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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.

WilsonFrickett Mon 03-Dec-12 15:52:41

I do work at all hours of the day but I don't call clients beyond their core hours, which tend to be 9 - 5.

bigkidsdidit Mon 03-Dec-12 15:59:21

Could you get up a bit earlier? I am madly busy at the moment so am planning to get up at 5 and do a solid hour of concentrating before DS wakes up. Nice and peaceful too. But I like mornings!

I would do the one day in nursery option, get 6 hours done that way.

Zoonose Mon 03-Dec-12 16:15:42

I work 25 hours a week freelance, on average. I have childcare for 10 of those hours. My DS is in school and my 2yo DD is at home with me other then those 10 hours in nursery. she does not nap and so the rest of my work is squashed into evenings and weekends. it is hard and I would much prefer to do all my work in longer sessions. I can do 2.5 hours max in an evening before I am too tired to concentrate properly. It is also stressful because it eats into family time and DH seems to resent me working. Either way, it causes a lot of arguments. So I wouldn't do it personally!

TantieTowie Mon 03-Dec-12 21:40:15

Thanks for all your thoughts. Just checking in before I do some evening work - and that's with the childcare. I salute you 5am-ers - I think I need to try something like that and see if I can do it before changing our arrangements (but that is so early!)
I'm also considering cutting down the nursery hours to one or two days a week.
TalkinPeace2: I think you're right that it's more acceptable to be working from home, but I also think that it's still not acceptable to be obviously looking after children while you do it unless it appears to be a one-off rather than routine. On my days off at the moment I tend to just turn the mobile off.
Freelancing is going to be great once they're both in school – and I'm going to feel so rich! It's such a balancing act until then but I don't want to wish the pre-school years away.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 03-Dec-12 21:42:54

I must admit I avoid my mobile whenever possible
email is MUCH better as you have proof of what you said, when you said it and can consider your words for a few hours after receiving messages.

SMS is second best

but phone calls - I always take notes - can be open to interpretation - which is never good in my field :-)

and being in the habit of only communicating a couple of times a day is good practice.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 04-Dec-12 06:56:05

I work at home for an organisation employing nearly 300,000 people and there are a lot of us working from home.

And yes, during conference calls you might hear a doorbell go and a dog go mental, or even a "daddy, I need a lol right now". But in my experience it's just laughed off, the offender put on mute and nothing further is said about it.

Tele-working is the future and most of us don't have a sound-proofed office!

I should also add that I have a lot of conference calls with people on multiple continents... So it's just not realistic for everyone to be in the office 24/7.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 04-Dec-12 06:56:27

Lol = poo!

TantieTowie Tue 04-Dec-12 14:37:10

Thanks Dolomites that does put it into perspective. I think as a (more sackable) freelancer you tend to be slightly paranoid about things that wouldn't bother you in a job...

Needless to say last night after I'd been working for about half an hour DD woke up crying and so ended my evening's work. Anyhow, back to it.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 04-Dec-12 15:49:39

Tantie I got mine up to bed last night by 7... sat down with the laptop and husband away at the gym. Youngest started screaming his lungs at 7:15, my nerves were shot by 8 and I reached for the Jack Daniels. ;)

PermaShattered Tue 04-Dec-12 22:04:57

I'm freelance, 3 children at school and 21 month old goes to nursery 2 mornings a week. So i get LOADS done on those two mornings (nursery and breakfast club run all done at 8am and i'm usually working by 8.30), the rest of the week i work in naptime (1-2 hours a day) and evenings; and also a chunk of a saturday.

When i've been really busy, i've been up at 6am and done an hour before the rest of the household wakes up (and i am a morning person). It helps that my husband is very supportive so he'll take the kids out half the day sat, if necessary, etc......

It's not easy, and you need strong will power and determination.

And there's no shame in having children in the background on a phone call - although i don't make calls when they're around, and only receive them if they're urgent. And people are usually interested in them anyway! Can be an ice breaker......

The majority of my communication is done via email - it certainly can't work if there are phone calls to be made. Yes, it gets stressful - but it's temporary. Before i know it, the baby will be at school and i shall pine for the days i had a baby at home!

Mosman Tue 11-Dec-12 14:05:20

I'm thinking about giving it a go, honestly the actual "work" I do is maybe three hours a day v's the childcare and stress the family is under for a net gain of $900 a month whilst working in a very well paid job, it's a waste of everyone's energy tbh.
I couldn't be much more stressed tbh.

TantieTowie Tue 11-Dec-12 20:36:26

That's interesting, Mosman. Are you also a freelancer - and would you give up all your work or just some of it? And how far is/are any children off school?

I'm still thinking about it myself - I don't have to change anything till March since I have work commitments up to then. My fear is that I'm being complacent in thinking I can really do the work I'm thinking of in two hours a day, no childcare - and that I'd burn my bridges with a nursery where DD is happy and well settled in finding out that I couldn't. In the meantime, I've been experimenting with doing that particular piece of work evenings only and getting the other work done during nursery days.

Mosman Wed 12-Dec-12 04:18:08

I have a two year old but in Australia they don't really get going in school until age six. We live in a suburb where none of the mummies work so are expected that they will be around during the day for all sorts of nonsense, but the bottom line for me is the childcare costs I pretty much hand over all of my net salary to the nannies who aren't even that good.
I've looked at an au pair option but the reality is I'd need proper childcare for the two year old beyond the remit of your average 20 year old tbh.
I would try and make deals at home, literally two pieces of business done from the kitchen table and financially I'd be in the same position so it is tempting especially with all the bitching and back biting that's going in in our office at the moment.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Wed 12-Dec-12 05:11:08

If you do it, you have to accept that you can NEVER leave anything to the last minute, because the time you think "I'll finish that off when DD naps" is the day she doesn't (here speaks the voice of experience)

I think whether clients are bothered if you're effectively minding your own kids whilst working depends if you're being paid for the job or by the hour. No way would I pay an hourly rate to someone without childcare, but it wouldnt bother me if I was paying for a product, because then I dont really care how ineffeciently it's been done (in terms of stop/start/interruptions etc), so long as it's done by the deadline.

The other issue is what do you normally do in the evenings/naptimes? if you're using that time for housework/cooking/life admin etc, then that all has to get reschduled too

I'm a contractor as opposed to a freelancer (contracted for 16-21 hrs per week). I find the most efficient way is just to do it in 2x 8 hr days and then 3-5 hrs for email checks/ calls/odd meetings outside those days

Mosman Wed 12-Dec-12 08:45:24

I'd be paid on delivery so they don't care how long it takes me as long as I get there but truthfully we are talking a couple of hours tops, no payment until the results are in though

TantieTowie Thu 13-Dec-12 13:05:11

Yes, like you Mosman I'm also paid by the job. Sounds like it might well be a better option for you, especially if you're not happy in the work environment. I definitely prefer working from home in general, and I have great flexibility if either of the DC is ill.

And I agree, RichMan I'd never do hourly paid work without childcare. I'm tending to think I get more career progression with childcare than I would without. Still pondering, but thanks to all who've shared their experiences.

sparklechops Thu 13-Dec-12 22:50:06

I write for a living. So far, I am managing to squeeze work in around DD's nap times during the day. I also work evenings and weekends when DH can mind her.

Luckily, I can work on my laptop in my pyjamas and don't necessarily have to make phone calls. I can do most of my correspondence by email.

So far, it's working out ok. But she is nine months and seems to be dropping an afternoon nap. So we shall see....

BitofSparklingPerry Thu 13-Dec-12 23:00:31

I have a (HE) 5yo and a 3yo at home, I study for 16 hours a week and then run a business and do various little bits and bobs. It isn't high powered stuff, but I would say I get about 16 hours a week of work in.

But then I do almost no housework grin

DewDr0p Thu 13-Dec-12 23:01:13

I'd echo the pp who said how easy is your work to pick up and put down?

I tried to work 2 hours a day when ds2 first started school, mornings only. I found it just wasn't long enough to really get stuck into the work properly.

My other issue was I often found clients wanted to talk at about 4-5pm. Trying to sound professional while dealing with a pan of boiling over pasta and squabbling tired and hungry dcs is no fun believe me!

penguinplease Thu 13-Dec-12 23:05:54

I work from home now and have done since my middle child was nearly 2. I take and make calls and I work well over 30 hours a week. I had no option and the whole point of me doing the job was to avoid childcare costs.

Been doing it 9 years now. Works for me, had another child a few years in and took 4 weeks maternity.

My children understand that some times I have to be on the phone. The rest of it I juggle around them and I work mostly in the evenings which suits me fine. I often don't go to bed until around 1am but am better late at night rather than trying to get up early.

nkf Thu 13-Dec-12 23:11:56

I did it for about five years. It was okay. I liked aspects of it a lot. Very low childcare costs. I think I had someone two mornings a week. I became very efficient at getting down to work and working till the last minute before leaving to do a nursery pick up. I even worked with a baby in a sling. Totally doable. The only thing I found stressful is that your clients don't know that you can't be contacted at 5pm. I was either having to ignore calls or stick the kids in front of the TV and hope they wouldn't call me.

UniS Thu 13-Dec-12 23:17:08

Hard to do 12 hours in evenings and naps . unless you have a child who takes super long predictable naps. AND work that you can start / stop.
I used preschool hours to work, and that took discipline. before preschool age I used a childminder for a regular 2 mornings or 1 day a week if I had a multi day project I could do at home or at a customers unit. I can't have a small child very close to me while I'm working , I use sharp tools and lots of small parts.
Now the DC is at school I can fit 5 hours of making stuff into a school day. Its just the days when I'm not making / doing repairs at home but am out doing installs or testing at customers sites that I struggle with.

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