A big part of my self-employed life has to do with my husband Turtle being self-employed too. This is great in terms of life flexibility, being able to spend time together, and being able to juggle babies and kids as the case has been for the last six years. He’s a union camera operator and spends a lot of time networking in between jobs, so like me he’s pretty laptop-oriented. We often work together at home, or (when we have child care) at our office, or at Java Joe’s (we’re on a Java Joe’s “work date” right now). We can and do take spontaneous road trips and other travel adventures, which is huge. Our two kids have had a lot of both parents in their lives, which makes me really happy. Not everyone can do that so I’m super grateful for it.
The downsides of having a self-employed husband/partner is that there’s no one reliable paycheck into the household, which can be stressful and finances can get lean. And as I’ve griped about before, we don’t have any employer-sponsored health insurance so we pay big bucks for a family plan ourselves. A lot of self-employed people really rely on having insurance through an employed spouse or domestic partner; we did for several years until Turtle decided to leave TV news and go out on his own. We continued his employer’s coverage through COBRA until it expired (18 months back then), then bit the bullet and bought a group plan that covers the whole family. I’m hoping that in 2014 we’ll have even more affordable options through the individual health insurance market, so my fingers are crossed that the crucial provisions of the Affordable Care Act survive legal challenges.
Overall I really like that our work schedules just totally go with the ebb and flow of projects. Busy times can be crazy, but of course it’s good because being busy means we’re earning income. Quiet times can be great too, just mucking around with the kids or playing music — it’s wonderful and mellow as long as I don’t fret about money. Sometimes one of us gets some sort of regular gig — for example sometimes I’ll teach classes for a few weeks, or Turtle will be gone on a shoot. So our schedules change all the time. School drop-off and pick-up times are pretty much the closest we have in terms of any regular routine. For a person prone to boredom, this is a good thing.
(If you enjoy old-timey German westerns shot on abandoned stretches of the Autobahn, you might enjoy this spec commercial from a million years ago featuring Turtle.)