Growing numbers of Australians are successfully juggling family life and freelancing. The ability to work from home, use an app to track hours worked and work on projects in their own sweet time is so alluring, that family life is the prompt that many need to start their freelance business.

A recent survey found that a continued rise in childcare costs and increased pressure on the family unit is prompting mums to ditch the stresses of a 9-5 job and start their own business.

In Australia, women own 585,000 of the 1.9 million small businesses, making it the fastest growing sector in the Australian economy. More than 45% of women run their business from home (a 20% increase in the last five years).

And sure, owning and running their own business gives mums the flexibility to be there for their kids, as well as having more independence, focus and drive. However, running a business also comes with its own unique challenges including loneliness, isolation, and potentially, depression.

Almost 40% of mothers in a recent survey admitted that they were nearly or always alone. A staggering 70% of respondents stated that they rarely, if at all, received any positive reinforcement or feedback on their performance in the survey by Motivating Mum in 2015.

Faced with this unique situation (often for the first time in their lives), coupled with having a new baby or toddler can put mothers in a position where they are susceptible to depression.

Justine Alter from Transitioning Well, which partners with mums working along in their business says it’s critical to not only maximise the benefits that come with these new work norms, but also ensure that the social connection of the traditional workplace is not lost.

“Research shows that those that work from home, loneliness is on the increase, with a link to psychological and physical ill health. Culturally, we need to be addressing these factors by providing some much needed support,” Alter says.

Avoid the loneliness factor by:

  • Set reasonable hours
  • Get a life. Get out of the house at least once or twice a week, whether for a client meeting or Friday drinks with friends or industry colleagues.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of only emailing. Pick up the phone and speak to your clients throughout the day. Or, get on Skype or a Google Hangout.
  • Join relevant groups on social media as a place to turn for a virtual chat during the day.
  • Get out for a drink or a meal with like-minded folks once in a while. It’s an awesome way to get new business, find new collaboration opportunities and extend your skills.
  • Do some exercise each day. Even just a half an hour walk will do wonders for your mental outlook.