This post is sponsored by our partner, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. AMSE is an exclusive community for military spouse entrepreneurs to learn how to launch, build, or scale their own business. Founded by Moni Jefferson and Flossie Hall in 2019, AMSE is an exclusive space for military spouses to connect, learn, and empower themselves with the tools needed to become successful entrepreneurs. Join the AMSE community here.
When I became a freelancer 10 years ago, I had zero intentions of becoming a military spouse. I was career-focused. I wasn’t pursuing freelancing for the adaptability of location; I was fresh out of college and wanted flexibility. I wanted to work for different companies, to avoid a cubicle, and to have the ability to set my own hours.
Years later, I met and married my husband, becoming a military spouse. And I realized just how versatile I had allowed myself to become. I was a work-from-anywhere professional who wasn’t burdened by time zones or state lines.
It was the dream.
Fast forward to today, wherein my responsibilities are a little different: two kids, pets, meals to cook, and a space to keep clean. It’s a lot, and a flexible job allows me to keep up with these family responsibilities, without giving up work.
I am self-employed – and I’m still living the dream!
What I do: I’m a writer and digital marketer. I write blogs, social media posts, website content, and feature stories. I even dive into the backend of sites, adding keywords and ensuring that page descriptions show correctly on Google.
I call it a full-time gig, with part-time hours and full-time everything else.
That full-time everything else includes caring for our boys (3 and 1), working around the hub’s (very) demanding schedule, keeping the food stocked, the dog exercised, remaining up-to-date with appointments, services scheduled, communicating with the grandparents, and managing to squeeze in some fun for us all.
Add in COVID, and things have gotten even more wild – less daycare and more unpredictability in schedules.
How do I do it? With a LOT of planning.
I am up at 5, working in jammies until the babies wake. Mondays and Wednesdays, we run errands, play, and enjoy our time together; Tuesdays and Thursdays, a sitter comes while I head to my “office” at a coworking space. Depending on the week’s load, I might log in for evening hours, too.
Fridays are pre-Saturdays. I’m an advocate for the long weekend EVERY weekend to decompress and have family time. It is important for us to have those three entire days off, which is far more relaxing and low-key.
How do I keep it all straight? Depending on who you ask, I don’t!
I live by my Erin Condren Life Planner, and if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist in my world. Physical checklists fuel me. Crossing everything off for the day…that’s the gold medal of personal achievement goals.
Planning is key for several reasons.
I can keep track of hard deadlines. It allows me to see what needs to be adjusted and if that’s even possible. Hubs needs lunch? Let’s make a quick visit. Does baby need a chiropractor appointment? Let’s roll. Everything is always changing, but with the flexibility of my job, it’s doable. Even if a consistent mess.
I also utilize some favorite resources, like AMSE – Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs – for encouragement and networking. Sure, there are plenty of connections to be made with other business owners, but there’s no bond that compares to a fellow self-working Milspo. Those are my people.
Meanwhile, I log in heavily to our Battalion FRG Facebook page, which is full of announcements and dates. I get notifications and write all the things down. ALL THE THINGS.
Finally, I make heavy use of digital communication. When there’s a question, I find the right person and ASK. What’s the worst that could happen? They’ll ignore me? Think I’m annoying? Both have happened, but the majority of the time, I made a new connection while finding the answer I was looking for.
Self-employment is not for everyone.
It’s erratic. It’s hectic. I’m always tired, and I have almost constant guilt that I don’t make more time for my kids or focus on things for them. Meanwhile, there’s that nagging feeling to do something for me, to use my brainpower for good. With the right planning and resources, self-employment works for my family and my career.
It’s an endless cycle, and so worth every second.
Bethaney (Wallace) Phillips is a self-employed writer and military spouse. She is a member of the AMSE Writing Team. When not working or chasing kids, she enjoys long nature walks, reading, and a great cup of tea.