Just because you work at home doesn’t mean your decisions about child care providers are simple. In fact, in some ways they’re more complex.
First, determining whether you need how much child care you need is not always clear cut. Full-time child care and part-time child care as well as no child care each have their advantages. It's never simple. Even if you work full-time, you may only need part-time child care.
And while the same child care providers are available to work-at-home moms as everyone else, some just don’t make as much sense. The goal for most work-at home moms is to be closer to their children, so enrolling at a full-time daycare center is a less common choice. Also the cost of child care may not be practical compared to the income you are generating when you start off working from home, though there are some low-cost or free child care options.
Everyone’s situation is a little different. Here are some child care providers to consider:
- Part-time babysitter – Having a sitter in your home only when you need help can be an efficient and economical solution, assuming you can find someone whose schedule fits yours. However, part-time babysitters usually have less training than nannies, and because they have other employment or interests, they may not be able to work at the times you need them.
- Mother's helper - Mother's helpers usually have less experience than babysitters and only work when an adult is present in the house. They may do light cleaning, meal preparation or other jobs as needed. Often a teen or tween learning to babysit, mother's helpers require more supervision than babysitters but are also usually paid less.
- Full-time nanny or babysitter (live out) – If you’ve determined that you need a full-time child care provider, a caregiver in your home is probably the best option if your children are not in school yet. A nanny will keep young kids from interrupting your work and, in many circumstances, can drive children to activities or pick them up from school. Hiring a full-time child care provider eliminates the need to scramble for child care solutions during school holidays and when your child is sick.
- Full-time nanny or au pair (live in) - For most work-at-home moms, this is more child care and expense than truly needed. And many people don’t have the space or the desire to have another person living in their home. But if you take business trips frequently, a live-in nanny can provide child care while you’re away.
- Relative or friend – Having grandparents or other relatives as child care providers either on a full- or part-time basis can be a winning situation for everyone, as long as expectations, parenting philosophies, and schedules are discussed in detail in advance. Along these same lines, a “kid swap” with like-minded friends (you host their kids one day, then they reciprocate) can be a great part-time solution, giving your child the opportunity for play dates both inside and outside your home.
- Pre-school – The point of working at home is to be with your child, so the idea of sending your 3 or 4 year old off to school while you stay home might seems counter intuitive. Children have the rest of their lives for school and then work, right? Maybe, but many of the academic and social skills a good pre-school can teach in just 2-3 half days a week are things your child may not learn at home.
- Daycare Center - As with a pre-school, it may be difficult to pack your child off to daycare every day when you are home. But infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers can need more attention than you are able to give if you job involves regular deadlines or frequent phone calls. Sending them to daycare, where they will make friends and engage in stimulating activities, might be the best thing for all.
- After-school care – If you need full-time child care because you must work regular business hours and your children are in school, this might be an easier (and possibly less expensive) solution than coordinating with a babysitter. Of course, one reason to work from home is to spend more time with your kids. However, the elimination of your commute may add more family time into your day. If your child’s school has a quality after-school program that accepts occasional participants, you may want to register for emergencies or busy times when you may need a little extra help.
- Summer Camp - If you rely on school as your child care provider, you'll need a different plan in the summer. Summer camp may just fit the bill.