My guess is that childcare is the number one worry for any working parent. Either it’s not up to scratch, it’s not flexible enough, you’d rather be at home caring for your own kids or it’s just too expensive.
Being self employed does give more flexibility, but I’ve found this has still given me some tricky choices. Especially as I have two children under age three, so the cost of childcare for both of them is very high. Like many self-employed mums, I’m stuck in a cycle where I couldn’t afford the childcare until I got an income, but couldn’t find the time to earn an income without childcare.
The main reason I chose to become self employed was to spend more time with my children, so I don’t want much childcare, just enough to allow me to get some work done in the daytime i.e. when my brain functions better than in the evenings! And I felt my daughter was just about ready to mix with more children of her own age.
So here’s what I did. I’ve arranged for my two-year-old to go back to the nursery she attended last year for one morning a week. While she’s there, her baby brother will have his morning nap and my mum will babysit him for the rest of the morning. (My mum doesn’t have the energy to care for both of them at the same time). With the childcare vouchers from my husband's job (you can’t get these if you’re self employed), this isn’t going to be too expensive.
That sounded like a reasonable plan, but knowing how good babies are at messing up a reasonable plan, I was a bit nervous. And I was surprised at how stressed I was at putting my daughter in the nursery. It was only one morning a week, the nursery is fantastic and I feel incredibly lucky that I don’t have to use full-time childcare like so many other mums. But it’s never easy, is it?
Well, we tried it for the first time last week and all was fine. There were a few tears (my daughter’s, rather than mine!) but generally my daughter was fine at the nursery. Best of all, it was brilliant to have three hours of day-time to concentrate on my work at last. I hope to be able to increase the childcare gradually as my daughter qualifies for nursery funding in just over a year’s time.
So if you’re wondering whether to use a bit of childcare to free up some time for your business, I recommend giving it a go. Of course it could all go pear-shaped next week (new government, please don’t cut back on the childcare vouchers!), but there really is a limit to what you can do by working in naptimes and evenings.
Have you got any childcare tips for self-employed mums?
Photo by AbbyNormy