Nikki Temkin – Freelance Writer

by Claire Minnaar

Tell us a bit about YOU and your family (where you are based, single / married, number of kids, etc)

I am based at home in JHB, I have a daughter Eva Rose who is 2 ½ and I have been married for 5 years.

What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?

I became a freelance writer in 2000 after writing for a few years within an office environment in advertising and film/TV.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I realized I was not a corporate type of person or a nine to fiver. I work best on my own from home and it suits my lifestyle as a parent and a writer. I make my own schedule and choose my clients. I am beholden only to myself and what I choose to commit to and do not have to conform to any preconceived ethos except my own.

What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?

I do still sometimes feel guilty that I am at home and in my office working when my daughter wants to be with me. But, since she began school this year it has become easier because I have a whole chunk of time to work before she comes home. It’s about time management, I like to be with her in the afternoons. I would like her to grow up understanding that I have a life besides her that is also important to me, but that she is the priority. I am a multi-faceted person and need other things to feel fulfilled besides being a mom, like earning my own money and writing.

What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?

Sometimes there is lots of work and sometimes it is quiet, you have to ride the times when there is an excess of work but yet learn not to overcommit. Understanding that things are cyclical is important-things change but you need to remain proactive and constantly network and put yourself out there. But, don’t push too hard, there are times when you need to sit back and realize that things change at their own pace. You need to set boundaries for yourself. If you say that you close your office at 2pm each day, then stick to it. Take time off when you need it even if that sometimes means letting down client. There are no sick days or anyone to fill in for you so it is easy to push yourself too hard. Be honest with clients about needing extensions. They need to understand that you are a mom too.

Also, I am very clear about deadlines and what is doable or not. I have learnt to live with an erratic salary that can differ from month to month.

How do you balance your business and your family?

I divide my day in parts and try to spend afternoon time, at least an hour or three with my daughter every day. I fetch and take her to school and do not work on the weekends at all.

What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?

My husband has supported me unconditionally going from being a full time worker from home to becoming a mother and working part-time. He has had to support me much more financially whereas before I was completely independent financially.

Also, he has been open to my work from home office for 10 years and using our home as my haven and my workspace.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t burn the candle at both ends in the first few years for fear of not having enough work as it lent to burnout and health problems. It is too easy to say yes to everything for fear of the future. As a mom, I am constantly trying not to feel guilty. It’s important for me to have a career, but I don’t want to miss out on these precious years with my daughter so it’s about prioritizing each and every day, choosing your hours and how to spend them.

What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?

It takes time to build a client base, a name for yourself… and don’t be too hard on yourself. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work and have a family as long as you do still spend quality time with your kids. Manage your time very carefully- it’s a skill but you cannot please everyone all the time, so make priorities and stick to them. Eg if you take your child to clamber club every Tuesday, do not commit to a deadline for Tuesday afternoon.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us that I may have missed?

I think working moms need to give themselves a break and stop trying to be superwomen. Something always has to give and it’s up to you to decide when and what. Once you’ve made a decision to work part time, or full time, be happy with your decision- it’s your life and nobody has the right to judge you for it.

If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?

Email: temkin (at)

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