It is really necessary to establish the right balance between family and work for the sake of your children's happiness and for your own sanity. Of course, it is generally essential for at least one parent, and sometimes both, to be working. The vast variety of different employment possibilities makes it difficult to generalise about the best way to manage your work so that your family benefits from the income you generate but does not suffer because it takes you away from them too much.
This is especially a problem for moms and single or stay at home fathers. If this is you and you have to work to provide the whole, or extra, income that your family needs, then getting the right balance between family and work becomes even more difficult.
There is a lot to be said for finding a way of generating your own income from home. The advantages of working from home, is that you will normally be self-employed, and able to arrange your working hours around your children's day. That doesn't mean it is easy and the more help and advice you can get the better.
I have been a self-employed mother ever since my children were born and have found it to be quite a juggling act at times, especially as I have home-educated since my eldest was six. With the help of my husband, parents, friends and working from home, I have managed to work part-time for the last 20 years.
It is definitely harder when your children are pre-school age and it really is necessary to get some outside help during this period. Here are some ideas for getting the help you need:
- ask grandparents to have the children for a regular time each week.
- swap childminding with a friend.
- contact your local college and see if a childcare student might be available and wanting to get some hands on experience.
- if your partner's work is flexible, he/she could take care of the children while you work.
- if your income allows for it, find a local childminder, nursery or playgroup where your child could be cared for a few hours a week.
Once your children go to school, if that is what you choose, then working, either from home or in employment, becomes a bit easier. However, there will always be school holidays and times when your children are sick which have to be managed.
To Work or Not
If you want to keep your stress levels to a minimum, I think it is important to consider whether you can manage your family and work situation with only one parent working during your children's early years.
We live in a very materialistic world and there is a lot of pressure to have a high standard of living. However, is it better to have high material standard of living or a high emotional standard of living? Having lots of material stuff may have its attractions and even make life easier in some ways. But doing without some of this stuff and having a more relaxed and happier way of life has so many benefits for you and your children.
Children, especially pre-school age, are not attached to material belongings in the way older children and adults tend to be. They are much more interested in your attention and what you do together. And it is easy to have lots of fun in some very cheap or no cost ways. (Another benefit of having less stuff is that you don't have to dust it or tidy it up!)
So, I think it is worth giving some serious consideration to whether both parents need to work for the sake of a more stress free balance between family and work.
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A useful site full of resources and ideas for people working from home.
A really comprehensive site aboute everything to do with being a mum. The link leads to the page all about work and childcare which has lots of information about working both at home and away, suggestions for childcare, et.