Child Care Options for Freelancers
One of the benefits that many freelancers with families cite is the ability to stay home with the kids: you can save a fortune on daycare if you have kids just by working from home and not sending the kids elsewhere. But there are situations in which having the kids at home all day may not work out. Trying to take client phone calls or multitask between watching the kids and working just don’t always work out perfectly.
I grew up in a work-at-home household and, whether or not you’re comfortable with the situation as a parent, from the kid’s point of view, it’s not always a picnic. Having my mother home every day was nice, but the fact that I was banished to the basement when she worked with client made the situation a little less pleasant. I couldn’t have friends over at certain times and I’m sure there were days that I’d have loved to have gone to daycare. I could tell that it wasn’t exactly the perfect situation for her, either: she would mark off the days of summer break, barely able to wait until my sisters and I went back to school. What are the options for a freelancing parent?
Day-to-Day Child Care
Just because you work at home doesn’t directly necessitate that you also have to watch the kids all day. There are plenty of freelancers — both moms and dads — that have found arrangements that fit well with their schedules. That can mean keeping one eye on the kids and one on your work. It can also mean sending children to daycare part or full-time. It can even mean bringing in a parent’s helper for a few hours a day or a week. Furthermore, situations evolve as children grow. A toddler who has just figured out walking needs a lot more supervision, of course, than a teenager.
There is no universal answer to the question of whether freelancers need help with childcare. But it is a discussion worth having: there’s nothing wrong with working from home and avoiding the costs of daycare. But if childcare would improve your working situation, it is something worth discussing.
Emergencies and Other Situations
Even if you’re pretty sure that you do just as well with your kids in the house as with them out, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place. For situations like when your child falls sick on the same day that you have an important client, a alternative plan to keeping the kid home just makes sense. Maybe a grandparent is willing to help out or maybe bringing in a babysitter that can help out even when you’re home is a solution. It’s just a matter of finding something that fits.
These questions are important to more than just freelancing parents with children, as well. Some of us choose freelancing because of the flexibility it offers for us to take care of a loved one who needs help. Such situations can wind up as high stress environments very quickly, and arranging to have someone handle at least a little of the care-giving while you do some work can be crucial to keeping yourself sane.
Ultimately, your situation will dictate what your best option is. There are days when you may feel that you’re only working to pay for help, but if you can make the financial aspects work, it may be worth considering.
How do you juggle child care with the demands of freelance work?