I recently received this email from a disgruntled reader:
I just finished reading your article having childcare to work at home. You say it’s essential and give the reasons why you feel this. I say what you wrote is nonsense. I’ve been successfully working at home for four years now, making a very good salary and have no additional childcare help (and I have two kids). I simply do my work around my children… I work before they get up, during mid-day naps and after they go to bed at night. Just because you can’t make it work you shouldn’t express to other people that they must have in-home childcare.
At first I was surprised. I didn’t recall stating that a mother had to have childcare when working from home. But then the reader pointed out a series of videos I did, and in one I stated that if you feel you can work from home without childcare you are mistaken.
First off, I apologize for making this generic statement. Do I believe you can work at home without childcare? Yes, depending upon your schedule and job.
I have been working from home for four years now. It’s been a great, long, difficult but fun four years. I’ve had the joy of watching my kids grow, and the joy of watching a business grow.
When I began working from home I had the idea that I would be able to work more than the allocated naptime, early morning time and late night time, or what I like to call the sleeping child schedule.
For one thing, I wanted to make a decent salary. For another, I loved what I did.
I quickly found out, though, that children are not their own babysitters, and that if I wanted to work more than approximately 4 hours a day, as I was not given a long napping kid, or 20 hours a week, I was going to have to do it with some help. Schedules change. Children get sick. Things come up. If you have to devote a set number of hours a day using a set schedule, you’re going to have to consider what will happen when that schedule doesn’t work out. What if your child gets sick but you are working for a company from home that expects you to clock in X number of hours per day, or at a certain time each afternoon?
Children don’t babysit themselves. I thought for a while that sometimes during the day she could color or play with her toys while I worked, took calls, sent emails, etc . . . This was a mistake. Instead, my lamp turned into an art canvas and most phone calls ended abruptly with clients. Not good business. I don’t regret a second of it. But I do believe if you want to work more than the sleeping child schedule you’re going to have to consider getting help. Does it have to be in the form of paid babysitters? No. I still do babysit swapping with friends, where my children go to their home for an hour or so playdate and then we swap. This allocates me some time to do some work without having children at home and gets them
out to play with their friends.
I’ve also changed my mindset over the past few years. I don’t take on as many projects. If I get swamped, I step back and work only what I can handle doing while my kids are asleep.
If you are considering working from home a few hours a day, I think you can do it without seeking additional childcare, and if the things I have written in the past are to the contrary, I apologize. I would never want a mother to read my posts and think otherwise. There are great jobs and businesses that you can own that would only require a few hours a day work, that can be done during your children’s sleeping hours. If you want to work more than that; if you need to work more hours; if you are working for a company from home, then I do believe you’re going to have to consider childcare arrangements. You can’t expect your children to entertain themselves for long periods of time, especially when they are younger. Perhaps when they get older it is different; I can’t give my thoughts on that, as my children are still young. This doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. Having someone come into the home for a few hours to help out can actually give you more free time in the end. And, I will always believe that when you try to work while your children are running around the house you aren’t able to devote the attention you need to devote to the work.
The sleeping child schedule is great, but do make sure you carve out time for yourself.
I have found that when working this type of schedule, I spend all of my free time on the computer doing what I have to get done for work, and none of that free time doing something that I want to do. The result? By Sunday I’m wiped out. I’ve started taking one full weekend day away from work completely. This means no emails, no phone calls, no web design, no writing. Yesterday I even got in a half hour nap!
While you can do the sleeping child schedule effectively for some businesses, you also have to remember that at some point you’ll need to wash clothes, wash dishes, make dinner, run errands, and do other things around the home.
And at some point you will have to have some time for yourself, or you’ll burn out long before you should.
So, my apologies for stating something that could potentially turn mothers away from working at home. As those of you who read me everyday know, I love what I do and I love how I’m doing it and I wouldn’t change a thing!
Well, maybe I’d add a few hours to the day, but what mother wouldn’t do that?!