Freelancers with pre-school aged children(21 Posts)
What do you do for childcare?
I freelanced for a year just before/during my pregnancy and I have just started to pick up a bit of freelance work again, now that DD is 19 months old. My DH is currently doing contract work so we have been able to fit my work in between his contracts. This isn't a workable long-term solution though.
The obvious solution to childcare is nursery/childminder etc, but the ad hoc nature of freelance work means that I don't want want to pay for childcare when I don't need to (i.e. I might go several weeks without work, so wouldn't need the nursery/childminder during that time). Also, unless DD has a full-time place, then there is the likelihood of freelance work not fitting with childcare, iyswim.
Neither set of families live nearby, so can't ask them for regular childcare either.
I'm fortunate that I don't need to work at the moment - it's more of a case of keeping my skills up-to-date and keeping in touch with clients.
I can see that freelancing will be very attractive when DD starts school, but at the moment it seems rather tricky.
Mine are at school now, but I used to freelance with pre-schoolers. I always had them in nursery 3 days a week and was lucky in that I mostly got work to fill those 3 days. When I didn't, I used the time to pitch for new work, spend some time on my CPD etc. The etc probably included catching up on housework! (I was lucky in that the market was easier then, and there was more work around. I also had a regular one day a week contract for most of the time, so always had that as a minimum.). My nursery had spare capacity and could mostly take them for an extra day at short notice if I had too much work on. Maybe that's something you could ask prospective nurseries/CMs - is there any possibility of ad hoc extra days? I tried to avoid doing this though and worked a bit at weekends and quite a lot in the evening. I guess it depends whether you do the kind of work where you need to be in an office, or can mostly do it from home and at times to suit you.
FWIW, I would definitely advise trying to keep your toe in the water. I have been doing a full-time Phd for the last 2 years, with only little bits of freelance work and now feel horribly out of touch (even though my phd relates to my work area) - so much work comes from chance encounters so it's really important to keep contacts up. And yes - great for when they start school so you can fit around holidays, assemblies, being on the swimming rota etc.
I only work when DS is asleep. If I have a lot on, I do some extra while DH looks after him. I guess it depends what you do and how much you want to work though!
Thank you for your responses. I'm a freelance editor/proofreader, so I can work pretty much anywhere. I got into a routine of going to the local library in the morning to work whilst DH looked after DD, coming home for lunch, then doing another couple of hours in the afternoon while DD slept.
DH is back at work now and I've got some more proofreading to do later this week, so it'll be a case of getting stuck into it as soon as she goes down for a nap, then working evenings and the weekend. That is absolutely fine as I love the flexibility of not working 9-5 in an office!
I found a childminder who had spaces from 9-3 (as she mainly looks after kids before and after school). So I have 2 days of 6 hours childcare. DS gets the childminder one to one, he doesn't have a long day in childcare and I get a bit of time to work without having to commit to huge childcare fees. My childminder would take him for additional days if I needed it, but at the moment I can plan my work around the 2 days. My DS is only 6 months so I will get more care for him as he gets older and I take on more work.
You work at night! That's what I do now and DS is at school...
I registered dd with two childminders who said I could phone up and ask if they had a place on a particular day, ad-hoc basis. Generally if one doesn't have a place, the other will.
DS's preschool would generally take him for extra sessions if they could and sometimes (in extremis) I got a sitter.
Once he started school, I found a CM who would have him on an ad hoc basis and now have found a lovely young woman who collects him from school 2 afternoons a week. She can do more than that but I've promised her 2 afternoons minimum.
I have a nanny who does regular hours but can be flexible if I need her to be, for a meeting or whatever. In return I'm flexible for her as I can arrange meetings/work round her going to her son's sports day or whatever.
She's just reduced her hours a bit as DS2 has started nursery.
Oh and also weekends and evenings. I'm planning to cut out the weekend working now DS2 is going to be at nursery some of the time as my overall weekday childcare provision has now increased.
My Dh and I both work from home so we can both look after DD depending on who has the most pressing deadline/slept better.
I've had one very consistent client, whose contract is ending, so I put my son in day care for 3 days a week.
He starts preschool in a week and he's switching to a childminder for 2 afternoons a week. Time to ramp up pitching for new clients!
I work at night, during nap time in the day and on the weekend when DP takes the children out.
My work is very inconsistent - sometimes I'm swamped and there can be weeks with nothing at all, so childcare is out of the question.
I have 1 day a week with the boys at the CM, and she will take them on other days if I'm busy and she has a space. I also have a lovely friend who helps out, work evenings, weekends, and 2 mornings a week when DS2 is in preschool. It'll be interesting after Christmas as DS2 will be in nursery 5 mornings a week. Won't then need CM in term time and will have to find out if she can do hols only...
Its difficult. I remember working whilst my son was asleep and kind of fitting things in at the evening and weekends when my husband was around. If I had someone to help me out a couple of days a week it would have been better though than using the weekend time with my husband. I guess it depends on money and whether you can afford this option.
A friend of mine has just set up a coworking venture with a creche attached (not much use unless you live near Farnham, Surrey) but maybe someone is running something similar near you. With her business htto://www.thinkingbus.com you can book your child into the creche by the hour and use a "hotdesk" in another area to work from, network with other users, meet clients etc. She started this because when her children were little she would book them into the creche at the local sports centre and then work in the changing rooms! Which is another alternative...
I'm a freelance editor and proofreader too. I have DS, who is 2 years old, in nursery 2 days a week. I have one regular job that takes about 7 hours a week but I fit that into DS's nap times on the days he's at home. That helps cover the cost of nursery so I don't stress too much about not getting enough work and it leaves the 2 nursery days free for freelance work. When I have a large project on I book DS in for extra days at nursery, if they are available (not always possible, but I've usually got lucky and managed to get a day or two when necessary - if not then DH takes a day off so I can get the job done as he has a generous leave entitlement in his job). I tried evening working and not having formal childcare but found it really exhausting and stressful, and the quality of my work suffered. I've had the current set up for a year and it works really well for us.
I work when my partner isn't working - we split the care between us. I also work in the car on long journeys...sometimes in the evening. My 9 month old sleeps v badly in the day so I daren't rely on that. however I have found I can get an hour done while he lies in the cot with a toy and white noise playing on my laptop!
Wilson, daft question possibly, but why can't you work when your DS is at school?
DS2 is with a CM 2 days a week. There's no way I'd be able to look after him ft and do my work. It still ends up spilling over into evenings / weekends.
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