I found nursery costs more or less cancelled out what I made at work after dc1 and it became impossible after dc2. Instead we had to cut back all non essentials massively. It was a struggle but we are still standing! A few years on nursery was free and DH had progressed a bit at work and we can now relax a bit about cash. I am not sure this has answered your question about occupying kids while you work though. Some local mums have teamed up and look after each others kids while the other works - it only works if your schedules allow it but it is something to think about. The other option is to craft in the evening while the children sleep (instead of cleaning, ironing, washing up...I know!) I hope it all works out for you.