It sounds like the ideal solution for parents – having a job that means you can work at home when your kids are small. You get to save on childcare costs, while spending time with your children, and working to a schedule that suits you.
But is it really that easy? As every parent knows – including Professor Robert Kelly, whose kids burst on him during a live interview with the BBC – children can be unpredictable and trying to focus on work with them around may be easier said than done.
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Here are some tips from people who have been there done that!
Consider a childcare sharing arrangement. I did this for a while with a neighbour who also worked from home. We would each take turns having both of the children for the morning, so one of us got some child-free time. And because the kids kept each other occupied, the one who had both of them often got quite a bit of work done too.
Michelle, freelance editor
When my children were small babies and still being breastfed, I used to pop them on the breast when I needed to make phone calls. It kept them quiet! The person on the other end had no idea I was breastfeeding while I was talking to them, although my daughter did once burp very loudly down the phone!
I can only really concentrate properly when my son, who is two, has his afternoon sleep. The minute he goes down, I start working flat out for the two hours he sleeps. The rest of my work gets done at night when he goes to bed.
I managed to work from home quite successfully when I had just one child because she was very placid and didn’t need much entertaining, but it was impossible with two. My youngest needed a lot of attention. In the end, I sent them to daycare one day a week and had an au pair three days a week. That was the only way I could manage.
Adele, website administrator
In the morning, I set my two-year-old up in his play pen in the lounge. I have a selection of toys, puzzles, games and books on hand to put in with him at intervals so he can keep himself entertained. I vary what he has every day so he doesn’t get bored – we use the toy library a lot!
Justine, web designer
My desk is in the living room and I always had a problem with the kids wanting things from me all day, but not understanding that I was working and needed to concentrate. My mum came up with the great idea of me wearing a hat while I worked. It worked a treat. If I was sitting there with a hat on, the kids knew not to bother me unless it was an emergency. Once the hat came off, I was all theirs.
Lauren, IT consultant
Be realistic. I completely overestimated what I’d be able to get done in a day and that left me really stressed when I couldn’t tick everything off my to-do list. I’d end up having to work late at night to get everything done and I was exhausted. It got easier when I lowered my expectations.
Jan, marketing consultant