This is the first post written by new staff writer Melissa from Momsplans.com. I’m excited to have her on board so please give her a warm welcome!
In 2011, I quit my full-time job because the cost of daycare for my younger children, ages 3 and 20 months now, would have cost me nearly my entire monthly salary. Essentially, I would be going to work to pay for daycare so I could go to work. Instead, I opted to work from home as a freelance writer and virtual assistant, and now I am making more than I would have had I gone back to work. However, working while caring for young children is challenging. Here are some strategies to work from home when taking care of little ones.
- Spend time with the kids first. If you take the time in the morning to play with your kids, read them books and talk with them, they are more willing to go without your undivided attention later in the day.
- Invest in busy bags. I have been reading about busy bag swaps on the blogs I read, and a few months ago, I decided to join one. Basically, you choose an educational activity that will keep preschoolers busy such as a laminated paper with the ABCs written on it and a dry erase pen and eraser or pipe cleaners and beads so kids can make their own necklaces. Make up 30 packs of the one activity and send it off to the busy bag organizer. In return, you will receive 30 different busy bags. My girls love playing with these! They can easily stay occupied for 20 or 30 minutes with these, giving me a bit of precious time to get some work done.
- Let them watch one favorite tv show. While I would never advocate sitting your child in front of the tv all day, both my girls enjoy watching Sesame Street, so once a day, they watch their show and I work on my laptop in the room with them. For the most part they are occupied, and I am able to get some work done while also being available for their questions, comments, and need to cuddle.
- Work during their naps and at night. Nap time is precious, so make sure to use it to your advantage. I get the bulk of my work done during their 1.5 hour naps and after they go to bed at night. However, because I spend this time working instead of say, cleaning, some aspects of the house are not as I would like them. The dishes aren’t always done and the house isn’t always as clean as I would like, but both my husband and I are willing to make that sacrifice so I can work from home and care for our kids.
- Hire help if you need to. If the messy house drives you crazy, hire a housecleaner to come in once a week. My business has grown to the point that I am now interviewing babysitters to find someone to come to my house one morning a week so I can have a bit more uninterrupted work time. I will still be home when the sitter is there, so I will be available if the kids or the sitter need me. Because I am making so much more per hour than I need to pay the sitter, it is a worthwhile expense for our family.
Being a work at home parent really offers the best of both worlds in that you can forego the high expense of day care and spend the bulk of your day caring for your children. However, you will still get to bring in an income. Doing so can work if you are flexible with your home and family arrangements.