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Full Time WAHM?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I don't yet have any children, but am hoping for our first in 2011
I currently work from home full time and am the primary bread winner while DH is back in college full time. I am an operations manager for a company and have a typical work schedule of 8-6. Have any of you successfully kept a baby/toddler at home with no help while telecommuting full time? Day care is not a financial option, neither is hiring a mother's helper, etc. We were originally going to wait until DH got out of school (2014), but we would like to start TTC if we can realistically make it work with my job.
post #2 of 31
Pipe dream, momma. If it were that simple, we'd all be doing it. Sorry. I would not plan to work and parent full time. IF your DH is still in school and can shift his classes to night and weekends so he can do childcare, that would work.

Even then you'll be interrupted all the time. My SIL works at home, her kids are all older teens (i.e. self-sufficient) and BIL was home as he lost his job and she could barely stand it during the summer.

I would start saving money now to pay for childcare. Before kids is the time to get the 2nd and 3rd job to save up. I wish we had been able to do that ourselves (but we were a little busy dealing with infertility).

ETA: Once you have kids, basically all your income goes to child care for the first 4 years. It's just that expensive. If you can't afford the child care, you may want to reassess how you guys are going to make it financially as a family. My friend has 3 kids. She still works but pays $25k a year in child care--she only brings home $500 a month right now (but she likes her work and realizes this is temporary).

post #3 of 31
I have to agree with Violet. You won't be able to keep normal business hours, be fully productive and care for a child. It just doesn't work. The only way I'm hanging on right now is that I have completely flexible hours so I work at 6 am, 11 pm, etc.
post #4 of 31
Ditto to the above, unfortunately. It's hard in the earliest months because you're so worn out from pregnancy, childbirth, nursing all. night. long, etc. It's hard work mothering a tiny baby. It does get easier as you get the nursing thing down and can nurse in front of the computer/have baby nap on you or near you all day, but then it gets harder again as baby gets bigger and gets more interactive, takes fewer naps, and doesn't just want to nurse and sleep all day.

If your dh can do the childcare during the day and you can work and then you can switch off and he can do classes at night, it would be hard but doable, but a 10 hour working day AND 100% childcare responsibility....no way. Just no way.

You should look into daycare costs in your area -- there may be a way to do part-time childcare, nanny sharing, etc. so the costs might be lower than you think. If you can do a part-time schedule, something like you're off one day, dh is off one day, and you're only paying for 3 days of childcare for doing 4 days of work, things like that have worked for people.
post #5 of 31
I disagree. I think it MAY be possible to work full-time while caring for your child full-time. I think a lot of it will depend on your ability to multi-task, be flexible AND your child's personality. I could see it working with a laid-back, easy baby, not so much with a high-needs baby or a child with special needs. A lot of it also depends on the work you do and how creative you are about getting the work done. Another large factor will be if you need to spend lots of time on the phone, where baby/child noise in the background will be a distraction and unprofessional. Naps can be unpredictable and you can never really "count" on a child taking a nap at any given time (and hence being quiet at any given time).

I think the child's age will definitely be a big factor, I could see it working pretty well with a baby between 6 weeks to around 8-10 months. Once the baby becomes a toddler/really mobile I would think it would become much more difficult. There aren't many toddlers that are content to just play by themselves for long periods of time. Not to mention the fact that once a child becomes a certain age (around 1), they really do NEED to get regular time out of the house and regular fresh air/exercise. Once a child becomes 3-4, they really benefit from time spent with other children and the ability to make friends with other kids.

Babies at Work is a non-profit organization which pushes to allows mothers to bring young babies into the workplace with them and care are for the baby while working. Generally they deal with babies up to around 8 months (or whenever mobility starts). Anyway, if mothers can care for their babies in the workplace, I don't see why you coudln't take some of these ideas and adapt them to the home.
post #6 of 31
I do an almost full-time writing job from home, no childcare. I have two kids now, and it is not always easy but it does work. When my oldest was tiny, it wasn't an issue at all. I would type while she was sleeping on my lap, either in a carrier or simply on my lap. It's getting more challenging now, with kids aged 3.5 and 1 yo, but I can still do it. I do lots of work at night, when the kids go to sleep.

Having said that, things not involving a computer are even more tricky. Sewing is a big hobby of mine, but I haven't touched the sewing machine in months now, because I am too afraid of little fingers trying to explore things they shouldn't. And it makes too much noise when they are asleep.

Still, my work from home job has supported my family for years now, and they still get more real attention than they would if they were in full-time day care. I don't sit at the computer for huge chunks of time all at once, but do short spurts, and then do something fun with the kids. Just to let you know that it can be done .
post #7 of 31
Yet only 1 of the responders has actually done it. In a super flexible job, no less.

I know with my DD there's no way I could work and be her full time care giver. I write from home now and still avoid deadline work.Also see the thread in SAHM about the 'side business' comments we get and how difficult that is.

IF your employer can be completely flexible with no last minute deadlines ever and almost no time on the phone, then maybe I could see it (but I personally don't think it's doable for about 90% of us). But I would not bank on it because that would mean if it didn't work out, you would be in trouble.

Plan for the worst in this case and hope for the best if you're going to go for it. You don't have wiggle room here so you've got to be ready for a child that is not going to fit into your dayplanner.

post #8 of 31
I work from home with a 4-month old baby and I have a partner and he also works from home - we both care for our child and work, but I have never been able to keep a consistent schedule as far as working between this hour and this hour. I do however work 8-10 hours a day consistently, but I am juggling my baby and work starting at 8 in the morning and working all the way until midnight. I rarely have to leave my house (only for doctors appointments) and there are several days when I just don't get dressed or groom myself as if I were going outside and I am in house clothes all day - not really what I want, but I often feel like there are just not enough hours in the day.

My goal is to be a little more efficient with my hours over the next several months so that out of the 16 hours that I spend awake juggling work and my child I can spend at least a few hours on myself and on recreation and fun. It is a task though figuring out how time can be spent more efficiently, what is more efficient to just hire someone else to do and also what is just not even worth doing to begin with.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE]If your dh can do the childcare during the day and you can work and then you can switch off and he can do classes at night, it would be hard but doable, but a 10 hour working day AND 100% childcare responsibility....no way. Just no way./QUOTE]

I suppose this is the best option to consider realistically, since paying for childcare is in no way an option, although his class schedule is fairly demanding from a homework viewpoint. The idea of waiting another 4 years to TTC is just really hard for me to swallow right now. I may be able to work something out to split my day up a bit and reduce some of the phone time. I am hoping there is middle ground between it being easily doable or a pipe dream.
post #10 of 31
I will tell you the one thing I wish I had realized was that we should've been saving up for these kind of costs before the baby. Granted, infertility wiped us out financially, but if I'd realized how expensive and necessary child care was, I would've approached it differently.

Please keep in mind what quality of life you guys want to have. As a PP mentioned, she goes nowhere. Does nothing except work and childcare.

That can be crazy making. Especially when it stretches for a year or more.

You have the opportunity to implement some careful planning and strategy --don't miss it. Financially position yourself for a baby--you will never regret it.

Even if you guys don't want a second job, what if you donated plasma or found some other low key thing to do to bring in extra $$ for a baby fund? Get 100 articles up on ehow with the right keywords and you can bring in a couple grand a year.

post #11 of 31
I can tell you from my own experience that it IS possible, but not sustainable in the long run. I went back to work as a technical writer when DD was 5 months old ( I WAH too). I had grand visions of writing while she napped, and playing all day. Well, it doesn't really work out that way. Naps change, baby is sick and won't sleep, or wants to be held all day, or is unhappy with anything you do. If you think you can just put the baby in a bouncy seat or carrier while you work all day, you're going to be in for a BIG surprise .

Nevertheless, I did it with NO outside help for 2 years. DH would take her when he got home from work, and I'd get to work as soon as she went to bed and put in about 3 or 4 hours every night. Plus weekend work to catch up on what I was behind on. Bascially, I had no life other than work and childcare.

I'm very happy I did it, because I wanted to be home with my daughter. However, I'm due with baby #2 in a week, and will be going back to work in 5 months. And I ABSOLUTELY will be getting childcare. I'm hoping to hire someone to come to my house about 3 or 4 hours a day, but if I can't, then I'll be looking into part time day care. It's just not doable anymore - I was so burnt out.

I'd highly, highly recommend that you reconsider trying to do it all with no help. Yes, it can be done - but often at a great cost to your own sanity. I'd look into a mother's helper or nanny asap. Interview lots of people and find someone you feel really good about. If you can't afford this, I'd seriously think about putting baby plans on hold until you can. Not to sound harsh, but it's the reality.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
post #12 of 31
I've been WAH full-time since DS was 2 months old. He is a VERY VERY high-needs kid and I will admit it has been challenging. He is now 1 and it is getting easier because he's getting a bit calmer but in other ways it's harder because he's into everything (loves unplugging my mouse, closing the laptop, etc.). I work 8-5 and manage a team as well as talk with clients in addition to my actual "work" which has 24-hour turnaround so it's a demanding job. The current setup we have is, I work from 8-noon while watching DS and have help in the afternoons. DH goes into work at 5am so he can be home by 1pm. However even though he's home I'm still nursing DS frequently & holding him for naps & playing with him etc. so basically it works out to me working about 6-7 hours a day while watching DS and 1-2 hours without watching him. I'm still very productive at my job & DS is doing well but it's very stressful for me. Some days it's wonderful, & in the end I wouldn't change the way we've done things thus far, but other days I just want to scream & cry lol. But I hated my job for years and had the "scream & cry" days long before DS was born!!! LOL!!

Honestly it all depends on the type of worker you are. My position replaced a 6-person team so I am very productive, so even if I'm only able to work at 1/2 or 1/4 of what I could without a baby, I'm still doing the job of 1-3 people. So from a work sense it has worked out great. I do wish I was able to have more time to just BE with DS... I'd love to take him to playgroups or the park but I'm not able to do that (though we can often squeeze in a walk during lunch). So you need to envision the kind of lifestyle you want for you & your family, which is hard to do when you haven't had a baby yet (my whole outlook is so different now). In a perfect world, I'd be a SAHM with maybe a small (1-2 flexible hours a day) WAH job if I needed/wanted it. That's what DH & I are working towards.

Also keep in mind that my DH is amazing with helping out with housework, laundry, cooking, childcare, etc. and if he wasn't so helpful I wouldn't be able to do this.

You need help at least a couple of hours a day if possible. This could be DH watching the baby before he goes to classes, grandma coming to play with baby in the afternoons, a paid nanny or local teen, etc. It's NOT impossible to do on your own but it is very very stressful. Could your DH do a few part-time semesters? Or take some online classes? Could he spend the next year or two taking lots of extra classes so that he'd be almost done by the time you have a kid? Do you have family/friends nearby to help out? Would your job allow you some flexibility?
post #13 of 31
The other thing to also keep in mind is that you are needed to take care of your baby - as a newborn, even though I was really trying to work, and I had a partner at home to help, I still barely got anything done. My body was recovering from the delivery, I was tired, and on top of that, baby had to get fed every 2 hours, 24 hours a day, plus I was breast feeding and had to pump 10 times a day (my baby could not feed directly on my breast more than once a day) - just that takes up pretty much the whole day. Then add taking a shower and eating, as well as all the things that you wanted to do to set up the nursery before the baby was born but did not get done ... I am so lucky to have very patient clients that were willing to wait for me to get back in the swing of things, and now I am somewhat, but I literally work from 8am to midnight, taking breaks to feed my baby, play with her, eat, etc. Forget making a schedule because when it comes down to it, your baby will be creating your schedule. Some days, he/she will be nice and let you get some work done, and other days, forget it.
post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much to everyone for your responses. I know that life with a baby is much different than anyone ever expects and I really value your experience! I don't think there will ever be an ideal time to have a baby, and I suppose if I were a bit younger I would not mind the waiting so much (I'm 28). I am getting the impression that it is not absolutely impossible, but a lot to take on.

It's a bit of a toss up between seeking outside childcare and having the less than ideal SAHM experience, but I would rather do what we have to do in order to not do day care, etc. We may get lucky and have a nice chillaxed LO and we may end up with a high needs baby and have to adjust DH's school/work schedule accordingly. I am fortunate that he is incredibly helpful and does a lot of the cooking, laundry, etc. already.
post #15 of 31
No. Sorry, but I don't think it's possible. Or, more accurately, it's possible, but you wouldn't be giving your child(ren) nearly the amount of attention they need/deserve. I work a full-time job at home, but I have very flexible hours, so I can work in the early mornings before they get up, when DH is able to care for them, when they're asleep at night, etc. If I even have to work an hour with them here by myself, it feels like I'm being neglectful. I can't imagine feeling that way all day every day.
post #16 of 31
I think it depends greatly on the type of work you do and how flexible it is. Both my dh & I have been WAH folks and it was hard but doable until dd hit about 13 months, only reason it went that long was that I had reduced my work load so he could work. Yet when I needed to ramp back up it was impossible to work and parent in a manner that was good for all of us so dd went to daycare. She is now 4.5 and I no longer work at home ft but have a flexible position where I am in the office about 9 hours a week and do the rest from home so we were able to move to traditional preschool schedule.
Its still hard but since my eldest child is a HS senior who will be going to college in the fall we had to reduce our expenses.

The only reason it works now is that she is old enough to play alone and we also gave up the tv free dream but even now if we have a work cycle where I have heavy meetings (out of the house) and dh has tight deadlines we are crazy.

IMO WAH works best for folks whose schedules are flexible, meaning you don't have an employer or client who needs certain things at certain times. Or have expectations that you can take a conference call with little notice. Otherwise its hard to give your child what they need while managing your work.

Like others have said its doable but in most cases not sustainable, my marriage suffered some big time when we were juggling work and child with no childcare. Since juggling those 2 things left no time for us and we had/have a high energy kid who has been that way from day one.
post #17 of 31
OP-- really think hard about the quality of life you want to have. Muddling through exhausted and never fully meeting anyone's needs is really not a fun life style. It is one of the reasons why I quit my job to stay home--I wasn't making anyone happy--not myself, not my job, not DD--and that was with daycare.

Also, your DP would have to be hugely involved to make it survivable (not enjoyable, just survivable). Does your DP cook, clean, grocery shop? Will your DP change diapers, do night duty? Does your DP need down time and time to themselves b/c that sort of evaporates with a kid and if your DP can't function without a lot of down time, that's going to be a problem. Do you need a lot of down time?

I do! My Dp does not and is a HUGE help and a wonderful partner to me-- I cannot imagine parenting let alone working and parenting without someone like my DP who does anything and everything. (And I'm not dogging your DP at all, I don't know him! I'm just saying that if you want to work and do full time child care simultaneously, you are going to need some major support from your partner to make it livable. If your DP isn't there yet, work on getting up to speed before you get pg.)

Go read some of the posts in the sleep forum--notice how crazy everyone is at 6 months with the accumulated toll of sleep deprivation.

Remember the sickest you've ever been and how you stayed home and missed work or other activities. Now imagine feeling that horrid and having to keep performing and juggling everything. Next time you are sick, make yourself keep going and see how you feel; that's what full time parenting and full time working is like a lot of the time. It is like flu level fatigue.

You can mitigate a lot of this with some good financial planning now, before you get pg.

post #18 of 31
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
OP-- really think hard about the quality of life you want to have. Muddling through exhausted and never fully meeting anyone's needs is really not a fun life style. It is one of the reasons why I quit my job to stay home--I wasn't making anyone happy--not myself, not my job, not DD--and that was with daycare.

Next time you are sick, make yourself keep going and see how you feel; that's what full time parenting and full time working is like a lot of the time. It is like flu level fatigue.
I agree with all of this 100%. Well said.
post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 
No. Sorry, but I don't think it's possible. Or, more accurately, it's possible, but you wouldn't be giving your child(ren) nearly the amount of attention they need/deserve.
So do most of you ladies think day care would provide more of the attention they need than a busy mom at home? Day care is not an option for us, but I am just curious.
post #20 of 31
Originally Posted by sellendie View Post
So do most of you ladies think day care would provide more of the attention they need than a busy mom at home? Day care is not an option for us, but I am just curious.
Daycare isn't also trying to do another full time job at the same time. It's not an issue of more attention, group care is group care, it's an issue of they aren't going to be stressed out trying to meet a huge deadline or have a professional conference call with your boss and a new client without screaming babies/toddlers in the background.

I tried to take 15 minutes today to make a doctor's appt. I let DD watch TV. I gave her a popsicle. She was still screaming/whining/crying/interrupting for most of the phone call. They actually had to put me on hold to give me a moment to get DD calmed down.

I do the elliptical at home and even though DD is watching her favorite show--she constantly interrupts me. Out of a 30 minute work out, I may get 15 minutes worth of good quality workout.

I am not even working per se and I can't get anything done. With an infant, they aren't the same as a toddler, but you're breastfeeding a lot and babies cry even if you hold them.

This is the reality of trying to do anything else but child care with a young child.

And DD didn't nap until she was about 15 months. Hopefully you'll get a good sleeper but if you don't you will have no reliable breaks and no quiet during the day to work. You will be exhausted and everyone will be underserved, including yourself.

As much as we like to think baby comes first and we will just put ourselves last; that is not sustainable. You're looking at sleep deprivation that could affect milk supply. Increased risk of post partum depression. Health issues such as heart arrhthymias (sp?) from the lack of sleep (I had this).

If I could go back in time and be in your shoes...I would have busted my butt to save up some money/earn extra income to afford at least a part-time nanny. The times I had help were the best for me as a parent. I need balance. Maybe you don't but I would not bank on it. I would not bank on your plan working out because if it doesn't you will be up the creek without a paddle.

I would prepare for the 'worst case' scenario which is you need the money for some kind of child care. If you don't use it, great! If you need though, you have it.

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