Recently, an experienced career lady emailed me and asked for my advice on how to ‘work around the kids’.
I’m no expert. Having been fully self employed for little over six months, I’m definitely a newbie. But if I can help any woman who is at the employment crossroads due to their family commitments, then I’m happy to share my experiences so far.
When to work
Everyone has a different family dynamic, but for me, my sole aim is to avoid childcare before and after school. I have no nearby family to help me in that way, so it’s either work ‘school hours’, or find a full time job at Senior level and pay two lots of childcare.
My core hours are two days a week, 9:30-2:30pm plus one evening, and I get away from my screen for at least 30 minutes each sitting. Being disciplined with work time comes easily, when there’s childcare costs attached to it. Suddenly you become really productive when you know you’d otherwise be paying someone cash per hour, for you to sit there faffing around.
Yup, childcare. There’s a difference between ‘working around your kids’ and ‘working around your kids’. Makes no sense until you try, but things like the ‘Working Moms’ propaganda we see splattered everywhere, are a complete fallacy.
I can’t send an email without my toddler son smacking the keys on my macbook. It’s been to Apple hospital because he hit the trackpad with a block and cracked it. Lesson learned. And he’s a kid – he wouldn’t thank me for trying to work whilst managing him too. So whether you have a childminder, family member or nursery, figure out how much you want to work and how much it will cost you, versus your hourly rate…
Your Hourly Rate
Naturally, this will vary massively between industries. I’m not the main earner in my house, but I worked out that by my youngest not doing the full time nursery thing and me working on my old salary, I’m ‘saving’ a significant chunk a month by not giving so much to a childcare setting and me being at home instead, which leads me to…
I completely underestimated how mentally consuming self employment is. I have become a lousy wife. I can’t remember when I last watched TV (apart from GBBO. Got to have GBBO). But it’s VERY easy to forget that the extra money you don’t pay out in care to go to work somewhere? Well that should hopefully go some way towards reminding you of the financial value you are providing to the house. Never forget your financial and emotional worth. In your working hours at home, don’t:
Become your other halves’ secretary
Clean the house
Have a lunch break. You are at work. You are entitled to treat lunch just as others do.
Create your environment. Put your music on. I burn my Lampe Berger that my husband can’t stand to be around, but I love. Or I listen to a podcast, do 10 mins of a language.
Look after your taxes! Which leads me on to…
Taxes and Incoming/Outgoings
Even if you think you’ll earn under your personal allowance, make sure you set aside 20% of what you bill out for. Set up a different account for tax alone (an ISA might be a good idea) and get into the habit of whipping away a chunk each time you get paid. Label outgoings clearly on your statement too. Get advice from a trustworthy accountant and decide how much help you’ll need (I am prepared to get lots of help, especially in these early years).
What can I add to the list to help my contact? I’d love it if you could please leave a comment with your tips for working around the kids!