You asked

I am considering working at home after my baby arrives. What should I know?

Many parents these days are choosing to freelance, telecommute or run businesses from home when their children are born. It is a valid choice that offers you flexibility to be with your children when they need you, but still allows you to earn an income.
 
Scheduling is one of the biggest problems that parents who start working from home face. The first rule is: Do not feel guilty to claim your working time. Even if it is only three days a week, you need to make sure that you have dedicated work time, which cannot be interrupted. The second rule is: Childcare is a must. Do not feel guilty for making use of childcare options to allow yourself the time to work.
 
Some parents who work at home have a rigid schedule, while others simply designate a few hours each day, and take them whenever they can. How you organise your day is up to you, but you need to organise it, and you need to give yourself enough time to work.
 
Getting started as a work from home parent can be tough. Try arranging a safe play area near your desk, so that you can watch your baby while he or she plays or sleeps, and work at the same time. Understand that you cannot keep your house spotless, find time to work and look after your child, so if you want to work at home, either your home has to suffer, or you need outside help.
 
Even when you have a babysitter, you may find that it is simply impossible to work with your child around. The solution to the problem is either to organise yourself an office that you can close the door to, or to arrange off site childcare. Either way, you can feel good, knowing that you are available when your child needs you, and that you can get work done while you are at home.
 
You may find when you start working from home that friends and family assume you are available, because you are at home. You need to make sure that they all understand the difference between work and leisure time. Tell them what your working hours are, and that you cannot be interrupted during those hours. Have a separate business phone line installed, and take your personal phone off the hook during the day (just make sure your child’s caregiver knows how to get hold of you.) Alternatively, if you do get personal calls during the day, tell the caller that you are not available right now, and tell them what time will suit you for a return call.
 
Isolation is generally not a problem for parents who work from home. Generally, you will see plenty of people – those who care for your child, clients, friends and relatives and more. In fact, you may find that when you work from home, finding time for yourself is more of a problem than isolation.
 
Once you are past the teething problems of working from home, however, you will probably find that it is a great compromise. You get to be there for your children when they need you, you still earn an income, and you have the satisfaction of a career. It can, and does, work for millions of people around the world, so why not you?

More questions

There really is no such thing as starting saving too early for your child’s future. 
When you become a parent it is more important than ever to build a nest egg to cope with any unexpected expenses such as doctor’s bills or expensive car or home repairs.
Updating your will (or putting one together) is a necessity when you have a baby
Applications for Maternity Benefit are handled by the Department of Social Protection.
Although you are entitled to maternity leave, and can qualify for Maternity Benefits, these are subject to specific rules.
If you thought going back to work, or being a stay-at-home parent were your only options, think again.
Plan your weekends well and do the necessary preparation during the week to ensure that there is time for fun – not just chores – on Saturday and Sunday.
It is important to remember that you are only human and it is impossible to have a perfectly balanced work and home life. Unexpected things do happen and it is at times like these that you should simply take a deep breath, relax and accept that you are doing the best you can.
Join up with other stay-at-home moms and dads in your area. Getting together with them regularly will make up for the adult company you are so accustomed to in the workplace.
It’s surprisingly common for stay-at-home mums to resent having to stay home and care for children.

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