Self-employment may seem like the ideal solution for reconciling work and family life, but it’s not as easy as it seems, say Véronique and Denis, both self-employed workers.
Self-employment may seem like the ideal solution for reconciling work and family life, but it’s not as easy as it seems, say Véronique and Denis, both self-employed workers. Véronique runs a photography studio in Saint-Sauveur, while Denis works in excavation. Their youngest daughter, 2-year-old Zoé, goes to daycare, and their eldest, 6-year-old Mia, attends kindergarten. Denis also has another daughter from his first marriage who spends every other weekend at their house.
“When you’re self-employed, you have a certain freedom, but that freedom comes at a price! You can’t refuse any work, and it’s hard to stop, because you’re constantly in your work environment. I start my days very early, between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., and I finish by about 3 p.m. Véronique works from her studio, but also at home in the evenings to retouch her photos. Our cell phones never stop ringing, even when we’re home!” explains Denis.
“There are, however, some perks to being self-employed: we don’t need to ask our bosses permission to be absent from work to bring one of our daughters to the doctor or keep her home if she’s sick. Véronique can rearrange her schedule to catch up on work in the evenings when the girls are asleep, or early in the morning, before they wake up. Her sister also gives us a hand every once in a while, and we occasionally hire a cleaning lady to give us a break.”
In order to spend quality time with their children, self-employed workers must learn to turn off their phones and computers and set aside family time. They also shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. “We often make the mistake of believing we can do it all on our own. We think we can be just as efficient at work as at home. We don’t dare ask for help because we’re afraid of seeming incompetent,” notes organizational psychologist and human resources consultant Guylaine Deschênes, author of the book L’art de concilier le travail et la vie personnelle (The art of reconciling work and private life). But family, friends and neighbours are a working parent’s best allies.