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Ask HN: any of the HNers have kids & work from home?
112 points by Jem on May 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments
This is probably irrelevant to 98% of HN so apologies in advance. I'm looking to speak with any female hackers/programmers etc who have kids and work from home. (I figure HNers are more likely to beat there own path, so might find what I'm looking for here...)

I am currently working 9-5, 4 days a week. My 18 month old is in nursery (daycare). I am increasingly feeling that I am doing the wrong thing. Little tales of things going on at nursery, little snippets of an 'upbringing' I don't want her to have.

I am considering ditching the job, but cannot afford to NOT work because my partner doesn't earn a fat lot, thus need to work from home/freelance. I am a competent PHP developer with 10 years experience (5 hobby plus 5 professional). Can I make this work for me?

Any guidance or advice most welcome....

ETA: just to add - what complicates matters slightly is that we're in the process of buying our own house. Everything should be in place by the end of May. This will reduce our monthly outgoings though (currently paying much more for an old rental cottage, v. expensive to heat). I have about £7k in savings.

ETA2: removed 'female' from the title - thinking about it, I'm sure anyone working from home with kids will have useful input!

As a non-female parent who works from home. If your intention is to take care of your 18 month old AND work at the same time, I'll say it's not going to happen.

In my experience, you really can't watch an 18 month old and work from home at the same time. It's the worst of both worlds. So, you'll still need some form of child care while you are working.

I'm also a non-female parent who works from home. I have to agree that it's not possible to look after an 18 month old and work at the same time.

Your experience up till now might be deceptive. I actually did look after our younger boy from time to time during work hours when he was younger, but only during the relatively easy period between when he finished breast feeding and when he was able to start running around. After 18 months, they are definitely more toddlers than babies, and they demand your attention (constantly and immediately).

On the days when my wife is working, we have a combination of nursery and a carer who comes to our home. If you can afford it, having your child at home is fantastic, you can see what they are up to and they are always pleased to see you when you take a break. My experience is that both are really good for the kids for different reasons. Nursery gets them socialising with other children, and having a nanny at home gives extra one-to-one attention that really helps them. The nanny who comes to us does all the creative activities which you aspire to provide as a parent, because she's experienced and has games etc that I wouldn't have thought of, and also because she's not worrying about the practicalities of life at the same time.

If you are going to have child care at home, especially if your work ever involves talking to customers on the phone, then you absolutely have to arrange a separate space to be your office away from where children are playing. Ideally it needs to be far enough away that you can carry on a conversation even if there's a screaming temper tantrum going on in the next room!

It would be impossible to upvote this enough. Work-at-home dad here with 3 kids (1.5, 3, 6--only one of which regularly attends school). My wife's time is 110% occupied with them. If you're going to pull this off, you need:

a) dedicated child care b) dedicated work space that you can hide from the kids c) cooperation from your wife to enforce #2, as the kids don't like staying away

Good luck.

Mine are a few months older than gacba's, and yeah, it's a 110% job to keep them occupied. There's some home schooling, there's a yard for them to run around in, and other kid stuff to play with, but I get interrupted from time to time. If I've got to take care of them for some reason, it's about all I can do to keep an eye on email and respond if I have to.

Though, by now, it's mostly the little guy (21 mo) who needs the completely constant attention. He's still at the age that when he is quiet, that's when you need to be worried about what he's gotten into. The older two can pretty much self entertain for an hour or two, unless they get into some project that needs a bunch of help for finding materials. Or they 'accidentally' hurt each other with sticks.

I don't see Caregiver + programmer working for an 18mo old, other than for a random slice of time here and there. I am the primary care person for him from bedtime on -- sometimes I get a couple hours to program at night, sometimes I get an hour, and sometimes, I'm laying down with him awake, he's flopping about, and I'm >< this close to getting something working and it's damn frustrating because every time I think he's asleep, there's another flop and a hand to keep me from escaping. I've been known to tell him that he doesn't need to respond to awakeFromNib, but he doesn't listen as well as a compiler.

Totally agree. An 18 month old can be classified as a "terrible-two" already. This monster can draw all your attention. If you're at home typing a email, you need to do it in 2-3 installments. Thus a nanny or something to keep it away from you (even just in the next room) while you're at work is an absolute necessary.

PS: I am a parent of a 2-years and a 8-month.

This actually is the case all the way up until about age 12 or 13, when they will suddenly not want your attention at all. Speaking from experience.

"not want your attention at all"

Apart from buying stuff for them, of course. Spoken as the father of one 12 year old.

Though it's less guaranteed. From about 7 I was out all day on my bike with my friends or in my room playing computer games! :-) My 18 month old can go a good hour or so playing by herself but you'll pay for it later!

> From about 7 I was out all day on my bike

That's what you recall... I have a 9 and 6 yo. The have bikes and friends and are out for hours on end. But trust me, not all day. And you have no idea how many times you came back in for this or that.

Yeah, but in my case we usually ended up annoying the other kids' parents because they were cooler and had more goodies than mine ;-)

Therein lies your solution. Don't be a cool parent, and don't have goodies.

Thanks (all input welcome really, not restricted to mums)

I was kinda thinking my mum could take her for a couple of mornings a week, and I know my partner's mum is eager to look after her on Wednesdays. I was hoping that + evenings would be enough.

Maybe I'm being totally unrealistic.

You can work when (a) she is with someone (b) she is having a daytime nap (c) she is passed out for the day. Realistically you will not have contiguous stretches to work longer than an hour or two, frequently down to just 15-20 minutes, when you will need to get up and attend to the child. Regardless how short these breaks are they are the source of frustration. You just cannot concentrate. The best option is to work at night, but that yields 3 hours of work time and still manages to cut into sleep time and quickly leads to exhaustion. You may want to look at Provigil and caffeine tablets, because you will be counting every single free minute available for work.

So, yeah, sorry, it is really tough. Brace yourself, it will suck, but taking your girl out of daycare is the right thing to do. Letting random people have major influence on the formation of child's personality in this early age is just plain wrong.

Are your parents and/or in-laws retired? Maybe you can get them to take more time if you explained the situation. If they're not already committed to something else, they'd hopefully be glad to help out in your situation.

My wife and I are pretty much on our own in a different country than our parents, and on retrospection it would have been easier on us if we were able to get our parents to babysit every now-and-then. We're fortunate that I make enough that my wife is able to stay at home and watch our kids, but she misses her career and we also miss having one-on-one time together. Things are going well for us right now but we lack flexibility in our schedules.

My mum looked after my daughter for a couple of months when I first went back to work. Unfortunately she's disabled so it's not a solution long term.

My partner's mum works full time.

You've got two whole days of work time there (if the grandparents will commit). With some post-bedtime work then you should be able to work ½ time without getting too frazzled.

Easy ;0)>

Yes, planned like that it's doable. As long as you realize you can't work while taking care of the kid. (You can do house chores etc, but not work on the computer.)

I was a stay at home dad (I prefer 'trophy husband', btw) with an infant son while I built my first product. I got by on too little sleep for too long, taking care my son during the day and working during naps and evenings, often late into the night. It wasn't easy, but we had a great time.

Now for the bad news. While this was all possible working on my own product, on my own schedule, there is just no way that I could have kept any external commitments. Some weeks I got a lot done, and some weeks I didn't get anything done. If you're going to try this, I would suggest scaling daycare back to half days, or maybe just a few days a week at first to see how well you can make it work out.

I did for awhile, first for my local employer where my team was in the office and I worked from home, and then from a distributed company. These were both full time, and then I did part time for a different local company.

I had a nanny there watching my kid the entire time I was working. I did get to take little breaks to see what he was up to (and when he was younger, nurse him) and that's what was great about it. However, I really could NOT have watched him and worked AT ALL.

Taking care of a kid really is a full time job and you won't be able to get any work done if you don't have childcare there as well. Even the 1-2 hours you might get in a nap are easily taken up by cleaning up your messes, collapsing in exhaustion and, if you're lucky, checking your email.

If you CAN afford a nanny so that you're at home with your kid, then that is an awesome setup. It's the closest the thing to having your cake and eat it too, in my opinion.

And if you're feeling uneasy about your daycare, get your kid out ASAP! These little gut feelings are all you have, since you aren't there yourself. If you can't watch him yourself or get nanny, then at least find a new daycare. I used to work at a highly praised/awarded day care and based on that experience alone, I will never put my kid in daycare. Like I said, we were one of the better ones, because I've heard horror stories way worse than what happened where I worked. So... that sounds scary and I'm sorry but you have to trust your gut.

I probably couldn't afford a nanny, but my sister is currently jobless and might be open to 'working' for me a couple of days a week.

Thank you. I appreciate your honesty.

A fulltime nanny (aka, daytime, approx 9-10 hours, not live in) is only going to run you about 25-35k in many areas of the country. (I'm speaking of a legal resident with a green card or US citizen).

I think you'll find buying a smaller home or going on fewer vacations or eating out much less and getting some domestic help will drastically improve the quality of your life.

This is true, and is basically what I pay my nanny. I clearly could not afford to do this if I worked in a less lucrative industry. In that case, I would most likely stay home.

We're buying the smallest home in our area, don't vacation and don't eat out...

Sounds like you're not making enough to make living/working there worthwhile. Try a cheaper city. I'm not talking Topeka, but do look at cheaper cities with a tech scene. (I'm a big advocate of Atlanta, and live here, but Austin also works nicely).

Or just get a new job in the same city with better pay.

Edit: Oh, I see you're in the UK. That is quite different. Try pointing that out. The UK has several high cost areas and lower cost areas as well, but I know little about the tech scene.

The solution may be "Dude get's higher paying job"

Apologies for not clarifying my location.

I earn the going rate for a PHP developer in my area, in a job that I love that's close to where I live. Unfortunately it's a fairly low-paying area, so although I could probably squeeze another couple of grand out of a different employer, that would be eaten up by travelling costs/etc.

If money were the issue here, I'd just go up to 5 days a week.

Yeah, honestly, increasing income, or your hubby stopping some work is probably the better directions. In the states python/ruby web dev pays a bit better than php, so perhaps you could try moving towards that.

My gut says 'Don't buy this house, it's the wrong size for your income/family situation and in a place that doesn't pay well enough for the life you want.'

Jem, you can find a nanny for less than you think. There are lots of young ladies out there with out jobs who live with their parents and are much more the family type than the career type. Those girls would jump at the chance to take care of your son and don't cost very much, probably comparable to what you are paying now.

If it wouldn't get you in trouble, I would love to know your experiences from the inside of the daycare that aren't easily discernible from a parent's point of view.

I have a 1 yr old child in daycare and while everything seems great so far (she's only been there for 3 months) I've heard other parents having issues sometime - but no one I knew well enough to ask.

I'm a Dad with 6 children. My wife is a more-than-full-time Mom and homemaker. I've been primarily working from home for the past 10 years (and 3 children).

It sounds like your plans (part-time, primary caregiver for the child) isn't completely like my experience, but there are similarities.

Critical success factors for me:

* Have a separate workspace. I have to have a place that is for work, and away from wife & kids.

* Training - the kids have to learn (& be reminded!) that when I'm working, I'm not available to play games/read stories/play outside. This applies to my wife as well...

* Time for life, too. Sometimes the balance shifts the other way, and it's too easy to slip back into work because it's always right there...

But it has been wonderful - I've been able to be much more involved in the lives of my children. We have lunch together. I was there when they learned to walk. They can come for a hug or to snuggle on my lap for a minute. I make it to school programs. I'm here when they come home from school.

If you're comparing having 100% of the income (and spending 1/2 of it for taxes and daycare) vs. half the income and you get to "be there" every day as your child is growing, there's no comparison. Be there and enjoy your child.

Though there will be days you'll say, "Why am I doing this, again?" there will be plenty of memories you'll treasure.

I used to think that a parent's care was unequivocally the best childcare, but I no longer believe that to be true. As the mother of a four month old who has had 95% of her care provided by either me or my husband working from home, and 5% by a grandmother coming to stay and watch her, I have learned that having a dedicated child care person is not only vastly superior for the working parents' productivity/quality of life, it is also superior for the child. My daughter made so many developmental strides while under the full attention of an adult, versus the divided, frazzled attention she received from a working parent. Having come to the realization that my bright and inquisitive daughter needs more than the partial attention of an adult, we have changed our minds about our ability to care for her while performing our jobs (work in my case, professional school in my husband's).

You might therefore consider what we are currently considering in our single-income household, which is to get an au pair. I am in the US, so program details/costs will differ, but here is my assessment based on the U.S. program. Since they are live-in, the cash outlay can be considerably less than getting a nanny. While there are substantial program fees, their salary is paid at minimum wage, which is generally half to a third (even a quarter) of a nanny's wage. If you live in an expensive area, the cost of an au pair can even be competitive with in-home daycares (which are typically the least expensive type of daycare). Other benefits include their childcare training from the program, the light housework they may perform, and the "cultural exchange" aspect of hosting a young adult from another country.

(If an au pair doesn't work out for us, our second choice would be to do a nanny share.)

I've definitely seen and believe in the benefits of an extended family raising a child. I think you're on to something here.

Since we have no family living in the area, I'm hoping that some responsible, hired help can fill that void.

I have several female friends who work from home and watch their children.

I'm not sure any of them would recommend their lifestyle, but they make it work. The key seems to be about 3-4 hours of at-home childcare assistance per day.

As any parent knows, there are long stretches during a day when kids are easy, punctuated by little 20-minute intervals of pure agony. Having someone on hand to help with those little moments seems to be the key.

This can a grandparent, neighbor, or nanny. Like I said, we have a few close friends who are currently making this work (out of necessity, not choice).

I'm not female so presumably my opinion doesn't count, but I'll give it anyway 'cause that's what I'm like.

I do some web design/dev work alongside my other occupation and my wife and I alternate childcare/household duties and work (and have for both our kids except for the -2 to 6 months age range). Our youngest just turned 2.

Basically I came to the point, about 6 months ago, where I can no longer do any useful work (before bedtime c.8pm) and look after the little one. He does have a nap for up to an hour a day and that's the most time I can hope to gain. But then he's also up at 6am and I'm a night owl so I often need a little nap myself. He can of course play independently in the house or mess around in the garden but I find context switching to be extremely hard. Whenever I try to use the phone he's there or he’s calling me or fallen over or something.

After our first child when I first started professional web design work I'd simply work in to the night. It's possible to do the actual work but what I couldn't do was go out and find new work easily.

We started our own business(es) and took a huge cut in our income, then had kids ... I wanted kids. I want to raise them and spend time with them, as much as possible really.

In short raising my own kids is mostly joyful and rewarding; I don't really understand having children and then getting someone else to raise them for you. If you have a ready source of [PHP] work then I think it's eminently doable, if you have to seek for work, win clients, etc., then I think it's going to get very much harder.


Your milage may vary, but I can tell you how we are doing it. My wife and I both work from home. I sold my half of my company in 2008 and have since been a freelance designer and developer. My wife is a freelance editor. We have a baby-sitter / nanny who comes 4 days a week to help with my 2-year-old girl. Wednesdays are still "family" days and it's nice to go to the museums, the zoo, even just the grocery store during a weekday when they are not super-crowded.

Of course my wife and I are interrupted throughout the day to help with lunch, naptime, diapers, story and play time, etc. The interruptions can be a bit frustrating when working against a deadline and I've occasionally rented a part-time desk in a shared office space to be a bit more focused. But we see a huge payoff in my daughter. We think as a result of being so responsive and close to her, she seems confident and emotionally secure, and very verbal for her age. And of course, being there has been an amazing experience for me, too.

One downside is that she's not getting the same socialization she would in day care. But we do take her to various group activities and classes, and she starts a pre-school two mornings a week in the fall. She will get a good dose of it then.

We're also not saving much money for retirement and occasionally dip into our savings, but we are otherwise making ends meet, paying off the mortgage and health insurance and still manage to take a few weeks vacation each year. Once my daughter is in school, we expect to ramp up the billable hours. In the evenings, I've even managed to put together a modest web app, which I hope to launch this summer.

I would like to know how you handle this, because I am expecting my first child in July (missizii@yahoo.com). I am fortunate that my husband can support our family and if I wanted to, I would never have to work outside the home again. But I don't want to completely give up the personal satisfaction of building interesting software that is used by lots of people. I live in a low-tech area, and there is no such thing as a part-time software engineering position. My current plan is to use a half-day Montessori preschool starting at age 2 and use that time to work on an android application (I'm a jack-of-all-trades, but I started my career in Java). Is a half-day preschool an option for you?

I'm not a female, but I feel that asking only females is making this question only artificially "irrelevant to 98% of HN." Me not being from the UK is probably a bigger barrier.

Still, I don't understand. Instead of your child being in a place where they can socialize with other kids and be watched by adults, you want to let them spend all day playing quietly by themselves or being babysat by the TV while you are working on your computer all day with your back turned? And this is your unrealistic, ideal best-case?!

If you don't mean full time, that may work (you can probably squeeze in a couple of hours a day, at the expense of the house growing messier and messier). This is much more reasonable when you aren't paying for daycare.

I'd also like to ask if you really think you could handle being alone all day, constantly juggling 2 stressful jobs at once, every day. A full time mom can leave the house with the kid(s) and socialize, but if you are working that would just be something else to stress over while you try to "squeeze it in".

If you can afford full-time daycare, are you SURE you can't afford to just stay home? (At least you OR your partner)

P.S. I actually am not a big fan of daycare, and my wife is likely going to go back to being a full-time mom after half a year of working part time specifically to let both mommy and baby socialize outside of the house (separately, in this case). Gas prices, tuition hikes, and the loss of alternative care have made it too costly (she was working 3 days just to pay for 2 days of daycare. Seriously).

(Edited to add a couple of sentences, didn't notice Jem's reply until afterwards)

My little girl is not big on socialising with other kids she doesn't know - and even after nearly 6 months at nursery she's still struggling to fit in. I would prefer to have her in an environment where I can focus on her current emotional needs and worry about socialising with people we know before forcing her into the big wide world. (We don't watch TV.)

I definitely would be aiming to do it part time. Earning enough to keep things ticking over, not to have some sort of luxury lifestyle.

Childcare currently costs over half my monthly income so I hear you there.

If childcare costs over half your salary (totally believe it, that's why my wife had to give up work), then even part-time work is going to break-even for you. So really you only need to get 4hrs work done each day (assuming same hourly rate - although, as a freelancer, you should be changing much more).

I have 2 kids^: the 18mo still sleeps for 2-3hours in the middle of the day and even the 3.5yo will have a 1hour nap/quiet time most days. Assuming you've got that routine, perhaps your husband would like some quality time with the child for an hour after work? And that still leaves all the evenings and weekends totally free.

^ disclosure: male, married father-of-two, employed

Edit: formatting

My daughter was exactly the same at age 2 and has completely flip-flopped at daycare.

She was initially very reserved around kids (and still is around new adults), but is very social with the other kids in her daycare classes. It took a couple of years, but her personality and openness to other children is now commented on by her teachers and other adults.

She actively attaches herself to new kids in class and integrates them into the class. She's still not a very aggressive socializer with new kids in new environments, but she is much more open than I would have ever imagined.

Good luck - I don't have any advice other than to continue to trust your instincts, but wanted to let you the "fitting in" thing might change in unexpected ways.

My little girl is not big on socialising with other kids she doesn't know - and even after nearly 6 months at nursery she's still struggling to fit in.

If she's having difficulty developing those social skills surely this makes it more important to throw her into social situations rather than protecting her from them?

I disagree, but I didn't write this to debate parenting methods so will leave it there.

FYI there's evidence that early daycare leads to behavioral problems later on. One hypothesis is that it's because kids model their behavior off of other kids... instead of adults, which are the model of what we want kids to become.

1. You have to do what makes you happy and comfortable 2. Do not I repeat DO NOT let yourself be bullied by anyone who makes snide comments about what works for you

The feelings you have are natural for a parent. Even if you don't work - you'll feel guilt over many other things.

So here are some tips from a female who works from home.

Try for a job that allows flexibility. Some of my best hours of work are from 8pm-12am.

Instead of a 'day care' perhaps someone in your neighborhood babysits children. My next door neighbor has a little play group that all the mothers are super happy with and my son literally bursts through the play group door. He is ready to leave the second he wakes up.

If your job pays well perhaps a babysitter who comes to your house while you work can be a possibility. They can also do light cleaning and perhaps help peel vegetables for supper etc.

Your 18 month old will not stay 18 months old forever. So perhaps now you might feel a bit of natural guilt but children are resilient and your baby will be fine. My mom worked all through our childhood and we had no resentment issues ever. Just make sure to give your baby lots of love and as much attention as you can.

Again - do not allow others to dictate how you feel. Do what works for you.

My wife and I have a 3 month old and are both trying to work from home part-time and take care of him (I also go to school part-time so that get's me out of the house a bit).

Obviously a 3 month old is much different than an 18 month old, but our experience so far is telling us that we cannot take care of the baby and get work done without finding some extra help for at least a few hours a week.

Currently I try to work from 8-10 a.m. while my wife and the baby are asleep. Then I watch the baby for about four hours and my wife tries to get work done. The problem is that there are so many small interruptions everyday (diapers, crying, feeding, happy alert time, etc.) that we both struggle to find time when we can really concentrate and get things done.

A friend of ours is a nursing student and is going on summer break this week. She's planning on trying to babysit for 3-4hrs a day 2-3 days a week. Maybe you could find a similar solution.

Good luck! I really hope you figure out something that works.

I've been a stay-at-home dad for about 5 years now and can relate. My oldest son (14 months at the time) was always getting sick at his daycare and he twice got so sick he ended up in the ER. After that we decided one of us was staying home. Best decision we ever made. I know later in life I will look back at these years as the "glory years" because of all the memories and time spent together.

When I'm not on daddy duty I develop and support two web apps on the side. The only real work I've been able to consistently get in is during nap time (usually 2 hours per day after lunch), a 6-hour chunk on an odd Saturday or Sunday, and at night when they are sleeping. I can also fire off an email here and there throughout the day, but for the most part the "business" comes second to family responsiblities. When I'm with the kids I try not to let the business take up too many brain cycles so I can be fully "present".

I am not female but have been through this.

Keep the kids at home. The only time to work is at night after everyone is asleep and it is quiet. Time trying to work during the day will be wasted due to constant interruptions and thinking about other things, and you'll be frustrated as well.

This means during the 16 day hours you need to take them 8 hrs and your partner needs to take them the other 8 hours. That means you aren't spending much time together. That's right, that's how this will work.

In the old days professionals made enough cash to hire a professional staff to raise the kids at home, and later off to boarding school. This is not possible now since most IT jobs that pay well are in areas that have such a high cost of living there is no money to hire a staff. Staff is for executive level folks that make $3 million +.

Staff is for executive level folks that make $3 million +

Maybe in the US but it's pretty common amongst middle class British families, especially as there are various (and frequently substantial) tax breaks available to people who need to hire people for child care duties.

Second tier cities (Atlanta, Austin) do pay less, but cost of living is much much less, and you can hire staff here.

Even if you end up paying them 1/2 your takehome: You triple your free time, the most valuable resource you have.

On the other hand, if you live in a first-tier city, this makes the au pair program that much of a better deal (see my other comment on au pairs), as you get a first-tier salary, and their pay is federal minimum wage. It's too bad for the au pairs, but that is how the program works, and they are getting free room and board, plus some cash, in a first-tier city.

If you live in a first-tier city (like New York City) and can afford an extra room for an au pair, then you probably don't need to worry about the cost of childcare.

I'd say a house big enough for a au pair to live in as well, you might find it better hire a nanny.

To be honest we barely see each other now - we're at work all day then dealing with house stuff/etc in the evening. It wouldn't be a major difference!


Yet another non-female here, but I did stay at home one summer and watched our 18 mo and 4 yo while trying to do some consulting work. It was a nightmare. If you can get in home care, that might, might help. But you would still be better off in a separate building. If you have a cottage, unattached garage, barn, etc, that might help. For me, I had to wait until my wife got home and go to a coffee shop. Then it took 45 minutes for my brain to spin down from its hypervigilant state. I developed tinnitus during those months, and still have it five years later.

The central problem is that you can't load big problems into your head. Something will always bring them crashing down. You won't spend half your time watching the kiddo and get half as much done. You'll get 1% as much done.

I've been a "work from home parent" off and on over the last ten years. My observation - when a child is young GOOD daycare is probably going to be better than anything you can provide.

Because the day at daycare is structured around your child and the people who are interacting with your child do not have something that they would rather be doing or feel that they need to be doing, good daycare workers are more consistently present in the moment for the children in their care - they are not feeling like they should be checking their email or writing code or attending a meeting.

Finally, without a signed contract the economics don't work and even with one, getting new clients and new projects is going to put pressure on you to be elsewhere while your child is in your care.

Good luck.

I'm a male with an 18 month old. I've found it next to impossible to work from home with child around. I felt guilty not giving my daughter the attention she wanted but also felt guilty not being able to focus on work. A good compromise (IMHO) would be to adjust your working time to perhaps 4-5 hours during the day (around nap time) then another 4-5 hours after baby goes to bed.

I would highly recommend checking out a co-working space if available. They give you a separate place to work free of distractions and are much cheaper than renting an office. Good luck!

In my experience, kids that age can sense when you're working on the computer. They'll happily play by themselves when you're doing things like cleaning, cooking etc., but the moment you turn on the computer they'll be on you and won't let you "dissappear" into the machine. At least, that's my experience.

100% concur.

My kids seem to have developed a sixth sense for when I'm deep in thought on a particularly hard problem, and will usually pick THAT EXACT MOMENT to gang up on my wife. In unison, all 3 will have temper tantrums, causing my wife to call down to me (I work in the basement) for backup.

I suspect this is related to the ability for an infant to know the difference between your REAL cellphone and your old cellphone with the SIM removed. Seriously. I've never met a baby who was happy playing with an old cellphone, but give them a working cellphone and they're totally happy.

I have triplets and I'm a dad. The only possible way I can get any work done is by doing it after they go to bed, but then I must balance any work with truly quality time with the wife.

You've got to make serious sacrifices and rethink things, but your kid is worth it.

PS: I didn't have a problem with female in your title. I'm a pretty participatory parent, but it's definitely a different situation between mom and dad roles.

I have not worked full-time from home, but have worked from home on occasion, with a home-schooled boy. He was between 8 - 10 years old. Sometimes his mother was present, occasionally I was teaching him school and working.

I can't imagine working full time with a young child. Well, I can, but it's not pretty: power naps and no real sleep.

What you could is hire a child-care provider. She comes to your house, so you can oversee what is going on, peek in on the kid and so forth.

I am not real hip on child-care centers: you get other people raising your children, these people are not always ideal, or even nice, and so forth.

The ideal is having a parent at home doing the child-rearing. Perhaps your partner can be the stay-at-home until the child is school age.

This might be inconvenient, for the guy. But consider that your child is the single most important thing you will ever do.

I usually get the financial argument when I ask people with kids why the mother doesn't work: "We wanted one of us to be a full-time parent. <Dad> made/makes more money than <mum>, so it made sense she quit her job."

It seems the situation is reversed for you, but does the argument not still apply?

We have considered Dad staying home instead, if that's what you mean. The problem is my daughter being in daycare, not me being at work, so it's a possibility.

This, also other possible arrangements:

* two part times

* actually use the daycare, and consider the stories as the usual legends, of the "we're pissing into your food" variety

* any combination of the above

We are using the daycare. The "little tales" I refer to are things they're doing/saying that I don't like, rather than people telling me their bad experiences.

I'm a father (still pretty new) working from home with an office in an outbuilding. My wife stays home with our crawling 10-month-old. She has asked me to watch the kid while I work from the couch so she can be free to make dinner. It doesn't work. It didn't work before the kid learned to crawl. It won't work until the kid can be unsupervised. You can't supervise a kid and work at the same time.

So what? You can still find a way to be home with your child more of the week and get by. We sacrificed a decent second income (my wife's) and money is tighter but it's worth it.

Maybe you'll work fewer hours and hire a nanny for your working hours. Best case scenario: one of you finds a better income so the other can stop working.

I have a female friend whom is a developer, mom and work from home freelancer - let me see if I can get her on here to give some information :)

Thanks (if it's easier, she could email jem@jemjabella.co.uk)


"Parenting is not black and white, you don’t NEED the material shit or thousands of pounds to make it work. Save your money for when your sproglet reaches 17 months old and discovers how to throw a tantrum, you can invest in an alcohol habit to get you through it. Ahem."


I think we're birds of a feather, apart from the pets (I'm not in to caging animals, zoos make me so sad).

You are right at that corner where this will become possible. Before 18 months, there is no way. But at 18 months, they usually can play independently for longer periods, and you should be able to put some time into work. The older they get, the easier it gets.

But I have two recommendations:

1) Find activities they can get caught up in for long periods of time - drawing, crafts, or something like that. You need them to be nearby, but independently occupied.

2) Find work that doesn't require being "in the zone". You won't get a solid 2 hour block of time. You will get interrupted often. If you choose work that will suffer from frequent interruptions, you will struggle to succeed.

A small plug for the hn-parents google group!

Thank you, I wasn't aware of this!

(link: http://groups.google.com/group/hn-parents )

I did. And the way I played it was to work through the night so my wife could have a full night's sleep every night (in preparation for a full day!) That way I could work all night in peace (mostly) and deal with the baby when necessary.

Now that my daughter's solidly into toddler territory, though, my wife was keen for me to be awake at "more normal" hours so I've rented an office ;-) There's just no way I could be in the same house with a demanding wife and child.. not necessarily because of their active demands, but because I kept getting lured into playing or doing stuff with them.

My sister-in-law has two kids (2.75 years and 1.5 years) and works from home. She has two or three girls set up on a rotation that come over and watch the kids for a number of hours most days of the week so she can get some work done. It would be impossible to do anything otherwise, especially as the kids don't often nap at the same time.

They live fairly close to a local college, so it's worked out well for them to find people for the position. One even stays in a secondary building they have on property with a portion of the rent traded for the babysitting.

Being rich always helps.

What does your sister-in-law do?

She manages insurance of some sort -- I don't know the specific details. She does have a completely separate, dedicated working space for it. It's as far away from the kids and the noise as possible.

My wife and I have a four month old daughter, and we both run successful businesses from home.

I take care of the baby in the morning while my wife works, and we switch in the afternoon. This schedule ensures we each get 4-6 hours of focused time to work each day without taking Lela to daycare.

It's not always easy, but we're very productive, and still feel like good parents.

I recently wrote a post with the details here: http://personalmba.com/building-a-business-that-supports-you...

It sounds like you want to be at home so that your little girl gets more of your time. Working effectively from home requires getting as much time to yourself as possible. It's going to be a tough conflict.

I'm a dad with a 20 month old son. I've tried working at home and even with Mum looking after him I found it next to impossible. There is nothing quite as distracting as hearing a crash followed by your child screaming. Little boys do this A LOT.

I understand your thoughts on day care though. I hope you find an arrangement that works for you.

I'm a dad with two kids, one went to nursery 3 days a week from the age of one while mum worked, one didn't (the income/childcare cost maths on 2 kids didn't work out) and I doubt you'd see any difference in their demeanour. Nursery is not some kind of punishment for your kids, in fact it's probably the opposite, especially if the alternative is being looked after by a stressed mum who's trying to do two incredibly taxing jobs at the same time!

From your post it sounds like the issue is your nursery, if you're not happy with it try looking around for a different one didn't. Speak to friends & acquaintances, do the legwork and visit some in the day and find one your comfortable with. I've seen quite a few people give up on nursery because the first one they tried didn't fit, don't let an implementation put you off the whole concept.

Working from home is hard with kids, I do it 2 days a week and I find it challenging to concentrate even though I'm not looking after them (headphones are your friend!) May be worth talking to your present employer and seeing if you can reduce your hours or become more flexible, say go down to 3 days a week with 1 work from home. In that situation your probably not going to make that day up while your kid is awake, but spreading a couple of hours a day in the evening or while your partner plays mom across the remaining days is doable.

Your kids most pressing need is some happy supportive parents (or parent) so don't beat yourself up about your decisions if your kids are smiling and happy. Parenting is a minefield these days, mostly because the natural parent emotions (panic, worry, paranoia) have been turned into multi-billion dollar industries. Trust your judgement and remember, it gets easier(ish) when they're a bit older ;)

We did the legwork before we chose the nursery - dismissed several other options (including childminders) picking the one we liked the most.

The problem is, my judgement is telling me to get her out. Hence the post!

IMHO if you have even the smallest doubt I would remove the child from the daycare and either move them to another, or bring them home.

With my first son we ignored some of the doubt, thinking we were being overprotective first-time parents. Once we made the decision to move him to a new daycare, the changes in my son were immediate. He was socializing with kids, and learning much more rapidly than before, and in general much of the behavioural problems we were having disappeared.

Thanks for clarifying - if taking her out of nursery is what you feel you should do then do it, your the only one that knows what's best for your own child.

My wife and I highly recommend a nanny, even a part-time one. You can find them cheaper than you would expect. We were in a similar position as you, only we both ran businesses out of the home. Our solution, we hired a nanny who lived with us except on weekends. With a nanny your children are cared for in your own home, a safe place. You can also insure that they are cared for by your standards, and you can take a break to play with them whenever you want. You don't have to get a full time live in nanny, plenty of them will work 8-5.

Your best luck will be with high school graduates who are not immediately headed to college, and are the type that look forward to settling down to have a family of their own. Our nanny was a very sweet girl who had no means to attend college and I would guess wasn't a strong learner but she was clean cut, quiet, had a heart of gold and loved our daughters and cared for them so well. It worked out perfectly.

work at home dad here. I get most of my work done at home when kid is at school, I'm pretty laid back and don't even need an office, just sprawl out on a couch with laptop & I'm good. I mix it up and go to a coffee shop if wife is home, or send the kid outside to play if I need to focus.

its a really great situation for me. I love picking up my son from school, helping him with homework as I wrap up.

you'll need some kind of child care for an 18mo though. at least something part-time like 'mother's day out' programs. on those days when school is out and my wife has to work, it can be a strain on both of us.

I love it, and don't miss the stressful commute or the office at all. its amazing how relaxed i am, and mentally 'here' for my family now. being able to work from home is probably the biggest reason I'm sticking with my bigco employer until they get tired of me :) if/when they do, I'll move if I can't get another remote gig.

I'm a dad with a 5yr and 10mo old. There is no way you can care for a child and get more than 1-2 hours work done at a time. Tough to get in the zone/flow for sure.

We do a nanny-share. Another family brings their daughter over, and we have a nanny come from 8-5. Sometimes we switch and use the other family's house, but not often. It's about the same cost as day care for this arrangement, maybe a little more. My wife works full-time out of the home.

I like that I can see the kids during the day sometimes and generally keep an ear on things. Also nice that I'm here in case nanny is sick and has to go home for the day. My house has a separate room for a home office, which helps a lot.

EDIT: to clarify, I work full-time from a home office.

Although I agree largely what is being said here, I must add something in that is unrelated to work and looking after children at the same time. My little boy excelled when he was in the company of other children, socially. I found that when he was on 1 to 1 with my parents, he didn't know how to play with other children. I also find this true of people who stop at home and look after their children.

I also find they become quite needy as you are the only one they have interaction with. Sorry if this is off-topic from your true question.

We've never had a problem with child care, mainly because we send them to people we trust.

We seem to be having the opposite problem at the minute. The longer my daughter spends with other children / not having 1 on 1 time, the more withdrawn she gets.

We went away for a long weekend recently and the change was amazing. I'd not seen her that happy in a long time.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Children are a mystery, wouldn't suit them to be all the same though I guess.

Good luck in whichever path you choose to take, I don't think people who don't have children understand how difficult it really is juggling work and children

A woman on my team works at home with her 2 very young kids. She has a sitter come in every morning and stay most of the day. I think this is the only way to make it work if you have a job that requires any sort of time commitments.

The upsides end up being the same as most work at home jobs. You save time not commuting and you can see your kids at lunch. She's also there if an emergency arises.

Another friend of mine works at home and she does something similar. It's funny to hear hear 5 year olds say that they can't bother mommy when she's in her office because that means she's working.

I have 2.5 year old and work from home part of the time. My girlfriend is home with her in the morning. I go to the office in the morning then come home at lunch for the handoff and then my girlfriend goes to work. We play for a bit then she goes down for a three hour nap and I do more work. On the rare occasion she doesn't sleep then I just hang with her and do the work at night. If I have a hard deadline then I resort to DVDs (they are a lifesaver) but try to avoid it.

I work at home. We have 4 kids from 4 to 13. My office is the dining room, so it is central. To add extra excitement we also home educate.

Our kids have never been in a daycare or a school. I'm not a fan of either. That equated to many years of financial "hardship" and being down one income even when the other income was relatively small. We've since been able to "bootstrap" our ability to work and earn and having both of us at home is really a great experience overall.

I wouldn't trade it.

I work from home and have a 6 month old daughter. My wife looks after her full time though. I had to convert our garage so that I could lock myself away and actually do some work.

If you're planning on working and looking after your child it won't happen. The only way it works for me is that my wife is there to support the family.

However, if you can move back home then it's amazing to get 20 minute breaks and pop in to see your child. Breaks up the day nicely :)

Indeed, as others have posted, I don't see this as realistic. I'm a non-female, but I work from home. My wife doesn't work (at a paying job, at last) and stays home to take care of our 8 month old. Even now, her free time is best measured in minutes, rather than hours. I can't imagine that she's going to have more free time for a long while, which she says is certainly the case (my first, her 3rd).

This is exactly my situation. I work remotely as an Engineering Manager. I have a 19 month old daughter. I have a nanny that comes in from 9-530. If I need to work longer than that, I typically do so after our daughter is asleep. I've been doing this since I went back to work when she was 12 weeks old: at that time I also took breaks through the day to breastfeed.

Good luck. It's the best arrangement ever.

VERY interested in this as something I would like to do in some form or other. I don't have kids yet and am working on disconnecting my income from the hours I work with passive income (the dream right?). At the very least I would like to work from home so I can be there for my child and partner immediately if required.

Just wanted to thank everyone who took the time to respond - the response has been amazing, way beyond what I expected. I love the different perspectives.

It's given me a lot to think about, perhaps confused me a little more.. but at least opened my eyes too. So again, thank you.

Yes, and yelling "I'M WORKING!" once an hour sounds about right.

Hey.. You can make at least $1000 to $1500 per month from working online.. Go there: http://www.freelancer.com/affiliates/ahmed613/ sign up for an account for free.. and start finding jobs in the facebook and php categories..

In a single month, I made around $3000 from projects there..

If it works for you, you can then subscribe for a $25 monthly fee, which will reduce the fees they charge you from 10% to 3% only!

Start bidding with low prices at first.. just look at other bids, and see what is the average, and bid lower than the average with 5% to 10%.

This will help you in getting reviews and reputation quickly... and then you can start increasing your bids accordingly!

When you bid on a project, YOU MUST send a private message to the employer, explaining how you can do the job, and take a little bit about your great experience... and ask the employer to contact you, and ask you any questions needed.

Without sending a private message to the employer, your chances to get the job will be very low indeed!

Good luck for you, and if you need any help, don't hesitate to ask. Ahmed.

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