Since 2014, I’ve worked from home without childcare. Am I crazy? Cheap? A little of both? Probably, but I made it work!
I want to preface this by saying, I didn’t intend to work without childcare for three years. I don’t have family available to watch my daughter and I didn’t feel that I was bringing in enough money to justify hiring help.
When I left my corporate job to work from home, my main motivation was staying home with my daughter. I found a full-time job at Zirtual as a virtual assistant and started when my daughter was 10 weeks old. I took a small pay cut to work from home, but we were already prepared to spend part of my salary on daycare so it evened out.
I worked full-time until my daughter turned two. At that point, I was able to drop to part-time hours mostly because I regularly raised my rates.
Working from home with children is possible! Here’s how I did it.
Working with an infant (0-1 year old) without childcare
When my daughter was an infant and I was working full-time, I didn’t need childcare. She slept for 12-18 hours per day (including the night) and took at least two 2-3 hour naps in the day. Her naps and sleep schedule overlapped with at least five hours of my work day. She was an easy going baby who didn’t cry very much so I didn’t have to worry about her disrupting phone calls or video meetings.
In the living room, where I had my desk, I set up numerous play centers to keep her occupied. I had a blanket with toys for tummy time where she spent about 1 hour per day. I had her activity center where she spent 1-2 hours per day. I had pillows to prop her into a seated position and give her board books and other toys where she spent 1-2 hours per day. I had a vibrating bouncing chair where she spent 1-2 hours per day. The rest of the day she was in a sling or her crib sleeping.
This was the easiest time to work long hours. I took frequent breaks to breastfeed throughout the day. I talked to her as I worked. I took an hour lunch break every day where I completely unplugged and took her for a walk in her stroller or a drive in the car. I also was on many conference calls where I was able to hold her while listening in.
Working with a toddler (1-2 years old) without childcare
Working with a toddler without childcare was a whole different beast. I had to change my schedule to work around hers. I still utilized different stations with toys, books, and sensory activities around my living room, but they held her attention for less time. She started talking around 18 months old and could speak full sentences by two. From this point on I could only schedule calls for early morning before she woke up or during her nap.
At this point, I had to get creative to continue working without childcare. I used these tactics to keep getting stuff done:
- Woke up early
I’m not going to sugar coat this. I’m not a morning person and waking up early is my least favorite thing to do. But it is a necessary evil when working from home with a toddler. My daughter consistently slept until 8 am every day so I would wake around 5:45 or 6 am and do two hours of work before she got up.
- Worked during naps
Up until 2 ½ years old, Norah would nap for 1-2 hours each day and I would use that block to work. Some days she would take epic 3+ hour naps and I would get a ton of work done and other days she would nap for 20 minutes and I’d be panicked about all of the work I would need to do at night. Eventually, she stopped napping and I lost this precious chunk of my work day.
- Worked at night
To supplement the 3-4 hours of time I worked during the day, I would work after dinner to about 8 pm each night. This would add up to another 1-2 hours per day. Working at night is my least favorite thing to do because I’m tired by the end of the day. I’ve typically been awake for 14+ hours and my brain is foggy. I would save my least complicated work for these night sessions.
- Worked on weekends
Weekends are when I made up time and completed large projects. I would wake up around 8 am and go into my basement office for 2-4 hours. My husband would take care of Norah and bring me down breakfast and coffee. Fortunately, I don’t have to do this too often, but during busy periods I use this option.
When I found a few moments, I would check my email and respond to things or start a small project. I would sneak in a little time before bed or when my daughter was watching Sesame Street in the morning. A ten-minute session here and there throughout the day kept me on top of things and made me feel less overwhelmed.
- Relied on spouse
My husband loves spending time with his kids and fortunately has some flexibility in his work schedule that will allow for him to come home for an hour or two so I can complete some work or take an important phone call. I don’t utilize Mike’s help very often because his job is demanding, but I know he’s there in an emergency situation.
Working with two kids without childcare
In July 2017, I started working from home with TWO children and no childcare! I’m taking a 10-week maternity leave where I plan on doing very little client work. Instead, I’m focusing on finishing up Elite Blog Academy, getting my blog redesigned, writing content and creating products.
Beginning in September, Norah will attend preschool four days a week for 2.5 hours per day. I will, once again, be working from home with a 10 week old. I plan to get as much done as possible while my son is young and my daughter is in preschool. The preschool schedule follows the public school schedule so she will have off holidays, a winter and spring break and summers. I will continue to keep a light summer schedule and be mostly unavailable on Fridays.
I don’t intend to work full-time until at least one child is in grade school. It’s too much stress and I want to be able to enjoy the time with my children.
I plan on using a lot of the same tactics that I used with Norah when Miles is young. I also plan on adding a component of self-care time to my routine. I have a YMCA membership that I want to start using more often. Since I’m done having children, I want to focus on getting healthier and being a positive example for my kids.
It’s a work in progress
Working from home without childcare is an ever-shifting work in progress. It’s important to me to be present with my kids when I’m not working and fully invested in my work when I am working. It is possible to make an income offering services while staying at home with your children. You may have to adjust your expectations about what success looks like. Running a business while caring for children, in any capacity, is a huge accomplishment!
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