As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.
Author, Speaker Mary Byer's created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof, to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, "I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!" I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement. If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.
Work-at-Home Childcare Strategies
I wrote part of my first book with a toddler on my lap and some of my second with a child standing behind me on my office chair running his fingers through my hair. I’ve packed for overnight trips only to come out of the bathroom and find that while I was in the bathroom, my son unpacked my bag for me. I’ve shown up for client meetings with childish scribbles defacing my meeting notes. And I once bribed my kids with raisins and a later trip to McDonald’s so they’d sit quietly during a meeting when a sitter cancelled at the last minute.
Despite the stress, I wouldn’t change a thing. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d be more deliberate about planning for childcare rather than assuming I could easily juggle a business with my mothering duties. As you consider the child care issue, the following tips may be helpful:
Give yourself permission to arrange for child care in addition to your presence at home. Many work-at-home moms have trouble with this simply because they are home precisely so they can be available to their children. Some believe it defeats the purpose if they utilize outside child care resources. But working from home without any child care makes your job as an at-home CEO more difficult. Figure out how much and what type of care you are comfortable with, then stay within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. It is possible to be fully at home and effectively utilize additional child care. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Be flexible. What works for one season in your family’s life may not work indefinitely. Trust your instincts about what’s working and what’s not, and pay attention to what your children say about the caregivers you’re dependent on. Be responsive to what they reveal, and consider your needs as well as theirs. It’s possible to find something that works for everyone, though it may take perseverance to do so.
Be creative. I love the idea of paying my kids to keep themselves busy while I work. (They love it too!) I wouldn’t have thought of this on my own, but I’m inspired by the mom who shared the idea with me, and I’m actively looking for other creative possibilities. This idea reminds me to be willing to explore new options as my child care needs continue to evolve.
Have the courage to do what’s best for your family. Because you and I are different and our needs and circumstances are not the same, our solution to the child care issue should also be different. That’s okay. Too often we look at what other women are doing and adopt the same solutions for ourselves without considering that our values, resources, and experiences are not the same. Your strategy needs to take into account your family’s situation and any unique circumstances that influence what’s right for you.
Seek support. Because the parental pact is so important, be sure your husband is comfortable with what you are doing. Even if he’s not interested in helping you decide what’s best or interviewing potential sitters, keep him informed. This keeps things running smoothly and lends itself to family harmony.
If financial resources are tight, trade child care services. Find another mom who works from home with whom you are comfortable exchanging babysitting services and develop an exchange agreement that allows you to regularly watch each other’s kids. Make sure you find someone who’s reliable so you can count on the regular work time this option provides. While spousal support is important, teaming with other work-at-home moms is valuable, too.
Reevaluate your needs occasionally. As your business evolves, your child care needs will likely change, too. More work may necessitate more child care. A business that’s seasonal may require periods of outside child care followed by periods of no assistance at all. As children age, they will be more able to look after themselves, perhaps eliminating your need altogether.
When my children were preschool age, I evaluated my needs on a day-to-day basis. It was stressful to have this issue continually hanging over my head. As I’ve entered a new season of mothering (the school season!) I’m now able to identify my needs on a monthly basis, which causes far less anxiety. If you’re in an early season of mothering, hang on! The child care puzzle gets easier to piece together as your children mature.
Work-at-home moms tell me that child care is one of their most pressing concerns. If it stresses you too, know you are not alone. Give yourself permission to proactively address this issue in a way that works for your family. When you do, you’ll be more likely to be a satisfied and effective at-home CEO.
Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at www.makingworkathomework.com.