Parenting, along with working, are for many of us the two great virtues of life. One cannot successfully parent without livelihood, and the arrival of children bring far more meaning and purpose to livelihood itself.
Every family and working set-up is based on what’s most convenient for them. There is no right or wrong, however we commonly see one parent staying at home with the baby and the other going out to work full time.
But what happens if both parents need to work? Or in the instance of a lone-parent family?
Being a parent who can devote their time to their child, combined with the ability to work from home, is an absolute blessing. Spending every day with the little one(s) paired with the means to build an income from the sofa is a lifestyle many mothers and fathers aspire to.
I am a work from home mum, I am also a full time mum. My little boy (aged 2) is with me almost all day, every day so I’m in complete control of his care, early education, stimulation and social time.
At this moment in time we are free spirits, enjoying adventuring and exploring without being tied to a rigid daily routine. Given that he will be a long time school, living this lifestyle is blissful during his earliest months and years.
We love doing everything together and it fills me with joy to be present for every precious baby and toddler milestone.
The beauty of being a full time parent however brings challenges. Working always has and always will be a necessity for me and earning my living is simply not as plain sailing as it used to be.
Unless one's profession is childminding, fellow work from home parents would understand the typical obstacles of trying to operate any sort of employment or freelance business with a little one in tow.
Most will have a lengthy period of 'suck it and see' whilst working out some form of structure with it all. Things never remain consistent as we go through cycles with babies and pre-schoolers.
What may seem easy one week can prove tricky the next, owing to the next 'leap,' fussy phase or rebellious streak kicking in. When the pressure to work and earn is mounting, all of this can be exasperating.
The act of ticking things off the business to-do list can feel triumphant! We hope and pray for naptime.
Quiet moments of contentment, set up with toys in the garden perhaps, offer some opportunity to be productive in between buggy jogs or fitness sessions, play dates in the park and stay-and-play groups. It all becomes a juggling act.
Rocking baby with foot whilst tapping away on the laptop or fiddling with handicrafts, along with attempts at negotiation, even (dare I say it) bribing, are tactics often employed with a toddler.
A full 8 hours' work is simply not doable but being able to steal an hour here and there to be uber productive is a highly prized skill to acquire. An absolute necessity, in fact, for a homeworking parent.
Working out a childcare option can be very helpful, but can also be very expensive.
Unless the cash in is greater than the cash out in that respect, is simply doesn't seem worth it until the Government assisted funded hours kicks in at age 3 (or age 2 with qualifying benefits/tax credits), and some free nursery or childminding comes like a gift from above.
So what are the attributes required to be a successful homeworking parent?
I'd say: be flexible, adaptable, creative, responsive, tolerant, a good negotiator, full of love and optimism; and above all, very, very patient!
"A parent is expected to work like he/she does not have children, and raise children like she/he does not have a job!"