Find Time for Work Without Paying for Child Care

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Whether your work is for pay or not, there are times when we need to work. Anne shares how to do it without paying for child care.

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The following is a guest post from Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy:

Have you ever felt like there just weren’t enough hours in the day?

I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, but I also work part-time. I’ve become a pro over the years at adjusting my schedule to fit more work time into the day—without paying for childcare.

Others may still like to find more hours in the day to exercise, sew, read, lesson plan, or work on home items.

The key is to find a strategy (or two) that suits your family.

Here are some ideas to get you started. These tips have worked for me and for other women who have found themselves needing to squeeze more work hours into the day:

  • Be vigilant about rest time. Set aside 1 ½ – 2 hours every afternoon for your kids to nap, read, or play quietly—by themselves. Homeschooling moms of teens tell me teens need rest time, too—and so do their parents.
  • Learn to work smart—not hard. Find a few changes that give you a big payback. For example, I slashed my writing time once I started drafting blog posts on a legal pad before I opened my laptop.
  • Quit wasting time. Seriously. Stop checking your email. Stay off twitter and facebook. Find a strategy to stay focused, or use a service like RescueTime or Leechblock to block email and social media when you’re supposed to be working.
  • Schedule “work hours” and stick to them. Prepare in advance by setting your kids up with games, books, crafts, or homework. If you’re making a big push to meet a deadline, pop some popcorn and put on a movie. Let it be fun for them—and then get to work. (Note: I got this tip from Jessica, so you know it’s good!)
  • Freezer cook, so you can devote the hours you used to sped cooking dinner to other things.
  • Make use of the hours that nobody else in your family wants. Is everybody else asleep at 5am? Try that. Is the house quiet during afternoon naps? That could be a work-from-home window.
  • Always be ready to work when work time comes. If you’re going to wake up at 5am to work, make sure you know what you’re going to work on so you can hit the ground running.
  • Teach your kids to help. After doing a time audit last summer, I discovered I was spending a whopping 3 hours a week doing laundry. So I taught my oldest two kids to do it for me. I bought a stepstool so they could reach the washer and easy-to-scoop powdered detergent, and sliced my laundry time by 70%.

It may take some trial and error, but you can find a strategy that works for you.

What do YOU do to save money on childcare?

Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She writes about those things at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy. She’s a working and homeschooling mom to her four kids.

She is also the author of the new ebook Work Shift: How to Create a Better Blend of Work, Life, and Family, for moms who want to be there for their kids AND engage in fulfilling, meaningful work. Use the coupon code FRUGALMOM to get the book for only $5.

Today’s Frugal Friday!

Time to swap ideas and inspiration for saving money and getting good values.

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  1. For years I tried staying up after the kids went to bed to get things done. I got minimal things done and performed them with a low rate of accuracy. One night I decided “I am just going to go to be same time as the kids and beat them out of bed”. It worked! I got double the amount of things done. I discovered I am an early bird and love it. My kids are all older now, and have later bed times, but I still go to be at 8pm, so that I can get up around 4:30 and work a few hours before they are all awake. My husband on the other hand wake him up early and he spends a whole hour trying to figure out if he is really awake, however from 9pm to 12pm he is able to race around and get an incredible amount of things done. So the trick is to know whether you are a night owl or an early bird.

    1. So true! I’m a nurse and a homeschooling momma. Not only do I work one day a week at the hospital, I also do twelve hours of chart review a week from home. I did not have the energy to stay up late to do my “job” after doing my job all day. I go to bed an hour after the kids and get up at 5am. It works so much better for our family.

  2. That is so true! I discovered last year that if I get up before the children it is so much better! I need to be asleep early and I am much more alert in the morning. I have always thought that if my husband were the stay at home dad, he would be the opposite and do things after the kids go to bed. (Even though he works, he still does his chores after the kids are in bed, while I need to wind down during that time so I can go to sleep.)

  3. I agree with the ladies above, getting up early works far better for me than staying up late .However, at the moment I have a 7 week old and I haven’t been able to get up before my kids since she was born. That’s ok – it’s a season of life that will be over with so quickly!

    I occasionally take off for Starbucks (baby in tow, she doesn’t disturb me much!) for some focused work. I also rely on Quiet Time/Nap Time as mentioned above. And similar to Anne’s advice, I find that composing blog posts on paper (I have a journal set aside for just this purpose) speeds the writing process for me.

    Great tips as usual!

  4. I do all those things! They really work. Having systems in place for meal planning, freezer cooking, shopping, etc. saves me so much time. I also trade hours with other families in my neighborhood–so on Mondays I have 6-7 kids at my house which gives me a few hours without my kids on another day. I do not like to work at night and have been trying very hard since school started to never do it and still get to bed early.

  5. Two things have worked for me:
    1. Having things well sorted and ready to work on. I have folders for To-Read, To-File (with subfolders for each area of life/person in the family including the car & home itself), To-Do (again for each area of life/work, person, the car, the home…I actually have 2 personal subfolders, one for administrative tasks and one for fun tasks). This way when I get even a free 15 minutes I can get right to what needs to be done without sorting and fishing around for what I need.
    2. Create a co-op where you trade points with other moms. 1 point per 1 hour per 1 kid. Each person starts with 5 points per kid. This is a highly addictive way to get childcare because even when you sit for other people, it ends up being a playdate and you end up getting some work done!

  6. Oooh and one other thing:
    3. Process all email to empty/zero. I saw a Google/TED Talk about this and it really works. I created a Follow-Up folder for each area (personal, work, fun), a To-Read folder, a To-Save folder (again for each area). This is a bit like my #1 above where I have everything pre-sorted and ready to go. So if I am sitting down and doing emailing I am tackling those Follow Up items first without wading through email clutter.

    I know some of these tips aren’t really related but they help me take advantage of any brief moment of down time / free time I have while my two small children are around.

  7. Not great for the merriage, but right now, I work outside the home when my husband is available to take care of the kids. We often play tag, you’re it with child care… For work at home, the wee hours when others are sleeping ten to be my most productive, but then I lack sleep, So, using some of your strategies will certainly help. Thank you.

  8. I currently work a weekend package RN job (Sat/Sun 6A-6P) and our 6 year old is now in school ful-time. However, my husband works at the hospital every other weekend (7p-330A). Some weekends we are like ships in the night as I’m getting home as he’s leaving. It’s a tough schedule right now (He is also FT student) but we no longer pay for child care. It’s working for our current season of life, although I hate being gone EVERY single weekend.