One question that is often asked by young people – women in particular – is whether they can have both a career and a family. Freelance writer Hazel Davis explores what it really looks like to have it all…
On Monday mornings I wake up, check my emails (yes I am in my forties, I still send emails). In fact, I wake up, blunder downstairs, turn the coffee maker on, check my emails (often while on the loo – I know, I know, but time is precious), blunder back upstairs while trying not to wake my other half who’s been on a night shift and will be sleeping in until around lunchtime.
The children will wake up soon but I won’t be getting them ready for school. We’ll take the dogs out and then come home for a morning’s home-schooling downstairs or outside in the office so we don’t wake their daddy up. While the girls are tackling their sums or filling in the gaps in a storybook, I’ll set up some interviews and at one point I might head upstairs to participate in a conference call – after I’ve put the washing on, lit the fire and washed up. Ok, I admit it, I might have taken a tiny call while out with the dogs too.
At lunchtime my partner wakes up and I frequently turn the kids over to him while I dash upstairs and write like the wind for a bit. Then we swap back and the whole thing happens again, this time with me working until around midnight after they’ve gone to bed. Early in the evening I’ll take them to a music class and sit in the car availing myself of nearby WiFi to file some copy, do research, send some student feedback or set up more interviews.
Fifteen years ago, this – running a fairly full-time business, home-educating and having a social life – wouldn’t have been possible.
But I was a digital nomad even then, working as a freelance journalist from my home in West Yorkshire, all the while pretending, or not letting on otherwise, that I lived in London if any of my high-profile clients asked. I spent countless days hopping on trains at ungodly hours, writing like the wind down to London, sitting through a meeting, writing all the way back home. I wrote my way through the appearance of free WiFi, through dongles and smartphones (praise the god of smartphones). And then I stopped having to hop on early trains to London when people started using Skype. And the rest is history.
From my home in West Yorkshire I edited a small section of a London-based national newspaper while barely leaving the county. When I had children I didn’t stop. I turned down a job interviewing Bjork only because I was giving birth that day and it would have been a bit of a stretch. I continued with two children under two, gathering a comprehensive knowledge of local playgyms with WiFi and strong coffee. I have filed copy from a children’s party, I have written white papers in the carpark while my children took part in a bushcraft session and during a violin lesson I locked myself in a cupboard interviewing the head of a German events company.
Our kitchen table is long and wide. It comfortably fits a range of art supplies of two primary-school aged children and a laptop. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Of course I’m incredibly lucky in that my chosen profession (tapping away at a keyboard) means I can work anywhere in the world (I once interviewed the popstar Pink on the phone in a station toilets and wrote a piece about HR policy in a Hong Kong hotel room when I was supposed to be on holiday). All I mostly need is a laptop, a WiFi connection and a notebook. As I am the main breadwinner, my partner’s company has allowed him to work a couple of nightshifts and spend the rest of the week home-schooling while I dash out of the house gratefully (returning to take the children to choir of course, as I am the only one with a car). We’re ships passing in the night, neither of us gets enough sleep and we have no free time until June 2018 but I think we are just about managing to have it all. Now, I’m off to collapse…