What if I can’t go back to work because of childcare? This is what A LOT of parents are asking in 2022. You are not alone. Keep reading to find easy-to-use solutions to incorporate into your family life NOW.
What if I can’t go back to work because of child care?
Hey mom. I hear the fear in your voice. I know right now things are scary. You are probably worried about money. You are worried about your family’s health. You are worried about covid-19. You are wondering if you can just get through the next day…week…month…year.
Right now there are tons of people online saying “Just be an influencer and make millions…working from home is so easy!”
Well, I’m not one of them. I know how scary it is to not be able to work – and to quit your job. I know what it’s like to be worried about money.
There was a period in my life where I had to hold an extra job just to buy groceries. On the weekends, I tutored kids in their homes, and then used that cash to buy groceries. $200/month in cash = $200 for groceries. If I tutored less, we ate less. I’VE BEEN THERE.
So, I’m not going to come on here and say that this will be an easy time in your life.
But, I will say that you can do it.
We are living in an incredible age when the internet is available and can provide you a work at home job. It’s possible. So, let’s see what it looks like.
I want to quickly talk about how to take care of you and your family during this hard time…then we can dive into guidance about job options for getting back on your feet!
DISCLAIMER: I do not pretend to understand the situation you are in, and if you are in a position that doesn’t allow you to receive unemployment benefits and unemployment insurance benefits, please talk to someone! If you suffer from being self-isolate, please talk to someone. If you have lost your job recently, and are not able to have family leave, parental leave, or unpaid leave, please talk to someone. Your well-being and your family’s well-being are the most important, and speaking your truth and being heard is the most important at this time.
1. Take care of you first
You know how in an airplane, they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first? Well, it’s the same in life. Your kids need YOU to be healthy and prepared. You need to be first.
I know what you are thinking. I know what I’m thinking! I don’t have time to focus on myself! That is not how this works!
Well, lately I’ve been trying REALLY hard to listen to my body. What do I need. What do I need to make this thing succed?
First, I think we need to be honest that we are experiencing great fear, anxiety, stress, and even depression. These times aren’t normal, and it’s ok to be NOT be ok.
Second, I think we need to be really kind to ourselves. We need to give ourselves grace. Let ourselves live in our pajamas. Feed our kids cereal. Skip the cleaning routine. IT’S OK.
Once we give ourselves what we need, I really think we are able to focus and make good decisions. Let your body talk to you and listen.
Here are some things I’m really trying to give myself right now:
- An outlet for relieving stress – I do a thousand things every day, and some days I forget how stressed I am and that I need to vent and yell and get it all out. There are several things I’m loving right now. One is an anxiety workout from MommaStrong that really is just a lot of me punching the air. Sometimes I need calm yoga before bed to let my mind wander. Sometimes it’s a meditation from Insight Timer. Whatever it is, let your body have an outlet.
- Permission to be not care about appearance – I’m not the kind of person that needs to be dressed up all the times, but I really do like to feel clean, well-dressed, and in general just taken care of. But lately, I’ve really been leaning into sweatsuit and mom-bun routine. No makeup. No hair. Sometimes, it’s ok to remove all that pressure and just not care. Be yourself. Be happy. Take that pressure off.
- Big-picture view of the seasons – I think we try to be good every day. Eat well. Exercise. Have our ducks in a row. But the truth is, some seasons don’t have any of those things. This might be a season where you overlook the “should do” list, and just let it go. One day, you will get those things back. Things will change. But right now is a season where you don’t have to.
- Mom friends right where I am – There are seasons for friends. Some friends are great when we want a party. Some are great if we are sad. But if you are struggling with not having a job or childcare, find moms who are there too. Check out our work at home mom group here to meet some faces and hear from other moms who are also in the trenches.
If you want to read more of the ways that I take care of myself when things are hard, check out this quick article. I hope you find ways to put yourself first, and then decide what’s next.
2. What do your kids REALLY need?
What do your kids really need? I think we sometimes that our kids don’t need much. Contrary to what society tells us, they don’t need playdates every day, extra-curricular activities, fancy kids food, new toys everyday….your kids just need you.
I think we get caught in in this lie that we have to spend money to do stuff for our kids. On some level, that’s true. You need to spend money for food, clothes. But on some level, there are ways to cut back and provide for your kids in a more stress-free way. You can cut back on those expenses! If you need budget help, please visit my friend’s site The Family Money Mentor that is SO HELPFUL for those tight times.
Let’s talk about child-care options.
We have gone through every possible form of childcare during this roller coaster. We have had: no childcare, part-time playtime, part-time babysitters, full-time nannies, preschool, no preschool, family members help, neighborhood mother’s helper, drop-off nursery/daycare….you name it!
And let’s be honest, our budget decides a LOT.
I’m not just talking about full-time care budget. But just anything you can set aside per month.
Even if you can swing only $50/month, SET THAT ASIDE and use it for activity box subscriptions, craft materials, new toys, or baby equipment…anything to help you out.
This budget (even if its just a tiny amount) will give you freedom to get help.
What is your childcare budget? $25? $100? $200? Use that amount to give you freedom. Find small or large ways to use that amount each month…even if it’s not a full-time child care provider.
Ask yourself what season are you in? If your kids are home, invest in toys and activities to make that easier. Can you get a 10 year old neighbor to help in the afternoon? Spend $20/wk on that. Lean into the season you are in!
If you are needing real childcare but can’t afford traditional daycares/babysitters, here are some tips:
- If your child takes naps, you might only need a babysitter/childcare for the morning hours. Start with this and see if it works.
- My favorite place to find good babysitters & nannies is the NextDoor app for your neighborhood. Also, if you are religious, look at nearby seminaries and theology schools, because they might have listings for their students needing daytime babysitting jobs.
- Ask neighborhood kids if they want to be a mother’s helper – playing with your kids from 4-5 after school/naps.
- Look for drop-in nurseries or church childcare services (Mother’s Morning Out) for flexible childcare morning hours.
(If you are enjoying a pregnancy now or on maternity leave or paternity leave, I know it’s hard! Please check out these tips here for enjoying this maternity leave.)
3. Tips for working parents
Lack of stability, money, consistency and childcare can really add stress to relationships. Like…it’s the worst.
My husband and I have struggled through so many different stages – no job, job, low income, low wages, no childcare, lack of childcare, etc. It’s not easy!
Before you jump into “I just want to fix it!”, ask yourself these questions:
- “What individual seasons are my husband and I in?”
- “How can we arrange the house to gives us both space?”
- “How can we have intentional time together without talking about frustrations?”
Give yourself space to work through the changes separately. We all process things differently, and sometimes you just need to let each other work through things by themselves.
If you are now in the same house a lot together, and the house is closing in, here are some of my favorite tips:
- Have separate offices or areas of the house, and respect the closed door (or headphones). Have signals for “don’t talk to me”.
- Talk about your PDA expectations, and don’t expect a kiss or hug every time you pass each other in the house. That would be exhausting! Instead, find a time each day to pretend like you are “coming home from work” and kiss and reconnect then.
- Set aside time every week for a “date”. It might just be pizza and pajamas on a Friday night. But calling it a “date” tells you both that that time’s just for you.
- Break traditional family patterns and find clever ways to hang out. Skip dinner with the kids. Get a Saturday day babysitter (cheaper, easier). Create a clever TV rotation schedule at night. Do something out of the ordinary to focus on each other.
Need some quick solutions?
- Check out my favorite stay-at-home date ideas here.
- I LOVE The Dating Divas for date night/intimacy ideas. Totally recommend.
- If you need real help, I really love the Marriage resources that Mort Fertel puts out.
4. Organize your time
So do you know what you need now? You need time to get your plans in order. Time to focus on what you need to do, and how to get to the next chapter in your story.
Let me introduce my free block schedule just for you!
Every day, I try to juggle schedules without feeling like they are ruling me.
Basically, I specialize in finding the easiest, laziest solution that lets me work, keep house and actually spend time with my family.
Every day I ask myself, “How am I going to get all of this done?”
Finding hidden pockets of time.
I firmly believe that we all have wasted minutes that we can discover.
Find that extra time, and you can stop winging it!
WITH THIS SYSTEM YOU CAN…
- Keep separate schedules for you, your kids, your home, and your work.
- Compare every day of the week to see where you have extra minutes to optimize and use wisely.
- Prioritize your top to-do items, and and say “no” to what can be saved for next week.
- Add in cleaning chores and kids activities based on how much extra time you have.
5. Get your house ready
Raise your hand if you can currently see piles of laundry, dirty dishes, random toys, un-dusted surfaces, and old mail from where you sit.
Ok, I win because I can see all of those things from my desk. I love that for me.
Because I work from home, I am constantly looking for ways to combine my office and playroom. I love for my kids to work independently, but I also need to be able to monitor them all the time.
How do I do this? Here are my life-changing tips for combining your office and play area and create a safe space for your kids.
- Move your desk (center of operations) to a central location.
If you keep a play area near your desk, you will always have options for working while watching your kids.
- Set up a play area that changes for each age group.
To see how I did this in my living room, check out this article about combining your office and playroom here.
- If you have young kids, invest in baby gates and baby monitors.
I am a huge fan of teaching your kids to play independently, and these are my favorite tools for that. To see more about how to do this, this is my must-read guide for teaching your kids to play independently.
- Make safe spaces for your kids to play.
The goal is to have a safe space for your kids to play – near where you work.
This is often accomplished by just making a few adjustments to make your living area (and combined office/play area) functional for both needs. See how to do that here.
6. Your new job and workplace and eligibility
I have seen so many friends rise above difficult circumstances by earning income at home. Whether it is a supplemental part-time income, or a full-time income, I have seen first-hand how it is possible to earn a living at home.
The first step is to analyze your strengths.
Any good job draws from strengths – and this is so true about an at-home job.
The advantage of working from home is that you can create the job description to find suitable work. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I love to be in my house, or do I like to drive?
- Do I have kids and limited time?
- Do I like to teach?
- Am I good with money?
- Do I like working odd hours?
- Do I like talking on the phone?
- Am I fast typist?
- Am I creative?
- Am I good with websites?
- Do I have a unique skill?
- Am I a good multi-tasker?
- Do I like creating schedules?
- Do I like learning new things?
- Do you own website?
- Do I need full time or part-time work?
- Am I ok with minimum wage?
- Do I need health insurance?
- Do I need health care?
Make a list of your ✅ strengths, ✅ available hours, ✅ skill level, and ✅ your least favorite tasks. Use all these ideas to find jobs for SAHM moms and identify your ideal client.
Some of my favorite jobs that have worked for me in the past are:
Tutor – I have tutored with Wyzant for years. Wyzant is an easy way to match your skills with students that need online tutoring in your area. I have tutored English, Spanish, and other subjects – and have always found awesome students in my zip code.
Sell on Etsy – Are you a creative type that has an eye for cool swag or the best printables? Consider starting an Etsy shop to sell anything from digital products, custom gear, art, jewelry…anything!
Check out my interview here to see how to get started on Etsy!
Selling on Facebook Marketplace – You don’t need to create any products to be able to sell and earn money. In the last 6 months I have made over $2000 just by selling used items on Facebook Marketplace. (You can also sell using Facebook group communities!) See how I did it here!
What if I can’t go back to work because of childcare? Well, I hope this gave you some idea of where to start! Please leave comments about what worked for you, and how you got through this tough time! We are here for you, friend!