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If you've worked freelance around pre-school child at home, come and tell me how it was

(47 Posts)
TantieTowie Fri 30-Nov-12 09:54:43

So, I have two DC, one at school, one in nursery three days a week, and I'm currently thinking about taking DD (21 months) out of nursery because I think I could bring home the same amount of money by working in naptimes/evenings as I do through working more but paying nursery fees. I would also be able to spend more time with DD, who is probably my last, before she goes to school.

My husband thinks I'm delusional and that I'd get very stressed - but I'd really like to hear from anyone who has made it work (or indeed, tried it and found it really doesn't work.)

This is my thinking: I have one regular piece of work that takes 12 hours a week. I also have other regular work, but essentially all the work I do over and above that first regular piece of work goes to pay nursery fees of £8,000 a year. I worked out I'm £150 up over the course of a year, but because I pay tax on that £8,000 I'm actually down.

And because I also have to pay nursery fees during the school holidays I work three days a week through the school holidays and DS goes to holiday club (he likes it, mind you). Which is fine, but it means that school holidays aren't a time when we can go off and see relatives, catch up with grandparents etc, as I'd like, but in fact a time when I need to earn even more than usual and feel chained to home.

So my question is: is 12 hours work a week in naptimes/evenings doable, or is it madness? NB the first regular piece of work doesn't require much in the way of phone calls (though the other work does) and DD naps for at least an hour at lunchtime and will often do two if I don't mind a late bedtime.

TIA for your answers, will check in later after I've done some work.

RedZombie Fri 30-Nov-12 10:03:09

Possibly not what you want to hear but I had to use childcare. There was no way I could have done any work with children around. I was working full time and had to be contactable by phone for most of the day.

Fortunately I had GPs who helped out too so the cost wasn't that much of an issue.

TantieTowie Fri 30-Nov-12 10:17:59

Thanks, Red. Yes, grandparents would change the whole equation, but they live too far away, unfortunately.

schobe Fri 30-Nov-12 10:20:39

It's a nightmare tbh.

schobe Fri 30-Nov-12 10:21:36

There are nurseries/childminders who will do term time only. Look for one of them?

Pendipidy Fri 30-Nov-12 10:26:36

how old is the little one?

Lancelottie Fri 30-Nov-12 10:28:17

What I did was to book a local childminder for just the mornings, 9-12. She wore him out nicely for me at toddler groups and playing with the older toddlers, returned him for lunch, then he slept for a good two hours every afternoon, so I got at least 5 hours a day for the price of 3.

Then we had a second child and it all went to pot.

Lancelottie Fri 30-Nov-12 10:29:14

If you rely entirely on naps you really end up resenting them when they wake up early (or drop the nap altogether. Which they will, because they grow.)

Lancelottie Fri 30-Nov-12 10:31:49

Did you really mean that you are only £150 up over a year, or was that a typo?

You do also need to factor in pension, career, promotion prospects, and the often huge cost of a lengthy break.

WilsonFrickett Fri 30-Nov-12 16:23:44

Your DD is nearly 2 - she will be dropping that nap within a few months, year tops, so I don't know how sustainable your plan is.

I couldn't have done it your way as I need to be able to take phonecalls, and have in fact lost work because I don't ever call my clients' clients unless I'm childfree (well, not so much now as DS is 7, but certainly that was my policy up till 6 months ago). This policy was developed after DS burst into the room one day when I was on a call to a client and yelled that he needed 'a poo right now mummy.' Which was nice.

So I'm on the fence really. I also find it very hard to work in the evening, I do it but only when I really have to - it's not a great time for me mentally.

TantieTowie Fri 30-Nov-12 16:37:22

Thanks all for your thoughts. Yes, Lancelotti I did mean £150 up over the year, given that I can think I can still do the first 12 hours of my 21 hours a week while DD naps, and stop doing the rest until she's in term-time pre-school (which would be about a year later, if I went down this route). I'd still be working, just not doing as much as I was. ATM I feel like I'm working purely to send her to nursery, but maybe that's just something to be put up with till the free hours kick in.

However, I can't afford to lose all the work, so maybe I really do need childcare. <Ponders>

TantieTowie Fri 30-Nov-12 16:39:33

Wilson: yes, I realise she'll drop the nap pretty soon - but then she'll most likely start going to bed earlier and I'll have time then that I don't have now. But I'm not much good at evenings either. Think I probably will stick with what I'm doing, but it's so annoying. I wish you could write childcare off against tax.

MysteriousHamster Fri 30-Nov-12 17:30:05

Why don't you try leaving them in nursery just one day a week, so you save money, have one day where you can do at least 7-8 hours solid work, and then you have less to catch up on in the evenings.

12 hours would be too hard I think - what about illness etc?

TalkinPeace2 Fri 30-Nov-12 17:43:24

I did not have family near and could not afford childcare
so I was creative
worked when they napped / watched cbeebies
and worked in the evening - always was a nightowl

am lucky that DH is free range as well so we've always been able to juggle

EATmum Fri 30-Nov-12 17:58:09

I freelanced for some time after my first two DDs. It was flexible but I always needed childcare - I had a great arrangement with a childminder who would work out on a weekly basis what hours she could do, and that was when I worked. But while it was good for a while, I missed the social interaction that is pretty central to my work. Without it, I found myself bored and always feeling the pressure if work I'd not finished because it was in my living room. I was happier when I went back to an office-based role and had a clear definition between home and work. But that's so individual, it's hard to know if that helps.

spatchcock Fri 30-Nov-12 19:24:33

Tried it, failed miserably. My DD's naptimes were (and still are) really unpredictable.

A lot of my work involves calling people, which is where I fell down. I'd arrange to call someone slap bang in the middle of nap time and unfailingly DD would be awake and merrily shouting the house down.

She's in childcare now, I work peacefully at home, everyone's happier!

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 30-Nov-12 19:30:06

I have tried working from home for just one day a week with a little one. I reckon you can get two hours decent work done between 0930 and 1500, plus a few odds and ends.

DolomitesDonkey Sat 01-Dec-12 13:21:41

I'm really not sure at all why 12 hours a week over 7 days is "impossible" in the evenings. Seriously? hmm It's 90 minutes a day.

I work full-time, have 2 under 2.5 and run two businesses - I start work at 5 and I work after they've gone to bed. You just need to be discliplined.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 01-Dec-12 13:28:36

been there, got the teeshirt - haggling with HMRC while a 2 year old bawls at you is not fun.
I pointed out to my kids from early early on that the phone is work and if they want treats they let me phone so I can earn money to pay bills.

Also free range working is not 9-5 : its whenever you get the chance in blocks as short as 15 minutes. At all hours of the day and night.

forevergreek Mon 03-Dec-12 15:04:19

It's possible. Like someone said its only 90mins a day! Do people really not have 90 mins free? Even if they don't nap and fall asleep at 9pm that's only 9-10.30pm.

I would work every afternoon over Naptime (2 hours), that's 14 hrs a week without working at any other time.

Or every evening 2 hours when they are in bed.
If you do both you are easily at almost 30hrs work if needed.

If dh can take over some days you could even miss days and work say 6pm-11pm 2 days a week, and one nap time, or any other combination.

Many people I know say they could never work with a child at home, but then sit and watch reality tv all evening. It's not they don't have time, they just don't want to use that time to work.

Graceparkhill Mon 03-Dec-12 15:13:53

If your work can be picked up and put down then I would say it is possible.
Agree with others- the napping routine always changes ( and not in your favour) just when you least expect it.

I think phone calls is the big worry. If you are very secure and well regarded you might not mind breaking off a call to answer an urgent cry. I know when mine were young I did not want to "admit" to being at home.
Much easier now with emails and the like. I worked from home when the fax machine was still a novelty !

HardlyEverHoovers Mon 03-Dec-12 15:17:07

I have been studying at home with DS, not quite the same but similar! I would find it very hard if DH didn't care for DS on the days I'm studying. The one bit of time I can grab on days that I have DS is if I get up at 5am, and work until he wakes up at 7.30/8am. Seem to get loads done and enjoy being up early once I'm out of bed.
I think the downside is unpredictability. My DS doesn't always do what he's meant to do, e.g. sleep until 8am, go down for a nap etc. Then you're suddenly behind and not much you can do.

Lancelottie Mon 03-Dec-12 15:27:50

I once had to break off an overseas call by helping 'Excuse me, the baby's just fallen off the sofa!'

Not my most professional moment. Or indeed my best parenting attempt.

Lancelottie Mon 03-Dec-12 15:28:07

Helping?? Yelping was what I tried to type.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 03-Dec-12 15:45:23

TBH so long as your tone of voice remains professional and clear and what you say is sound, the fact that you are working from home is MUCH less of an issue nowadays.
I spoke to a very professional ombudsman chap on his London landline number ..... only when the rooster started up did he admit that the calls were diverted to his mobile and he was in his garden as we spoke.
Diversion into veg talk for ten minutes, then business relationship cemented.

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