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To ask your advice on becoming a work at home mum?

(39 Posts)
UnexpectedStepmum Sun 28-Jul-13 22:43:02

I am on maternity leave and only have a nine month contract to return to. Although I think I'm well paid, after childcare, travel, cleaner and added expenses like lunches, we are only about £700 a month better off for me working. However we can't afford not to have this. How can I find flexible work at home?
My work experience is in the public and voluntary sectors. I am skilled at writing of all kinds, and at ensuring written work is of good quality. I can also take in a lot of information and process it quickly, and express complex concepts in a clear way. I have pretty good people skills, am good at meeting deadlines and am organised.
Does anyone have any ideas or experience which might help me?

DipMeInChocolate Mon 29-Jul-13 09:29:49

You are better off than most returning mums I would say. Flexible at home working can be ad hoc and can't guarantee you an income.

Tee2072 Mon 29-Jul-13 09:34:07

Even if you work from home you need childcare. I freelance and that is the only way I got anything done, until my son started school.

And what DipMe said. There is no guaranteed income from being a freelancer. It's feast or famine.

WidowWadman Mon 29-Jul-13 09:34:41

You'd have to eat lunch no matter where you work - try to make savings by doing packed lunches instead of canteen, you'd still need childcare if you work at home. On the occasions where I work from home, because one of the kids is ill, it means a lot of electronic babysitter for them and reduced productivity for me - it wouldn't be sustainable at all as a general solution, and certainly very unfair on the kids. So the only saving you could make would be on travel.

HollyBerryBush Mon 29-Jul-13 09:35:07

TBH I'd find a job that allows you to work from home.

BeingMoreDog Mon 29-Jul-13 09:38:06

I work freelance from home (editing and proofreading) and it works for us in terms of looking after the kids (toddler and baby) and me not going insane. It's not as stable as working in-house, although pre-mat leave I earnt more working this way. I still pay for childcare and a cleaner as it's impossible to work when the DC are home and I hate cleaning.
Have a look at Publishing Training Centre and SfEP courses if you're interested in editing (your work experience sounds similar to mine). And message me if you want grin.

Suddengeekgirl Mon 29-Jul-13 09:38:49

£700 better off after childcare etc is taken out is LOTS!
I doubt you'll find a job that pays as well and doesn't require any childcare expenses.

I was a teacher and while I had 2dc at nursery I was just breaking even! shock

UnexpectedStepmum Mon 29-Jul-13 09:39:24

I take the point about childcare, but DD1 starts school in September. I suppose I am thinking about something which would be as DipMe says very ad hoc for now, which I would mainly do in the evenings. Does anyone have any experience of freelance writing or proof reading? Or any other thoughts however random about how I could earn some money in a very flexible way?

janey68 Mon 29-Jul-13 09:41:40

I agree with dipmeinchocolate

You don't say what proportion of your salary the £700 per month is, but as a raw figure, it strikes me as not bad

I also think this idea of weighing up whether its 'worth' returning to work is a relatively new one. In the days before tax credits and childcare subsidies, things were far more black and white: if you needed any of the extra money a second income would bring in (even if it was just £50 a month more after childcare) then you just had to do it. If one partner dropped their job there were no top ups due to the household income now dropping.

Remember you would need to factor in childcare to enable you to work from home, and if your hours aren't reliable, this could lead to you having to book and pay for childcare without necessarily needing it.

Obviously childcare is a necessary expense, and you'll want the best affordable to you, but I would look at other ways of maximising your disposable income- eg car share/ cut out coffees and bought lunches... When I started to bring my own sandwich to work I was amazed at what I saved in a month.

Also, if you have another child, that is the point when childcare costs will double and you really may want to rethink ... Tbh I would stick with your job for now; a 9 month contract is a significant chunk and you'll be more likely to get follow up work when applying from a position of strength

UnexpectedStepmum Mon 29-Jul-13 09:43:39

Ah x post thank you BeingMore will pm.

I know £700 after costs is lots, I don't mean to sound greedy or like I'm taking that for granted. But nine months after maternity leave ends my contract will end, and there doesn't seem much chance of a further one (I work in a part of the government which has been on the news for having the most extensive cuts and more on the way) so I need a plan for then anyway. If I can start earning even a bit of money at home, and be able to look after my own DCs, that would be perfect.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 29-Jul-13 09:52:57

I've worked from home (writing software) since before DD was born - its no substitute for childcare, unfortunately. Until she went to school I worked FT and we had a nanny; when she started school I dropped to half time as that fitted into school hours minus travel time.

If you can find something flexible you can do from home (and with your skills it might well be possible) it can lead to a better work-life balance but you need to be clear-sighted about what you can really do if you have to look after your kids too.

good luck! smile

UnexpectedStepmum Mon 29-Jul-13 09:53:45

Thank you for your replies. Yes we take packed lunches, and I work in central London so unfortunately the travel costs are what the are - and constantly increasing, thank you Boris. It's not just a case of the money for me, I struggled to have children and now that I do, I would love to be able to care for them myself and not just see them for an hour in the evening on weekdays.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 29-Jul-13 09:59:34

>I am skilled at writing of all kinds, and at ensuring written work is of good quality. I can also take in a lot of information and process it quickly, and express complex concepts in a clear way.

Just a thought - I've no idea how you get into it but technical documentation might match those skills if you're trying to think of different sectors. (e.g. my company has doc people who work with the geeks Subject Matter Experts (who often aren't native English speakers) to produce intelligible docs.)

UnexpectedStepmum Mon 29-Jul-13 10:01:26

Thank you Grimma great idea. Going to look into that now.

Pigsmummy Mon 29-Jul-13 10:03:52

You can get full time jobs based from home, BT employ about 20,000 people who work from home or are based from home (field roles but no office, so work from home between client visits), as do Cisco, Vodafone cable and wireless, O2 and many more IT and telecommunication companies, you could look at pre sales, bid management style roles? Or PA? Speak to a couple of recruiters. I have a role like this and will need full time childcare, made more difficult by an unpredictable return home time (M25 always an issue!).

However there are great benefits and I manage my own diary. You would still need childcare after school and in the holidays. Just because you are in the house doesn't mean that you are not expected to be working and there are measures in place to monitor that. Downsides can be loneliness, especially if work isn't going well, you have to pay your heating costs in the winter and sometimes it is hard to switch off from work.

janey68 Mon 29-Jul-13 10:05:19

From what you say in your later posts, it sounds as though your question is really 'do I want to be a SAHM?'

If that's what you want, then I think you need to find ways of adjusting your lifestyle if possible to accommodate that. Does your partner work on London? Is his job flexible, could you move etc? If these things aren't possible and you simply need to work for financial reasons then I still think you're better off sticking with a reliable income. You don't mention your salary (and nor should you if you prefer not to!) but I know childcare around London is pricy so to have £700 per month left over, I'm guessing you're on a reasonable income.

As a bit of an aside, people I know who have contracts involving govt work (and I know a number in quite diverse fields) are mostly trying to shift their focus to other areas rather than having all their eggs in the govt basket. It's not just cuts, it's the fact that every time there's a change of govt, there is a rethink on spending , and what one govt has agreed to buy in, the next govt might abandon
So, it may be worth going back to your 9 month contract with a clear decision that you will look for your next contract to not be govt focused

rallytog1 Mon 29-Jul-13 11:30:54

There are roles out there but you need to be tenacious and probably a bit lucky to find them. I wfh for a large charity as a writer and will be going back to work in Jan when DD is 9 months.

She will be going to nursery though. I really don't think it would be possible to do a good job for my employer and be a good parent if I was trying to do both at once. Plus most employers are very clear that wfh should not be used for childcare - it'd be gross misconduct if I tried it!

If you can find a freelance role I guess that'd be a different matter as you could probably be more flexible with what you do and when. I've always supplemented my income with bits and bobs of freelance work - these jobs always come from people I know professionally, not from speculative applications or self-promotion etc. So it might be time to start working your contacts!

GrendelsMum Mon 29-Jul-13 11:36:30

FWIW, a former neighbour was a writer, and initially employed a (lovely) nanny for their little boy while she wrote. She found it didn't work for them - her DS was upset that she was in the house but not available to him. She ended up keeping the nanny but also hiring an office for herself, so that she was clearly 'going to work' and he could understand that the nanny was now in charge.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 29-Jul-13 11:36:46

£700 after childcare is great and lots of mums would kill for a job that nets that much.

Lunches have to be eaten regardless of work or not so unless you eat out at work every day its not a working expense as such. Get rid of the cleaner, it doesnt sound like you work long hours so you dont really need one.

You would still need childcare working from home as totally unfair on the employer to get a part service as you dont want to pay for childcare.

If you want to be home in the day, then you could work at night and weekends. If you want to be a SAHM then you need the support of your DH and understand the pitfalls of not earning.

wishingchair Mon 29-Jul-13 11:37:40

I work from home (am in regular employment, not freelance) but you still need childcare!!! I just want to get that out on the table, right now! If you think you can work and look after your kids then misery lies ahead. It may mean that you can be more flexible with it ... utilise normal nurseries rather than expensive day care, but you do need it.

WilsonFrickett Mon 29-Jul-13 12:11:02

I am a successful freelancer and can't emphasise enough: you need childcare. It isn't a 'little job' you can do between 8 and 9 pm. All the freelancers I know have either school-age children or childcare in place. And childcare has to be paid for, even if you aren't working...

Where are you going to find your clients? You need to call people and network, you need to work really hard to build up a base, and obviously while you're doing it you aren't earning. And at least some of your business development has to be done in business hours. You need to be able to take and make calls without a baby in the background.

If you're doing corporate writing (which sounds like a good fit for your skills) you often have to interview clients or subject matter experts over the phone. And you have to answer your emails pretty much immediately - usually a job will be specced out to a minimum of 2 freelancers and first one to get back gets the job.

You could potentially sub-contract to an agency or other freelancer, and then just do the bulk of the work at night, but of course that is less lucrative as they'll take a cut too.

You may well have skills which you could turn in to a freelance business, but you have to start thinking of freelancing as a business.

Oh and if you're making £700 after your travel, childcare, etc I certainly wouldn't expect to match this right away if ever.

Descriptivist Mon 29-Jul-13 12:24:51

I freelance from home, and can echo what everyone else has said about childcare: you need it. You absolutely cannot look after your child/children while working. If you get a writing/editing job, you'll likely be as fast and furious on the email and phone as ever.

I do the job that Grimma described, by the way. It's a good field for freelancers right now, and the money can be quite decent. But you'll need to do some training first, get some qualifications. I doubt you'd get hired without them.

Descriptivist Mon 29-Jul-13 12:26:17

Oh and if it does work out and you end up in a work-from-home role, my advice is to create your own office space and make it clear to everyone (e.g if you have a deadline and need to do extra work while DH/the kids are in the house) that you are WORKING AND NOT AVAILABLE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHERE STUFF IS.

WilsonFrickett Mon 29-Jul-13 12:27:13

I'm still working on that one Descriptivist sad

wishingchair Mon 29-Jul-13 13:05:52

God yes Descriptivist ... if you know the secret to that one, could you let me know. Even my DH will come in when I'm actually TALKING ON THE PHONE adn ask me stuff. Drives me insane.

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