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Chasing the Dream: Do you need childcare?

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Time for help with the kids?

When you are lucky enough to work at home, it's tempting to forgo childcare in favor of saving money and having the kids home with you all the time. How do you know when it's time to get some help so you can really go for those dreams?

Working at home is a rewarding thing that can afford flexibility and more time with your family. But that doesn't mean you don't need childcare. In fact, you might need childcare just to take advantage of these opportunities.

What makes work-at-home moms decide to get childcare? Many things, from the need for quiet working time to wanting to ensure that children have enough attention. "I knew I needed childcare when my daughter turned 2 and started doing dangerous things (walking on the back of the couch, getting utensils from the kitchen drawer, using a chair to reach the cabinets, etc.)," says Sheba T. Simms, a freelance writer and content strategist. "There was no way that I could properly care for her, interact with her, and grow my business."

Beyond the work aspect, your child also may need more than you can give while working. "While it's nice to take a break with my son, it's not fair to have him playing on his own day after day. He deserves to play with other kids and childcare allows for him to socialize. He attends daycare three days a week and I get to focus on work," says mom Caroline Pigott of Flourish Marketing & Social Media Management.

Deciding factors

For Simms, who works about 20 hours a week at home for clients and another 20 hours marketing and researching, there were three factors she took into consideration.

Quality time

Although keeping your kids home with you allows you to be always with your child, it doesn't necessarily mean that your child is getting your attention. That was the case with Simms, who realized she was sacrificing quality time for quantity time. "I had to let go of the fact that being with her physically wasn't as important if I was always on the computer," says Simms.

Balance

Working at home is something that naturally throws off the balance between work and home lives since they become so easily intertwined. Before you know it, the distinction between work time and home time becomes a fuzzy light gray line — instead of a set-in-stone line. "With my daughter at home with me, I literally had a 24-hour day," says Simms.

Growth

Want more from your work? Then you need to grow your business — which is something not easily done when your time and attention is split between your children and your work. To grow, you need dedicated and uninterrupted time to work. Plus, it's good for the kids to have kid interaction too. "[Another reason is] my desire to grow my business and better service my clients," says Simms.

What to do for childcare?

If you think you are ready to seek childcare, there are many options available. For Simms, part-time childcare has been perfect — giving her the work time she needed as well as the time with her daughter.

"I firmly believe that work-at-home parents need to make some sort of arrangements with their kids while they work, because it’s not feasible, in most cases, to generate a solid, regular income without putting in solid, regular work hours. Solutions I offer parents include play co-ops, preschools, camps, community recreational activities, a sitter in the home for a few hours a day, or regular daycare," says Leslie Truex, author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible (Adams Media, 2009) and Jobs Online: How to Find and Get a Work-At-Home Job. Another option is a mother's helper who can entertain your child while you work.

No matter what you decide, it's important that you find the solution that works best for you and your children. Working at home shouldn't ever mean that you feel pressured to do it all alone. Turn your situation into a positive all around by getting childcare when you need it.

More from Chasing the Dream

How to be a work-at-home success
Using your intuition to achieve your dreams

Why you need a mentor — and how to find one

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