For many women, the idea of working at home is a dream. They like the idea of being at home for their kids after school, or if someone gets sick. There’s no longer any concern when a school break comes around. The kids have a place to be.
But there are some challenges to working at home with kids underfoot. Whether the children are younger or older, there can be challenges. Those challenges might be a little more manageable when the children are older, but there are challenges nonetheless.
Very young children
If you work at home and you have an infant or toddler, it’s unreasonable to assume that you can work full-time during the day and have the children at home as well. But all is not lost. Many moms find suitable solutions.
First, you can hire help to come in and help you with the child or children while you’re working. If your infant generally sleeps the morning away, consider having someone come to help in the afternoon when he’s more alert. Since you will be at home, you won’t have to pay a babysitter as much as you would if you were gone.
Some moms will work very early in the morning before their young child gets up and then late in the evening when the child has gone to bed. Of course, this might mean sacrificing some sleep yourself, but at least until the child or children are older, this can be a suitable arrangement.
Other moms who work at home with young ones will put the child in daycare. This might seem contrary to the notion of staying at home to be with your children, but there are times when there’s no other solution. Since you have control over your hours, you can drop your child off later than you would if you were commuting and you can also pick him or her up earlier. You can also visit at lunch if you like. As your children get older, and enter preschool, this arrangement will no longer be necessary.
If you have preschool-age children, your dreams for working at home become at once easier and more difficult. That is, at this age, children are more likely to play independently, but might also – vocally – demand your attention. This can be a challenge if you work on the phone.
Most moms find that the best arrangement for working at home with children this age is to work when the child is at preschool as well as in the early morning and late evening. Naptime is also ideal. Once your child gives up a nap, you can still institute a “quiet time” each day during which your child can read quietly, watch a movie, or do coloring or other artwork. This gives you a block of time to get some work done as well.
School age children
You might think that as soon as your children are in school, things will get easier. And they will. To a degree. But if you want to work full-time, you must account for those few hours after the kids get home from school and before your quitting time.
Many moms simply take the approach that involves setting up business hours and keeping the kids on a schedule that requires they respect those business hours. You can make clear to the kids that you aren’t available until your business hours are over (perhaps 5 p.m.).
One of the best solutions for most moms will involve keeping the kids busy. If you find many after-school activities for the kids, you might have to drive them somewhere, but otherwise can work undisturbed in the afternoon hours. You might also make an arrangement with other parents to trade off childcare duties. Or, if the kids are older and can play fairly independently, you can offer to host play dates now and then. The kids will be busy and out of your hair and you can finish your day’s work.
Being at home with the children is one of the great motivators for moms who work at home, but it does take some planning and organizing.