Caolyn Asome, freelance journalist for The Times, Smallish (& other wonderful publications) tells us why telepathy is overrated, the importance of letting go and why “men bashing” has to STOP!
As a freelance journalist plus a Mother of 2 describe your typical working day?
I suppose the biggest change to going freelance is that I get up earlier. I now wake up at 6am and three times a week I train on the common at the end of my road. I’m not looking for a round of applause but I just find I am much more focused if I exercise regularly. If I have several writing days in a row, it’s all too easy to end up not leaving the house, especially as I work from home.
If I’m not exercising, I get ahead with the day’s work when I have maximum clarity, rather than working late into the night and feeling wired and not sleeping.
Depending on deadlines or meetings I take the kids to school and then go to my desk or head to the offices of one of the brands I consult for. Then, unless I’m going out it’s stories and putting my girls to bed at around 7.30. My husband and I have always had very independent social lives during the week, a dynamic that was in place long before we married or had children. But at weekends it’s very much about being together as a couple and family.
One of the perks of being freelance is that I can attend a school concert or go on holiday during the school holidays without having to check with the rest of a team. What it doesn’t mean is lots of coffee mornings. You do have to be quite disciplined otherwise nothing would get done.
Do you find juggling Motherhood with freelance work tricky at all?
No more than if I was going to an office/ working for a company. We are all very clear in our house about our roles and I have a husband who I split everything with 50/50. I enjoy my work and happily admit that I am not my children’s principal carer -our nanny is- and I think acknowledging that means you aren’t trying to spread yourself too thin or trying to be everything to everyone all of the time, because that is where madness lies.
What I find harder to do as a freelancer is being disciplined about separating your work from family life (especially because I work from home) and remembering to be in the present. When you are self-employed, I think you’re always going to work that bit harder.
What are the tips you have for other freelance Mums to maintaining a successful work/life balance?
I’m not sure my answers are only for freelance mums but for any mum trying to achieve some semblance of sanity.
1) Telepathy is overrated. Don’t play a game of “Is my husband going to notice that I need help?” Just ask. A word on the way you ask too: try and do this in a non-judgmental, non-moany way, (hard I know when you sometimes want to punch them but do your very best not to start out on the defensive).
2) Learn to let go and respect that you both do things in your own way. No one way is better. Often it’s women, hard-wired to be perfectionists (so dull!) who are as much to blame.
3) Leave your partner alone with your children often. You’d never think, given the way that the majority of my friends talk about their husbands that they are with smart, educated, accomplished, understanding men. Sometimes I want to shout at them and say, “Really? You married someone so stupid and incompetent that they can’t change a nappy or choose the right brand of formula, or look after their own children for a whole weekend? Men bashing is an impediment to your sanity so stop it this instant.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?
Aside from quality family time, reading, going to the theatre, pilates, and listening to the cello are my biggest pleasures. I’m a sucker for any kind of TCM treatment: cupping, acupuncture and reflexology. I’m also a big potterer. As is my husband. We tend to orbit in each other’s space doing our own thing and not really talking to each other but it makes us very content.
As a family we go to Chamonix often where we like to walk in the mountains and be outside as much as possible. It’s a very wholesome, life-affirming antidote to the dynamic pace of London although I love and thrive on that too.
We’ve noticed that you have a real passion for interiors and have a beautiful home. How do you keep it so pristine with two children under 7 running around?!
Ha, it’s not pristine at all! I must have tidied it before the pictures were taken. It’s a real family home that is very bashed at the edges. I’m not at all precious but the kids know to behave a bit more carefully in certain areas of the house. I don’t see the harm in teaching your children to behave appropriately in different environments and that goes for being out in restaurants too.
What makes an interior special for you and worth featuring?
It’s obvious when you see a home that’s been put together by someone who has a real sense of self, who doesn’t follow the trends and is able to edit all the superfluous clutter out. That’s very much a confidence thing. I love to see the personality of the family who live there be that in a minimal or maximalist way.
What’s your go to outfit when you’re at home with your kids on a weekend?
I’m a very practical dresser. I like to feel and look at ease. Mostly I will wear a round neck navy sweater, corduroy joggers and trainers. I’m lucky enough to have plenty of occasions to get really dressed up, so dressing down is actually the treat.
What are your top picks from La Coqueta’s SS17 collection?
I’m a huge fan of La Coqueta’s desert boots but I was also really taken by the pop of yellow in their very stylish Mary Janes. Very appealing too is the red gingham Mecina pinafore, the Monegros dress and the beautiful navy coat.