Andrea Mara

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Test Run

Not on purpose, one day two weeks ago, I had a test run of what’s ahead as a work-at-home freelancer self-employed type person. And it left me pretty worried.

By 10.30am, I was phoning my husband to tell him it wasn’t going to work, and that I needed to start talking to recruitment agencies again IMMEDIATELY. He talked me down, and the day got a whole lot better. But seriously, I am going to need some practice at all of this.

I’m usually off on a Friday, which is of course a relaxing day, with light traffic and general good-moodyness all around. There’s no homework, no lunches to make, and life is just that little bit easier. The smallest and I usually go for coffee and scones after school drop-off, because it’s Friday and totally fine to do that kind of thing.

But my accidental test-run day was Wednesday. A relatively serious day. A good chance to test the waters, without a weekend-shaped life-jacket so to speak.

I started by getting up too late. I get up too late every day, but when I only have to get myself ready and run out the door to work, and do my make-up at the office if needed, it’s easy. Getting up late and then getting three kids ready is a whole different story. We left for the school a full twenty minutes later than we should, with everyone upset and in bad form. Big fat fail for me.

After drop-off, the smallest and I went to the supermarket to buy a few bits and pieces for lunch. Then I wanted a takeaway coffee, but the boy quite understandably argued that we should sit down and have scones. He won the argument.

Coffee - Office Mum
Coffee? Twist my rubber arm

Which meant that by 10 o’clock, I’d spent €15. Not a huge amount of money but it’s still €15 more than I would have spent had I been sitting in my office at work all morning.

People often say that you spend less when you’re not working, but this has always seemed unlikely to me. Surely being out and about in shops and cafés instead of sitting in an office means spending more money? if test-run-day is the template, my now meagre finances are in the ha’penny place, literally. Well, figuratively.

We went home to clean up after breakfast – oh the joy of Weetabix-covered everything – and then while opening a roller blind, the wooden bit at the end of the cord bounced off the window and hit me on the lip. There was blood everywhere, and a small boy trying to put ice on it with a luke-warm cool pack from a picnic bag that had been lying on the kitchen floor for over a week.

That’s when I rang my husband to talk me down. He did, and I stopped the blood and brought down the swelling and decided to make soup and reply to some emails. The former was a great success (the three-year-old has a rare talent for peeling mushrooms) but the latter not so much. After some serious key-banging by the small boy, I closed the lap top and gave up. We went for an ice-cream. And another coffee. Somehow it cost me another €15.

Freelancing is going very well indeed. I’m sure there are many happy years ahead doing this. Yes. Talk me down.

toddler - Office Mum


No doubt, I’ll feel just as guilty when I’m home more, as I did when I was working 9 to 5, but here’s why working mothers should ditch the guilt – it’s all in the research (an article by me, for the Irish Examiner) : Cut the working mum guilt – children aren’t suffering 

Examiner Working Mother feature - Andrea Mara





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