Fifty Nine.

Bye Bye 2020.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Ginger Nuts Cracklefriend, AKA Anonymous. They say:

“As we come to the end of this shit show of a year, what do you want to take into 2021 and what would you leave behind? I remember the episode where Steve sat in his car and you never answered a question but had mutual therapy and I wondered how the rest of the year went for you both. Thanks!”

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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:

[00:02:12] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to 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. I’m Frankie and this is Santa.

[00:02:26] – Steve

[00:02:30] – Steve
Hello. So it’s the final one of the year. Final one before Christmas. We’ve bought in games and chocolate and crisps and fizzy pop. Fizzy pop!

But of course we start each episode by looking back at the last episode. Last time we were talking about…

[00:02:48] – Frankie
Setting boundaries with your clients.

Florence Guerin says:

“Last time I worked with a freelancer from this group actually, she simply quoted the terms in the loveliest manner possible. She was a client of mine before I became one of hers. And we had had lots of lovely chats. I wasn’t a model client at all, as it took me forever to check what she sent over. When I finally did, I asked whether she could proofread it and she responded that she would do so during the week and be in touch, which she did. And then she ended the email with something to the effect of, ‘I have to sign off now, time wise, but I would love to work with you again in the future’. I remember reading this, and feeling really good about it. The work had been done and it was clear that I’d used up my credit. But it was communicated in a clear and nice way.”

[00:03:27] – Steve

[00:03:28] – Frankie
How nice that they were like working with each other through Doing It For The Kids, and they had such a nice experience and the boundaries were like well laid out. It’s just a nice story, isn’t it?

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:06:39] – Steve
This week’s question is anonymous, or rather, it’s not. I can see who’s it from, but they have asked for the Christmas elf name because they liked Perky from last week. So, the fantasy name generator gives us… Merry Magic Sledge? Ginger Chimney Bow? Topper Party Gift?

[00:07:00] – Frankie
I’m sorry, what?

[00:07:01] – Steve
Fruity Cookie Spirit? Gingernuts Crackle Friend?

[00:07:08] – Frankie
It’s quite hard to say, but yeah.

[00:07:09] – Steve
OK. Gingernuts says:

“Dear Frankie and Steve,

I was just wondering, as we come to the end of this shit show of a year, what do you want to take into 2021 and what would you leave behind? I remember your episode when Steve sat in his car in lockdown and you never answered the question but had mutual therapy, and I wondered how the rest of the year went for you both.

Thanks for all you do. Gingernuts”.

What are we going to take with us into 2021? What would you leave behind?

[00:07:42] – Frankie
So, like, the whole buying myself a piano thing, one of the things we’re really trying to hold onto at the moment is like… And I hate this phrase, but “not saving for best”. Like, it’s a Tuesday, it’s 5 o’clock, screw it, let’s get a takeaway. Or open that bottle of wine that we’re saving for another time.

[00:08:02] – Steve
Like, living for the moment?

[00:08:03] – Frankie
Yeah, whatever it is that makes you happy.

[00:08:07] – Steve
So I want to take into next year that whole feeling of spending more time with my family. Like, not so much time that we’re all locked down forever, but it’s that thing where often my wife would sit and watch a film and with the kids and I would take that as an opportunity to go and do work in another room. And now it’s like… no, actually, we’re all going to hang out together.

Like, that may seem obvious, but yeah, I want to take that. And I hope that my wife still gets to work from home quite a bit as well so that we can still share the load. That has been a big thing for both of us. It’s been positive for her as well.

[00:08:45] – Frankie
I feel like there’s been a lot of saying no this year on lots of levels. And one of those levels has been professionally saying no to stuff that I just don’t want to be doing anymore. So I feel like, in a way, at the end of this year, I have a much more clearer niche. But also, like, idea of the kind of projects I want to do going forward. And I guess I feel a bit more… I’m feeling quite fired up at the moment about the kind of projects I’ve got coming up that I am saying yes to, are the kind of things that I really love and really want to be doing. And I feel like I’m slowly moving in a different, more positive direction into work that I really want to do.

[00:09:28] – Steve
Well, cheers to that!

[00:09:29] – Frankie

[00:09:31] – Steve
That glass sounded a bit empty by the way.

[00:10:11] – Frankie
I guess it’s, like, clarified a lot of things, hasn’t it?

[00:10:13] – Steve
And whilst it seems a bit hippyish to say, I learned what gives me energy.

[00:10:16] – Frankie
What’s wrong with being a hippie?

[00:10:18] – Steve
But I realised that certain types of client work and certain type of things that I do with Being Freelance fill me up, like they give me energy. I think I was so busy on the wheel, as we mentioned, going constantly round and round and round, that I didn’t stop and take breath and notice those things. So, because I had to stop, I’ve now realised that, and that’s great. That means I can do more of those things going forward.

I also learned to let go of things this year. I want to continue that. Like realising that I didn’t always have to be on Instagram, for example. I don’t have to put out 16 episodes of Being Freelance in a season. I can just do ten. And that gives me more time to do other stuff.

[00:10:56] – Frankie
Good move on the less podcasts.

[00:10:58] – Steve
Yeah, because the podcasts that we have put out are really good. It doesn’t have to be every week, every month of the year.

[00:11:09] – Frankie
Well yeah, I mean, that’s definitely something that 2020 has taught us. That a lot of the time we have this, like, relentless pressure to keep doing the thing — whatever the thing is — keep churning out the thing, keep doing the thing! But this year has shown us that we can pause stuff and it’s all right. You can come back to it. It can wait.

[00:11:35] – Steve
Got back into reading this year and definitely taking that into next year

[00:11:40] – Frankie
Yes! There’s a larger point there, I think… Yeah, you’ve been reading more, I bought myself a piano… Like, I feel like we’re all leaning into the stuff outside of life and work and kids.

[00:11:54] – Steve
Right! Like we were talking about a couple of weeks ago.

[00:11:56] – Frankie
Two episodes ago. Exactly.

[00:11:57] – Steve

[00:11:57 – Frankie
But I think it’s a necessity, for our own mental health. We’re all like, “oh my God, give me something that feeds me in a different way!” because we’re all so burnt out and traumatised that we need this other stuff.

[00:13:42] – Frankie
I’d quite like us all to hold on to the empathy and the flexibility that we’ve allowed each other to have. I mean, I’m quite transparent, I think, anyway. But I’ve had some really frank, nice conversations with new clients that I barely know.

This year it’s just felt more personal, in a nice way, and we’ve all just been allowing each other a bit more time and flexibility and, I guess, benefit of the doubt when things go wrong or we need more support or whatever. I’d like to see that continue.

And similarly, I feel like in the media and in a more public way — because so many people are working from home or being forced to work from home this year and have had to juggle all the things — I really do think there’s been a shift of understanding about what my life looks like to other people. We’re here doing this, we’ve been banging the drum about not hiding the fact we have children and being transparent and we’re all human and blah, blah, blah. And now it feels like that’s actually happened this year for everybody.

I think a lot of our self-employed lot have also finally seen the perks of having that emergency fund that you’re always told about but never managed to save for.

[00:15:04] – Steve
Even if it didn’t work out this year, it’s good to think about how you can protect yourself for something like this.

[00:15:09] – Frankie
You can build that up for the next time.

[00:15:10] – Steve
Both in the financial buffer but also logistically.

[00:15:13] – Frankie
Yeah, like looking at how you can metaphorically keep your business ‘COVID safe’ even after COVID is gone. Having that same resilience and like, backup plan.

So, I would leave behind most of the content on Disney Plus. Mainly Frozen 2. You know how, like, music has that thing where you associate particular songs with really significant points in your life? I feel like that about Frozen 2. I feel like I’m not going to be able to watch that film once this is over.

I’m quite happy to leave behind or let go of the previous version of the school run where we all kind of just congregated in the playground and it was really awkward. I’m really into the queuing system. I will gladly keep that. As an introvert and socially awkward person, it’s so much better for me. I don’t get stressed about doing the school run anymore!

[00:16:15] – Steve
I actually liked the bit at the beginning of the day, like it used to be insane! There was literally a ten minute window when the gates would be open — quarter to nine until five to nine. And then 5 seconds after five to nine, the gates were slammed in your face and then you had to go through the office.

I loved the way the teachers just chilled out during Covid. And like, spread the beginning of that school day over about 25 minutes. And suddenly different year groups were arriving at different times. There’s less traffic in the road, everybody’s a lot more calm.

God, why do we need a pandemic to realise how insane that whole throwing your kids out of a car and chucking them over a fence and then speeding away like it’s some sort of bank job??

[00:17:01] – Frankie
That does sound insane.

[00:17:01] – Steve
It is crazy and it makes it so much more stressful than it needed to be.

[00:17:07] – Frankie
In fact, there’s a lot of school related stuff that I think is better now. We’ve also lost, or not had to do, those endless going into school on a Tuesday morning for a coffee meeting thing and then a catch up on this term’s curriculum at 11:00am on a Thursday. Like there’s been none of that!

[00:17:25] – Steve
They’ll be back.

[00:17:26] – Frankie
Do you think?

[00:17:29] – Steve

[00:17:29] – Frankie
But also, I would often get asked to go for a coffee with somebody, like a potential client, or come in for a meeting to have a chat, that kind of stuff. Which always, frankly, pissed me off because it takes me an hour to get there, it takes me an hour to get it back. You’re not going to pay me. Do you want to hire me for this job or not?

So we’ve lost all of that, which I’m quite enjoying, because you can just have a phone call or a Zoom, whatever it is you want to do. You can have a remote conversation. I always felt a bit guilty about not agreeing to those things, whereas this year has allowed me to just go… nah.

[00:18:00] – Steve
That kind of links into last week’s episode about control, doesn’t it? So hopefully now, maybe, clients will realise it’s fine to chat remotely and maybe you could turn It into something nice too like… When you have a chat pre-project or to kick off the project, you could send them some tea and biscuits in the post. Then arrange to chat and tell them not to open the biscuits until 10am or whenever your meeting is, and then that becomes a shared experience. Actually I’m going to make a note. That’s quite a good idea…

[00:18:28] – Frankie
That’s great. Yeah, that’s a good idea.

[00:18:31] – Steve
Quite like that.

I love all the contactless money! I’ve got my watch to pay for stuff. I never used to do that pre-pandemic, by the way. I felt like a twat with a watch. But now if you get your phone out, it doesn’t work because the face ID doesn’t work because you’re wearing a bloody mask. So it’s easy to do it on your poncy Star Trek watch. Yeah. So contactless money — that can stay.

[00:18:57] – Frankie
An additional school run comment… But OMG, wearing a mask on a school run has been the most liberating thing that’s ever happened to me. Do I need to wash my face? No!

[00:19:15] – Steve
Gingernuts. I don’t know if we’ve spent enough time mulling over this question to fully think of everything. But on the plus side, I think it’s worth each of us mulling it over. Yeah. Just taking that time to reflect.

[00:19:27] – Frankie
And I think it’s worth saying thank you. Well, to everybody, really. As in, the whole Doing It For The Kids community, the whole Being Freelance community. Everybody’s really helped each other this year in ways that I might get a bit teary if I talk about too much.

[00:19:43] – Steve
I can’t imagine having gone through this without each other. I don’t just mean me and you, I mean everybody in it together.

Okay, well, all that remains to say is thank you.

What would your advice be?

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