Seventy six.

Getting back out into the real world (or not).

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from accountant and business consultant Caroline Boardman. She says:

“How is everyone getting back out into the real world? 

Obviously everyone feels differently about this — some of us can’t wait for more face to face client meetings and networking events, some have enjoyed the online world and Zoom and comfort of own homes… 

How is everyone managing the transition back to reality? Slow and steady or 100 miles an hour back into it?”

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:

[00:01:28] – 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. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:39] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best answer it but we start each episode by looking back at the last episode and taking your comments on that. Last time we were talking about…

[00:01:47] – Frankie
…Rest! Trying to get some rest, which I’m feeling very hard this week.

[00:01:53] – Steve
@ButcherBakerBaby on Instagram — that’s Jules — said:

“My work and private life is hectic at the moment. That’s before throwing in the constant fear my kid is going to get Covid from school. And I’ve rapidly learnt I can’t keep spinning plates without rest.

My husband and I have very different ways of resting and recharging. Him, it’s going to the gym or cinema. Me, the sometimes antisocial introvert, it’s in my PJs with a big blanket on a sofa doing nothing else but watching fluffy TV and scrolling on my phone. It’s taken me a long time to accept this is okay.

I’ve also got better at setting boundaries and being braver to say no. I worry I’d probably come across as a cow when I say no, but that boundary is essential at the moment.”

[00:02:35] – Frankie
We have excellent comments this week, by the way.

Emily Klassing… apologies if I said that wrong.

[00:02:40] – Steve
No, it definitely said Emily.

[00:02:42] – Frankie
Emily says:

“Some people may hate me and I’m sorry, but I recently went away for a six-day break to Chicago by myself for a cousin’s wedding and I came back a new person.

I danced by myself in my hotel room while taking approximately two hours to get ready for different social gatherings. I was in my hotel bed just reading or laying there a lot.

I still feel fairly depleted by life at the moment, but that holiday renewed me. I really feel like every mum and dad needs this kind of solo recharge break. If I’d stayed in a Premier Inn, I still would have gained so much.

I joked to my mate that I felt like I was a phone perpetually running on three to 10% battery and that cocooning in my hotel room for hours was like plugging myself into a charger. I came back with about 64%.

We don’t have any family in London, so the childcare was left solely to my very busy husband. Praise him. So now he gets a turn to go on a solo dad battery charging holiday. I’d highly recommend it.”

[00:03:36] – Steve
Me and my wife do that. Well, pre-Covid. She goes on holiday with her friends. I go on holiday with my friends.

[00:03:42] – Frankie
Ahh, I need to do this. So good.

[00:03:44] – Steve
Jo Breeze has been in touch.

Jo says:

“Such a good point about what rest looks like in different phases. When I had a newborn and a two-year-old and was working in nap times and bedtimes with no formal childcare and no family nearby, rest looked like me crashing out on the bed for half an hour while my partner took them for a walk on a Saturday afternoon, or stealing another 30 seconds after a shower to just stand in the silence.

[00:04:08] – Steve
30 seconds. You are going to get people jealous, Jo.

[00:04:12] – Steve
Jo continues:

“These days, with a three-year-old and a just six-year-old who are both in school five days a week, I have way more time. And I’m finding that rest — scrolling nonsense on my phone — is not as restful as actively doing something for myself, like taking a few hours off work to go and wander around a gallery, but that would have been unthinkable and literally impossible for me a few years ago. It changes. But so glacially slowly that when you’re in the middle of it, it can be hard to see the end point.”

[00:04:42] – Steve
What a good message. Thank you, Jo.

[00:04:43] – Frankie
Excellent comments.

[00:04:45] – Frankie
And Rebecca Lismer says:

“Oh, hello! This is my life. I’m finally tottering out of this stage as my two are five and three. But as we approach Christmas as a handmade business, I am deep in the trenches right now.

My daily rest looks like reading because I cannot do anything else for my business or my kids whilst I do it. So I take my Kindle to the bathroom religiously as I get ready for bed. Yes, even when I finish work at 1am.

I read whilst I slather and rinse my face in lotions and potions that promise to make me look more rested than I feel. I read whilst I brush my teeth. I read as I brush my hair and get into my pajamas. I read until my kindle hits me in the face each night. Because that is the place I don’t think about my business, my kids, or the laundry pile that might topple over and kill my three-year-old.”

[00:05:34] – Steve
And one more comment which simply says,

“Frankie, for the love of God, please clean your toilet. It really isn’t that hard. Much love, The rest of humanity.”

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:09:03] – Frankie
Episode 76 comes from Caroline Boardman, who is an accountant and business consultant at

Caroline says:

“How is everyone getting back out into the real world?

Obviously, everyone feels differently about this. Some of us can’t wait for more face-to-face client meetings and networking events. Some have enjoyed the online world and Zoom in the comfort of our own homes. How is everyone managing the transition back to reality?

Slow and steady or 100 miles an hour back into it?

Thanks very much, Caroline.”

[00:09:34] – Steve
Yeah, I mean, I feel like I’ve spoken a fair bit on here about how I was feeling anxious about just generally going back ‘out into the real world’, as you put it. I was invited to a clients’ drinks. I fully intended to go, but equally, I was just worrying about it a lot. Like, it was so nice to be invited from a work perspective, from a networking perspective — I’ve never met these people, I’ve only ever worked with them remotely, it made sense to go — but in the end, I didn’t go.

[00:10:03] – Frankie
It’s making you anxious, basically?

[00:10:04] – Steve
I mean, those things make me socially anxious anyway, because believe it or not, I’m not that big a fan of, like, talking to people I don’t know. Even though I might well enjoy it, and usually do, I can easily end up just standing in a corner and not talking to anybody.

[00:10:18] – Frankie
Well, this is it. She says, “Some of us have enjoyed the online world and comfort of our own homes”. That is me, hi!

[00:10:24] – Frankie
Like, I am a first class introvert. I’m very happy spending a lot of time with myself. Like before Covid, I would avoid face-to-face client meetings, for example, for that reason, but also because the amount of bloody time it takes you to get there and back again when I’ve got four and a half hours a day while my kids are in childcare or at school. It never made sense to me, logistically anyway.

So after this, rather than really yearning to see people, I’ve almost gone further the other way. I’m like, nah, there’s no need for this to occur, I’m going to stay at home and if you want to have a chat on Zoom or whatever, that’s fine.

Although I’m feeling increasingly jaded by Zoom chats, so I do get that face-to-face… There are positives face-to-face. I guess, as you say. I would need, like, a real reason to see that person. Whether that’s because it’s a brand new client and they’re going to potentially give me loads of work and it will be worth my time. Or whether it’s a networking thing where I know the people in that room are really going to be people I might be able to get work from or benefit from in a different way. Or I’m going to see people who will make me happy and feel like a more alive human.

[00:11:34] – Steve
There’s an interesting point in that, of course, because, you know… just as with most answers, it depends on what you are like. Like, some people love going to networking events..

[00:11:44] – Frankie

[00:11:45] – Steve
Like they love meeting people in real life. And so actually, if you’re someone who is being, I don’t know, made sadder, I guess, by just being locked indoors and not seeing people face-to-face, then it makes more sense to go to them, doesn’t it?

[00:12:00] – Frankie
Yeah, there’s a clear benefit, right?

[00:12:02] – Steve
But equally, I think it’s still socially acceptable to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t come. I can’t risk catching Covid at the moment”. But I feel like that’s okay to say, isn’t it? Or is it? Does it make you sound like an utter miserable party pooper?

[00:12:21] – Frankie
I think it’s quite hard at Christmas, to be honest. At Christmas, there is even more of a pressure to attend those sorts of things. I think there might be some people who, when you say, “I’m not coming because of Covid”, might receive that negatively or think that you’re using it as an excuse or blah blah. But you know what? Fuck ’em. That’s their problem. It’s your life.

And particularly when you have children and if you’re self employed, right?

If you catch Covid that’s one thing, and hopefully it wouldn’t be like a really horrible illness and maybe you’d even be able to work during your isolation. But if you catch COVID there’s also a risk that your children will, and then you’re going to be in a situation where they’re going to be off school.

You’ve only got a couple of weeks before the Christmas holidays kick in. There are lots of things to consider right now when you are living this sort of life, and I think it’s totally fine to say no.

[00:13:09] – Steve
A few weeks back, I got invited to, like, a quiz and I almost didn’t go because of the fear of Covid and things like that, but I flippin love a quiz. But I still nearly didn’t go! But I did.

And do you know what? I felt so good afterwards. Not only because we came third — beating lots of legal teams in the town! — but I just felt energised. You know, like, when you sort of tell yourself you don’t want to go to a party and then you go to the party and you have a great time.

[00:13:36] – Frankie
Right. The story of my life, mate!

[00:13:37] – Steve
Right. It was a bit like that afterwards, I thought, do you know what? Just being around people and laughing is worth it sometimes.

I think you just need to balance it up. What do you need? Like, myself and you, sitting here, we’d quite happily just be at home and not go out, and yet there you are going and singing with a choir. And it absolutely makes your month at the moment. Right?

[00:14:02] – Frankie

[00:14:02] – Steve
So, yeah, we have to be careful, I think, about not retreating too much.

[00:14:10] – Frankie
Maybe it’s worth doing like a risk assessment? The pros and cons that you’re weighing up.

Obviously, Covid and potential isolation and whatever else, and the time it takes to get there, all the money it costs to get there… But then there’s also lots of different pros. Some of those will be about your mental health, some of those will be about your business, blah, blah, blah. And, like, just looking at it case by case. What is the situation here? And is it worth me going? And if it’s not, is there an alternative I can do to try and build those relationships with those people in a different way? Let’s do a Zoom thing or let’s do something when shit’s calmed down. Maybe in spring.

Because I do think — and I’ve discovered this more and more since Doing It For The Kids meetups — that there is something very special, there’s a longterm benefit to meeting people that you’ve met on the internet, for example, or work with online, face-to-face. Like, looking at them in the whites of their eyes.

There are people in the community now who, when I’m recommending somebody for a potential job or who might have advice on something, if that’s somebody I’ve met at a meetup, I’m 99% more likely to think of them because I see them in my mind’s eye. Like, I know them in a way I don’t know people I’ve only spoken to online, if that makes sense.

[00:15:22] – Steve

[00:15:22] – Frankie
If it’s a networking situation, for example, and you really know that the people in that room are potentially like, your perfect customer, or can benefit you.

I just see this more and more… There’s a real benefit to seeing those people face-to-face because they will remember you in a way that they will not if you never meet them, even if you have quite a strong bond online or over email or even on the phone.

It’s something quite special and those people stay with you, which could benefit you longterm.

Basically, I’m massively conflicted about it!

[00:15:57] – Steve
And when you say, how is everyone managing it? Slow and steady or 100 miles an hour back into it?

I do feel like that slow and steady thing is probably not a bad approach, unless you’re already somebody who has gone 100 miles an hour. Well, that speaks to itself, doesn’t it?

But if you’re feeling anxious about it, then go slow and steady. Like, a small group of people in a nearby location to you, for example. See how you feel about it and then gradually add on to these things. Just the same as you can make the decision to wear a mask — even if the government wasn’t making you wear a mask — you get to choose how much you socially interact with people, even if venues are open.

[00:16:38] – Frankie
That is one of the perks of being self-employed. Like, my husband’s being told he needs to go to his Christmas drinks because that’s what his business is doing. You know what I mean? It’s part of, like, their team social. He’s expected to be there. We have the luxury of being able to make those decisions on our own terms.

Ultimately, it’s up to you at this point. It’s complicated and there are a million factors about your business, your family, who you might come in contact with, what the benefits are to your mental health, so many things.

Like the question last week… How you approach this is very much personal to you, right?

[00:17:12] – Steve

[00:17:13] – Frankie
And basically what I’m saying is — Whatever your decision is, own it. Everybody’s got an opinion on this at the moment and we’re all grown ups and we can make our own decisions.

Actually, are we grown ups? I’m not sure.

[00:17:26] – Steve
Next week, I am actually going in and recording with a client in-person, but I have whacked a massive bloody premium on my fee for going in-person.

[00:17:37] – Frankie
There’s that risk that if you do get it and you’re poorly, you’ve lost ten days worth of work.

[00:17:41] – Steve

[00:17:43] – Frankie
For going to that one client engagement that could have been done online!

[00:17:45] – Steve
Yeah. Ultimately, is there going to be free pastries and coffee? Because I can live on the memory of a lemon sultana danish for ten days easily. Sweet, sweet memories. Maybe it was worth it.

What would your advice be?

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