For many people, spending more time with children is why they want to telework in the first place. If you’ve got kids, working from home can give you the flexibility you need to pick them up after school, attend their midday talent assemblies, and more.
But trying to work at home and parent at the same time is a recipe for disaster. It will leave you doing two jobs poorly instead of one job well. This is particularly true if you’ve got toddlers or young children who need your constant attention. Before embarking on a tele-career, make sure you’ve figured out your childcare needs. You don’t want to find yourself on a conference call with a phone on your ear and a crying child on your knee.
This is not to say that you have to send your kids to day care outside your home. Plenty of teleworking parents hire nannies to work in their houses. The key, of course, is to set clear boundaries so you’re disturbed only in urgent situations or at prearranged times, like lunch.
Coffee Shop Meets Office Space at Coworking Sites
Depending on where you live, your workspace options may be more varied than you think. Independent workers in cities like Berkeley, San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia have set up so-called “coworking” spaces. For example, Citizen Space in San Francisco (http://citizenspace.us) says it tries to combine “the best elements of a coffee shop (social, energetic, creative) and the best elements of a workspace (productive, functional),” where you can either spend the day for free or rent a desk for an affordable price ($350 per month when this book went to print). Coworkers describe sharing ideas, office equipment, coffee and popcorn, and more.
If your house is too noisy, the local café is too crowded, and renting solo office space would be too expensive or lonely, finding— or starting—a local coworking space might be for you. To see whether there’s one in your area, go to http://wiki.coworking.info.
Naptime is no time for telework. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can squeeze your work into the precious few hours when your child is sleeping. You’ll need that time to do the laundry, pay the bills, make a few phone calls, or simply recharge your batteries.
For help on choosing child care. If you’re new to the world of child care and need some help sorting through your options, you’ll find a wealth of advice in Parent Savvy: Straight Answers to Your Family’s
Financial, Legal & Practical Questions, by Nihara Choudhri (Nolo). The book discusses the pros and cons of the different types of child care and provides tips on selecting a quality child care provider.