How do you say “my dad is a freelancer” in French? Paddy Patterson tells us the five ways that freelance life confuses his children.


  1. What is workwear?

It’s confusing enough these days.  You have sixth formers dressing like business people, but adults going to work dressed like sixth formers.  My eldest son was most put out when his secondary school told him couldn’t wear shorts, as they wanted students to dress like they’re going to work. He rightly made a comment about knowing someone who regularly worked in shorts, or in tracksuit bottoms with uncombed hair.  He has a point, but I don’t make the rules.

  1. The office

When I had a ‘proper job’, my children were occasionally allowed to visit my office with rows of identical-looking desks, computers and people, and notes in the kitchen reminding people not to drink milk which wasn’t theirs. 


Since I began to freelance, my office has been up a ladder through a hole in the ceiling to the attic, which they are never allowed to visit, but which also seems to be the place all their old clothes and toys go. 

  1. Work life balance

In his book ‘The Seven Day Weekend’, Ricardo Semler suggests that if it is ok for a worker to answer emails on a Sunday, then it should be okay for them to go to the movies on a Tuesday afternoon.  I agree.  And if it’s okay for me to go to most school fetes, sports days and performances, then it’s perfectly okay for my kids to sit bored at a motorway service station on holiday while I join a conference call, or play ‘hunt the wifi’ when we go anywhere.

  1. What is a fair day’s pay?

They must think the cost of living is really low since I do so little.  They’ve seen so much of me, yet they have most of what they need and much of what they want.  They of course don’t see the late nights, the early mornings when they’re in bed and I’m on the laptop.  They’ll be in for a shock one day, when they realise how much work actually had to be done to pay for the football stickers and pink, plastic tatt.

  1. What am I?

As a child, I knew dad was a car mechanic and mum was a teacher. It was straightforward.  When other children asked, I knew the answer.  When learning languages at school, again, easy: “Mon pere est mechanicien et ma maman est institutrice”.  I reckon my children will have to throw their hands up in the air in desperation and revert to “j’sais pas!”.  “Something to do with apprenticeships” is the best guess any of them have ever had. 

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