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Starting out with a baby - is it possible?
Thread poster: LizNickels
LizNickels
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:01
French to English
Nov 11, 2008

Hi all

Has anyone had the experience of starting out while looking after a child full time? The plan is to work in the afternoon while my baby's napping and later on in the evening - maybe four hours a day max. I haven't done translation since university but I have a few useful contacts and experience in specialised vocab. (I know my profile needs some work!) Is this at all doable or will I find it impossible to establish relationships, improve my skills, work to deadline etc?!

Many thanks!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
It depends on you Nov 11, 2008

There are a lot of people who do this; your success will, of course, depend on your personal time management and how you plan your projects. A number of the outsourcers I work with and have worked with in the past manage to balance the challenges well. Just make sure that you have backup plans in place and don't get yourself into tight deadline situations where a colicky baby can give your customers the opportunity to confirm the stereotypes about kitchen table amateurs trying to earn a bit extra on the side for milk and bread. And if you are one of these, think about getting serious in your approach to the business and your pricing policies and you will do yourself and your colleagues in your language pair a great favor.

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:01
Member
German to English
+ ...
It could be hard! Nov 11, 2008

Hi Liz,

I had five years of experience in translating before I had my first child. I didn't take maternity leave and basically hoped to do the same as you are, fitting in the work around the baby.

By the time he was 10 weeks old, I got childcare. Babies are such unpredictable beasts, and even if they are predictable for a few weeks, patterns shift and they change. And it is is almost impossible to rely on them to sleep when that deadline is looming and you need them to sleep most.

By all means give it a go, you may be luckier than I was! But I'd also look into childcare options as well. You may find it easier to have childcare for just one day a week and then be able to guarantee that as working time!

HTH
Mary
(Two children, 4.5 and 2.5!)


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Katya Filatova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:01
English to Russian
+ ...
nothing's impossible :) Nov 11, 2008

Just be ready for the fact that the startup might take (a lot) longer than you'd want it to
Take one step at a time, plan your time, like Kevin said, be careful about deadlines and the obligations you take over, and remember that children grow up fast
Good luck and best wishes from another mom


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Nicole Y. Adams, M.A.  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 09:01
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Absolutely Nov 11, 2008

LizBland wrote:

Hi all

Has anyone had the experience of starting out while looking after a child full time? The plan is to work in the afternoon while my baby's napping and later on in the evening - maybe four hours a day max. I haven't done translation since university but I have a few useful contacts and experience in specialised vocab. (I know my profile needs some work!) Is this at all doable or will I find it impossible to establish relationships, improve my skills, work to deadline etc?!

Many thanks!


Hi Liz,

I'm in exactly the same position: My son is 6 months old, and I basically continued to work throughout. Everyone told me once he's 3 or 4 months it won't be possible anymore, but in my case it is actually perfectly possible. I don't work any less than before, you just learn to fit more things into your day. Having said that, I also don't mind working in the evenings or on weekends when my husband looks after our son.

The only difference is that I don't take 'rush jobs' anymore that require me to commit to a certain deadline on the same day. You never know when the little one will be hungry, grumpy, etc., so I would not risk that. Other than that, go for it!

With regards to your concern about not being able to establish relationships: Well, you don't need to tell new clients that you have a small baby at home with you. You are just 'out of the office' or 'busy'. So don't worry too much about that side of things.

If you're committed to making it work I can't see any problems at all. I think your plan is perfectly feasible. Good luck!


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Livia D'Ettorre  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:01
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
It's going to be tough Nov 11, 2008

Hi,

I did the same when I had my second child (who is almost two now). I had experience working as an in-house translator and as a Project Manager, so I thought that, after a few months/a year, I would be able to get enough clients. Luckily I have one good client who keeps me busy, but establishing relationships with agencies has been very difficult. What happens quite regularly is that when I see a job on Proz that I like, my child starts crying or needs my attention, so sometimes I can't apply for jobs because of this. Moreover as you get busier and your baby gets older, it becomes more difficult. But maybe in your case it's going to be different, maybe your baby is not as lively as mine and you can organise yourself better. Anyway, I don't regret going freelance Good luck!

Livia


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:01
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
it can work just fine... Nov 11, 2008

...if you're creative!

Definitely get some childcare options in place ahead of time. I waited for three months and was very sorry. A good nanny (or two) is worth the expense because you can use the time to establish working relationship that you will still have when your child goes to kindergarten!

Here are some hints:

1. pad deadlines when you quote
2. have wireless internet at home
3. buy a nursing pillow so you can have your hands free to type
4. use "walking around the park in the stroller" time to call clients or work on your laptop
5. find things your baby likes to do that don't involve your two hands (for me it was bath time - we had a special baby tub that held him semi-upright, so all i had to do was sit next to the tub and work, keeping one eye on the water level/temperature; some people swear by those little bouncy chair things)
6. set different ring tones on your cell phone so you know if it's a client or your mom calling and can decide whether or not to race to the phone
7. ask clients to sms you when they send you work so you don't have to keep checking your email all the time

Good luck! My son is almost 5 and can't wait to help me "write Russian stuff in English on the computer" I told him he can work with me when he's 6!

Elizabeth


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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:01
Member (2003)
French to English
Not so very different Nov 11, 2008

Parenting takes energy, commitment and enthusiasm. It can be stressful, tiring, rewarding and fun in equal measure. You may be exhilarated one day and exhausted the next. Babies can be easy-going and a joy to be with or hugely demanding and occasionally downright impossible.

Starting a business takes energy, commitment and enthusiasm. It can be stressful, tiring, rewarding and fun in equal measure. You may be exhilarated one day and exhausted the next. Clients can be easy-going and a joy to work with or hugely demanding and occasionally downright impossible.

Seriously, though, I'd wait until you see how things go for a few months. You don't have to launch into taking on work straightaway - there are lots of things you can be doing to bring your skills up to date before you start having to take on the pressure of delivery deadlines.

Good luck!

Karen


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
I couldn't do it Nov 11, 2008

It will depend mostly on your baby, I'd say. For me it was not possible. My babies have cried a lot, don't like taking naps or resting alone. So I have a full-time nanny.

[Edited at 2008-11-11 12:49]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Depends on the baby Nov 11, 2008

LizBland wrote:
The plan is to work in the afternoon while my baby's napping and later on in the evening - maybe four hours a day max.


How old is this baby? Shouldn't you feed it every two hours? The problem with translation is that it is a mind activity, and when you're tired, you can't work well.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just one thing ... Nov 11, 2008

Do make sure you allow yourself quality time with your baby.

Some of the ideas such as hands-free nursing worry me very much. I'm sure the baby needs your mind as well as your nipple - I remember that was when my son and I shared the most eye-contact during the first few months.

If the finances will stand it, I'm sure you'd do better having a few hours' childcare each day so you can really get on with your work unhindered. Then you'd hopefully have some time to enjoy your child too. You'll be amazed at how quickly they grow up!

Enjoy your work and your baby.


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Sara Mullin  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:01
Member (2007)
English to French
+ ...
Definitely possible Nov 11, 2008

Hi Liz,
If your goal is really 4 hours a day max (working while your baby naps & at night), you should definitely be able to find the time to work. More than that obviously won't be as easy. And taking projects with short turn-around times probably isn't a good idea. I try to take projects that have comfortable deadlines (of course, it's not always possible...), and then I try to get ahead as much as possible just in case something unexpected happens. Like that, I've got some "extra-time" built-in if my son (3) gets sick and that way, I don't have to rush at the last minute to meet a deadline.

I'm working (more or less) full-time, but my son is at the école maternelle for most of the day (M, T, Th, F). On Wednesdays or holidays, I can get about 4 hours of work done (nap time & late at night), but really, not much more than that. And I sometimes need to use weekends to catch up on work.
Good luck!
Sara


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 19:01
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes you can. Nov 11, 2008

I did it with two v. small children born close together, and no nanny. First make sure that you are over the initial "fog" and can concentrate (it happens to us all, but it goes away). Some of the others have given you great ideas- I also nursed while working if I had to (and I did more than once). Do not take rush jobs for sure. If the baby's father is able to sometimes pick up the slack (sick baby and a job that's on deadline) it makes life easier. At the least, ask your partner to take the baby for a walk, or out, or just play with it when he's home, so you know that every day you have x amount of time to just work. Nowadays you also have options which were unavailable before, such as an IPod touch or similar to open documents while you are out walking or at the park with a napping baby, so you can answer mails, check word counts, etc. and with some devices, work.
If this is what you want, take it slowly and stick it out. It is incredibly busy and exhausting, and you must be passionate about the translating. You have to work at night and weekends, but it is not only doable- it can be done well.
Also, be super organized....I could write 20 pages on this subject, but everyone else has covered a lot of it. It is not a combination for the feint-hearted, but it worked for me, and there is no reason it won't for you.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Possible.... Nov 11, 2008

but a lot depends on the baby... when I was looking after my boy, when he went to sleep, I wanted to go to sleep myself, let alone do some work! Also, you need to be very careful that the quality of your work does not suffer on the long term...

G


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:01
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Nov 11, 2008

I had triplets and went back to work part-time 1 month after their birth. I had a girl coming 8 hours a day to help, though.
The first months were easy (I did not brestfed, I expressed milk and gave it to them in a bottle), it got more difficult when they started to move around (even if your house is child-proof, you still need someone to watch them all the time). At age 21 months I put them in childcare until 4 pm and that was the worst year because they got sick all the time, etc. Then things got better.

In other words, it is feasible but you need to be able to switch from baby to work and vice-versa all the time, be a person who is able to react to emergencies of all kinds (related to both kids and work), able to plan, etc.

Anyway I enjoyed being able to work from home and be around all the time, even when a nanny was there, it was stressful but doable.

Laura


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