As a working parent, balancing the needs of your children and your employer can at some times be difficult. But when you work at home, you need to remember that you are earning money, and that it may be necessary to consider some form of childcare solution.
Just because you don’t go into an office everyday doesn’t mean that your time isn’t valuable or that your life has automatically gotten a lot easier. When you accept a work at home position, you are trading the office for a workspace that is more comfortable, but there is still work that needs to be done. If you have children, childcare issues are well, still an issue. Here are some solutions to help with the transition.
A Myth about Working from Home
We are not talking about business owners here, although many work at home individuals are freelancers or run their own business. instead we are talking about workers who are allowed to be at home whilst they work, whether that be full time or part office based, part at home.
One of the biggest misconceptions about this sort of employment arrangement is that you save money on childcare. Yes, there are significant savings to the wallet when you decide to work from home, but childcare probably won’t be one of them. Think about what it’s like when the kids are home with you and you are trying to read a book, clean or complete some long put off project. They are always distracting you, asking you questions or to help with something (often something they are quite capable of themselves!).
The same distractions can happen when you try to actually work. No matter what your friends or family members say, your childcare issues still exist. Even if they are at secondary school, they still try to get your attention when they want it, which is quite often when you are in the middle of an important task. In fact, when you do want to spend time with them, they’d rather shut themselves off playing computer games. But I digress!
5 Childcare Solutions when Working at Home
Have a plan in place before you start – One will definitely be needed. The children will need to be someplace else to be when you are working. Just think about the office. Where would your kids spend their days then? Use that as your guide for coming up with a childcare solution that fits all your needs. You can always adapt it as you go, but with no plan in place from the start you will struggle.
Adjust your work hours – If you are required to work eight hours a day, that doesn’t mean they have to be eight consecutive hours (this can be one of the best benefits of working at home, although you may need to be available still). Begin the work day early when the family is still asleep in their beds, and get as much menial work done as possible. When the kids must be home (illness or holidays), opt for evening work while the family is winding down and less likely to interrupt.
Share duties with other work at home parents – depending on the job, work schedules may be more flexible for some than others. In that case, share childcare with another parent in your area on respective “free” days. this is the best way to reduce the cost of finding a sitter and gives the kids a play date. Just make sure that both, or all if more than 2 families are involved, take an equal responsibility with this solution.
Find a private child minder – many nurseries price their places on a per-week basis. For only two or three days a week care, you’ll be paying a very high rate, possibly more than you can afford. An in-house sitter, or better still a local private child minder may offer better childcare solutions and more flexibility.
Keep a separate work area – an office with a door is preferred. When the kids have to be home during work times, when they are sick or on inset days, perhaps, the door offers the ability to shut yourself off from them when you need it to.
Working at home provides the ability to have more play in your daily schedule, but childcare solutions are still needed to ensure that you provide a service to your employer. The last thing you want is to find that they don’t believe you are working and insist that you come into the office full time.