so be creative.

- Use other services too. There are people out there who offer cleaning, promotional gift sending, accountancy, and many other services. Love those people. They are there to make your life easier.

- Increase your vitamin B intake. When children come along, you will know for the first time in your life whether you’ve got strong or weak nerves. If yours are a little on the weak side like mine, consider increasing your vitamin B intake to help maintain calm nerves.

- Dress up. Sometimes you might feel torn between carrying on with a work project and doing chores in the home. How about this: get an expensive shirt out of the wardrobe and dress up, which will give you more of an office feel. It’s highly unlikely you will feel like tidying up the toys in that outfit.

- Keep things simple. I regularly buy great British fish from the fishmonger who comes up my road. This is fish that I can just chuck into the oven – quick, easy, and above all healthy. If, like me, you’re not at all into cooking or generally don’t have much time on your hands, find ways of simplifying daily chores to save valuable time. Note that I never set foot in a supermarket unless there really is an emergency. I prefer to do most of my shopping online, and my husband enjoys doing the weekly shop anyway.

- Make extra time. I don’t do this any more, but some years ago I regularly worked between 5 and 7 in the morning. The early bird catches the worm? I appreciate this doesn’t work while children are very young and you tend to suffer from sleep deprivation. I also appreciate this only works if you’re a morning person like me.

- Have time away from everything. Hard-working parents deserve it, hard-working translators deserve it, and if you fulfil both of these roles, you of all people deserve time off too!