Does a Work-at-Home Parent Need Help With Childcare?

If you are working from home in order to spend more time with your family, the idea of paying someone to care your children might seem counter-intuitive. Yet many work-at-home parents actually do opt to pay for outside childcare. Others might take advantage of low-cost or free child care options.

No two families strike this balance in the same way. Each must plot a course that accommodates the needs of the children and the parents' professional and financial circumstances. The one thing, however, that all families have in common is they want what is best for their children.

If you work at home (or are considering it), the likely answer as to whether you need childcare is “yes.” How much childcare and what kind of provider is needed varies from family to family. And on top of that, all this will change as children grow.

Read on to see how much and what kind of childcare you should consider for your family.

Should Work-at-Home Parents Use Full-Time, Part-Time or No Child Care?

Mother with baby in lap working on laptop at home

JGI / Tom Grill / Getty Images

Parents who are independent contractors, home business owners, and employed telecommuters will each have different needs in childcare as will families headed by a single parent or those in which one parent works part-time or not at all. Parents of infants and toddlers versus those of school-age kids will also find their childcare needs to be quite different.

Part-Time Childcare

If you only work part-time, you probably only need part-time child care. However, some who works full-time but with flexible schedules also might get by with only part-time help. This arrangement works especially well for home business owners and independent contractors. Self-employed parents often can scale back their hours (and, subsequently, their income) so that they only need babysitting part of the time.

The time of day that you work also makes a difference. Work-at-home parents who labor in the evening hours while children are sleeping can reduce their reliance on outside childcare. Some couples share the childcare duties, if one or both have a flexible schedule or does shift work, making it possible to employ only part-time help.

School-age children are usually gone at least six hours a day, leaving only a relatively small amount of time in which babysitting is needed. Parents with kids in school may find they only need after-school care

Most work-at-home parents who employ part-time or no childcare will work while simultaneously caring for a child. This works best the older a child is. With an infant or a toddler, parents can only work in short stretches or while the child naps. School-age children should be able to play independently. However, always be mindful that this kind of multitasking on a parent’s part can decrease the quality of the parent-child time.

Full-Time Childcare

If you are telecommuting an employment position on a full-time basis, then you likely need full-time childcare. Employers are paying for your time. It becomes not just a matter of whether you can meet your child’s needs but also whether you can also meet the expectations of your employer. 

Another reason that some work-at-home parents opt for full-time care is that they do not always work from home. If your job requires that you go in the office sometimes or travel, having a set childcare arrangement adds a level of flexibility, making this much easier.

No Childcare

Many telecommuting parents manage to complete their workload without childcare, but this approach has its costs, too. It can wear a parent down to always be multitasking by caring for children and working at the same time. It can decrease your income. It can mean a less stimulating environment for the kids. Parents must balance all of these concerns.

Which Childcare Is Best for You?

Mother and young son working on laptop

Odilon Dimier / Getty Images

Everyone’s situation is a little different. Here are some child care options to consider:

Part-Time Babysitter 

Having a sitter in your home can be an efficient and economical solution, assuming you can find a qualified individual whose schedule fits yours. Because part-time babysitters have other employment or interests, you may need to work around their schedule as well.

Mother's Helper 

Mother's helpers have less experience than babysitters and only work when an adult is present in the house. They may do light cleaning, meal preparation or other jobs as needed. Often a teen or tween learning to babysit, mother's helpers require more supervision than babysitters but are typically paid less.

Full-Time Nanny 

If you’ve determined that you need full-time child care, a caregiver in your home (since that is where you are) is probably the best option if your children are not in school yet. A nanny will keep young kids from interrupting your work and, in many circumstances, can drive children to activities or pick them up from school.

Hiring a full-time childcare provider eliminates the need to scramble for childcare solutions during school holidays and when your child is sick. Most nannies do not live with families but a live-in nanny or an au pair is an option if you take business trips frequently or have to work outside the home at night.

Relatives or Friends

Having grandparents or other relatives as your childcare provider can be a win-win situation, as long as expectations, parenting philosophies, and schedules are discussed in advance.

Along these same lines, a “kid swap” with like-minded friends (you host their kids one day, then they reciprocate) can be a great part-time solution, giving your child the opportunity for play dates both inside and outside your home.

Daycare Center/Preschool

Seems backward for children to leave the home each day while parents stay home. And for many work-at-home parents, daycare just doesn’t make sense. However, preschools and daycare centers provide something parents can’t--social interactions with their peers.

Also, daycare may be a less expensive full-time option than a nanny. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can need more attention than you are able to give if your job involves regular deadlines or frequent phone calls. Sending them to daycare, where they will make friends and engage in stimulating activities, might be the best thing for all.

After-School Care

If you need full-time child care and your children are school-age, after-school care might be an easier (and possibly less expensive) solution than coordinating with a babysitter. Of course, one reason to work from home is to spend more time with your kids. However, the elimination of your commute may add more family time into your day.

Summer Camp

If you rely on school as your child care provider, you'll need a different plan in the summer. Summer camp may just fit the bill.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Laureen Miles Brunelli
Laureen Miles Brunelli is an experienced online writer and editor, specializing in content for parents who work at home.