Being a translator and a full time mum. Does it work?
Thread poster: Paula Morrison

Paula Morrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:02
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 13, 2011

I run my own translation and interpreting agency from home in London and I love it! The experience I have gained since I started as a translator and then as the managing director of my own company is priceless.

In March, this year, I became a mum from the first time. Me and my husband couldn't be happier. I enjoyed motherhood so much.

However, I miss my work sometimes. Coming back to working full time might be work unless I send my baby to nursery at some point. But, that is something i am not considering at the moment. What I am considering is partnering with someone that has the same experience I have in translation/interpreting, more than 5 years' experience in this industry and also a good knowledge of project management.

I discovered this website and I thought it was great: http://www.mumplusbusiness.co.uk/
If someone wants to give it a go, let me know what you think.

I look forward to your responses!

Paula

[Edited at 2011-08-13 08:38 GMT]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:02
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Try it Aug 13, 2011

I am a grandma now but I think I can comment on your post. When I had young children I had a pottery studio in my home. I started from about age 1½ to take my daughter to a babysitter two half days per week and she loved it. My son was more shy but adjusted quickly because for the first little while his older sister went there too and there were other kids to play with. It is actually good for a child's development to be around other grownups and children from time to time.

If you can find a partner who is willing to take a major role and involve you only when you are available, by all means try it. But in my experience it may be difficult to find the time and energy for work in the first year. It also depends on how you feel and how much your husband is able to help out.


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:02
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Aug 13, 2011

First of all, congratulations for your baby.
I am a mother to triplets and I resumed working when they were 1 month old. I was working from home, had a girl coming to help me 8 hours a day and managed very well. I did not lose any of my customers. I kept my kids at home with me until they were 21 month old, then I sent them to daycare.
I feel I had the best of both worlds: motherhood and work.


Laura


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:02
French to English
Help in the home Aug 13, 2011

I have a 15 month-old, and what helped me get back to work when she was 3 months old was having in-home help. I hired someone for 2 days a week, she also did some housecleaning when baby was asleep, it was fabulous Having someone come to our home meant that I could take breastfeeding breaks.

We parted with her a few months ago and I am managing better now, I also have a LOT of assistance from my husband, but in all honesty, I am still not working as much as I did before the birth, I really avoid taking on too much, you never know when baby will skip a nap and cause you to miss a deadline! I am very very selective now on the projects I accept, mostly short ones and long deadlines, never same-day turnaround.

What are your expectations for a partnership with another translator? How would that help you manage your time better?


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Werner Maurer  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
motherhood Aug 14, 2011

Motherhood is a full time job in and of itself. If you can handle two full-time jobs (every 10,000 years or so there's a human being who can), then go for it. Otherwise, get help with the baby or with the business or both.

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diana_carburean
Romania
Local time: 13:02
Greek to Romanian
+ ...
Yes, it does ! Aug 14, 2011

Dear Paula,
I'm in the exactly same situation. I already have a baby (1 year and 8 months), have no help except my husband's who deals with the administrative issues of the business, and I'm expecting the second baby. It is not easy but you will manage to do both things. It would be great if you get some help with the baby especially when it grows and he starts walking, grabbing things etc. I also made a selection through my clients and I remained with the most important and serious of them.
With my apologies for my English that is not my strong point, congratulations for the new life that will complete you !


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trent2101
Local time: 12:02
Dutch to Czech
+ ...
it´s doable Aug 14, 2011

I´m a single mom and have worked from home basically from day one, because I had to.
I work at night or during my son´s naps. Alternatively, I take a nap myself if I worked till late the night before.
I´ve had a sitter for three months now. although I usually don´t get a lot done, since I can concentrate better at night, it´s some kind of help even if I use those 3-4 hours a day for something else than work.
Now my son´s 3,5 and sometimes he takes care of himself in the morning ( I prepare his breakfast at night), because his mom worked till 3 a.m. and is unable to get out of bed.


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Translate IP  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:02
Member (2010)
German to English
+ ...
Interesting topic Aug 15, 2011

diana carburean wrote:

It is not easy but you will manage to do both things.


I'm so happy to read such a positive answer to this thread. With my first baby due any day now (actually he's already three days overdue!), I am fed up with hearing from friends how it will be "impossible" to get any work done with a baby in the house.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not assuming I can go back to working full-time from day 1. However, I am optimistically hoping that with good time management and organisation between myself and my husband (who works shifts), it should be possible for me to resume working at least part-time after the first couple of months.

Will be waiting to read about other translators' experiences with interest...!


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Paula Morrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:02
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks!!! Aug 15, 2011

Emma and Diana...

We can manage!

Diana, you're doing great! My husband helps me as well with the administrative issues but he has his own full time job and that means I'm at home dealing with my business. But you can do it.

I think the hardest thing i have experienced so far it has been not being able to quote as fast as I can for projects my clients need and as a consequence, sometimes you don't get the job. It frustrated me at the beginning...providing a quote to a client with all the details they need and suddenly they go to another agency...arghhhh!! But that is the way it works, in this industry you don't set the goals but your client does.

Emma, you will get there. Where are you based? London? you can always give me a call or send a message through here and you will see it's not that bad.
My baby now (5 mo) is sleeping longer naps in the morning and afternoons but I do take him out, play with him and enjoy motherhood as much as I can.

When your baby is born, you'll be focused on him/her most of the times for a couple of months. BUt this is inevitable...and you'll see it. However, those months will fly and when you're ready and fit, you'll decide what to do. You'll know...

I think there is always a light at the end of the tunnel!

Paula xxxx


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Sarah Silva  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:02
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Hard work combining it all Aug 15, 2011

Hat's off to all you mums taking on both childcare and translating roles.
I've got one child who will be 2 in November and am pregnant with my second child due October.
After my son was born I officially went back to work when he was 6 months and then on a part-time basis. It works because he goes to nursery one day a week and my husband works nights so we share childcare between us. I honestly don't think I could manage to translate and cover childcare!
Of course it depends on how 'easy' your baby is, whether your work has short or long turnarounds and many other factors... Although I didn't go back to work for 6 months I was doing my MA whilst breastfeeding!
I think it's a case of trial and error until you see what works for your specific situation.


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xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
depends on the baby Aug 16, 2011

I'm in a similar situation, with a 2 month old.

Before I did conference and legal interpreting, but now I am focusing on conferences and translation so as not to worry so much about childcare for lower-paying court jobs.

Before she was born I started working on getting translation clients, and at 6 weeks had my first conference interpreting job back. Right away I got a huge translation job and grandma came for a few days so I could get it done.

Mostly I work when the baby naps, but if I am really busy I hire a babysitterfora few hours to get out of the house and work. It helps that she is a very predictable baby (most of the time). I have also gotten much more efficient and no longer get distracted surfing the net. During mealtimes we watch news in FR, ES, or PT so I can keep up my interpreting skills. I am very easy on myself as far as how much I expect to get done, and accept that my house is a mess.

When she is older maybe I'll put her in daycare a couple days a week, but not yet.


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Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:02
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
Don't forget the Dads Aug 16, 2011

I suppose I'm nearly a full-time Dad. As of September my wife will be working 4 days instead of 3. I'm at home with two foster children, a nearly 3 and a nearly 6-year-old. The type of child DOES matter! Our oldest, a boy, is a bit of a handful and when he's home from school he needs a fair bit of attention. Our youngest, a girl, is completely different; she can amuse herself quietly for ages. So he goes to school 1 full day and 4 half days (who else thinks that's not a lot for a 6-year-old?) and daycare for 2 half days. My daughter will soon be going to daycare for 2 days in total. What does that all mean? It means I can get quite a lot done while they're away and on the day my wife is home (amounts to about 3 full days) plus 'bits in between' when they're home (I have the wonderful ability of being able to work and look after kids at the same time) and the odd evening or weekend day. I would say I work at least three and a half full working days in total, maybe even four, as those 'bits in between' and the evenings and odd Saturday all add up (e.g., it's now almost ten in the evening and I'm still at it!), without me getting the feeling I'm neglecting anyone, with the possible exception of myself! This all earns me a satisfactory income, almost as much as my wife, who is a psychologist. The hardest part is juggling the deadlines: I resist tight deadlines as much as possible because I want to have leeway if someone gets sick or needs attention for another reason. The danger is that I turn some clients (almost all agencies) down so often that they eventually stop contacting me and I have to work hard if I want to get them back. Thankfully after about 3 years of this I now seem to have a good client base who all appreciate my situation and try to work with me on keeping the deadlines doable! Now all I need to do is find a cleaner. And someone to mow the lawns.

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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:02
Italian to English
I couldn't do it long-term Aug 17, 2011

I have two boys, aged almost 4 and 2. I took a good 6 months off after the birth of my first child and about 4 months off after the birth of my second child. My eldest son has always been a bad sleeper, so although I could work a little during nap times I was always exhausted. By the time he was 9 months old I made the decision to send him to a childminder on a part-time basis. My second son also started going to the childminder at 9 months old. Now we use a combination of nursery/preschool/childminder and they are out for 2 whole days and 3 half days per week.
Personally I find it impossible to work when they are at home, unless I work at night. However, these days they are rarely both asleep before 8pm and I have other things that need doing too. Neither of them nap anymore.
I hoped I would be able to be a full-time mum and work, but for me it just wasn't feasible. Having dedicated work hours allows me to spend more quality time with them when they are at home. It's a very difficult balance to strike and I really admire people who can do both. I think a lot of it does depend on your particular child. My eldest has suspected Asperger's, which makes him a lot more demanding in many ways.
When my boys were babies, it was very important to me to have them at home as I was breastfeeding on demand (quite time consuming) and I wanted to be as hands on as possible. As they got older (especially once they started moving around) I found I needed help.
Good luck with whatever you decide. I would just see how it goes, but be open to getting help if and when you need it.

[Edited at 2011-08-17 11:14 GMT]


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Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:02
English to Russian
+ ...
It totally worked for me Aug 17, 2011

I switched from a part-time office job to full-time freelance translation shortly before I fell pregnant and I worked pretty much full-time since then - only stopped for a while when my girl was born because I claimed maternity allowance for 9 months.

The ability to combine a job and motherhood was the main reason I went freelance - otherwise I would have continued working in-house. So to be perfectly honest I am a bit puzzled to read that somebody might consider it hard to manage both - for me, the whole point of working from home was being able to raise a child at the same time. It meant that I saved a small fortune on childcare costs, commuting costs, was available for visits to play groups, sports days, school performances, coffee mornings etc - while still earning decent money.

True, it did pose certain requirements: frequent late nights, a phone call from the client asking for some urgent amendment while I was in the middle of "Incy Wincy Spider" at a play-group, having to cut short a morning in the park because of a deadline. But it always worked for me both logistically, physically and mentally, and, most important, I was able to have my baby with me at all times - who, I must say, learnt to be quite independent due to me being busy quite often provided I made time for her afterwards.

So I would encourage anyone not to dismiss it before you try it - with little organisation it should work. And you will feel very strongly about including a music-and-light baby bouncer chair, that buys you 20 minutes of work time, in your business expenses!


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