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How realistic is it to do freelance work from home with no paid childcare?

(31 Posts)
naturelover Tue 15-Jul-08 15:00:23

I'm thinking evenings and weekends, when DH is around to look after DD (11 months old).

I really need to earn about 400 pounds a month, and I can probably charge 20 pounds an hour. But of course will need to set myself up as a freelancer, find clients, join professional body etc. In other words it might take a while to be earning properly.

Mon-Fri I basically do all childcare and housework, and have just about finished chores and dinner by 8pm. I have no "me-time" to speak of, and am exhausted by bedtime.

Quite frankly I'm worried about being able to do all this. DH is aware he will have to do more chores (he works long hours), I worry that we will end up not spending any time together as a family, we'll be working non-stop around each other.

I don't want to put DD in childcare, not least because I'm still breastfeeding a few times a day.

I think if she was at a childminder's a few hours a week I could get some work done, but then my hourly rate would obviously come down. And initially when finding clients etc I might actually be spending money on childcare and not making any money to pay for it (would have to spend savings - which makes me nervous).

Sorry for the ramble. I'd appreciate your experiences/opinions. Thanks

Bramshott Tue 15-Jul-08 15:04:08

Does your DD have a good afternoon nap? I have a friend who works from 1.00 - 3.00 every day and then finishes off in the evenings if she needs to, which works well for her. When I first set up freelancing I worked when DD1 slept, but then as I carried on, I realised that I preferred to send her to the childminder and not have to rush to the computer the minute I'd put her down!

PuppyMonkey Tue 15-Jul-08 15:04:23

Course it's realistic - as long as you don't mind having no life and being utterly miserable!

flowerybeanbag Tue 15-Jul-08 15:04:27

I have no savings, am spending overdraft to pay for nanny atm.

If you literally would only need to work evenings and weekends - ie would not need contact with clients during the working week then it might be possible, other than you would never see your DH or get much/any time to relax.

I spent a couple of months working every weekend and evening before nanny started getting my website done and various other things sorted. It really wore me down, having DS all day during the week plus housework then working when he was in bed.

Have just started taking on paying clients which means going to meet with them/phoning/being available on the phone etc I couldn't do that without childcare, let alone get any actual work done or housework.

naturelover Tue 15-Jul-08 15:10:49

DH suggested I become a childminder. I really don't want to do this.

Bramshott, DD does have decent naps, but I tend to be rushing around organising meals, laundry, tidying up, etc during her naps.

I consider myself quite organised but honestly I find looking after one baby and a small house alone to be more than a full-time job (13 hours a day non-stop activity, it feels like). I am in awe of most of my friends, who seem to be managing this parent business a lot better than me.

talilac Tue 15-Jul-08 15:11:22

It is possible to just do evenings and weekends but very tiring and hard on a relationship.

One suggestion - a cleaner might mean you can put some time previously devoted to housework into work?

Cleaner = £7/hour approx, so it would make financial sense.

iBundle Tue 15-Jul-08 15:14:46

I don't think it's possible to work without proper childcare and given that you and your partner are already busy and stretched, I really wouldn't try it.

I breastfed both my girls for a long time (years) and they were in a nursery 3 days a week.

but don't expect to make much if any money while you're paying for childcare...our childcare bill when we had 2 in nursery was more than our mortgage (luckily they only overlapped for about 1 yr)

WheresTheAuPair Tue 15-Jul-08 15:17:27

i'm in a similar situation myself and honestly seem to be working every hour i can at the moment. Not ideal but hoping things will improve once i get this initial setup period out of the way. My DS has always loved his sleep so i have an easy 2 hrs in the day to work as well as at least 2 in the evenings. Am lucky as we all eat together at 6 when DH gets home so once bedtime is over i can crack on. I tend to do 2 days on and 1 day off to save my sanity.
I do, however, desperately need a cleaner!! tis not possible i've found to get work done with no childcare and have a sparkling house wink

dooneygirl Tue 15-Jul-08 15:22:02

I have a friend who does this. She is a single parent who has never had a DP (she is older, and decided she wanted kids before she couldn't have them). She makes it work. She says sometimes it is very difficult, and it seems like she either is swamped with work, or has nothing, but she has managed to do this with very careful planning for the last 5 years.

She's got a DS (5) that is autistic and has other issues, and requires lots of trips to therapists, speech people, etc, and a DD(2) that doesn't take naps, so she almost never gets to work doing the day. She says sometimes she gets incredibly tired, but says always when it seems she's tired and can't do anymore, everything manages to get done, and then she has a period of time she doesn't work and can catch up. Her biggest thing is she says sometimes you just have to realize you can't do it all and let things like not getting housework done not bother you for the week you are really busy.

twofalls Tue 15-Jul-08 15:25:32

I think it depends on what you do and whether you can really keep your work to evenings and weekends - as others have said, clients may want to contact you during the normal working week, depending on what it is you do.

I have to say that I freelance but couldn't do it without organised childcare. When dd is home I am running around the house sorting things out during her naps and by the evenings I am really tired (but then she isn't a great sleeper and we are up at 5). However, some people can and do make it work - it really depends how much want to/need to really. It is safe to say you will be pretty tired and will feel you have even less me-time but that may be a price you are willing to pay. HTH

iBundle Tue 15-Jul-08 15:28:05

dooneygirl that sounds relentless sad

Ewe Tue 15-Jul-08 15:32:05

I don't think it's realistic or fair to your client/employer to work without proper childcare.

It's very, very hard, have been trying it with my 4mo old DD at home - who being so small sleeps lots and it's just not working.

witchandchips Tue 15-Jul-08 15:38:43

When my ds was around 10 months I managed to work almost full time but only have part time childcare. Routine was as follows
6am-10 childcare + chores
10 am ds down for nap, i started work
12 ds wakes, i give him lunch + then take him to nursery for 1.30. Shop on way back, back at desk for 2.30. 2.30-5.30 work. Ds would be picked up by dp on his way home. Would make up rest of hours at w/e and in evenings. (worked about 30 hours a week in total but only 50% childcare)

TantieTowie Tue 15-Jul-08 15:44:24

I think it depends what you do and how confident you are about finding work. If you are sure you can get the work,, then the maths suggest you could get childcare and then earn enough to pay for the childcare in one extra day's work.

£400 divided by £20 an hour equals 2.6 days (at 7.5 hours in a day) .

Add in the cost of three days childcare a month - for me that would come to about £100. So looks like you'd have to work four days - that's £135 for the childcare - to earn the basic plus cover childcare. That's a day a week.

(Might be more if if you need to earn £400 net of tax, but then at £400 a month you might not be paying tax.)

Then you always have evenings and naptimes for work to spill over into if necessary but generally you could concentrate on LO on your days together and feel less stressed.

I tried the naptime thing when I first started and it did not work for me at all - you spend your entire day working out how to get your work done and it's very distracting. Speaking of which must go and work!

TantieTowie Tue 15-Jul-08 15:47:20

Just saw your mention of breastfeeding, I am also still BFing but we do fine despite the three days he is now in childcare. He's always very keen when he gets home

staranise Tue 15-Jul-08 15:54:10

Depends on your work. I managed without childcare for about a year when DD2 was aged 1-2 years, and DD1 was in nursery 3-5 mornings a week. I found it impossible to wait for naptime so I worked evenings and weekends and, if possible, when DD2 was playing, on a laptop in her bedroom. I also used free childcare when possible eg, do loads of swapping babysitting duties with my friends, like I take their kids for an afternoon and they repay the favour when I'm swamped with work - this arrangement works really well but obviously wasn't a regular arrangement and is easier with older children. Working evenigns and weekends is possible but it is exhausting, especially working weekday evenings, and not much fun for yoru DH as well.

Since DD2 has turned two, it's become harder and harder as she demands more atttention and dropped her nap so I now use a nanny one day a week but she costs half my income. I used to cook everything from scratch as well but no time now, so there's a lot more beans on toast etc.

Oh, and would definitely get a cleaner - even two hours a week makes a huge differnece nad means you don't have to hoover etc. And working in a messy house is impossible IMHO.

naturelover Tue 15-Jul-08 17:38:39

Thanks everyone. It's really helped me clarify a few things in my mind.

I will really have to do my sums with regard to cleaner and childcare, to see if it actually makes it worthwhile to work at all. And of course I need to know there is work out there available, otherwise I could end up spending - not earning - money, getting myself set up etc.

phraedd Tue 15-Jul-08 19:08:23

could you get an au pair to help you?

they can help with the house work and you may be able to work a couple of hours in the house when the au pair minds the little one

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 15-Jul-08 19:37:00

If you have children at home what will you do when you have clients ringing you in office hours (which they will) and wanting to meet you.
All my clients like a face to face meeting first to discuss work/rates etc.
I got made redundo at the end of my 2nd mat leave when ds's were 26m and 10m. DS1 had been going to nursery for 18m already and ds2 about to start, for 3 days per week when my employer said they were relocating.
I'd had my self employment idea a few years before so decided now was the time.
I sent them to nursery. It crippled us the first year but without proper childcare outside the home I could not have done it.
IMO you just can't concentrate.

Yes, it takes time to build up clients etc, but you can't build them up if you can't make contact with them, and be available while you are starting out.

Although, I have 2 with small age gap. I might have done a bit of work from home with just ds1 but def not ds2 (more lively) or both of them.
I work 3 days full on, 1 day my mum can do afternoon if I have work, Friday is my day off. Clients who know me well I will answer the phone to on a Friday, otherwise they have to leave messages.
I lost a potential client once who rang on a Friday just as a tantrum was breaking out. I said 'oh don't worry when I'm working the children are not here' but I was talking to a childless career blokey type!

Can you imagine trying to build up clients and one rings when its not baby's nap time? Or they can hear cbeebies in the background? If a child is mobile you can't leave them in the room unattended while you take a business call.

I used to say things like 'its not worth me working' but its always worth working. My plan is to be (unintentionally!) mega skint for the first 18 months of this business. Then build up my 3 days a week of clients till ds2 starts school in Sept 10 when I will go full time with a couple of early finishes.

THEN we will see all the financial benefit of my business.

I charge £20 ish/hr. Nursery is £58/day for the two. So although the nursery bill is huge each month, I always earn more on a working day than the nursery.

I look on it as, if I'd gone back to work in my staff job which was a lot less than £20/hr, I wouldn't think twice about putting them in nursery. So why treat working for yourself as any different?

Sorry to go on! But I work as if its an outside the home job and pay for childcare.

policywonk Tue 15-Jul-08 19:42:16

I sometimes work evenings and weekends - or that's the plan. In reality, I'm too tired by the time the children are in bed and I can't concentrate on my work. Weekends are do-able (and I do work about three out of four weekends), but it's a shame to miss out on family time. I'm always happier on the weekends when I don't have work.

I'm just hanging in there until DS2 goes to school next year. Obviously you're some way off that.

flowerybeanbag Tue 15-Jul-08 19:43:16

flibbertyjibbet I think that's an excellent post.

vonsudenfed Tue 15-Jul-08 19:48:30

What about starting with a childminder for just a couple of mornings a week - I don't know where you are, but here they charge about £3.50 an hour (for a very good one!) and so I pay £28 for two mornings. That gives me time to do a bit of work - and I can just about do two days with dd's lunchtime naps. Yes, your hourly rate will come down, but not much - and my childminder can be flexible if I have a rush on. I started dd there at 9 months, and bf until 18 months, so no harm to the bf either.

It's enough time to concentrate, and not so much money that it feels as though you will never earn it back.

And I also second policywonk - when I was at work, I could do evening work. Now, my brain is a pile of slush by 6pm and I would be no use at all.

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 15-Jul-08 21:44:22

Why thank you flowery smile I do my best.

Here are a couple of the instances that have taught me to be OFF on my day off and that having children around while trying to work, does NOT work.

Me on phone, ds2 comes in to say he's pooed. He is still fully clothed. With the phone under my chin (its attached to the wall not a walkabout unfortunately) I had to undress him, stretch the phone wire across to the cupboard for the babywipes, clean the poo from all over his legs, and bum, and then up my fingernails (you've all been there ladies) Take his t shirt off which also had poo up the back. Pile up clothes and put fresh pants on child.
All while holding a serious business call to a child-free lady.

Another time on a Friday I waited till the boys were settled on an activity, before I made a call to follow up with a potential client. As soon as the bloke answered it, a voice could very clearly be heard shouting down the stairs 'come and wipe my bottom properly pweeeeease' from ds1. VERY luckily this bloke has children the same age and knows I was calling on my 'day off'.

so, its easy to plan round naps and when your dp comes home, but be sure that your children will just work to their own timetable grin

anotherdayyetanothernickame Tue 15-Jul-08 23:17:20

I think it sounds like you will be over-facing yourself. It's really tough after a long day with kids to then sit down and work (I do it all too often).

Working when they are around is really hard. Clients etc. phone at the wrong time. Examples: client phoned up and ds ran over and said 'mummy I need a poo poo' loudly, or when he was younger a certain very well-known childcare expert phoned me unexpectedly about something work-related and erm ds was certainly not being a contented little baby.....! It is stressful to try and work when your kids are around.

You need some childcare - I'm sure as others have said there are ways around the breastfeeding issue. If the nursery is nearby and you are working at home perhaps you could even go in once a day to do a feed?

Flibbertyjibbet Tue 15-Jul-08 23:27:06

Anotherday- do you think the sound of the phone ringing activates our childrens bowels?

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