Thirty One.

Don’t panic! Going from one kid to two.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Detective Rene Dukes aka Anonymous. ‘S/he’ says:

“Hello Frankie & Steve,

You’ve had an episode for freelancers starting a family, now here’s a question about throwing another child into the mix (not literally throwing of course).

I remember speaking to a friend of mine a while ago just after their second baby was born. I naively asked them “so I guess the second one must be easier right?” and they replied “yes, sort of, but the problem is now there’s two of them”.

My partner and I are thinking about having another child. Our daughter is three years old, and goes to nursery three days a week. Aside from that, my other half and I juggle childcare between us and our respective work (my other half is employed, I am self-employed).

We do want to (are going to) have another child, and NOTHING you could say could convince us otherwise (although, please don’t test that). But I am feeling a bit worried that our precarious juggle of work, family life, and grown-up relationship will become even more precarious and complicated once we willingly welcome another kid into our lives.

In short, I feel as clueless as I did before our first child was born — please tell me it’ll all be ok???”

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:00:10] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. My name’s Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:00:20] – Steve
Yes, hello. Welcome to another one where each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but of course, we also love to get your comments, your answers, your experiences, and then we add them on to the beginning of the next episode. Which means, of course, we have to go back to last week’s episode. Last week’s question was…

[00:00:38] – Frankie
Kezia Hall, who had an inbox that was overflowing and she didn’t want to tackle.

[00:00:44] – Steve
I don’t think I have ever taken as much personal action as I took after last week’s episode. This morning, as we record, instead of 200 emails, I have 20 in my inbox!!

[00:00:55] – Frankie
Wow, I wish I could say the same.

[00:00:58] – Steve
Jo Shock got in touch.

Jo says,

“I am one of the email junkie VAs.

Some other suggestions for Kezia — Have you considered using a different platform for client interactions? Obviously, you still have to answer the same number of questions, but it both declutters your inbox and might put a slightly different emphasis in your client’s mind on the access that they have to you. And you can also set up a separate focus time to answer client queries away from all the other stuff in your inbox.”

Yes, so like a support ticket type thing? Like it.

Jo continues,

“Using a VA for sorting your emails. Make sure they have a confidentiality clause in their contract. As Steve and Frankie say, they won’t be able to answer those emails for you, but they can sift and prioritise them.

And one for you, Frankie, a VA can be a magic wand to say no on your behalf. You can be as honest as you like to the VA and they can send a polite, fluffy, humorous response, delete as appropriate for you!”

[00:01:57] – Frankie
Yeah, I like that idea, being like, straight up with your VA. And then they go away and they’re really diplomatic. So good!

Beth Cox says,

“Really enjoyed listening to this. I realised my issue is that I have far too many folders to file my emails into, so it takes ages. I’m going to streamline when I have time. Also, sorting by name is a good tip. I also now have half an hour in my calendar schedule every morning for email admin where I power through as much as I can. I’ve also found muting the sound stops me getting distracted by my emails coming in when I’m doing focused work.”

Yes, Beth.

[00:02:31] – Steve
Ross got in touch. Ross Wintle actually wrote a really long post, so we’re not going to read it all out here, but he detailed his system and even had a screenshot in it.

[00:02:41] – Frankie
He was very helpful. Yes.

[00:02:42] – Steve
To summarise, a big part of his system was about filtering into what’s important, what’s urgent, and basically — what do I really have to get back to right now? Anyway, he has a system on that and also using functions like the ability to have an email be resent to you. So you’re thinking, “oh, do you know what? I really don’t need that until next Monday”. A lot of email software now, you ask it, like — “Can you put this back in my inbox next Monday?”

[00:03:08] – Frankie
Oh my God, that’s so good. I need that.

[00:03:10] – Steve
I think basically as well, he was saying, there’s nothing wrong with having your email inbox as a to do, so long as you structure it in a certain way. Anyway, go check out his comment.

[00:03:19] – Frankie
And then Chris O’Shea made a very valid point. So I was talking about unsubscribing last week and using tools to do that, and I remember when we were recording it, I was trying to search for the one that I’d used and I couldn’t find it. Turns out they’ve basically all been shut down for privacy and data protection issues.

So Chris says,

“I’m very wary of any software/online app that you can give access to your whole email account to mass unsubscribe from things. Always think about what apps you are giving access to all your emails from a privacy point of view. Also, if you are getting hundreds of emails, consider a separate support inquiry inbox and use a support ticket desk, I use Zendesk.”

A bit like what Jo was saying.

Chris continues,

“It makes it easier to delegate it later. You can set up links to an FAQ, automatic replies based on incoming messages, et cetera, et cetera.”

[00:04:02] – Steve
And finally, Emma Bearman got in touch, who said,

“I have 80,000 unread emails. I’m not kidding. It’s a wonder I function. Do I function?”

Thank you so much for all your comments.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:05:34] – Frankie
Right. This week’s question is anonymous.

[00:05:36] – Steve
Oh, okay. Bear with me.

[00:05:37] – Frankie
Cue Steve.

[00:05:39] – Steve
Where’s my fantasy name generator? Detective Names…

Danny Dixon.
River Hunter.
Elizabeth Snow.
Hazel Bates.
Rene Dukes.

Okay, this week’s question comes from Detective Rene Dukes, who says,

“Hello, Frankie and Steve, you’ve had an episode for freelancers about starting a family. Now here’s a question about throwing another child into the mix (not literally throwing, of course).

I remember speaking to a friend of mine a while ago just after their second baby was born. I naively asked them, ‘so I guess the second one must be easier, right?’ And they replied, ‘yes, sort of. But the problem is, now there’s two of them!’

My partner and I are thinking about having another child. Our daughter is three years old and goes to nursery three days a week. Aside from that, my other half and I juggled childcare between us and our respective work. My other half is employed, I am self-employed.

We are going to have another child and nothing you could say could convince us otherwise (although please don’t test that). But I am feeling a bit worried that our precarious juggle of work, family life and grown up relationship will become even more precarious and complicated once we willingly welcome another kid into our lives.

In short, I feel as clueless as I did before our first child was born.

Please tell me it’ll all be okay.

Thanks. Detective Rene Dukes.”

[00:07:17] – Frankie
Okay, first thing I want to say is you were right — what you said to your friend. It is easier the second time around, isn’t it? Because you know your shit. When you have your first, it’s like… you go from zero to 1000. When you have a second, it’s not quite as extreme. Like, you’ve already given up your independence and your life and your disposable income, so the shock to the system is less.

But as your friend rightly says, there are two of them! Parenting is relentless, but when you have more than one, you just don’t get downtime anymore. It just doesn’t exist. Unless you’re one of those amazing people that can get both your children to nap at the same time. But I don’t know, these people have magic hands.

[00:07:57] – Steve
That said, though, in terms of the whole napping thing… once you’ve got a three, four-year-old. I’m guessing the three-year-old is going to be more like a four-year-old by the time a baby comes along?

[00:08:07] – Frankie
True. Because they’re not having one yet. Yeah, yeah.

[00:08:09] – Steve
Right. So actually the napping thing goes out, the four-year-old is way more independent than a three-year-old or a two-year-old in terms of putting their clothes on, shoes on, brushing their teeth, yada, yada, yada. I mean, you just have to look at ET, like the four-year-old in that is teaching an alien how to speak, right??

[00:08:27] – Frankie
That’s true. But I still stand by my point in that having access to time out is really hard and becomes much more of a challenge.

[00:08:38] – Steve
Three-year-old will be a four-year-old by the time they have another. If not older, who knows? By the time another child comes into the mix for Rene, their four-year-old is about to go to school. Because often in our heads, we think school children are five years old, but actually they turn five when they’re at school. Yeah, that’s going to make a big difference!

[00:08:56] – Frankie
Yeah. This is basically like my situation. So I took six months off entirely when she was born and then we had six months before he went to school where they were both in childcare. But yeah, by the sounds of your maths, you might skip that period. But that period, for us — and I’m sure for lots of other people, where you’ve got two or more kids in private nurseries and stuff — is just mad. Thankfully, it was only six months, but like, the money, the money!!! And that’s even with the 30 hours thing, he was still getting 30 hours and was only going two days a week. But because you only get those 30 hours for the academic year, it’s not for 52 weeks of the year, you’re still paying something if your child is at nursery every week for the whole year. So, yeah, we had two outgoings for two kids for six months, and it was a killer. That was an absolute killer. I just did my, obviously, tax return for that year and it’s just depressing reading guys.

[00:09:49] – Steve
Right now, I have a ten and a six year old. So our second was born when our first was three and a half.

[00:09:57] – Frankie
Yeah, similar to me.

[00:09:58] – Steve
It was when she was born that I handed in my resignation on my full-time job.

[00:10:02] – Frankie

[00:10:02] – Steve
And so when my wife went back after maternity leave to her full-time job, I then looked after her for a couple of months until she started childcare when she turned one. Then she would be in childcare Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, but I would have her on the Wednesday. And likewise, there was a crossover period where both of them were at nursery at childcare before our son started school. Like the other side of that summer.

[00:10:29] – Frankie
Would our advice be, try and avoid that, if possible? But it sounds like they’re going to.

[00:10:34] – Steve
I think with all of this, you have to be realistic about what you want for your family, but also how you’re going to pay for that. That’s just being kind of responsible, isn’t it? But there is also an overarching fact that we do, on the whole, just make things work.

[00:10:50] – Frankie

[00:10:52] – Steve
You’ll just find a way through. What you want to be able to do, hopefully, is give yourself the best possible place.

[00:10:58] – Frankie
Yeah, there’s a bit of ignorance is bliss, as you say, because I know a lot of people, before they have their first kid, do the whole… They look at their income and outgoings and look at the actual cost of childcare and work out whether they can actually afford to have a child. I never did that. I was not interested in doing that because I knew if I did that, we would never start a family. It just would not have ever happened. And sometimes, as you say, you’ve just got to jump in and make it work. As we say, every episode, it is just a phase and like, one part of what your life is going to look like and it’s over so quickly you’ll get through it. Yeah, that’s not very positive, is it?

[00:11:38] – Steve
Also the second child, for us anyway, and I do hear this a lot — everything just speeds up.

[00:11:46] – Frankie
The passing of time is much quicker.

[00:11:48] – Steve
You don’t really pay attention so much to that second child.

[00:11:50] – Frankie

[00:11:51] – Steve
And it’s not because you don’t love them so much, but you’ve got two of the things to look after. And so whereas with the first one, all your attention was focused on, “oh, they just rolled over!” Whereas with the second one, you’re like, “Sorry, I know you’re five, but we have two photos of you that we took once”.

[00:12:06] – Frankie
That’s me. I’m a second child!

[00:12:08] – Steve
“Oh, no, actually you’re in the background. That was actually a picture of a dog…”

[00:12:14] – Frankie
Basically, when you have two children, everything is twice as much. I mean, it is and it isn’t. So you’re potentially going to have two children in childcare, you’re potentially going to be paying for… Say you go to soft play and suddenly you’ve got to pay for two kids entry and all their snacks. And it’s like, you just don’t really think about that when you have a second child and then suddenly going to soft play costs you 30 quid. And you’re like, “what just happened?”

And then there’s things like… Yes, you want to reuse and recycle as much as possible, but there will be things you’ll have to buy for both children, new. And the cost of your weekly shop is going to increase quite significantly. Not initially, but I’m feeling it now when my kid’s 18 months, I’m suddenly like, “oh my God, food is like a massive outgoing”. What are the things that you can do to cope with that?

[00:12:55] – Steve
Get an allotment.

[00:12:57] – Frankie
Move to the countryside, grow all your own vegetables??

I guess the obvious one is like, as we’ve said before about having your first child… Have some savings. Think about putting aside as much as you can. I mean, we should all be doing that anyway.

But putting aside as much as possible ahead of having a second child, looking into what support is available to you, whether that’s maternity allowance or getting some sort of maternity pay or paternity pay through your limited company if you have one. Claiming child benefit and stuff like that, that you qualify for… Scraping together all the little bits of support that you can get and maybe thinking about being more efficient and frugal about what you’re buying, where you’re buying it from, that kind of stuff. Upping your life admin finance game, which we again could all benefit from anyway.

And like you say, and like Steve was saying — When you have to muddle through to make it work, you’ll probably end up doing some of those things anyway and actually doing something really basic, like… This is a bit disconnected, but if you haven’t got a business bank account, for example, and you’ve just got like a normal one that you use for your incoming and outgoing, it’s really easy to lose track of what you’re spending money on. Whereas if you get a bank account that shows you exactly what your expenses are, you’re suddenly like, “oh, hang on, I spent ten quid on a vimeo subscription that I wasn’t even using anymore anyway!”. It highlights things to you in a lot more obvious way and you can save money in that respect.

[00:14:15] – Steve
So Rene says, “I’m feeling a bit worried that our precarious juggle of work, family life and grown up relationship will become even more precarious”.

Grown up relationship? Yes. There’s no easy way around that either. But do you know what, Rene? Even the fact that you’re worrying about this and thinking about this shows that you care about it.

[00:14:37] – Frankie
So true. Yeah.

[00:14:37] – Steve
And that you’re going to make the effort to keep an eye on that.

[00:14:41] – Frankie
You’re going to be alright.

[00:14:42] – Steve
And as we’ve said many times before, like, communicating throughout about all of these things. About how you’re going to fit work in, about how you’re juggling it and about each other becomes part of that, right?

[00:14:53] – Frankie
More than ever, it’s about having backup. Because, like I was saying about things doubling, you’ve suddenly got twice the likelihood of one of your children being sick, for example.

[00:15:05] – Steve
Oh, yes.

[00:15:06] – Frankie
Stuff like that. As we’ve said a million times before, rallying the troops, getting in a little black book of other freelancers you can send work to, having potential people you can outsource to. Is that your other half? Like, can they step in to help with your business? If one of you needs to look after one of the kids, can you set up an out of office that says, “my child is sick, please leave me alone”. Whatever it is, all the tools and prep to cope with those kind of situations… And they happen to everybody. Yeah, it’s not just that the financial stuff potentially increases, but also the logistical everyday puzzle of life becomes more complex.

Like, I was talking about getting a business bank account to look at your income and outgoings. Maybe it’s time to get… There are various apps where you can organise your family calendars and weekly shop and what you’re going to eat that week, stuff like that. Or is it just a blackboard in your kitchen that everyone knows what’s going on? Or like, a calendar hanging up? Like, is it the time to sort out your shit? If you’ve been thinking about a Google Calendar, is now the moment to sort it before the madness begins? Everything’s twice as much. The money’s twice as much. The logistics and et cetera are twice as much, and the risk of burnout is twice as much.

[00:16:14] – Steve
So much of our advice comes back into play from previous episodes, including, like, you know… How to build slack into your life. Like a bit of wiggle room so you can *sings* #wiggle it just a little bit. I want to see you wiggle it just a little bit#

[00:16:29] – Frankie
I have no idea what you’re talking about.

[00:16:31] – Steve
You don’t know that song?

[00:16:32] – Frankie
No, sorry.

[00:16:33.] – Steve
Alexa, play Wiggle It.

[00:16:37] – Alexa
Wiggle It by Koo Koo Kangaroo from Spotify.

[00:16:47] – Steve
What the hell is that? That’s not it. Alexa, play Wiggle It, brackets, just a little bit. Close brackets.

[00:16:56] – Alexa
Here it is on Spotify.

[00:16:59] – Steve
Such a dick. Okay, here we go…

*song plays*

[00:17:12] – Steve
Anyway, if you ram up your time with too much stuff — both work, life, kids, relationship — it just won’t work. You need to leave that wiggle room in there. You need to let some stuff go, so you’ve got room to be flexible with all of it.

[00:17:32] – Frankie
And one of the other things I wanted to say is that — and maybe you might not consider it now — and I don’t know if I have a solution for this, but… Having your second or third or whatever is quite different to your first in that, yes, people give a shit, of course they do. But the second time around, they — in my experience anyway — are there at the beginning and are like, “yes, great baby, woo”. A couple of people, brought some food round, et cetera. But a) it wasn’t on the scale that it was the first time, and b) everybody dropped away a hell of a lot quicker. I presume because they assume you’ve got your shit together and you don’t need them as much, whereas in reality, you need them more than ever. Like, I need you to take my four-year-old away from me for a couple of hours, but people don’t. Yeah, in my experience, it just fell away a lot quicker. And actually — and I’ve said this before on a previous episode — but when you have a newborn, it’s relatively easy. Like, they sleep and they eat and they poop. And I actually did quite a lot of work in those first couple of weeks.

It’s 6, 9, 12, I’m now 18 months in and it is hard. And people might offer help at the beginning, but they’re less and less likely to offer it further along. That’s fine, I understand that, but I guess that’s something to be prepared for, is that you may not have quite as much support the second time around. Yes, you know what you’re doing a bit more and you’re less vulnerable. Or maybe you’re not, I mean, I don’t know… It depends on your experience of your pregnancy and your birth and whatever else and what your kids are like. What’s the solution for that? I don’t know. Being more upfront about asking for help rather than waiting for it to be given to you? I don’t know.

[00:19:01] – Steve
By answering the question, we’re slightly overthinking it, when really the advice might be — don’t overthink it? Just like when you had the first child, plan as much as possible, run through different scenarios. Think about how it might be. Keep communicating between you as a couple, but also with the other people who might support you in your life.

[00:19:21] – Frankie
And your clients and your customers as well.

[00:19:22] – Steve
But it’ll be what it’ll be.

[00:19:24] – Frankie
Be confident in the fact that thousands of other people, hundreds of Doing It For The Kids people have done this already.

[00:19:30] – Steve
And you will figure it out and you will get through and it’ll be awesome. So don’t let it put you off having another kid and just know that you’re going to be okay.

Okay, Detective Rene Dukes, we hope we answered your question. I mean, we did. But if you’ve got some advice, maybe you’ve just gone through the situation, let us know. You can get in touch all the usual ways in the community, on the post for episode 31 on Twitter, on Instagram, #DIFTKPodcast.

What would your advice be?

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