can I take care of my baby during the workday if my job is undemanding?

A reader writes:

I work for a large company with strong union protections. Because of our union protections, it’s very hard to get fired or even to get a low performance rating, but it’s also very hard to get merit raises or promotions. Compensation is explicitly tied to how long you’ve been with the company.

I’ve been at this company two years and because of my low tenure I make about 60% of what my peers make. I’m also totally underemployed. I get excellent performance ratings, and even though I’m full-time I can finish my work in about 10 hours a week. My job rarely requires meetings except for a monthly 1:1 with my boss.

I’m expecting my first child in a few months. Our company policy explicitly says that employees must have child care while they are working. But I have so little work to do during the day, and most of it can be done asynchronously. Can I just … ignore the policy and provide full-time care for my baby during the day as long as my work doesn’t slip? I would make arrangements for those days when I have meetings. I really don’t think my boss would notice one way or the other.

Aggggh, I hate this question and I also kind of love this question.

I hate it because there are conflicting principles in play and I’m not fully comfortable with any of the answers I could land on.

I love it because it’s more complicated than it seems on its surface.

Here are the conflicting principles, both of which are true:

* It’s completely reasonable for your employer to require you to have childcare while you’re working, when your kids are little. Those policies were commonplace pre-Covid, got relaxed by necessity the first couple of years of the pandemic, and are now commonplace again.

* When you can finish your work in 10 hours a week while still getting excellent performance reviews and you’re making 60% of what your peers make, there’s really no ethical issue with doing other things with your time as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work. Want to do laundry or scrub your baseboards or binge-watch reality shows? As long as you’re available when your job needs you, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t. (I am going to make sure that you’ve told your boss you’re available for more work, and also that you’ve considered whether there are long-term professional disadvantages to remaining in a job like that. But after that, do what you will.)

However, it’s more complicated when the other thing you’re doing with your time is child care. You’ve got to factor in:

* Babies and little kids demand attention on their schedule, not yours. You can stop your baseboard-scrubbing or pause your show if a work need comes up that you need to handle. You can’t pause a baby. What are you going to do if they each demand your attention at the same time? A lot of the time, your baby will need to win out — what does that mean for your work?

* What if you have a last-minute meeting with little notice and don’t have time to line up child care? In theory you could tell your boss that your child care fell through that day and it’s not your norm, but then you’re lying and you’re also likely to raise some questions in your boss’s head. If it happens a second time, your set-up is really likely to become a question for her.

* What if something changes and your job suddenly gets more busy than it is now (like a new boss, a new project, or a busier coworker leaves and their work falls to you)? Finding full-time child care isn’t usually something you can do overnight — in some areas it can take months. Will you be able to change things on the fly if you need to?

* What about those 10 hours a week you do need to focus on work? Is it flexible enough that you can fit it in around nap times, or is it likely to conflict with times when your baby is awake and wants your attention? Will you want to fit it around nap times, or will having to do that make things more stressful than they’d be if you had clear, uninterrupted work hours?

* Is it healthy to split your attention that way? Some parents find great relief in having a clearly delineated part of their day when they’re not on kid duty and can just focus on adult things. You might end up feeling like you’re short-changing yourself and the baby and your job.

* Speaking of shortchanging yourself, will doing this cause you to limit yourself professionally in ways you wouldn’t otherwise? For example, if an opportunity comes up for a project that would be great for your career, will you avoid taking it on because it would complicate your child care availability? If so, you risk harming your career long-term in ways you can’t necessarily see right now.

All of which is to say … I’d rather you not do it. (I’d also rather you live in a society that supports working parents and has affordable child care and doesn’t make people make decisions like this, but here we are.)

But I can see why you’d think about it! I just think it has more obstacles than you might be considering.

{ 357 comments… read them below }

    1. ZSD*

      I was going to suggest something similar. If your (rare) work meetings are always on Monday or Tuesday, what about getting child care for Mondays and Tuesdays, but not for the rest of the week? Or, as Frankie suggests, just for the mornings but not the afternoons? Etc.

      1. Washi*

        Can you try this while simultaneously looking for part time care? I find it hard to believe there are NO options, it may just take more time to find. When we were scoping out a nanny to figure out if we could afford one (we couldn’t) there were a good number of older semi-retired folks looking for part time only. Or a SAHP looking to make a little extra money without committing to a 40 hr gig.

        I worked 10 hours a week when my son was born, 2 hrs during the work week while my mom watched him, and 8 hours on Saturdays. Is your work asynchronous to the point of being able to work weekends? That seems more doable than evenings, until my son was 6 months, evenings were the absolute worst part of the day and I was exhausted by 6pm and in bed asleep by 8:30.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      In my experience, in the US, finding part-time child care is difficult because many daycares have strict carer-to-child ratios at each age level, and if the take a part-time child, that is a spot they can’t fill with a full-time child, so they are losing out on that income. It would be one thing if you had a situation where you usually needed full-time care, but for a few months you only needed part-time, and then you might be willing to pay to hold that full-time spot. But, at least in my area, finding part-time (licensed) care is very difficult.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Yeah, I made a similar comment below. For children younger than a year, it’s HARD to get part time slots.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          I think for part time, you’re really looking for more of a babysitter than a childcare setting. I’m not sure many nannies do part time, but maybe a nanny co-op?

          1. Tinkerbell*

            Or OP, if you’re comfortable having someone in your home while you’re working, see if you can find someone who’s willing to do some part-time babysitting. You may be able to answer questions as necessary but still focus on work without having to drop everything that way. Of course, if the baby isn’t actually HERE yet, you don’t know how needy your child will be – babies vary GREATLY in how much parental attention they demand. One of my kids was happy to quietly entertain herself as long as I was in sight, the other freaked out if I or my wife weren’t physically carrying him around the house!

          2. londonedit*

            I don’t have children, but judging by the local Facebook group here in my part of London, a lot of families seem to do some sort of nanny-share arrangement (there are always people asking whether anyone knows a good nanny who might be looking for a few more hours or a nanny-share position). So for example a nanny might do early morning/school run for one family, and then school pick-up/evening until the parents get home for another family. Or they might do two days a week for one family and two for another.

      2. Double A*

        It definitely sounds like part time outside care is difficult or impossible for the OP, but just for other parents considering something like or needing part time care in general, I just want to say it’s definitely worth looking into! I have been quite surprised in my area that the daycares we have found have offered part-time care with no fuss. So this is something that varies a lot depending on the area and the age of the child. In general what’s available for child care is hugely variable; it’s one of the huge pains about it. Nothing is standard or guaranteed.

      3. Cabbagepants*

        My experience is that there are options for daycare during school hours, e.g. 9-3. That’s 6 hours, not 4, but still less than what I would consider “full time.”

      4. Ally McBeal*

        My guess is that the person you replied to was talking about in-home care, like a nanny or even a mother’s helper – not a daycare.

        But I used to work in daycare and you’re spot-on about part-time care. I think the only kid my daycare allowed to come part-time (while I was there, anyway) was the child of an NFL player in our city – the mom didn’t work so she usually kept the kid at home but dropped them off for a few hours, 1-3 days per week, when she had social engagements and/or wanted the kid to have their own socializing time. And I’m pretty sure that, considering the dad’s job, they paid full-price for part-time care.

    3. OP*

      OP here. We have considered this! But high quality part time care is extremely difficult to find in our area, mostly because infant daycares don’t offer it and the the few in home carers with newborn experience that we’ve been able to find aren’t interested in working part time. My work can be done asynchronously, so I was considering getting most of it done when my partner is home in the evenings.

        1. aqua*

          Yeah, does your contract specify working hours? Would you be able to legitimately say that your partner is providing childcare during your working hours?

          1. OP*

            There are no specified working hours but most people are online during standard business hours. I could legitimately say my partner was providing care during my work hours.

            1. Be Gneiss*

              Honestly, taking this piece into consideration, I don’t see a problem with at least testing it out.

            2. learnedthehardway*

              Usually, I would say that working productively from home while taking care of a small child / baby at the same time is impossible, but yours sounds like the unicorn case where it could work. I would give it a try – it sounds like the work you do is very asynchronous, the time spent at work can be flexible, you will have child care during hours when your husband is home, etc.

              The challenges (it sounds like) are 1. if there are impromptu meetings that you can’t plan for. Perhaps talk to your supervisor about the fact that you’re going to need advance notice of meetings.

              Also 2) you’ll be sacrificing time with your husband when he gets home and you have to work in the evenings. Don’t underestimate that – he’s going to be tired from working, he’s going to feel somewhat neglected if you spend every evening working. I wouldn’t plan to work more than a couple of evenings per week.

              (When your baby gets a little older, you’ll be able to put them in a bouncy chair in front of a TV for 20-30 minutes, if you have to do meetings. I know – not ideal – but 20-30 min of baby TV is not going to destroy their mind or attention span.)

              Personally, I had to have in home child care when my kids were babies and then had to have daycare for them when they got older, but my work was non-stop and I had to have a quiet office environment to do it.

              1. Nobby Nobbs*

                I’d say it’s worth a try, but also consider challenge 3) how sustainable is it for your husband to work out of the home all day and do solo child care in the evenings? Or for you to do solo child care all day and work through the evenings? You’re going to need to be really intentional about building rest/leisure time into both of your schedules if this has any chance of working.

              2. TootsNYC*

                >>2) you’ll be sacrificing time with your husband when he gets home and you have to work in the evenings.

                My mother- and father-in-law deliberately worked opposite schedules so that they could tag-team their childcare. That was a long time ago when daycares were NOT a thing.

                But even now, many parents do this.

                1. CowWhisperer*

                  Yup. I worked in retail for 4 years when my son was young and needed a lot of therapy appointments for cerebral palsy.

                  I saw my kid awake daily. I saw my husband daily – but 4 days of that were when he was sleeping – so I saw him awake 3 days out of 7.

                  It was hard – but it let us care for our son and have income.

                2. Don't Groom the Llamas*

                  Yeah my husband and I stagger work days and times to reduce the need for childcare (we’re not in the US and in the country we live in part time childcare is normal). He works M-Fri, I work Weds-Sun, we both compress daytime hours and catch up on work in the evening.

                  It’s fine. BUT it means we very rarely get time as a family, and even individual downtime is severely limited. We generally get to collapse in front of the TV together 3 times a week and that’s instead of going to the gym, seeing friends etc.

                  It works because we both have good PTO but I’m looking forward to the point we don’t have to do it.

            3. Tio*

              So, are you going to clock in later, or stay on the clock during standard hours and then actually do the work later?

              Firstly, make sure your office doesn’t have core hours, aka hours they expect people to be on the clock. This is very common. And even if you don’t have spelled out core hours, they may find you clocking in late at night (uncommon clock ins flag in a lot of systems) and question you about this, or just not allow after business hours work. That’s not that weird and out of line.

              Also, what happens if one of your coworkers is sick, one is abducted by aliens, and one quits and joins the circus and they want you to handle their jobs for a day? Are you going to be available and capable?

            4. Beth*

              Given everything you’ve said, it sounds like you have at least a solid shot of making this work.

              I like that Alison’s answer focuses on the practicalities rather than a blanket “no”. It’s not that it’s morally wrong to have your kid at home or anything like that. It’s that practically speaking, once you account for both standard job duties and one-offs like last minute meetings, covering for a teammate, having an unusually busy day pop up, etc…it’s not usually possible to both be available for baby when baby needs you, and be available for work when work needs you.

              But if your work is fully asynchronous, you don’t have core hours that you have to be fully available during, you can generally complete your full workload in as little as 10 hours a week and have a partner who has 10+ at-home hours a week to cover childcare while you work, surprise meetings outside the hours you want to work aren’t a thing for your role, and you have a plan for days/weeks where a big project comes up and you need more work hours? That sounds like something you can pull off most of the time.

              It does also sound like it would leave you and your partner both with very full days, where you’re either working or on-duty for childcare for basically all waking hours. But if you can’t find part-time care and can’t afford full-time care, I see the value in pushing through that.

            5. Green Goose*

              As a mom of two, and this is just my two cents, I think give it a shot. You could save some money and it sounds like it might work in your situation. But if you DO it can you please write in with an update in like 6-12 months to let us all know how it went? I think it would be great to hear as there are other readers/commenters who have kids/might want to have kids and they’d love to hear.

              I had a coworker who was a brilliant grant writer and she never got childcare for her kids, her and her husband worked from home and somehow made it work. She told me that she had 2 days where she did all of her work and the duties fell mostly on her husband but since her output was always so good no one said anything. So for you, just make sure no one has anything to complain about and good luck!!!

              1. Squirrely*

                Yes, please, to the update! I also had friends who did something similar (though with their companies’ knowledge) and made it work. It became exhausting, but they were also working full-time hours.

            6. Frieda*

              Honestly this sounds totally feasible to me. If you’re currently spending 10 hours a week working, to CYA you should confirm that your work can be done asynchronously and then tell your employer that your spouse will be providing childcare while you work. That is a true statement. If you also get some work done during down time while the baby is asleep, that is not the same as having no coverage during the time you need to be focused on work. (And if you needed a full 40 hours to complete your work, you could do four hours each evening and full work days on Saturday and Sunday – I don’t think you should, or that you have to, but it is mathematically possible such that you do not IMO have to disclose that you’re not currently occupied with your paid work for 40 hours a week.)

              If, each week, you have a (private to you) plan to say do half the work while the baby is sleeping during the traditional work day, each week and half the work while your spouse is home in the evenings, with a cushion on the weekend to catch up as needed – also when your spouse has your child – you can try it out for a while and see if it works. IMO that plan would comfortably cover 10 hours – one hour a day during each weekend, one hour in the evening, any spillover on the weekend.

              Maybe the baby won’t nap at all and you’ll find yourself spread thin and frazzled: time to make a new plan. Maybe the baby will settle into a pretty predictable nap schedule and you can in fact get an hour or two of work done each day between 9-6 and then catch up with an hour in the evening as needed. Or you can enroll your baby and your spouse in a weekend music class together and set that aside as some core dedicated work time, while they’re out at their activity and then running an errand or something.

              I had one very high-needs baby and one more relaxed little dude and finished a PhD while pregnant and/or nursing for the whole time. I had very limited childcare, especially for the first baby – coverage while I was actively in class, and nothing beyond that. One important caveat: I also did not have hobbies, or time with friends except when I took my kid(s) to play group, or personal time to do much of anything.

            7. Mom of 3*

              My youngest was a toddler, so not quite what you’re asking, but I didn’t use full time childcare for my 3 kids. I kicked ass at work, and no one knew. When baby is older, drop in care can be easier to find and more affordable like mothers day out or preschool a few times a week.

              Good luck to you! Enjoy time with your baby.

            8. fishwish*

              Hi! I do this – I work in the office 2 days, and WFH with my now-15mo the other 3 days. I’ve done this since I went back to work a year ago. My husband is usually home from 1-4 on 2 of 3 WFH days, so I pack my meetings into those hours. Our office culture is such that most coworkers would rather walk on hot coals than pick up the phone or just hop on an unscheduled zoom call. I didn’t ask permission, and so far, I have never had a conflict arise that meant I had to back out of a sudden commitment because I was parenting. Occasionally I do an hour or so of work in the evening (maybe once or twice a month). My boss has never questioned what I do in a day, because like you, I can get my work done quickly and easily.

              I love my arrangement, and I love being home with my kid. Work is just…work! It’s a means to an end, and I’m in a VERY similar no-raises-ever situation, so going “above and beyond” isn’t really in my interest right now. The money we are saving in daycare costs FAR outweighs the potential money I could (reasonably) bring in if I looked for a better-paying job. If wishes were fishes, I’d stay home with my kid and not work at all. For many many MANY reasons, that’s not possible, so working from home and coasting is an ideal alternative for now, and probably for a few more years to come.
              Anyway, I hope you find a solution that works for you and your family. Just wanted to throw in my 2c as someone in very similar shoes.

            9. Azalea Bertrand*

              Am a mother of two, infant and preschooler – I think this will be SO SO dependent on your baby. With my first this would 100% not have worked. Not a chance. She didn’t sleep ever (her sleep at 4yrs is still worse than the 4 month old’s, she has even had a full sleep study which showed absolutely nothing), she cried non stop for hours, we couldn’t put her down for a moment. We had two of us home full time for 8 months (husband studying, me on parental leave) and it was still unmanageable.

              My second baby? This would be so doable. She sleeps at regular times, barely cries, I can baby wear and type at the same time. However, if it’s any more than 10 hrs a week of work I’d still recommend caution. Baby 2 is a delight but she still takes a lot of mental energy. I need those evening hours when my husband finishes work to mentally regroup, I’ve tried doing life admin in those hours and even that is hard to concentrate on.

              I’m so sorry you’re having trouble finding part time care. My eldest has done formal daycare at 2, 3, 4 and 5 days a week, and my youngest is scheduled to start at 1 day a week in a few months time! Yes it’s harder for the daycare to manage scheduling when they’re trying to slot different part-timers in on different days but they do manage… Which is just to say, keep your ears open just in case something opens up around you!

        2. Jessica*

          I think this is a fair point! OP, if your partner is willing and it’s compatible with your workflow, another option would be to plan to do 4-8 hours of work on the weekend. This is partially how I finished my PhD while having two kids…honestly, after a week of being a SAHM, having a morning out at a coffee shop to do work was really energizing and refreshing. And it gave my partner the opportunity to do solo parenting.
          We also did something similar during the pandemic, although of course there was more understanding around these kinds of arrangements in 2020. I had a pretty flexible 30-hour a week job, (which really was more like 15-20 hours of actual work) and he had a full-time job. He’d try to get his work done from 7 am – 3pm and then come upstairs to watch the kids while I disappeared to do work for a couple hours.
          If your partner can do an hour of childcare daily around their work schedule (early mornings or late afternoon/evenings or both) and four hours on the weekend, you’d be pretty much set.
          I do think it’d be an important conversation to have with your partner — just fitting in your work to times when the baby is sleeping in the evenings will be rough. But if you can both work together to divvy up work time, childcare time, and leisure time in a way that allows your household to have two full-time incomes PLUS more time for both of you with the baby? That’s a win/win in my book. :)

      1. Lilo*

        I had to do a lot of evening and post bedtime work with my toddler, who by thr time COVID hit had been fully sleep trained and could reliably be counted on to go to sleep at 7.

        I’m going to tell you right now, evening is some of the hardest time. Babies are craziest in the evenings, getting bedtime established is a LOT of work, and stuff goes out the window.

        And even if it goes easily, by evening you are often just exhausted.

        1. Magpie*

          This, there’s a reason evening hours are commonly referred to as “witching hours” in parenting circles. I would not have had the mental bandwidth to do my job in the evenings when my babies were newborns because they were so incredibly fussy in the evenings and that seems like a common experience. Of course all babies are different and the OP might not have this problem, but I wouldn’t want to bet my job on it.

        2. Exit-Stage-Left*

          Yeah, to me this was the real potential hurdle with this setup. For our (one, generally amiable) baby, evening was the *toughest* time. I know some babies magically have great sleep schedules – but ours sure didn’t and the long / interrupted nights meant by 6pm I’d just be completely out of gas. I had often done catch up or prep work at night, and (for me) that just wasn’t possible for the first few years – I’d just be too wiped to do anything requiring a modicum of attention to detail.

          Having both parents on deck in those evening hours is the only way things like “eat food” or “not be buried in dirty laundry” happened (and even that was aspirational some weeks).

          1. Anonym*

            Good grief, this.

            And, whatever you choose, OP, think of it as a test or starting point. You don’t know what your baby will be like! They’re individuals right out of the gate, with their own needs, tendencies and schedules.

            Along the same line, leave room for how you and your husband will cope. It’s hard. For many of us, it’s just an unprecedented experience and we don’t always respond the way we think we will. What you each need to get through it may be different than you expect.

            So, OP, whatever you do, be flexible and ready to change if it’s not working for all three of you. Good luck!!!

        3. Melicious*

          Yes yes yes. If you haven’t lived with a young baby before, please know that evening might be the hardest time to work. A lot of babies lose their dang minds from 5-10pm and many take a long time (until 3-6 months?) to settle into a reliable early bedtime. Mine both went through a two month long phase where I couldn’t for the life of me get them to bed before 9pm. Once they were both reliably asleep by 8pm every night, I felt like I had a new lease on life.

        4. Azalea Bertrand*

          Oh gosh, I didn’t even take the witching hours into consideration and I currently have a 4 month old! She’s a delight most of the day but 7-9pm she will ONLY settle for me and my husband has no chance.

          Rather than working evenings, think about mornings. Any chance your partner can shift his schedule to start at 10, and you can work 6-9am or something? IME those hours are easier than 6-9pm. With our first, my husband was studying and would wear baby in a wrap 6-10am with a bottle at 8am. She was small enough that he could reach the keyboard around her and that worked well (those were my 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep as baby would generally be awake and nursing all night).

      2. Rachel*

        It sounds like your mind is made up and resolved on this and you are going to work while taking care of your baby.

        This is extremely risky but you seem set on this path. I hope it works out for you.

        1. WellRed*

          Any arrangement that requires flat out lying is risky. Adding in the hopes and prayers that it will would around a baby is just wishful thinking.

        2. Jenna Webster*

          Agreed, an issue that seems to be overlooked here is that if this is discovered, you can just be fired.

          1. FormerUnionPrez*

            Yes – despite the emphasis on ‘strong union protections,’ since the company decided to put in place specific rules around this, the union will not be able to protect you unless the provisions are in your Collective Agreement. Proceed with caution.

      3. JR 17*

        College student nannies might be ideal for your situation. We live near a college with a human development major and have had excellent quality babysitters. The challenge is their schedule changes every quarter, but if you don’t care what hours they come, that might not be an issue for you.

      4. Takki*

        A good option is a college student studying childhood education or the like. Many work as nannies, but can’t work a fulltime gig. Having a few days a week for a few hours is a good gig. If there’s a local community college, that’s going to be your best bet – lots of older students going back to school. Community colleges often have more flexible scheduling than a 4 year school, so less chance that the student will have to be in class when you need them. I used students as a mother’s helper (a person tasked with caring for children while the parents are still home/onsite, but can’t split focus between child and other obligations) with good results, and I was one when I was younger.

      5. Lozi*

        One thing to consider – if you are working from home while the carer is there, you may have the option to be more flexible with their level of experience. When I had to leave the house for work I wanted someone who was really experienced with an infant. But when I worked from home, I was more okay with a local college student who could come to me if there were any issues/questions.

      6. raktajino*

        Both of my teammates with small children took the asynchronous tactic. Their partners worked nights so that they could be available during our core hours. This was difficult long term because their partners ended up getting even less sleep than they would normally, getting up early to cover the 9-5 parent’s morning. Since you have more flexibility about your hours than my teammates did, it might be easier.

        Seconding the college student part time suggestions though.

      7. Ally McBeal*

        I wonder if your local university might have students who are in the child-development/teaching fields and would be willing to act as mother’s helper for a few hours. College kids are always looking for side hustles (although it usually is harder when you need help during the day, vs nights/weekends), and it sounds like you work remotely so you can be there in case something comes up that they can’t handle on their own – which would probably make both you and the helper feel more comfortable.

      8. Caregiving and working*

        This is something my partner and I do, just in a different context. We have an aging relative we help care for who needs almost constant supervision. He works days and I work late afternoons and evenings-I work less hours and we sometimes swap weekend working as well. So we swap caregiver roles. On the sometimes occasion we have to have an overlap, we hire additional help for those rare hours.

        What it does mean is that neither of us have any flexibility in our schedules. This doesn’t bother me right now, because I know it won’t be like this forever. But it does make other things hard-doing anything outside of work or caregiving. And less hours together. So that’s something to consider.

    4. Dee*

      Yes this
      Consider half day or part-time daycare
      I’ve done this as a parent and when I was a child and it works well

    5. Hazelfizz*

      I read this question wrong at first. ‘career for 4 hours?’ sign me up! I explicitly find the rat race tiresome, dull, nasty, brutish, and sisyphean. Who cares about ‘advancement’? Such a waste of my time and one precious life.

      This is why job applications pose me difficulty, I admit.

    6. Artemesia*

      Or see if you can find a carer who can work last minute — even a neighbor who is a SAHM who would not be adverse to earning a few bucks to take your baby on days when you need to go into the office or be on an important conference call or have a deadline. When I was writing my dissertation I had someone I met in my la leche league group take care of my toddler mornings so I could write. She was really happy to have a little income of her own and she had a same age child so it was good for the kids too.

  1. Teacher*

    Yes, I totally understand the question and the wondering, but as a mom of a small toddler Alison’s answer is quite spot on. I’d emphasize the point that you might really WANT to have some dedicated work time, even if you just get part-time childcare (so that you have at least 20 hours a week of childcare even if it isn’t full-time.)

  2. Ashley*

    Is childcare in your area readily available for infants? You might be able to float a few months with the company knowing you don’t have day care while you are legitimately waiting on a decent daycare provider. When a spot does become available then you could weigh the pros and cons of taking it better once you have been living the situation for awhile.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      Where is childcare readily available? Asking for every parent I know across the United States.

      1. Someone*

        In my city, full time care for $500 a week is readily available. Part time or any less expensive, not so much.

      2. Sarah*

        My area- Loudoun County, VA. It’s expensive ($2000+ per month), but there are infant spots available in a variety of different centers right now near me (including the center my daughter is a preschooler).

  3. Grumpus*

    What about part time childcare? If you can reliably have two or three morning free a week (or whatever would work for you) it sounds like that would be plenty of time to get your work done.

  4. Ali + Nino*

    I would tread very carefully. I understand why this is tempting – it all seems to work out on paper – but until you have experience caring for your own child, you really can’t know what it’s going to be like.
    I say this as a parent who had to watch my own infant during the day and work at night for several months. This was not my first choice but I “made it work” until my body started falling apart. I like the suggestion above of having at least part-time childcare. But honestly, I think you are underestimating the difficulty here.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, the problem is that you almost certainly will have 10 hours a week during business hours where your baby is napping, etc., but WHEN those hours occur is wildly unpredictable and you’re likely to be constantly feeling like you’re about to be interrupted which is really challenging. (Been there, done that.)

    2. OP*

      Thanks for the advice! I really don’t know what caring for my baby will be like, and all any of my friends, blogs, etc can tell me beyond the basics is that it is largely dependent on each individual baby. But workwise my meetings are scheduled weeks in advance 99.9% of the time and my 10 hours a week are almost entirely asynchronous analysis and report writing.

      1. Andy*

        the most important thing to remember about parenting and working at the same time is to make sure that the tiny leg is fully extended before you kiss the tiny toes.
        black eyes etc. are unprofessional.

        1. TinCormorant*

          Eyes? Mine seems obsessed with trying to break my nose. I got headbutted at least once a day. She’s 7 now, it happened twice just last week.

            1. CanadaGoose*

              lol, probably a full 7 years! Mine is still under 5, but I don’t anticipate his huge enthusiasm for running full tilt and “crash-hugging” me to drop off a whole lot any time soon. It’s great, mostly, but does lead to the occasional bruise.

            2. WorkerAlias*

              My 5 year old headbutted me AND kicked me in the face during reading time before bed tonight. They don’t grow out of the accidental attacks quickly.

      2. Pyjamas*

        Yeah in my mom’s group, one mom complained that her placid baby was just happy chilling in his playpen and took regular naps. Another mom’s baby woke up every hour on the hour at night and had to be held when awake. (I’ve kept in touch with 2nd mom, her baby is a thriving well-adjusted 26 yr old.)

        I also think there’s something about the last few months of pregnancy, mentally. Maybe it’s some chemical in our brains to prevent getting too anxious about childbirth. My child’s first year was delightful but my plans foe a productive year, made in third trimester, went to pot. Worth it ❤️

      3. ABK*

        have you considered looking for a stay at home parent who would “nanny share” i.e. the SAOP would be the nanny? My sister did this with her first (she was the nanny) and it worked out really well for both families. She got some extra spending $$ and the other family got flexible childcare. You could do it for a few mornings a week or so just to give yourself a break and your work some attention.

      4. Michelle Smith*

        It sounds like it could work, but having a backup plan would still be prudent. I know the *meetings* are scheduled in advance, but the baby’s needs may not be and might be more challenging to plan around if you don’t have a partner at home to cover your childcare during your meetings.

      5. Trippedamean*

        I knew new moms who got PhDs while on maternity leave. Meanwhile, I was delighted that I managed to shower every day during mine.

        1. ampersand*

          It boggles my mind that people can get degrees with little kids at home. Often while simultaneously working full time. I want to know their secret because that has not been my experience!

        2. KathyG*


          You showered EVERY DAY? That’s impressive. Most days I felt triumphant if I managed to get a bra on by 3 pm.

      6. Laser99*

        Does it even have to be discussed at all? Are they intending to call you and demand to know what’s going on in your home? I would just say “Yes, we hired help.”

    3. DinoGirl*

      Public employer here. Check your union contact for options to start. Maybe there are options providing for a reduced work schedule, temporary or not, and if so, a good option leverage your union benefits and remind your boss you don’t have a full week of work to do.
      Then check any leave benefits, like state, that may allow a reduced schedule for child care.
      I get how tempting it is given your schedule to watch the baby, but babies be babies, you can’t predict their days or schedules and that can not only be stressful but can cost you your job (union employees think they’re untouchable, I assure you they are not, and if you’re a public employee l, classifying this as say, theft of public funds, can ratchet things up significantly).
      Try for an in home nanny if you can afford one or seek out some other options and avoid the stress.

      1. Lilo*

        What I’ve found most people don’t really anticipate with babies, is that babies, even brand new ones, have their own will and will enforce it on other people. There’s another whole person there and they’re going to massively disrupt any firm plans you had and not necessarily comply to anything you wanted to do. People who haven’t had kids tend to view babies as a task rather than a whole personality, often a very stubborn one.

      2. OP*

        Reduced schedules are an option for me and this is mostly likely what I will do if I can’t find another solution. But reduced schedules come with reduced pay, and I’m already doing all my work in less than part time hours, which is why I sent Alison my question. But thanks, this is a great suggestion and it’s helpful to be reminded of other ways my union can help me.

        1. The dark months*

          The reduced pay part sucks, but might be worth it for a few months if it means you know for sure you won’t need to pay for child care, you’ll still be able to do your work but also have a legit out if something happens. Once you have a better idea of how you and your partner deal with the small human you might be able go back to the regular schedule. And given that you have a solid track record, could you make a case for non standard work hours? Good luck with your new baby

        2. AngryOctopus*

          It’s much better to be up front and see how the union can help you than to violate clear contract terms and likely be fired for that.
          Best of luck with the baby and may they be an excellent sleeper and eater!

        3. ??*

          I’m a mom of three kids. if you are truly working only 10 hours a week, and only have 1 baby you are watching I would say you can totally do it. especially for the first couple of months when they sleep all the time.
          And for those meetings you schedule out in advance, hire a baby sitter.
          I don’t let my baby just cry, but if something unexpected for work comes up, have a safe place to put the baby and just let them cry while you handle it, if it’s a rare occasion your baby will be okay.
          and if your hours are flexible, you can totally do it.
          if you have a partner living with you and if you, have flexible hours you can absolutely totally do it.
          they are paying you to do your work, as long as you’re getting it done I would say go for it.

    4. kiki*

      It’s also so dependent on the child. I had a friend who was totally able to care for their child while working– they were “an easy baby.” But then their next child needed a lot more hands-on attention and it was not tenable to work without childcare.

    5. Quinalla*

      Agreed so much with this comment! When my husband and I were WFH FT and caring for older kids during the pandemic (one 5th grader and two 2nd graders) and making sure they were doing their online school it was a LOT. And these are much older kids that won’t kill themselves (I mean this literally) if you leave them alone outside of a crib, etc. for a few minutes – they can also dress themselves, get a snack, 5th grader was able to get to all her online classes and do homework on her own – not so much the 2nd graders. I cannot imagine doing a PT job and taking care of an infant and likely worse a toddler while trying to do a job – even 10 hours of a work a week. Get PT childcare at least! Trying to squeeze in work around caring for children sucks a lot and if you have a high needs baby/toddler like my first – there is no way! I was a zombie and could barely get a shower every day, no way I could have worked without childcare.

      My SIL who did have a toddler during the pandemic just didn’t work when she was awake period – she could not. I could at least check emails, even call into low attention meetings while making sure they were paying attention to online school or supervising homework.

      My kids are older now (5th grade and 8th grade) and I am comfortable with them being home for ~2.5 hours after school while I wrap up work, but I’ve also cleared it with my job. I have a lot of leeway because I have 20+ years experience and I get shit done for my company. I still send them to summer camps for about the same time as school or more depending – though that will stop for the eldest next year as she gets into high school. She’ll still have things, but not full time.

    6. oh crap*

      Fully agree with this. I had a 10-hour a week job with my baby, and it was HARD to find the time to do that work, and I was certainly doing a not-great job. It really depends on how much sleep your baby gets, and how you deal with sleep deprivation. So, if you’re fine going a year or so on 5 hours of sleep – because you’re working during the naps, that’s fine, but consider whether you’re really up for that.

    7. DawnShadow*

      Absolutely hard agree. You really don’t have any idea what you’re going to get. My daughter did not sleep for more than two hours at a time for two years. I had no idea what I was getting into. (She’s got her own house now so if she still doesn’t sleep through the night it’s not my problem.)

  5. Erin*

    I think I’d be extremely tempted to find others in similar positions and set up an informal co-op; if your spouse were in a similar work situation, for example, that’d be the simplest solution.

    But if you were a single parent, and had the space and internet bandwidth to accommodate two other single parents who live on your street and so set up for them to come round and primarily care for their own child with patches of “babysitting” for one or both of the other two too…

    But this solution presumes and requires community of a type and strength that’s getting less and less common in the UK and US as far as I can see.

      1. JR 17*

        There’s a company called June Care that facilitates childcare matchups between parents – that is, the babysitters are all parents who will have their own young kids at home while babysitting your kid. You might check I see if they’re in your area.

    1. Anon.*

      There’s an app specifically designed to help manifest this: Carefully. You can also try using Peanut to find other pregnant people/new parents in your area.

  6. FashionablyEvil*

    Part-time care for an infant tends to be harder to come by–because of the required staffing ratios, slots for children younger than a year are more likely to be full-time only.

    1. Banana Pyjamas*

      In our area, 7 years ago, part time infant care (3 days) was $400/week. I didn’t even bother looking into full time. Lots of SAHMs babysit for extra cash, and it’s way cheaper. The most we paid was $275/week for 2 kids and that included pickup.

      Be cautioned, the more children a family has, and the younger, the more likely they are to have illnesses that interrupt care. Last year between June 19 and Aug 30 we had 7 weeks without child care. Hand Foot Mouth is no joke.

      The best set up was a home daycare, run by a person with older children (secondary school and up). There were pretty much never unplanned closures. So my recommendation is a home daycare where the carer either doesn’t have children or whose children are already grown up.

  7. MsSolo (UK)*

    Just to throw in there that nap times can be short – my daughter only napped for twenty minutes at a time during the day from about 8 weeks to 18 months (then napped for two and a half straight for six months, before abandoning the concept altogether). I couldn’t even finish the washing up while she napped.

    1. MsSolo (UK)*

      Also, the tasks I used to be able to do in 10 hours definitely took 20+ when I returned to work, because she was (and still is – I was up for 90 minutes last night!) pretty bad at sleeping at night, so I needed so many more to do lists and check lists and coffee breaks to complete the same amount of work.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Both of mine would either do 5-20 minutes naps in a cot, or 1-2 hours on me. Both “nap when the baby naps!” and “can’t you do it whilst the baby is asleep?” were completely useless advice.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I mean I preferred that to “do housework whilst the baby naps” because at least it acknowledged that my priority should be sleeping, not making sure the floors were mopped!

          1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

            Yeah, I know that people hate *hearing* this advice, but when it’s an option it can be a very good one…

        2. Blarg*

          There was a comedian in Denver who used to say something along the lines of, “okay, but I think the other people on the road will be upset, cause my baby only sleeps when he’s in a car seat and the car is moving.”

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        nap while the baby naps! eat while the baby eats! wash up while the baby washes up! file your taxes while the baby files their taxes!

        1. CV*

          This made me laugh out loud!
          I remember trying to eat while the baby eats and then having to sheepishly clean crumbs off baby’s head because in his case, “eating” meant “nursing”. (No, I did not eat hot food while the baby was eating.)

          1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

            When I had PPD I would joke that it was “weep when the baby weeps,” had a nice ring to it

      2. Banana Pyjamas*

        With my second child we solved this by baby wearing, but baby wearing devices can cost as much as a babysitter. Granted it’s theoretically a one-time cost. It can take a few tries to find the right one though.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          We had a local sling library where you could pay a small fee to book out a carrier for a month to try out. We tried three or four before settling on the one we liked, and got a discount for using the sling library’s referral link. Facebook groups, NCT/La Leche League, and library notice boards are good places to look for signs you might have something similar locally.

          Made no difference to sleep – twenty minutes in the cot, twenty minutes in the sling, twenty minutes on the boob, and just wailing in a car seat – but it allowed us to get out and about much more than the pushchair did.

  8. Sara*

    I would say if you had a partner that also worked from home that could tag in when needed it would be feasible. Maybe even a trusted person like a mom or retired neighbor or local teen that could pop over for emergencies or urgent work meetings. But if the plan is only yourself and hoping things won’t go wrong – that seems like playing with fire. You haven’t met your child yet – what if they’re colicky? Or don’t nap well? Or overly curious when they start crawling/walking?

    1. Pottery Yarn*

      This is what we’ve done. My husband and I were both fully WFH at the beginning of the pandemic with a newborn. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it work. We added another kid to the mix, and I 100% WFH for the baby’s first year while my husband WFH three days a week. The big kid is in daycare now, and my husband and I alternate WFH days with the baby. We’re planning to put the baby in daycare after the big kid starts PreK in the fall, so we only have to pay for one kid in daycare at a time. Both my husband and I are high achievers and have been promoted and/or taken major projects since 2020, which has given us a lot of leverage to have some flexibility with our childcare arrangements.

  9. Lilo*

    As someone who worked around my toddler’s schedule during COVID, I’m going to advise against this, especially with a newborn or infant. Infants usually do not have predictable schedules, or they hit a sleep regression or teething and what schedule you had goes out the window. Even my more predictable toddler once refused to nap during a meeting and I had to hold him on camera (my spouse was essential and had to go in sometimes). It was peak pandemic so no one had an issue.

    I also can’t emphasize enough just how exhausting that first year can be and that trying to do both, even with a low effort job, could really burn you out. Even with a kid on a schedule and a flexible employer, 2020 was just so tiring and stressful. Having childcare can be good for your own mental health, so don’t discount that.

    Ultimately if you signed a telework agreement that requires you not provide childcare while in the clock, you agreed and they absolutely can fire you if you don’t comply, so keep that in mind. My employer has restored the requirement but accepts things like sick days and snow days.

    1. Cj*

      yeah, I’m surprised to see it not many commentors that pointing out that her job requires her to have child care during her working hours.

      even if it would work out for her, and people with experience seem to think that it won’t, it’s what the company requires, and she can be fired for.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        The OP commented up near the top that the work can be done asynchronously, except for the meeting in the original letter, so “working hours” seem to be whenever the she is doing the work. Also that her husband is available in the evenings and she plans to primarily work when he is around.
        Sure, all that could go out the window when the baby is born…but honestly, any plan could go out the window when the baby is born, including a lot better – or worse – plans than this.

    2. Observer*

      you agreed and they absolutely can fire you if you don’t comply,

      Even in a union job.

      Either find some childcare (which would absolutely be the best for your mental and physical health), jigger your schedule or take reduced hours. The reduced income will stink, but less than the stress of the risk of getting fired, and definitely a lot less than actually getting fired.

  10. Smithy*

    I’ve never been able to work for a union, so for those with a lot more union experience – if I’m off base happy to learn about that. The other concern I’d have about the OP having truly no childcare arrangement is to do with being in direct compliance with the terms of their employment as opposed to just having an “easy” job.

    Again, in contrast to cleaning the house or watching tv, those aren’t necessarily terms explicitly called out as activities you cannot do whereas taking care of a child 100% is. It puts in mind a job that explicitly says you cannot drink while on the clock, and then having a class of wine or beer at lunch during a slow day. You’re now in a position to be caught directly breaking the rules, where even if there are protections – you’re in a more vulnerable position than someone who uses their Amazon Prime account on their work computer to watch a film rated NC-17 or something else ethically workplace fuzzy.

    My take on this would be to try to arrange for childcare part-time until the actual impacts were better known. To either have 2-3 full time days of care or 5 days a week of 4 hours. That way a care provider is already known to the OP and in place in case of more urgent needs. But without immediately committing to a full-time care provider.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      This is where I come down. The Union can’t protect her if she is ignoring an explicit policy. If it were encouraged or highly recommended, okay fine. But it is clearly stated.

      OP you are hoping you just don’t get caught. What happens when you do? And you will. Even before you do, you will worry you will. Its not worth the aggravation.

      Childcare is hard to find and expensive. You are already making 60% of your peers. Most of that would go to childcare. But on the other hand, when you get fired for this, you will be making zero percent of your peers.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This. As Alison says, all it takes is one meeting where the baby starts crying unexpectedly where your boss starts to wonder. And if that’s enough to make them check up on you–you’re clearly violating the terms of your contract. That’s grounds for firing within the union, so they’re not going to protect you. The idea of doing a neighborhood co-op share is great, but you also have to still be prepared for everything listed above–last minute meetings, new project assigned to you, new work coming on, etc. I don’t think it’ll be worth the worry–especially if your baby is colicky or hates sleeping or loves to scream at the drop of a hat. You’re always going to be worried, and that’s just not worth it.

  11. SGPB*

    I did this and I didn’t have any issues. I work in a unionized government job. My work was very low-stakes and undemanding. I told work that my mother came over for childcare, which she did 2 days a week (the days I was likely to have meetings – Mon & Tue). It was only for the first year when infant care is EXTREMELY expensive. Once she hit a year, I was able to put her in daycare. My work did not suffer and once she was in daycare I actually applied for and received a significant promotion. I’m not saying this works for everyone but it was amazing for me. I wouldn’t give up all that extra time I got with my baby for anything.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, I think many commenters are suggesting that working a full time job with only part time child care might be feasible for the OP, in a way that having zero child care might not be. Two days a week is 40% child care coverage!

        Part-time care doesn’t address the risks of going against policy, the boss finding out, the way it might limit one’s career, of course. But it feels like it might be possible to survive with one’s sanity intact.

  12. The Person from the Resume*

    You can knowingly violate explicit company policy, lie by omission, and very likely end up having to tell outright lies when colleagues/your boss asks what seems to them like an innocuous question about your childcare but for you is a gotcha question since you’re violating policy. IMO what you are asking to do is not ethical (to violate company policy especially one which is sensible and fair).

    I do not know the answer to this, but is this something you could get fired for if caught? I know you say it’s hard to get fired, but you’re violating an explicit company policy. That kind of thing might not get you a warning. I don’t know. Worth considering.

    1. OP*

      This is a good question and I don’t know the answer. Some of my other coworkers do childcare during the day for their preschool and school age children and no one says anything, but I don’t know if things would be different for an infant. I assume since the policy says “childcare” it applies to children of all ages and in practice there’s some leniency, but I don’t actually know the answer.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is the main thing I’d keep in mind. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep this secret inevitably, and losing your job is a big risk. For that reason alone I advise against it, before even getting into the other points folks have made.

      2. doreen*

        Here’s the thing – it’s never going to apply to all ages , if for no other reason than that at some point most kids don’t need childcare and can be left at home alone. No one hires an after-school babysitter for a 14 year old without any issues. And at some point (possibly preschool age) , some kids just need someone older to be at home in case of emergencies. But it takes a long time before an infants get there – you can’t wait an hour to feed the baby or change a diaper because you are in the middle of something. If I don’t have child care for a five year old, chances are good that no one will ever find out – she can use the bathroom on her own if I’m busy, she can eat lunch at the same time I do. Not so much with a six month old – which means your coworkers aren’t in the same position you will be in.

        Something I didn’t see anyone ask – are you an hourly employee and what sort of records do you keep of your time ? I worked at a job where most employees were union members and what invariably got people in trouble was that they weren’t working during the hours they put on their time sheets. And sometimes it wasn’t even a matter of they put 35 hours on the timesheet but only worked 20 – they may have worked from 4-12 but put their scheduled hours of 8-4 on their timesheets. They still had disciplinary action taken – it was just for falsifying the time on the timesheet rather than claiming they worked more hours than they actually did. It wasn’t a matter of my employer even looking for it – it would usually be something like a equipment got stolen from someone’s car at 2 pm when their timesheet said they were working but the theft happened miles away from the workplace.

        1. OP*

          I’m salaried FT and I don’t submit timesheets. That’s a good point about the ages – I just honestly don’t know if my employer could/would fire me on principle when our policy isn’t specific. I’ve been working under the assumption that they’d only take action if my work was suffering, but it is an assumption, not a guarantee.

          1. doreen*

            They probably wouldn’t be able to go straight to firing – but that means they probably will take some sort of action on principle if they find out that you are taking care of an infant while working because if they don’t , they will still have to go through all the steps of progressive discipline if it continues. If they ignore something for months or years, then when they first take action, it’s as if it was the first time it happened. Sure, if everything goes perfectly they may never find out. But how many times can you turn down a meeting they want to schedule on relatively short notice ? How many times can a baby crying in the background of a phone call be explained away ? How quickly can you find childcare if you can no longer WFH? You have to work under the assumption that if they find out, something will change.

            IMO, your best bet is to see if you are required to work particular hours and if not, to arrange a regular schedule where you work when your partner is available for child care. Because if you are regularly scheduled to work 4-midnight Monday through Friday, they will probably be a lot more flexible if they want you to attend a meeting outside your normal hours.

          2. Observer*

            I just honestly don’t know if my employer could/would fire me on principle when our policy isn’t specific.

            Why would it need to be specific? If the kid were 12 years old, specificity would matter, because it’s an open question if you even need child care at that point.

            But a newborn and infant most definitely DOES need childcare. So not having it in place would absolutely be a problem. And if your boss found out in the most likely ways, you would be unable to claim that it’s not affecting your work – if it weren’t affecting your work ~~whatever event~~ would not have happened.

      3. Lily Potter*

        Here’s what I think is happening. Your management absolutely does not want new parents working from home while caring for an infant. The reason that the prohibition is in your contract is because management specifically wanted it there. They don’t want people working a second job (caring for an infant) while pulling in a full-time salary at their primary job. That said, I highly doubt that management expects employees to send their 12-year-olds to daycare in the summer. I suspect that some people keep their grade schoolers at home (as opposed to daycare) during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. They may even keep their preschoolers at home while they work when said preschooler is home with pinkeye. The difference is that what you (OP) are proposing to do is keep your labor-intensive newborn baby at home with you 100% of the time while you’re pulling in a full-time paycheck. Your friends with the 12-year old on summer break, the grade schooler on Christmas break, or the preschooler with pinkeye mayoccasionally push the limits of the rule with children that are moderately self-sufficient. The two scenarios just aren’t comparable. Your friends, of course, could get fired for not following the letter of the rule but they probably won’t. You, however, are the poster child for someone who could, and should, be dismissed as a matter of principle.

    2. Techie*

      I am going to second this – it would be a serious risk. I don’t know your specific union agreement, but knowingly violating a policy & lying to hide what you are doing may not be protected. You also shouldn’t count on much support from coworkers who are following the policy if you are discovered.

    3. CAinUK*

      I agree, but also: an unspoken social contract with gov’t jobs that underpay (OP is only making 60% of market) and being underemployed is having this flexibility. IMO if the employer wants OP to afford childcare, they can pay 40% more so she can afford it. Otherwise, sensible policies are for sensible pay.

  13. Sherri*

    Ahhh, the calm before the storm. I remember those days. I absolutely adored the infant & baby stage with my kids, so let me say that first. Caring for a newborn/infant/baby/toddler is a full time job. Period. You will not be able to take care of the baby and hold down a job. I’m sorry to say this, but it just doesn’t work. Yes, you will have some time to yourself while you are taking care of your child, but it is very unpredictable.

    Take as much time as you can before you go back to work. Try to make the first week or two short ones (start on a Thursday, or go part time for a week or two) so you can ease into the transition.

    Better to accept reality now and prepare, rather than figure out in the middle that you can’t do both and have to scramble to try to keep your job and find full time childcare.

    Having said that, raising kids is an awesome thing. It is not easy no matter how you do it. There are positives and negatives to being a SAHM or a working Mom. You figure out what works for you and your family and enjoy the time when they are young.

    Happiness comes from solving problems. That starts now.

    Best of luck to you. You got this.

    1. Alan*

      Yeah, a good friend was talking about how much free time she’d have after her baby was born and she was off work. And I’m thinking “I wouldn’t count on that…” :-).

      1. Teacher*

        I now have a 2.5 year old. I remember so clearly the months of being pregnant and being like, “I’ll have three months off work! I know I’ll also have a new baby, but new babies sleep SO much. I’m going to do a lot of writing, organize the closets, etc etc.” … And then in reality, you’re quite sleep deprived, and while yes, there are many hours a day when the baby is sleeping, those times are in weird, often very short chunks; you need to sleep too; sometimes the baby will only sleep while you are holding said baby meaning you really can’t get anything done; you will also have a lot of new tasks that take time, like doing a thousand loads of laundry, ordering things you never knew you needed online, sanitizing things, etc.

        1. ampersand*

          Yep. When you’ve spent your entire life so far without a baby, it’s next to impossible to accurately predict how life will change once the baby arrives (also, it’s so dependent on their personalities). It’s easy to think you’ll continue your life as you’ve known it, just–with a baby! And how hard could that be at first, because they mostly sleep? But you also have to factor in their weird sleep schedules (they don’t know when night and day are), your own sleep deprivation, serious hormonal shifts, keeping a new human who can’t communicate very well alive…babies are lovely but exhausting, and they’re much easier to care for before they’re born. :)

          1. Alan*

            Sleep deprivation for us took a much larger tool than expected. I won’t even say that I did anything near what my wife did — she quit her job to stay with the kidlets and was with them all day every workday — but I was so tired at work that I would be in the middle of some work conversation and just forget completely what we were talking about. The physical demands are really rough.

    2. no clever name*

      For me, the biggest shock was the constant split attention. If baby was sleeping, I had an eye or ear open for the monitor. If I set her down to play, I had to check in on her constantly. Everything was doubled: talk to hubby/watch baby, do dishes/watch the monitor, go to the bathroom/listen for baby (or heck, hold baby…), etc. With practice, it gets easier, but it’s still exhausting. I was so happy to give her to someone else and focus on work. I wish it hadn’t been full-time, but it was way better than no time.

  14. WFHmom*

    As someone who was forced to do this during the worst of the shut downs, it becomes somewhat untenable. Financially, it does really help. The stress levels of trying to balance work and kids in those moments of care + actual work needing to be done eventually got to me, and we did find full time care. I would recommend finding some sort of part time care solution. Consistent mornings to get work things done, or all day Monday/Tuesday when you’re most busy, whatever makes sense. But then you’d have your foot in the door with the caregiver to increase hours if work did change.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      100% the financial advantages are tempting but the fallout is just not worth it. “Untenable” is the perfect word – have we learned nothing from 2020???

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Yes, this is where I fall.

      Leaving aside the fact that directly violating company policy is likely to make it much easier to fire LW should she be caught, wfh while caring for kids was utterly miserable for me, and both of mine were considerably older than newborn. The number of times I had to call out/rearrange meetings for ear infections/work well past 11pm because someone didn’t want to fall asleep at bedtime did a number on my mental health.

      Rather than going with the “slot work around whatever Baby feels like doing,” I would suggest drawing out explicit childcare hours. Whether that’s Spouse being home at 4:30 and setting (explicitly!) that some work would be asynchronous, or having a family member or neighbor come to the house for two full days a week etc., those boundaries between work and Kid can be deeply valuable

  15. anononon*

    I’m reading this and substituting ‘looking after my baby’ with ‘run my side business’ or even ‘take a second job’.

    Morally, no, but…

    1. JTP*

      Except, they’re not really the same. You can put down your side-business work when your first job demands your attention and come back to it later. Not so with an infant.

      1. anononon*

        It depends. Yes, if your side business is asynchronous like graphic design or knitting or servicing bicycles. Not so if your side business is ‘live’ like online tutoring?

        1. ecnaseener*

          You can tell your tutoring student that an emergency’s come up and you have to reschedule with apologies. Doesn’t work on a baby.

  16. SaraMan34*

    Don’t do it. You need to have time that is dedicated to work and not to childcare, or you will always feel like you are failing at both things. Even if your work situation never changes, your child will change – even if its doable when they are an infant, it will be different when they crawl, walk, talk, etc. And like Alison says, sooner or later it will interfere and if you’ve been lying to your boss about having childcare, as it seems like you would need to, that will be very bad.

    However, you do have an enviable situation and you can likely get away with doing less on childcare than other parents. Finding someone who can help you out part time while you are also home would seem to be the best option, whether it’s paid or family or a combination, you will, at the least, need someone to hand the baby off to if work needs your attention right now.

  17. goducks*

    Trying to work around a nap schedule is futile. Babies frequently refuse to nap on schedule, and even those who do will need to have their nap schedules adjusted regularly as their needs change with age. Newborns sleep a lot (or don’t sleep at all, if they’re my younger child), but babies rapidly become more alert and active, and by the time they’re a few months old will want constant attention when they’re awake, and by about 7 months they start to become mobile, and then need even more attention, as you can’t just plop them in a spot and walk away for 30 seconds, they’ll be into something.

    While the money savings is tempting, there are so many potential downsides to doing this.

    My advice would be to use the daily downtime to get all the things around the house done so that when the baby is home, you’re not spending your time cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, etc. and can maximize your quality time with your baby. That’s the bigger benefit, in my opinion.

    1. Lilo*

      FWIW, I think my kid was only on a set nap schedule when COVID hit because he’d been to daycare for 6 months at that point. And even then we had bad days.

    2. Alan*

      Yeah, we had twins and I cannot tell you how many people said “You just need to get them on the same schedule.” If anything, they settled into opposing schedules, i.e., one was always awake while the other slept. Someone told us “You can’t make a kid eat, sleep or poop” and it’s so true, yet people so frequently make those issues the hills they want to die on.

  18. kiki*

    For the next couple months, I would track how often you’re in meetings, how often you’re asked to join meetings unexpectedly or on short notice (same day), and how often you’re asked to do work unexpectedly or on short notice. It can be easy to underestimate those things when your workday is generally pretty flexible and you don’t generally have any reason you can’t jump straight into that work.

    Like Allison said, babies require care on your schedule. I know it seems silly and not cost-effective to pay for regular childcare when you’re only working 10 hours a week, but the question is how much say do you have over when those 10 hours are? If your work isn’t that time-sensitive and you have a lot of flexibility, it might be worth risking it. But if you have any sort of work “fire drills” that pop up, trying to do both is probably going to cause an issue at some point.

    1. Liz*

      I second this. If the job is truly as OP describes it (10 hours of completely asynchronous work per week without quick turn arounds), then sure I think she can do it.

      I have a (known) arrangement where I’m at home with my 4 month old 2 days a week and I complete about 2 hours of work each day. But for me the known part is key because when something unexpected happens, I’m not trying to hide that I’m also caring for my son.

    2. TheBunny*

      Excellent advice. Those short notice asks aren’t so noticeable when they don’t create an issue

  19. Chairman of the Bored*

    Even if the boss notices it sounds like they have very limited ability to punish or reward LW anyway, so the practical career consequences are likely to be negligible.

    In a case like this I’d say ignore the policy and skip the child care.

    1. JTP*

      Until she tries for a new job — what kind of recommendation would the current job give her? What kind of reputation is she establishing for herself?

    2. DoAWT*

      It really depends on the collective agreement and how they want to go to bat for the LW with their union rep. Union protections are really strong, but there is a breaking point and not working/available for their union job while being paid due to taking care of a new born is hard to really ignore

    3. Username Lost to Time*

      This is a whole, big “it depends” bus. Everything that OP has mentioned about their job makes it sound feasible to proceed with minimal childcare (depending on the baby’s health/personality/preferences). Also, OP receives excellent performance reviews and knows they can get the work done. It would make no sense to terminate OP’s employment because they lacked childcare.

      Although, it sounds like OP has the option of going part-time for a pay cut. Just going from 100% to an 80% work schedule for six months might be a good move to avoid the cost of childcare.

    4. Observer*

      Even if the boss notices it sounds like they have very limited ability to punish or reward LW anyway, so the practical career consequences are likely to be negligible.

      But they *can* get the OP fired. That’s hardly “negligible”.

  20. Pyjamas*

    Better to arrange for full time care until you meet baby. Maybe your baby will be a placid easygoing infant who takes regular naps and doesn’t need to be held all the time. But you really don’t know now and since this is your first child, you don’t know how well you’ll function after nights of interrupted sleep.

  21. Parenthesis Guy*

    As long as you can set your own hours, I’d go for it. Worse comes to worst, it fails and you get some help ten hours a week or you do your work during the evening. You have union protections, so they can’t just fire you.

    If they can tell you they need something ASAP, and you have to do it, then this is more challenging. Because you may have days you can’t do stuff.

    1. Rachel*

      The problem with this plan is that establishing caregivers can take MONTHS. So if the plan starts to fall apart at 3 months, the OP might not be able to solve it until 7 months.

      1. Lilo*

        I got on wait lists for day are pretty much the second I was pregnant and didn’t get off the lists until my son was 5 months old. And things are worse now post COVID.

      2. urguncle*

        *Laughs in 2 year waiting list*
        Luckily we have the ability to split childcare, but unless several children drop out of childcare unexpectedly, I won’t be able to take my kid to a daycare that is within reasonable distance to my house and affordable (read: not defaulting on the mortgage to pay childcare) until she’s 2 years old, at which point we will likely be moving out of the area. It is a crisis in parts of the US.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Hahaha that’s optimistic in some areas. In the DC area when my kid was a baby a lot of daycares recommended getting on the wait list before getting pregnant. Four months? Good luck. It’s probably only gotten worse post COVID with so many child care workers finding other jobs.

    2. Statler von Waldorf*

      I disagree. Worst comes to worst, she can absolutely get fired for violating company policy. I don’t think union protections are as strong as you think they are. I’ve processed the firing paperwork for unionized employees before. It’s harder to get fired from a union gig, but it’s not impossible.

      1. Lilo*

        I’m in a union and the telework agreement I signed with the “no child care or dependent adult care” was negotiated by the union. They’re not going to protect you if you violate a clear policy you agreed to.

      2. Parenthesis Guy*

        Let’s say you’re right and they do fire an employee that is willing to fix their issue. The user then would no longer have a job that pays them a fraction of what they’re worth, and requires an amount of time that they don’t have.

        1. Lilo*

          The employer is firing someone wmbecause they lied. I wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone who showed dishonesty.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I got on 3 daycare wait lists when I was 10 weeks pregnant, to make sure I could get a spot when my kid was 4 months old. That’s pretty standard nationwide, except the areas where it’s even worse. OP can’t just go out and find childcare unless they don’t care about quality.

      1. no clever name*

        It’s super easy to take your name off a list or quit a daycare. It’s much harder to get good care in place (unless you’re blessed with local family or good neighbors). I’d try to line something up at least part-time until you know how it goes.
        Also, even with care, illness and weather happen. You’ll have plenty of chances to try out working with baby home…

  22. Llama Llama*

    My special need kids stay at home with me when there is no school and it’s A LOT. They don’t run around and are good kids but it’s stressful. I recommend you get childcare for your own sanity (I wish I could but nobody wants to touch my well behaved children with a 99 foot pole).

    1. Llama Llama*

      Also to note when they were babies they were extremely chill babies and I could have probably worked for 10 hrs a week. However their older sister was not chill and very needy and cried and cried if not held. Even then it was walking with her or rocking her to keep her calm. I could not have done 10 hrs of work a week.

  23. Heidi*

    I think so much of this depends on when the 10 hours of work need to happen. If all of it can be done in 2 big blocks of time, then having a sitter makes sense. But if the OP’s assignments pop up here and there and need to be completed within a specific time, it might be really difficult even though it’s not more than 10 hours of work total.

  24. Oatmeal Mom*

    As someone at home right now with my second child, and as someone with a relatively easy, chill WFH job, I would caution against this. A lot of what seems possible before the baby is in your arms suddenly becomes extraordinarily difficult or not that possible at all once faced with the reality of how your baby behaves and what kind of needs they have.

    This is my second rodeo so I thought I could get a lot of reading and writing and binge watching done during the newborn stage when the baby mostly sleeps. Ha! Baby decided differently. He does sleep a lot but it’s all during times when I need the sleep, too, and during the hours he’s awake and feeding, he is very particular. And some babies are even more particular and fussy than he is.

    Maybe your baby is the easiest, like my first was, and you will kick yourself, but I wouldn’t sign up for the unknown that has a chance of being a nightmare. I do like the suggestion of part time daycare if you could manage your job in less hours, though!

    1. JustaTech*

      Yes to this. I thought I would be able to do a lot of on-line reading when my kiddo was a newborn but no! Somehow, even before his eyes could focus that far he would know when I was sitting at the computer and he would cry and cry.
      Kindle, tablet, phone? Totally fine. Keyboard? Absolutely not.

      Also, my kid was/is a terrible napper and even when I wasn’t trying to do anything at all it was utterly exhausting to have to keep at least half my attention on him all day long. Even now that he’s older, on weekend days when he doesn’t nap I am a wreck by dinner (and that’s with another parent!).

      I’ve known people who lost their childcare and had kids with amazing nap schedules who were able to work around napping until they got a new nanny, but it’s super unpredictable and even then they were exhausted trying to get it all done around naps and after bedtime.

      OP, have you looked at a nanny share? They’re generally more affordable than a nanny or center-based daycare, and might be more flexible with time.

  25. JTP*

    OP, I tried this pre-COVID — it didn’t work.

    I was let go from my job when my son was born (I wasn’t covered by FMLA). I got a work-from-home, part-time graphic design job through a temp agency. They knew I had an infant. They pitched the job to me as “Work when he’s sleeping, or at night when your husband is home!”

    Even with flexible deadlines that allowed me several days to get each project done, it was still REALLY hard. And at night, when the kiddo was sleeping, and I would have had some down time to relax with my husband — I had to work. Our relationship suffered.

  26. DoAWT*

    Union protections as it is, I am unsure how you would fare because I assume this policy is in agreement with your collective bargaining.

    As it is, in my company, when they found out people were caring for their children while working outside of the pandemic (and I mean under the 8ish year range), they were brought back to office full time and had a written warning, since the employee contract and code of ethics and conduct that we have to do mandatory training on each year, clearly states that this was unacceptable and a breach of contract and poor parenting as you would not be able to do both your job and care for a young child to your best extent.

    We can debate about whether or not that’s a good policy, but it was very clearly comm’d out, and there was a three month window to get your child care sorted (yes, not long enough IMO, but, they had been stressing back to norms for a year before deadline imposed)

  27. EatYourVeggies24.7*

    When I had my children, I had 3 months maternity leave. I took the first six weeks off completely, then returned to work part time for the next 12 weeks. That setup would give you enough time to know how working part-time with your baby will actually pan out, and then you can make child care decisions accordingly. PT care probably going to be ideal, if you can find it. Even a college student who could work some hours around their classes or whatever and care for the baby in your home while you work. This is going to make nursing a lot easier too, if you’re going that route. Congratulations and good luck!

  28. JaneDough(not)*

    LW, apart from all the practical issues raised by wise commenters, there’s an ethical one: Union employers tend to have more rules — rules that, for the most part, protect and benefit employees. You’re benefiting from these rules, and it’s really not OK to benefit from the ones that work for you but to circumvent those that don’t.

    Also: The 40+-year assault on unions is a big reason for the decline of the US middle class and the eruption of a democracy-threatening wealth gap; please don’t commit actions that give fodder to the still-huge anti-union contingent

    In addition, if you do this and get caught, you’re going to make things tougher for the employees who don’t yet have kids but plan to, because more-onerous rule are going to be put in place as a result of your infraction. So please don’t do this, for all three reasons. Thanks.

    1. JaneDough(not)*

      I want to clarify: Union employees have myriad protections that non-union workers don’t; that’s why it’s not OK to adhere only to the rules that protect someone and flout the ones that the person doesn’t want to follow — not *can’t* follow but simply doesn’t want to, for personal gain. Not cool.

  29. Gudrid the Well Traveled*

    Another thing that makes this difficult to try is you don’t know what your baby’s personality will be. You could get an “easy” baby who fits where you need them to fit, but you could also have a less “cooperative” baby whose needs don’t match what your job needs. And babies are chaotic little creatures so everything could turn on a dime with no notice. Yesterday they were so happy and today they’re a Velcro baby who can’t be content (aka quiet) unless they’re being held. And this also assumes you’ll have a healthy baby with no extra needs. Plus caring for a newborn is so hard. I was home full time for the first year and there were days I met my husband at the door when he came home from work and handed him the baby before he could take his coat off. Imagine one of those days where you’re also trying to work and having to hide that your baby is at home. Or imagine having a day where your baby is the most beautiful and intriguing creature on earth and you have to finish the TPS reports. It all seems doable now with your imaginary baby but it’s a lot harder with a real one.

  30. HR Friend*

    Echoing all the other women commenting who were forced to do the double-duty of work and child care during the covid shutdowns – do not willingly put yourself in this position. Like.. I’m appalled that we (the collective “we”) seem to have forgotten already how brutal that was, specifically on working mothers? The mental toll was nearly unbearable, and that’s when companies knew what was going on and were understanding. You *will* feel overwhelmed when your job and your baby require your full attention at the same time. Further, you’ll eventually have to outright lie about your child care situation (or tell the truth and risk the repercussions).

    And – this is my own pet peeve – being dishonest about child care makes things harder for all working moms. It’s unfair, but if you get caught violating this policy, you risk exposing all mothers at your company to undue scrutiny about how they spend their time, their productivity, their priorities, etc.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      “being dishonest about child care makes things harder for all working moms.”

      Yeah, this. It’s impossible to know what parenthood will be like for you since every kid is different, but people should not be under the impression that it is easy, and if you have one or two super parents who seem to do it all effortlessly then it becomes easier for bosses to wonder why all parents aren’t doing it.

      1. OP*

        Respectfully, I don’t think the answer to the work/childcare balance is for parents who manage to parent well and simultaneously excel at work to get “blamed” – rather, employers should be working on refining policies to better meet the needs of the employer and employee. Asking individuals to take on unnecessary financial burdens (presuming that their work output remains above reproach) out of fear of increased scrutiny on all parents, while understandable, is not reasonable or desirable. I say this independent of my own situation (whether I will be able to parent and/or work well after my baby’s born with or without childcare is still very much an unknown).

        1. JTP*

          Well, there’s what’s reasonable/desirable, and then there’s reality.

          Reasonable/desirable would be to a have a national culture and policies that support working parents.

          Reality is that if a parent (let’s be real here, a mother) violates a clear policy that they agreed to that prohibits providing childcare while they are working, it’s going to impact the rest of the working parents at that organization.

          1. HR Friend*

            Exactly. Working moms are already fighting against the very active — even in this comments section! — notion that a mother’s priority should be her children. If (when) it comes out that OP is pulling double duty, it’s only going to confirm what so many people think. Mommies can’t work without mommying getting in the way. All the mothers doing it the right way will be subject to the same false assumption, and that sets us ALL back.

        2. Observer*

          Respectfully, I don’t think the answer to the work/childcare balance is for parents who manage to parent well and simultaneously excel at work to get “blamed”

          Except that if you do get caught out, it will be because you didn’t excel as much as you think you did. And then other mothers *will* face extra scrutiny if they don’t excel that much – even if they are absolutely following the rules.

          Is it fair? No. But it’s a reality. Considering that you are suggesting something that contravenes explicit rules that you have agreed to, it’s not right to ignore that reality.

          Asking individuals to take on unnecessary financial burdens (presuming that their work output remains above reproach) out of fear of increased scrutiny on all parents,

          Except that’s not the issue. Parents are generally being asked to take on this expense because it IS generally necessary. I had “easy” kids. But the reality is that even with “easy” babies, the idea that you can do this with no hit to your performance and health is not reality based. Most of the time it’s actually not possible, and even when it’s possible it’s extremely difficult (unless you can essentially work opposite hours to your husband.)

  31. Turquoisecow*

    I work part time from home (usually like 10-13 hours a week, sometimes more and sometimes less but never more than 20) and have a three year old. Sometimes it’s been easy and sometimes it’s been hard.

    When she was small and taking regular naps on a predictable schedule, it was fairly easy to say “I will work from 12-2 because she’ll be napping!” But by around age 2, she stopped napping, or if she did nap, she’d then be up late that night. Thankfully, around that time she started going to school 2.5 hours a day, so that took care of that.

    I am lucky in that

    a) most of my job is not really time-sensitive. I do have deadlines but it’s usually “by x day not x time” so if I finish it at 10:00 after she’s gone to bed, that’s fine

    B) I don’t have a lot of meetings, and I can usually schedule them for when she’s in school, since my boss, grandboss, and coworkers are understanding of my schedule and

    C) my spouse also works from home. He works way more hours than I do, but he can sometimes flex his schedule around a little to cover childcare if I do have an important meeting.

    We also don’t have any outside childcare at the moment. If you do, whether a paid babysitter or willing relatives, I urge you to look into whether that is a possibility for helping on a regular basis. Your kid’s need for constant supervision will change over the years – as an infant, my kid would sleep most of the time. By about a year, she was walking around and getting into trouble, and now at 3, she’s able to climb over baby gates with ease and only occasionally listens to verbal commands to get down. She is pretty good at entertaining herself, though, so I know Husband has occasionally taken meetings where he doesn’t have to present from his screen from the playroom while our kid plays contentedly by herself. Not all kids will do that.

    Anyway, long answer slightly less long, OP, you don’t know until you do it because every kid is different. But kids can be exhausting and if you do decide to do this, make sure you plan plenty of rest and self-care for yourself.

  32. Florp*

    Well before Covid, I worked at home with both off my infants with no childcare. My boss knew this was the situation, and I was paid part time for a while and then ramped up back to my full time productivity. This let me stay home for a year with each baby, after which I went back to the office. I was also able to do a full weeks work in less than 40 hours. I did have a very flexible job–it was OK to let client phone calls go to voicemail as long as I called them back later the same day, and many of them knew I was doing their tech support with a baby in my lap.

    My honest advice is: you can’t know until you have the baby.

    If the baby is easy, you can go for it.

    But there was a period with my normally easy baby where he was miserable with acid reflux and I had to hold him upright and walk him incessantly. I got nothing done while he was awake, and had to work like crazy when he took the rare nap, or at night when my husband took over walking him. He was medicated but it didn’t help much, and since I was breastfeeding I was obsessively tracking my food and doing elimination diets to see what was causing the acid reflux.

    I did zero quality work for a solid month and our whole family was exhausted. At this point I was getting paid part time and had a very understanding boss who let it slide. If I was only starting to look for daycare or a nanny when this went down, I would have been out of luck.

    If you can afford some childcare, get it set up now. Maybe it’s morning in a daycare, which will give you the chance to work and maybe take a shower and a nap. Or if you can get a nanny, maybe they will agree to doing housework while you take care of the baby, and then you hand the baby to them when you need to work. Even having a Grandma around to hand the baby to will help you figure out how to make this work. If it all works smoothly, maybe you can get by with a neighborhood teenager or local college student as a mother’s helper for a couple hours a day. But you won’t know until you are in the thick of it.

    Also–heed Alison’s warning about making sure that your boss knows you could do more, and try to avoid getting Mommy Tracked. It takes a while to recover from that, if you ever really do. I know union rules are what they are, but try to position yourself for that promotion when it does become available.

  33. Serious silly putty*

    I think you need to *plan* on childcare, then maybe back out when you know your kiddo and your own state.
    I was not able to eat foods that require two hands because my baby screamed whenever set down. Even on maternity leave I couldn’t “sleep when the baby slept” for the same reason. At night I was waking up every two-three hours to nurse for a year, and even when there was nothing for my husband to do it would wake him up and struggle to fall asleep, so he ended up as sleep deprived as me. So I think we both had some undiagnosed PPD.

    All that to say: You may need the break. For me, going back to work was better for my mental health because it was nice to spend 40 hours a week doing something I was not such a newbie at! And I could pee and eat whenever I wanted to! And even with a spouse and full time care we still really struggled to keep up with basic life stuff. (Laundry, dishes, etc.)

    Or maybe your kiddo will be like my nephew who would just chill on a blanket on the floor while you send off a few emails. My SIL worked part time (but probably more than 10 hours a week?) without ever needing childcare.

    Some places do offer a flexible schedule. Some churches may offer a “Moms’ day out” program that only offers care 3 days a week anyway. I think you need to at least plan something like that, so you have SOME guaranteed child-free time.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I just commented similar below, and I fully agree. I even had an easy baby, but it’s still 100% intense because I was always listening for her to wake up. Before I started back to work at 4 months we did some trial half days then full days at daycare to ease in. Even though I spent the whole day alternating between laundry and pumping, it was still amazing to just get a break. I expected bedtime to be rough because she was off her schedule, but I found that I wasn’t dreading it because I hadn’t been dealing with nap times all day.

  34. Cat Tree*

    Lots of good comments already, but I’ll add context from the parenting perspective. Going from 0 to 1 kid is such a drastic change in your life. And I’m sure you realize that already, but it’s hard to understand exactly *how* it changes until you experience it. For your own mental health it would be really good to have that time when you’re off childcare duty. As others have suggested, part time care could probably work, if it’s 2 or 3 days a week instead of half days every day. But having a little time when you’re not “on” can be huge stress relief. And if your job is undemanding, even better. Honestly, you would be better served to use that time to take a nap than to avoid childcare (if you can afford it). Taking care of yourself means you can be a better parent to your baby.

  35. Thinking*

    I would worry that the company might reasonably be checking your logins and activity. So doing all your work at night sounds great, but what if they can tell you aren’t logged in during the day? And even if it’s 10 hours per week, do they expect you to be online 40 hours?

  36. Picard*

    I cant speak to the working a union job AND providing care for your newborn. I can speak to working from home and having a newborn. I was a freelancer so set my own schedule, worked my own hours (but also, didnt get paid unless I was working) so didnt have much of a maternity leave for obvious reasons. I ended up getting a mothers helper – not a nanny per se – but rather a neighborhood teen on an hourly basis. She could set the schedule based on her school classes and her workload and I would know a week or two in advance what times she would be able to come in. It worked perfectly for the first two years of my kids life (as I also breast fed so kid didnt take a bottle for well) The helper committed to a minimum amount of time a week (I think it was ten hours originally and then moved higher to 20) and at the time I think the pay was close to minimum wage? I was right there if needed but she kept the baby entertained, clean & dry, etc on a separate floor of the house. I could close my office door, take meetings, get work done and then take a baby break when the kid got hungry or if I just wanted to smell newborn scent! lol

    1. Mostly Managing*

      This is what I was coming to suggest.

      Find a local teen who would be willing to come a few days a week after school. After school is still “normal business hours” albeit the last couple of hours of the day.

      I did it when I was a teen, for a mom down the street who was working evenings. Her husband was home before she left for work, but she needed someone who could play with her Littles while she showered and got ready to go.

      I had someone do it for me when my kids were Littles and I was working a couple of evenings a week.

      And, one of my own kids did it for someone else!!

    2. annsy*

      This is what I was going to suggest, too. I did that with my son when he was a baby/toddler – we live near a university so we had college students come a few hours a week (I would have been comfortable with high schoolers but my schedule didn’t work with their school hours). I’d go squirrel myself away at my desk while they played, but I was home in case they needed something or to feed him, etc.

      It worked great and the students were pretty dang reliable!

    3. Martha S*

      We have arrangements like this in my local working mom friend group. Mother’s Helpers around here start at $25/hr – not minimum wage, which for us is still abysmally low. But you’d need to start looking ASAP because the good ones book up fast whenever they end up with an open time slot. Many end up working a full day as they go between 2-3 houses on different time schedules. It works out well but it’s very competitive and not something you can wait on to commit to.

    4. Observer*

      I ended up getting a mothers helper – not a nanny per se – but rather a neighborhood teen on an hourly basis.

      Yes. This is not necessarily going to be cheap, but it can work well. Especially with a newborn or even toddler, if there are no special needs at play. Because the main thing you need is a pair of hands and eyes on the kid.

  37. Kate*

    I am so confused by this post.

    I work in a unionized environment, and I used to actually work FOR the union. The union doesn’t have some magical ability to protect you when you outright, knowingly break an explicit rule, and that’s exactly what you are proposing doing.

    A union can help protect you when the policy is enforced in a discriminatory way, or when the policy actually breaks the law, or there are mitigating circumstances that ought to be taken into consideration when enforcing a rule (ie mental health issues, harassment in the workplace).

    A union will have a very hard time protecting you when you have looked at a rule, understood the rule, agreed to the rule, knowingly broke the rule, and then deliberately tried to disguise your breaking of the rule to the employer.

    Not to mention that most union grievances — even if the union agrees to take the case on — takes years, not weeks and not months.

    If you think it’s hard to find childcare now, try finding it on short notice because your boss put an end to this ridiculousness or finding one on no salary after you have been (justifiably!) fired.

    1. username*

      YES! I wish AAM had said something explicit about how the OP’s sense of what a union is for and how it works seems a bit off. The union is not there to stop anyone from being fired ever, but (among other things) to make sure that all firings are legitimate and follow policy. They’re also definitely not there to protect slackers, because slackers mean more work for other union members who end up having to pick up the slack.
      I’d rather live in a society in which every workplace had a union, basic rights at work were normal, and unionizing wasn’t seen as creating some kind of crazed slackers’ utopia.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        This. The union has explicitly negotiated that you are required to have childcare for your child(ren). It’s not a suggestion or an ask. It’s an outright requirement as set between the union and the employer. They won’t look kindly on your breaking of that explicit agreement. And do keep in mind that those with school age children might have a neighborhood kid in to amuse them for an hour or two while they work–you don’t know what someone else has worked out on top of their union contract.
        You too can try to work out something else with your employer, but breaking a union negotiated rule will not end well.

    2. uncivil servant*

      You mention that you’re overqualified – are you able to do high quality work very efficiently because it’s largely intellectual work and you really know your stuff? Consider what happens when your brain functions at a fraction of its former performance level because of sleep deprivation. What if you suddenly need 15 hours instead of 10?

      And that’s not counting the distraction of a child. Even when I went to work and left my baby with her dad, I still worked more slowly because I had to look words up in the thesaurus all the time because I couldn’t remember pretty basic vocabulary.

      1. uncivil servant*

        Darn it. Nesting error.

        Anyway, I guess the OP is planning to blame any potential performance issues on exhaustion and will not admit to looking after her baby. It’s a lot harder to fire someone for performance issues than the ethical violation of performing child care while on the clock. I would expect the union to support someone getting medical accommodations in that case, provided no one knows about the childcare issue.

          1. uncivil servant*

            I don’t really believe that people have much more inherent loyalty to their union than their employer. I went through a strike this year and people treated it exactly the same as they treat their job – most of us did a half ass job of picketing, a not-insignificant number clocked in and went home to bed instead. If you’re going to circumvent a requirement your employer set up in agreement with the union (assuming it’s in the CA), why would you not lie?

            1. doreen*

              People absolutely don’t treat their union any differently than their employer. I was always somewhat amazed at how people will lie to the union rep who is trying to help them and it’s actually part of the reason I never considered being the rep.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t know about medical accommodations – new parent exhaustion isn’t really a medical problem and the OP may not be able to get anything other than an unpaid leave.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I was assuming that OP knows this is something of a risk, but maybe you’re right and they’ve overestimated the protection of a union. To me the letter was saying “I have a really secure job, but my competency isn’t financially recognized; how about I change the equation and increase the risk of losing my job for a financial saving on childcare?” I have to assume OP has considered changing the equation by getting out of this union job and going for the less-secure high-paid roles she’s comparing her job to. The only conclusion I can come to is she loves the job a whole lot. But tossing out the main perk she’s got – job security – wouldn’t be my choice.

    4. Generic Name*

      Thank you for providing the union perspective. When I saw the headline of this post, my initial reaction to the question was: “I dunno. Ask your boss if it’s ok.” Thinking maybe there wasn’t a policy against it, but there is a clear policy saying parents need childcare. Unions aren’t magic and they don’t protect people from getting fired for violating company or union policy.

  38. Kristin*

    I did this for years (i.e., worked a low-effort WFH job without childcare) and to be very honest, it really sucked. Your focus is always split – you’ve got one eye on the laptop and the other on the baby – and also, you will never have a minute to yourself because you have to take advantage of every uninterrupted moment to get things done. I cannot tell you how happy I am now that I don’t have to get on my computer after 7 PM to work, instead of having that time for my own interests and hobbies. If you can swing it, get childcare.

    When the kid hits 2 or 3, there are usually more PT preschool-type options, kids get more independent, and this sort of arrangement becomes more viable fyi.

  39. Pop*

    Honestly, agree that all kids are differently. Truly, I had an easy baby and could have done this from months 3 – 6 of her life, but after that it would have become untenable. My suggestion would be try to line up childcare for around the six month mark (when they become more mobile), which gives you a few months of this system and seeing if it works for you.

  40. vox experentia*

    i had an employee who was wfh before and after maternity leave. we too have a ‘must have child care” policy for all the reasons that were stated in the answer. the technician elected to chance it – when she returned from our generous maternity leave she didn’t get child care. her performance plummeted. her metrics dropped to a fraction of her peers. after a couple of months, her manager reached out to her about her performance, and she admitted she was alone at home with her newborn. we debated firing her but ultimately just advised that if she dropped below her expected contribution moving forward we would terminate and allowed her to continue to wfh. but it could’ve easily gone the other way (we’re local govt – so there’s no profit motive driving things – if we were a private company she absolutely would’ve been fired or lost her wfh privileges entirely).

    1. Parenthesis Guy*

      “her manager reached out to her about her performance, and she admitted she was alone at home with her newborn. we debated firing her but ultimately just advised that if she dropped below her expected contribution moving forward we would terminate and allowed her to continue to wfh. but it could’ve easily gone the other way (we’re local govt – so there’s no profit motive driving things – if we were a private company she absolutely would’ve been fired or lost her wfh privileges entirely).”

      If she had excellent reviews before, I’d be extremely hesitant to fire in that situation. Perhaps eliminate wfh privs. It’s so hard to find excellent employees that in a case like this where the worker made a mistake, owned up to it and is going to fix it isn’t an area where I’d want to remove a top employee.

      In my experience, I’ve seen even mediocre employees get away with similar things. It’s hard to get fired even at private companies.

  41. LinesInTheSand*

    You know your boss and your work a lot better than I do. Can you proactively ask for feedback in the event that your split time is noticeable? Can you use a script like, “Hey Boss, this parenthood thing is a hell of a ride. I’m committed to doing this job well and I would like you to tell me if you notice that I’m not at my best so that I can address it.”

    The idea is that you get some feedback early if your boss notices an issue.

    1. OP*

      I like this idea. My boss and I have a good relationship, so I’ll probably take your advice about soliciting feedback regardless of whether we use outside childcare or not.

  42. ggg*

    My husband thought he’d work part time after my maternity leave was up and take care of the baby. That lasted, like, a week. That three month age is when babies start needing a lot more attention and he was getting zero work done. Thankfully his mom came to visit and she stayed for a month until we could get full time care lined up.

    I would suggest finding someone part time to watch the baby in your home during the hours you work.


    Not being smart here – how does one find a 10 hr/week job that is full time, remote, and is union? Asking for a friend. :)

    1. OP*

      Become extremely overqualified in a niche high-demand field and settle for about a 25% of what you’d make in the private sector in exchange for flexibility and your mental health. :)

      1. JAQING OFF*

        LOL working in quasipublic sector I question the flexibility and mental health. 25% is about right though.

    2. Username Lost to Time*

      I’ve read through most of the comments and people have mentioned government jobs. Think federal, higher education, local government, and other types of public sector work. One commentor mentioned working in graphic design, though it doesn’t sound like the position was unionized and I have no concept of the weekly hours for those types of jobs. I know people with two to four telework days a week who are in grants management, budgeting (with busy periods a few times a year), HR roles that have predictable busy times or very few busy periods…

  44. Frankie*

    Take this from a mom who is currently working and watching a toddler (daycare closed for weather). Do NOT do this. It sounds nice in theory, and I felt the same way when I was pregnant. But my kid has never been a very good napper. As a little baby, I could at least put her in a playpen while I worked and let her play. Now that she can walk and climb… well let’s just say I just spent 5 minutes chasing her to keep her from eating a french fry she pulled out of the garbage and then another 15 minutes calming her down. This is not the first time this cycle has played out today.

    1. danmei kid*

      It’s one thing when they sleep a lot and stay where you put them. It’s quite another when they are awake and mobile – new parents grossly underestimate HOW MUCH time and attention children that young actually need! There will be no time to get work done if there isn’t some sort of part time help available during the day. I see “mother’s helpers” advertising in my area – available 2-4 hours a day to help with older kids’ meals or homework or basic infant/toddler care for working parents, usually in the home, usually $25/hr and up.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        My best friend put it beautifully when she said her toddler would be her favorite person to hang out if he just had the ability to read the room before demanding attention. The way she put it was: “I don’t want him to need me less and I wouldn’t change anything about him, but I would love it if one day he walks into a room, looks at me and says: “Oh you clearly need a moment, I’ll come back when you’ve taken care of that.”

        1. allathian*

          That’s why preteens and teens are so great! Or at least my son quickly learned to see if I was in a meeting or available when I was WFH and he was in remote school for a few months in spring 2020. My biggest issue was to get him to ask his teacher for help when he needed it for schoolwork rather than coming to me, and he always came to me rather than his father even when we were both WFH and not in a meeting.

          The same thing also works when he’s on vacation and I’m working, although admittedly he’s a teen now and spends much of his free time in his room either playing computer games, watching youtube videos, or reading.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I’m also at home with a toddler today. Daycare is open but my condo’s parking lot isn’t plowed so I literally can’t get there. Thankfully our vacation policy increased drastically for 2024. I could have taken a full day off but today I decided to use half a vacation day and fit in 4 hours of work around naps and Baby Shark marathons.

      But to expand on your point, even with an easy baby it’s difficult. As an infant, I never felt truly relaxed. Mine was a good sleeper who almost never cried, but I still felt like I had to listen with half an ear in case she woke up. Like I could never be “off” while I was around her. Maybe not everyone feels that way, but I did until recently when she started talking well.

      1. ampersand*

        Same here–if my kid is home from school (sick, school closed, etc.) and I’m working, I can’t turn off mom mode. My husband doesn’t have this problem, interestingly. But I’m like 50 percent working and 50 percent waiting for her to call out to me because she needs me. I can’t fully focus on work with my kid in the house.

      2. JR 17*

        Soooo much your last paragraph. With a kid under…6 months? And in many ways a year or so, you might need to jump into action at any time. While babies sleep a lot, they also wake up a lot. Is this nape going to be 1.5 hours or 15 minutes? Will your baby poop in the diaper you just changed? Can you put the baby down to stare into space happily for a few minutes, or is this one of those days when you have to do everything one-handed? Haha, who knows!! I felt, like, hyper-vigilant in those first few months. I came from a role where I had quite a bit of control over how I structured my day, and it was like nothing I’d ever experienced. And then at some point, they consolidate naps, and the timing and duration gets more predictable, and you don’t have to be immediately responsive every single time they need something, and they go longer stretches without needing things. (Of course, by then they’re mobile, and if they’re quiet for long it probably means they’re pulling all the books off the bookshelf. But if it means you can finish that email, so be it!!)

  45. Vistaloopy*

    Keep in mind that what takes you 10 hours now, will take much longer when you are exhausted from having a newborn. If you can afford full-time childcare (preferably outside the home), I’d recommend taking it. Even if you don’t need the extra time for work, you’ll probably need it for your own well-being (not to mention the increased laundry, and other household tasks that get a lot harder with a baby).

  46. Turtlewings*

    Considering the unbelievable cost of childcare, I gotta be honest, I would not hesitate (and will not be hesitating — I’m due in June) to take care of my baby on the clock. I’m in a similar situation with having a good bit of downtime when I’m working from home, and I’m not shelling out thousands of dollars that I don’t freaking have so someone else can raise my child while I hit “refresh” and wait for more work to come in.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A request to avoid framing childcare as “someone else raising my child” — parents who have childcare help are still very much raising their own kids.

      1. Turtlewings*

        I apologize for the phrasing. What I mean is that it’s unavoidable that kids who have to spend the bulk of their day in childcare… well, they’re spending the bulk of their day in childcare. I would prefer not to miss so much time with my child if I can avoid it, and as it happens, I can probably avoid it.

        1. Magpie*

          Even this phrasing is still making daycare seem like the bad choice vs. staying home with parents, which is the good choice. There are positives for kids who attend daycare too. The most notable once is the socialization they experience at an early age. Parents who keep their kids at home have to work a lot harder to make sure their babies receive that same socialization at an early age through playgroups and other activities, and if you’re working a lot of the day it can be challenging to find those opportunities for your child. There are many moms out there who talk as if the choices they make for their children are the only correct choices and anyone who makes a different choice is wrong. I hope for your sake you don’t end up like those moms because they have a much harder time building a community once they’re parents.

          1. Hot Take*

            I never understood some people’s need to equate time spent at daycare with the idea that we’re somehow shipping our infants off to boarding school Monday through Friday? I see my 12 month old EVERY weekday (for multiple hours a day) and all day on weekends!

            Why is there not a similar ire directed towards parents who… send their kids to school? Because the “bulk of their day” is also spent outside the home, in a similarly nurturing, safe, and educational environment that’s meant for children to go to during the day while their parents are working and/or otherwise occupied.

            Needing outside caregivers for your child (whether that’s daycare, a nanny, a mother’s helper, etc) is already a difficult and complex decision for working parents. Let’s not continue to stigmatize that any further by putting them down.

          2. Velociraptor Attack*

            My son had a slight brain injury at birth, and his neurologist was thrilled when we told him we were planning to have him in daycare. He felt it would be really good for him and gave him the best chance for neuroplasticity to do its thing and map around the area of damage. I can’t say what would have happened otherwise, but he’s in school now, and we’ve seen no impacts from the injury, so it worked.

            Daycare isn’t this big bad thing that is doing kids a disservice as we banish them to spend the bulk of their time in childcare.

    2. HR Friend*

      This attitude can f— all the way off. The fact that OP is agreeing makes me think she wrote into Alison only for validation that her plan to lie to her employer/union is a good one (which it’s not).

      OP & Turtle – talk to me after your kids are born and you’ve had to make real decisions regarding balancing your professional and personal lives. I am not less of a mother because I chose to advance my career while putting my kids in daycare at 4mo. Likewise a SAHM is not less of a badass because she chose to not work.

      1. OP*

        All mothers are mothers, regardless of whether they choose to work or stay home. I was raised by two amazing women who both worked and they definitely raised me 100%. But I empathize with Turtle’s sentiment about not wanting to pay for childcare while sitting at a computer waiting for non-existent work to appear in my inbox.

        1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

          You have to realize that comment sucks because they have no experience yet, and because of how inflammatory “someone else can raise my child” is. Even Alison knows that’s not how it works.

      2. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

        Yup. I was incensed until I realized that this person is still pregnant. Good luck, buddy.

        1. Rondeaux*

          I hope it works out the way the OP describes, if she still feels this way after the baby arrives.

    3. Coconutty*

      If that’s your attitude toward both working parents and childcare professionals, then it’s probably for the best that you don’t

    4. Susie*

      Keep in mind how frustrating it is to the non-parents when they have to cover for you again and again, because babies don’t always have a diaper blowout during your downtime. Your coworkers won’t cut you slack forever and you’ll get a reputation.

      1. Jellyfish Catcher*

        I have to present another perspective.
        We all live in the same society. It’s not always fair, but parents are essential. It’s Real Work and lots of often not fun time to produce a decent New Generation.
        Nonparents get significant “ free” benefits to this – just way later.

        Think about all the people who you depend on: physicians, nurses, police, store clerks, IT, delivery folks, plumbers, clergy, teachers, car mechanics, construction workers, on and on.
        Those people were created, housed, fed, sacrificed for, educated and nurtured by…..(drum roll) parents.
        The generations before, with and after all of us are what supports all of us.
        Non parents don’t directly contribute time, lack of sleep, money or the hard work of parenting; appreciate those who do. Take The Long View.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          It’s certainly unfair how much of a social burden we place on individual parents.. but it’s also really unfair to place the burden at the door of individuals just because they are non parents. Just because we’re not providing good, subsided childcare for parents doesn’t mean every coworker is honour bound to pick up the slack for the overburdened parent she works with.

    5. NeutralJanet*

      Of course, parents are doing it wrong, and you, a non-parent, will DEFINITELY do everything perfectly when you have a baby :)

  47. Rondeaux*

    I think given your specific setup, it’s possible that it could work out. But you won’t really know until the baby is there and you get a better idea of their schedule, their fussiness, your fatigue levels and so on.

  48. JR 17*

    With my first, I went back to week 7 hours per week for 6 weeks at the end of maternity leave. That felt like about the max I could do without childcare. It worked, it was fine, but it was stressful. I remember the day my Fitbit thought I walked a million miles because I bounced my baby on a yoga ball through a long call. I also remember the day I walked the baby around a park in a stroller to get through the call, and I couldn’t hear because it was windy, and the call dropped, and I felt like a mess.

    Ultimately, based on how you’ve described your job, I think you could likely pull this off without harm to your baby and quite possibly without harm to your job. (Assuming nothing changes with your job demands.) I’m more worried about you. The demands of being alone with a small baby all day are really intense! I cherished nap times as the moment I could finally catch my breath, take a shower, load the dishwasher, not have a baby on me for a few minutes. And evenings are often a mess with young babies, who often don’t really go to sleep for the night til 9 or 10 or later (after an evening nap). If you have to spend those times working, I think you’ll end up feeling really depleted. Of course, babies aren’t young babies for long, and they get more predicable, less intense, and especially easier in the evenings (7pm bedtimes eventually emerge!). But by then, they also aren’t sleeping as many hours during the day, and more importantly, they don’t sit and stare into space when they are awake anymore – they engage with you.

    I really recommend that you find part-time childcare. When I was working 10-15 hours/week (independent consulting), I had childcare, and I couldn’t have done it without that.

    1. i like hound dogs*


      I strongly agree. I wasn’t myself as a new mom. I was exhausted and depleted. Sometimes you get a baby who can’t be put down without crying, or a baby who doesn’t sleep well, and you love them and want to do your best but you also just … need a little help. The other thing people don’t consider is how it makes you frame things mentally. My son is eight now and I *still* don’t really like working from home on days he’s home because it makes me see him as almost this obstacle/task to be handled so I can finish my work when in reality he is the person I love more than anything in the world and way more important than work and I want to enjoy his company and not constantly see him as a burden. And I’m saying this as someone who also has an easy job (sounds similar to yours).

      I get not wanting to shell out a ton of money for childcare you don’t need, but … keep trying to find part-time care. At least get a nanny who can come for, like, eight hours a week, either over one day or a couple. And since they could be in your home while you’re also there, you don’t have to be stressed about being away from your baby. Seriously, I think you’ll be really glad.

  49. Your Social Work Friend*

    Parent of a small human here, and you could get fired if you get caught doing this, and at the very least required to find care as soon as you are found out–which will happen as soon as the baby wakes up during a one-on-one and screams bloody murder. Just straight out, you are violating an explicit policy that exists for a reason and there are no protections for that. If you decide to go through with it anyway, some things you have to consider are
    1. how readily available is child care in your area? Where I am I had to call 53 providers before I found one with less than a year wait for an infant. Some places had two year waits.
    2. what is your plan if this does back fire and you have to find child care on short notice?
    Child care is not something you want to find on short notice. If you take them somewhere you have tours to go on, people to meet, paperwork to do and it takes a while. Often times it’s several weeks between signing on and actually dropping your kid off, and personally there were several places I toured that I would have never left my kid in (mold, improper medication storage, dirty floors, etc) but I wouldn’t have the luxury of waiting if it had been an emergency. If you’re bringing a non-relative in your house, do you want them to submit to a background check and a CPS check, which take time? In short, child care is nearly impossible to get short notice and have it be what you want, and that’s what you’re running the risk of having to do.

    1. PinkCandyFloss*

      This exactly! Child care isn’t something you can order on demand, and having to scramble to find a solution in a time crunch can be extremely stressful, unpleasant, not to mention the risk of getting stuck with a place that wouldn’t be your first, second, or even tenth choice for your baby because you have no other options.

    2. JustaTech*

      In my city it is possible to find childcare for an infant on pretty short notice.
      It is also $5000 a month.

      Yes, five THOUSAND dollars. That’s how they always have openings!

      One of the sets of parents in our new parent group didn’t line up childcare before their baby was born and had a terrible time finding care, and had to go with the outrageous location until an opening came up in a home-based center.
      We got into a much more reasonably priced (ha!) center by having personal connections *and* signing up a year in advance.

    3. straws*

      Agreed. My daycare knew about my my 2nd & 3rd pregnancies before my parents did. Any daycare that is quality and also (relatively-compared-to-others) affordable has an immense waitlist in my area.

  50. LadyAmalthea*

    I have 13 month old twins. Last week, I and the one who let me shove a probe all the way up her nose tested positive for Covid, so they couldn’t go to creche. After 2 days of not working, my husband and I switched off when we were working to try and actually work and wow was it stressful and difficult. I could not think of doing that for more than 3 days.

    In the first few months nap times change constantly, eating times change constantly, and you are really, really tired. I don’t think it’s manageable, and this is with children who are fairly easy going, can play without me for a few minutes, and who tend to be fairly adherent to a daily schedule.

    1. Alan*

      Another twin parent here (although mine are grown)… People *really* underestimate how exhausting babies and toddlers are. Early on we asked our main babysitter if she could watch our toddler twins for a weekend so that we could get away and she said “Sure!” She had so much energy. Bubbly. We came back and I can still picture her sitting on the sofa. She looked years older and kind of like she wanted to cry. She was completely spent. It’s so much harder than it looks.

      1. i like hound dogs*

        It’s so true. I remember a friend of my husband’s coming to visit us when his kids were little. The friend was normally so effervescent and smiley. I remember commenting to my husband that Friend now had the defeated look of someone who had been through … many Trials and Tribulations.

      2. LadyAmalthea*

        It is amazing how quickly playing nicely together (which can frequently be fairly loud) turns into fighting.

        1. Alan*

          Yeah, I’ve always been jealous of those parents whose kids were each other’s best friends. My daughters have never been like that. It wasn’t until college when they discovered some commonality. Now they’re relatively close. Like they complain about their parents to each other :-). But it took a couple decades.

  51. CalND*

    Both my husband and I work from home. One child is in preschool & our 1.5 year old has been at home since birth. We take turns watching the little one so that we each get dedicated time to work. Occasionally that requires nights/weekends to complete tasks, but like you, my job includes lots of downtime. My husband is self employed so no worries with him, but my boss doesn’t know that we don’t have childcare. It started out as a necessity because we couldn’t find care for an infant and now we’re just rolling with it. For us, it’s been doable and has saved us so much money in daycare costs that would have been really, really tough on our household. However – I am stressed out like I’ve never been before in my life. The baby is easy, dancing around work is incredibly hard on me. I’m worried about being caught and during busy spurts, I’m worried about how to get it all done. I don’t recommend this path unless you have absolutely no other options. Good luck to you and congratulations.

  52. Audrey*

    So I’m actually doing this! I work full time (my job fluctuates between 10 hours a week to 40+ hours), and I care for my baby who is 9 months old currently.
    A big difference for me is that this is something my employer offered for me in order to keep me from leaving my job. I’m salaried and can work whatever hours to fit the work in, and I have the flexibility that I can step away for 20-45 minutes anytime I need to. I also work in an industry where it’s not a big deal for there to be SLIGHT baby noise in the background of a call with a client (I don’t do a client call with a loud baby). I also… Happen to have had a pretty chill baby.
    Here’s what I would say, I know you don’t get a lot of leave in the US but take any maternity leave that you can. On your maternity leave, you’ll be able to get a sense of what it might be like to work with your baby. It will be easiest while they’re a newborn because they sleep so much, but you’ll really want the time to adjust parenthood before going back to work even if you work from home. You’ll also get a sense of what kind of baby you have.
    I found babysitters to be a godsend, and you can start meeting them while on leave. You’ll get the most flexible childcare that way. Yes they’re babysitters that aren’t good, but they are babysitters that are *amazing*.
    As you approach your maternity leave, you can let your employer know that you’re still figuring out childcare and aren’t making any decisions about it yet. You’ll probably hear from coworkers about things that they’re doing too.
    And just so you know, even at 10 hours a week it’s very hard to work and have your baby at the same time. It’s not just the physical time, it’s the mental space you want to account for making sure you get a break somewhere in your day, which will involve high communication with your partner. I’m certain my husband had no idea how hard it was going to be for me until he saw it in action. If you can pull it off though, it’s also really really cool.

  53. Thoughts*

    Apologies if someone has suggested this and OP has answered, but upthread OP said their partner could provide childcare in the evenings. If there is some flexibility with work arrangements, could OP ask to work AAM evening schedule entirely, with the understanding that they will be available for all daytime meetings and have childcare at those times? It’s risky and could create some colleague stress (or someone could decide to pull OP into more meetings) but it would be aboveboard and if you go to bed at 11 because your work is done instead of scrolling till 2AM to fill time… that doesn’t seem much different than doing laundry or running an errand when finished with work, to me.

  54. i like hound dogs*

    I can see a world where this would be doable, and a world where it would really suck. A lot of it depends on your baby’s temperament (and yours). I was a ball of stress when my son was born and the idea of working at night after struggling to get him to stop crying all day would have probably (definitely) made me burst into tears. Also, since he didn’t sleep through the night, I was exhausted during the day. I was lucky to find a nanny share for the two days I had to be in the office, and it was a godsend. If I were you, I’d definitely keep trying to find part-time care if you can — then you can enjoy your kiddo and not think of your time as so transactional, like, “Okay, she’s asleep, better bang out an hour of work, GO!” This would have wreaked havoc on an already difficult period in my life. But, that said, I’ve seen other parents (clearly more capable than me, haha) do this.

    Maybe check out the app Juggle — it’s aimed at college students, and I’ve been SO impressed by the women I’ve hired as sitters. I joke to my husband that their profiles are all like “hi, I’m 20 years old, CPR certified, first aid certified, I speak 3 languages and am majoring in early childhood education and I have been doing nanny work for a decade already”

  55. Guacamole Bob*

    Alison, did you purposely pick this letter to run on a day when many schools are closed for snow in parts of the eastern US? I’m WFH with my late elementary age kids today and it’s bringing back a lot of memories about how hard that early Covid remote school period was for so many of us.

    I’m not sure my experience is really germane to the letter writer – my kids were older and doing school remotely, my job was much more intense than 10 hours a week and has a lot of meetings – but the burnout was very real.

    1. i like hound dogs*

      No kidding. That’s the thing about it — the burnout, and I’m not talking about from work. I just worry the OP is being shortsighted because right now this seems like the easiest and safest option. If you do a little more work on this end to find a helper of some kind, Future You will benefit so much!

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        The feeling of constantly shortchanging your kids for work is a really crappy one. My kids asked me to go sledding with them at the park down the street earlier, and I had a meeting and so sent them off on their own (I was actually putting on my coat to go join them when they got cold and came home). It was worse during early Covid when they were younger and they’d want me to play with them during my work time – at least this snow day comes after a 3-day weekend together.

  56. Throwaway Account*

    Can you hire a teenager after school, for 10 hours a week, to do babysitting and light housekeeping? It is still business hours!

    What I am thinking is that you hire the teen knowing you might not actually be working during the exact hours you hire the teen (you might have done it earlier while the baby napped or do it later while the dad is home) but you have the teen there to play with the baby while you work or you can have the teen vacuum or unload the dishwasher (less onerous tasks that will save you time if the teen does them).

    I feel like that would have you complying with the letter of the policy and get you a cushion in case you realize the baby takes more time than you realized.

    I will add, my son has done the lion’s share of the parenting of their micro premie baby (now home for almost a year, yay!) while working from home, and, while it is stressful, he does manage both! He has MIL for coverage for meetings and some hours, and the mom is there some hours too. So it can be done even when, as in his case, his job takes more than 10 hours a week.

    I’m sorry we live in a country where none of the choices are great ones.
    Best to you!

    1. Rachel*

      It is extremely unlikely a teenager will be available for infant care.

      This is a great idea for school aged kids.

  57. Keymaster in absentia*

    I’m not a parent, but I do work in a heavily union controlled industry and…let’s say I’ve had experience in trying to keep up a big lie in my past to an employer.

    Our unions here wouldn’t protect you if you knowingly violated a rule they’d set. They just wouldn’t. And even if they did you’d get very sub-par assistance.

    My biggest concern is with the mental stress of keeping up a pretty big lie. It’s major. You have to keep the stories straight, make sure no video or audio or pictures disprove your lie, considering who among your friends/family/loved ones can be trusted with the truth and never mentioning to anyone what’s actually going on. Contingency plans have to be made for ‘what if X comes over and spots that I’m actually doing something I said I wasn’t’ and all kinds of situations.

    What I’m saying is that this is a lot of stress and it doesn’t get better the longer the lie goes on.

    It’s up to you if you want to take that on but I’d strongly advise against it – living a lie can be done (ask anyone in the LGBTQ community who’s had to hide for their own safety) but it takes an enormous toll.

  58. AnonForToday*

    I totally did this for the first year of my baby’s life, and I have zero regrets. My situation sounds a lot like yours. Childcare in my area was higher than my rent, and I just figured that because my job was so flexible there was no sense throwing close to 40k out the window when I could somewhat easily work and care for baby.

    I guess I could say it was a little tough coordinating with my husband who’s job wasn’t flexible, but since we knew there was a solid end date (we were moving to a LCOL area and childcare was reasonable) we managed even without family nearby. I don’t feel like I shortchanged my baby, and I’ve gotten promotions, raises, and positive reviews at work, so they don’t seem to feel slighted either.

    Things that made it easier are that my workplace is pretty family friendly, my husband was willing to work in the evenings, and I’d consider myself a really good multitasker and highly efficient. Good luck with whatever you choose!

    1. AnonForToday*

      Something that also made me feel better about my decision to work with baby at home is that friends who did have their baby in care (at least at a daycare center as opposed to a nanny) were spending all that money and not able to work/ working with baby at home anyway. Between illnesses, ongoing staffing issues, frequent staff training days, etc. it didn’t seem like my coworkers and peers with kids in daycare were any better off.

  59. Tiredofit all*

    Difficult situation. HR told us 3 people said in exit interviews that they are annoyed with nonparents getting work pushed on them from parents. No easy answers.

    1. BigLawEx*

      This happened at a place I worked. I still think it was a management problem. Or a larger systemic problem.

  60. Sindy*

    Can you talk to your co workers and/or union about what they’ve done in similar situations and how it was handled?

    1. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      I assume the answer is “they got childcare” given that…that’s what people do if they want to keep their jobs.

  61. Jaybeetee*

    No kids of my own, but I remember colleagues going through this during covid and they seemed exhausted. School-aged kids were easier – tho not necessarily easy – but people with toddlers and preschoolers at home were run off their feet and from the sounds of it, still not getting a lot of work done. I remember one colleague in particular, she and her husband were apparently taking 2-hour “shifts” with their toddler and working in between, and she just seemed wiped out.

    I hear you on having a job without much work, but I do suspect that a baby at home won’t work the same as a side hustle or taking extra time to clean or whatever. Babies don’t seem to schedule themselves neatly enough to juggle easily with much else the first year, and you’ll likely find yourself tired as well.

  62. danmei kid*

    LW, speaking as a fellow parent, consider what you will do if/when your workload DOES change and you suddenly CAN’T take care of the little one during business hours.

    It can take MONTHS of being on a wait list in some areas, to get a slot in a quality day care for your child. It is not always easy to find on-demand child care when you need it in a pinch, much less suddenly needing it all the time.

    As insurance against a brighter future, talk to other parents in your area – find out what are the child care situations everyone else likes/dislikes – if you discover the average wait time to get a slot in the kind of place you’d want your child, is 6 months, consider if the risk of putting it off now is worth the panic of needing to scramble to find a spot if you need to, down the road. If you run a cost benefit analysis and find that the cost of having child care doesn’t balance out against your current low salary – maybe quitting to stay home with the baby is a better financial solution? Only you can say! But please don’t make the mistake I see too many new parents around here making, thinking that you will just be able to magically find child care in the event you do need it later. This isn’t the kind of thing you can wait on, in some places.

  63. Practical Reasons*

    Try a part time carer, starting with 6 months. Even though your job is not demanding, the baby will be. It’ll take time to adjust to motherhood, and the baby’s constant needs. It also takes time to find a trusty caretaker, so start looking soon. Let them completely take care of your child, while they’re there.

    Your boss will then see that you A: followed the rules of having child care, and B: did not let your work slide. At that point, you can decide you no longer need the nanny, IF you can take care of your child, and might not need to tell your boss. At worst, you can say you are between carers, and are looking for a new one.

  64. TX_Trucker*

    How well do you know your collective bargaining agreement? This is going to vary widely, but in my last union experience in Pennsylvania, it was almost impossible to get fired for performance issues, but very easy to get fired for policy or procedure violations. I worked with a guy that was a low performer for years, and everyone knew it. He got fired for taking a company vehicle on a personal errand to the bank which was a clear policy violation. Will you be asked to provide proof of childcare coverage?

  65. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I don’t have kids, but I do manage remote teams in a (non-union) environment where we have flexible scheduling and official policies about people not watching children under 12 while on the clock. For me and my teams — frankly, if I can’t tell, I don’t care. If you’re working your required number of hours per pay period and meeting your production and quality metrics, while secretly minding 8 infants on the clock, more power to you, and as long as you’re making it work within business requirements, then I don’t need to know.

    But if you try it and you can’t hack it, your metrics start failing or you’re missing meetings or whatnot, AND you tell me that it’s because you’re minding kiddos now, I do not have the flexibility to make an exception to either the childcare policy or the productivity expectations once it becomes a problem. Those decisions are made several levels above my head and I am required to address the performance issues and any other policy violations that are documented. I’ll be as accommodating as I can up to a point, but I’m not getting in trouble with MY management because you don’t want to follow the policy you knew about from the jump.

  66. BigLawEx*

    I really don’t like that the burden of solving this problem falls mostly on women. Most of the comments are women talking about how they juggle (or don’t) childcare while working. As if babies are made in a vacuum.

    OP, honestly, I’d say go for it. I know a lot of women who do this as WFH lawyers with low-demand transactional type of work. Yes, it’s probably unethical. But I think it has to be weighed against a patriarchal government system that leaves women and babies unsupported.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I don’t see how placing more of the childcare on OP is supporting women though. The alternative is to have childcare so she isn’t doing both at once.

  67. Lisa*

    The baby will be asleep most of the day still for a little while. You can have a little play area for tummy time and playpen – but it will not matter to some employer whether you have a nanny or someone there the whole time. My job hears my children and thinks that I don’t have childcare, but I can’t stop crying or be a in a soundproof home. I work remotely too, but someone up high in my org decided that childcare is only OUTSIDE the home. This is ridiculous because I couldn’t get infant care for twins if I wanted to. Daycare is so hard to find anyway for 1 kid let alone 2. Infant spots come open when my children turned 2, which put them on a different waitlist instead of auto adding them based on age. I’m still scolded for child noise on snow days, illness days, and get chewed out on my review and on 1:1 meetings for not having backup care. I have a nanny, part time daycare, and a grammy. All 3 are not good enough if they can’t come so I will always be mommy-shamed as the perception has been solidified and there are is no more leeway especially from the men in leadership who had wives at home or lived in an era where daycare was easy to get and afford – completely pretending its not that hard and we pay you enough to afford it. Well covid so daycare closed, nanny didn’t plan to come, and oh the grammy refuses to enter our house if anyone is sick. Like backup childcare is instant. I have such hatred for my company about this.

  68. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

    I have a 14 month old. My husband and I initially thought we’d be able to juggle her PLUS work (we both work from home full time) until she was mobile because babies sleep a lot and stay where you put them, right? Turns out I knew nothing about babies. Thankfully we had her lined up for daycare when she was 3.5 months, when my husband returned to work.

    I have seen other women in my social media birth month groups who either work from home full time with a baby or are trying to find WFH jobs so they can watch their child while they work, or work asynchronously. Personally, I think something would suffer – my parenting, my work, my sleep, my relationship, or all of the above. Plus my daughter is actually learning a ton and really loves her school. They work on language, art, outdoor time, etc.

  69. TheBunny*

    LW: It’s a bad idea.

    I get the appeal…boy do I get it. I don’t have kids but at times during the pandemic I could have worked another full time remote position and no one would likely have noticed…BUT things happen. Last minute meetings come up. cCoworkers change (like Alison mentioned) and it becomes untenable.

    It was annoying for me when this happened and I only have a husband and a cat. Heck I was in Target (I can walk there from my house in about 5 minutes) the other day and my boss needed me ASAP. It was 5:15pm so it was easy for me to say “I’m at Target can I ping you in 10?” as it was after work hours. But had it been an hour prior? STRESSFUL.

    Please LW think of those situations. I’m not worried about you being ok ad a parent or employee…I’m worried about the stress of the unknown on this…and it’s got the potential to be vast.

  70. spiffi*

    Coming from the other side – as the coworker of a new mom who attempted to do this – she came back to work “part time” and figured she could juggle taking care of the baby herself while working from home.

    It was AWFUL.

    Every phone call – there was a screaming baby in my ear, as she tried to juggle him and keep him happy, while still answering the phone call – and that was just coworkers calling- when she had to talk to customers, I hate to think how they felt?

    She had no predictability to her availability, and she was constantly distracted. It was impossible to depend on her – and that was when she was working only part time – we didn’t even expect her to be available full time.

    For the sake of your coworkers – please don’t do this.

  71. KM*

    Unionized public sector HR person who also has kids here: Do not do this. Get child care. I cannot emphasize enough the risk you would be taking. Just off the top of my head:
    1) Your organization has a policy that explicitly states you are required to have child care in your situation. Ask you union rep what their argument would be to support you in the event your employer finds out and wants to reprimand you.
    2) You will not be yourself for a while after your baby is born. Even with the easiest baby to ever baby you will be exhausted and foggy and not yourself and you will need time to adjust to being a working parent as opposed to employee. Trying to do the two at once with no separation between the priorities right from the jump is making things harder than it has to be.
    3) You mention you only work 10 hours a week, but your employer is paying you for full time hours. Even if that doesn’t change, in the event you get caught do you really want to draw attention to how little work they are getting in return for your full time compensation?
    4) It’s one thing for management to ignore someone having their 8-year old home with them while they work but it’s something else entirely to care for a newborn. You can’t sit an infant down with a box of legos or a tablet or whatever and focus 100% on work.
    5) If your organization has some kind of ethics code you’d likely be flying in the face of that. If you’re public sector and therefore funded by tax dollars then you really don’t want this kind of thing blowing up in your face.

    This is just what jumped out at me. Others have made really good points that you should consider. Its not a risk I’d be willing to take but you made decide differently and that’s fine, but definitely some risk analysis to be done here.

    1. Username Lost to Time*

      “3) You mention you only work 10 hours a week, but your employer is paying you for full time hours. Even if that doesn’t change, in the event you get caught do you really want to draw attention to how little work they are getting in return for your full time compensation?”

      Some other great points, but I wanted to question this one. OP, consider that your supervisor or grandboss would have to drastically shift workloads around to… punish(?) you with more hours if that’s even feasible given your specialty. Consider that unionized positions typically aren’t dissolved on the spot with no warning or chance for existing employees to transfer. Possible, but not probable employer retaliations aside, it sounds like you ARE at risk for a reprimand if you do this. I’d think a union is also a watchdog for making sure that you aren’t treated more harshly than other employees who have violated similar policies. Sidenote: is there anything in your employment contract about requirements for elder/adult care?

  72. Anonzilla*

    I didn’t make it through ALL the comments to see if this had been mentioned… a way to get some childcare during the day would be to join a gym/community center in your area that offers childcare, if available. I’ve been a member of a few gyms that offer childcare either free (if you’re on a family membership) or low-cost ($5-10/hour) while you use the facilities. It will depend so much on the facility about how old babies have to be (some take them at 6 weeks, some make you wait til 6 months), how long they can hang in the childcare room (usually at least an hour, often 90 min- 2 hr), whether or not you have to make a “reservation” etc. But they don’t care if you visit every day, and they also don’t care if you workout, or just sit in the lobby/cafe and read, work, whatever. Possible solution to get ~a little~ work done during the day, while having “legit” childcare.
    Good Luck with your baby and also work! (Also, is your company hiring?! ;) work that only requires 10 hrs per wk sounds amazing!

    1. Cascadia*

      Yes this is a great hack! The YMCA near us offers free childcare from 4pm – 7pm each day (for a max of 2 hours). You’re not allowed to leave the facility, but you can totally work in the lobby.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Many years ago, a SAHM mom friend of mine with a toddler or preschooler realized that Fred Meyer (a large grocery/big box store) had both free drop-in child care while you shopped and an in-store Starbucks with a seating area. She used to drop her kid off at the store daycare and get a cup of coffee a few times a week so she could drink an entire cup of coffee and read multiple pages of a book uninterrupted as a little break. I doubt this would work for a job that required full-focus for an extended period, but I thought it was a pretty clever way to get a half hour to yourself now and then.

      I don’t recall how young a kid could be to be left there, and I know they’d page the parent to deal with it if a kid needed toileting or food rather than handle that themselves, so it’s definitely not a “real” daycare. I’d be very surprised if they took infants since they were more of a “here are some coloring pages and there is the tv” setup.

  73. Magnolia*

    Look into Mother’s Day out or parents day out in your area. They are run by churches often Baptist. They are cheaper than daycare. I used 2 at different times to work part time. One’s hours were 9-2 & the other 9-12. They do close for every little holiday.

  74. AnonyLlama*

    There are two key points.

    1) “I’m salaried FT and I don’t submit timesheets.”
    2) Your spouse will be caring for your child in the evenings when you plan to do your work.

    Instead of asking for an exception to the childcare policy, can you ask to adjust your normal working hours to be something like 3pm- 11pm? You will still be able to get your work done in less than that but you’d be complying and everyone would be above board.

    Add a caveat that you’ll be available outside of those hours as needed for meetings and I agree with the advice to find a tweenage/teenage helper.

  75. Rosie*

    I’m currently reading this while my 8 week old velcro baby is strapped to my chest in an attempt to maybe use my laptop once she calms down a bit. I’m still on parental leave but need to write an essay for an award application due at the end of the month and am struggling to find time because my baby won’t nap unless held. The point is: you have no way of predicting how your baby will be until you actually have them here (and what works one week may not do anything the next). It’s a bad idea to try to forgo childcare especially when your company explicitly states you can’t.

  76. 867-5309*

    My mom has watched my nephew one day week since my sister-in-law went back to work after maternity leave. He is currently about a year old. I have visited several times when he is there and helped. On good days when he was younger (under 9 months), fairly easy and I got work done. One bad days even as an infant, there was NOTHING I could do except hold and comfort him. I got no work done. As he approached one year old, it was continuous watching and engaging. My brother and sister-in-law have childcare the other four days a week because she cannot watch an infant or slightly older baby and get her work done. My mom blocks her schedules on Wednesdays and sets a recurring timer every 1.5 hours to check her email in case something comes up because she will be so distracted by him.

  77. AnotherSarah*

    I had a baby in August 2020, when my (already somewhat flexible) job became VERY accommodating and have another baby now. My area also doesn’t have part-day childcare and it’s tough to find a nanny BUT we got on to waitlists for infant rooms and were able to send ours (the first one and then the second one as well) 2-3 days a week for a few months, then add on days. It was helpful for our finances but having those few full days also meant that I really was able to work hard and advance at my job in ways I didn’t want to sacrifice. I’m glad I did because now I’m on the market again and have a more impressive candidacy thanks to the childcare. I don’t know whether OP meant “half days” by part time, but I’ve found that partial weeks are very much the norm for infant rooms, even in a childcare desert, as many parents are trying to save money and spend a just a bit more time with their babies if possible. You can also get on waitlists and then make a decision later (and in many cases it’s way easier to add on days once they turn 1 rather than find an open slot after not going to daycare).

  78. MCMonkeyBean*

    If OP’s question is ultimately on the ethics, I say if your work doesn’t suffer and they don’t even notice then there is no issue.

    If the question is whether it’s possible, I think ultimately you can’t know for sure until the baby is here. Maybe it’s totally possible to juggle it, maybe there will be occasional issues, or maybe you’re completely underestimating how difficult it will be and everything will be a disaster.

    From what I’ve heard, the people I know with kids had to arrange their child-care pretty far in advance! I feel like you might want to at least get on a waiting list or something and then if you decide you don’t need the child care and can handle it yourself then you can cancel and someone else will happily take your spot.

    1. kiki*

      Upvoting the suggestion to make sure LW is on a waitlist, if they’re not already. I think being on a waitlist could also buy you time to experiment with whether not childcare is necessary when you come back from leave. A lot of bosses, especially since covid, are more receptive to being flexible about childcare stuff on a temporary basis.

  79. HannahS*

    Given that you have the legitimate option of asynchronous work, I think it’s fine of the question is actually “Can I work asynchronously?” I know people with full-time jobs who prefer to work 12:30-3:30, then 7:00-midnight, then take the next day loosely off but catch up on the weekend. If your job already accommodates that, then yeah, I see no problem with your partner or a part-time babysitter providing childcare during some evenings and the weekends for you to catch up. Like others have said, actually completing work while doing childcare is much harder than people imagine. I say that as someone who, when 9 months pregnant, said “I know baby will wake me up all night but at least feeding a baby is mindless and no one will be waking me up AND expecting me to practice medicine” ….and then when I went back to work 6 months later, I felt that work–as a inpatient physician with 24h shifts–was a break, because I sometimes got 3h of sleep in a row. So go in with your eyes open and plan for contingencies.

    A few things to consider:
    1. If the nature of the job changes, you may find yourself in a pinch.
    2. If you and your partner switch off, you may not see each other much.
    3. For greatest chance of success, actually have formal childcare for the time you need to work, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.

  80. Louise*

    As a parent of a very high needs baby (did not nap unless someone was holding her, as one example), I think my advice would be to line up daycare, and them see how it goes during your maternity leave. You’ll have a better idea once you have the baby. I don’t think I could have done 10 hours of work, honestly, and my husband and I worked different shifts and it was really hard solo parenting (while working outside the home). But maybe that won’t be your experience! As long as the daycare deposit isn’t too much $$, it’s likely easier to give up the spot than to find one.

    1. Eli*

      I am sitting here with my newborn in a carrier as I write. This is the best advice I’ve read so far.

      I’m on a waitlist for infant care, but it isn’t likely I’ll get in because it’s so expensive and there are so few spots available. I’m planning to hire someone to watch my baby part time when my leave ends. Maybe 3 hours per day or so thanks to my union negotiating part time work until baby turns one. This is my second baby. Babies grow so fast, so I really recommend focusing on bonding with them as much as possible. I wish our country had better leave policies and more high quality and safe childcare—especially since they push breastfeeding so much, and babies start solid foods at 5-6 months. I would just go for what you are thinking to do, but have something lined up just in case. But I’m just sharing my own plan and what I would do.

    2. ampersand*

      This sounds like the best option. Have the contingency plan in place, and if you don’t need it, great.

      This could vary based on where the LW lives, but one of the more unfortunate things that daycares do where I am is to require a monthly deposit to hold your place until they offer you a spot. I *think* they also apply the amount you’ve already spent as a credit toward your daycare costs once you’re in, but you lose all your money if you cancel your spot on the waitlist. It’s not an insignificant amount, either–we paid about $100 per month for several months in late 2019/early 2020, then ended up losing it when the pandemic started and we decided to hold off on daycare.

      1. Cascadia*

        There were some places in my area (VHCOL) that charged one month of infant care just to get on the waitlist. We’re talked $2500, with no spot actually guaranteed. Once you got a spot you could apply that towards the first month’s care, but a spot was not guaranteed, there was no estimation of when a spot would become available, and it was entirely non-refundable. Of course, not every place was like this, but we ended up not doing anything like this. In my experience, small in-home daycares are way more flexible and understanding in this regard. Try joining some local parents groups (facebook is the best for this) and ask for others’ recommendations. I’ve found a lot of great tips this way!

      2. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

        Oh wow, I’m in the Philly suburbs and most places just required a $100 deposit. Once they offered you a spot at the center we’re at we had to pay $400, which was applied to our first month. We got the spot in late February last year and she started in mid-June.

        She was at another center for a few months before that (honestly, while we waited for the one we really wanted) and they required a pretty significant amount that was applied to our last month (and they needed 60 days notice!) and a yearly supply fee, I believe.

  81. Elliot*

    Such a good and hard question. I am due with my first in a month and unfortunately have a job where I can’t watch baby and work (I’m in client meetings 35+ hours a week) but understand the instinct to try and make it work SO much. Childcare is so expensive and hard to find. When I called places while 10 weeks pregnant asking about their waitlists, multiple daycare providers literally LAUGHED at me for looking for infant care so “late.” This is in a medium-large city with lots of providers and where the average weekly cost for infant care is over $450. I get why people are saying that it’s not ethical or right or wise, but….. childcare in this country is a damn mess and unless you’ve navigated it while being underpaid in a limited market, I don’t think you can totally understand.

      1. Elliot*

        Congratulations to you too!
        Yes, it’s OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive! More than college tuition around here. I get that I want a safe and loving place for my daughter and that childcare is really hard work, but… this cannot be the only “solution” our country can come up with.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      We adopted our son as a newborn, and his birth parents made their placement decision after he was born – meaning we were trying to find daycare spots after the kid was born. We did manage to find a spot for when he was 4 months with some luck and a LOT of calls.

  82. Ashley*

    My advice to OP is be prepared to be unprepared. In 2019 I was working a secure job I could do in my sleep & lined up to take over as Manager. Found out we were expecting our first that December. But no one could’ve predicted a worldwide pandemic OR me going into spontaneous premature labor 3 months early. 2020 Childcare was nonexistent & my baby required round the clock medical care. Late 2020 I had to leave my job entirely. My point is: don’t go into this without understanding you can never know what it’ll be like when your kid shows up. Best of luck to you!

  83. Regular Human Accountant*

    Up until a year ago I had a job where I was paid well but only had 10-15 hours/week of actual duties. After asking for more responsibility for a couple of years I finally gave up and used my free time to prepare/sit for the CPA exam, and then I landed a better-paying job with more responsibility (maybe too much . . . that’s a letter for another day).

    So I’m coming at your question from an “am I cheating my employer” standpoint. My answer would be, if you have tried to ask for more work and you still only have what you have, don’t feel badly about using your free time as needed. BUT, bear in mind that you can’t do this long-term without damaging your resume–over time if you’re underutilized you’ll have no real accomplishments to add to your CV from this job.

    My advice would be to listen to the commenters who suggest hiring part-time help with the baby while you’re working (and maybe a little extra time so you can nap LOL), then use your free hours to enjoy this time with your little one. Revisit your situation periodically, and when you’re ready find a job that uses your full potential.

  84. JennyEm56*

    I still have trauma from working at home with a toddler during Covid. I had spousal support too, but man it was hard.

    There is also the social developmental stuff they get from daycare. I knew I could never do the cutesy art projects, sensory time, or read alouds that they did in daycare while I was working.

    I recently had a coworker who ended up caring for her newborn grandson for a couple of months while mom got her schedule shifted – the kid had some special needs, so was advised not to go to daycare until RSV/Flu season was over. It was very distracting to have a baby sometimes cooing in the background of meetings. And while cute, it got old fast and it seemed like coworker wasn’t getting a lot done. If there hadn’t been a long term solution in the works, I think I would’ve pressed my director to say something.

    An occasional day when the kid is sick or something isn’t a bad thing, but expecting you to be able to care most of the day probably is. I have sick, lump of potatoes kid today, albeit older now, and didn’t blink and eye to working.

    1. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

      Yes, I found that while my coworkers would tell me they were supportive of putting my family first, in actuality, they were annoyed and sometimes angry about my cute kid interrupting Zoom meetings and teleconferences during COVID.

  85. KimmyH*

    I have a three year old and I would advise against planning on this. I probably could have done this for the first ten weeks of my daughter’s life, but after that, she started cat napping and doing any task was darn near impossible. My mind just goes to if “the plan” is to care for the baby, with no childcare arranged, and baby ends up being colicky, or having reflux, or if you’re trying to breastfeed and baby’s latch isn’t sufficient so you end up trying to pump. Yikes, I have anxiety just thinking about it.

  86. Coffee Please*

    In theory before you have a baby, it seems totally do-able. Once that baby is here though, it’s SO HARD. On maternity leave I decided I could (virtually) present at a conference when my daughter was two months old. Worst decision ever. She was breastfed so she totally operated on her own schedule. I ended up asking my best friend over to watch her while I presented so as not to interrupt my presentations. I can’t imagine doing this everyday.

  87. Incog Nito for this response*

    I have been at my current job for almost 2 years and am seriously underutilized. Not quite to the point that I’m at 10 hours a week, but I think that I might have worked more than 30 hours in a week only 3 times in two years, and most of the time it’s at or under 20 hours a week.
    I have repeatedly asked for more work, and never turn down work that’s asked of me. I no longer feel any guilt about watching TV, napping, doing laundry, taking a long lunch, or any of a dozen other things. But I wouldn’t go so far as doing something I couldn’t drop on a moment’s notice if I was needed, such as childcare. If I had a baby, I would definitely have childcare. But if I had slightly older children I probably wouldn’t feel bad if I didn’t.

  88. Jellyfish Catcher*

    When we had a baby, I was working part-time.
    We searched and found a great, trustworthy mom of a baby also the same age. She was looking for part time work, and had the same problem of what to do about child care.

    So…we hired her. She brought her baby over to our home, to cover my part time weekly schedule, cared for both kids and had the paid hours that she needed.
    It wasn’t as cheap as child care, but the lower stress really made up for it.
    Congratulations, also!

  89. HowDoesSheDoItAll?*

    I’m 7 years into juggling parenting & full-time work. Nothing prepared me for how exhausted I am all the time, especially during the newborn to 9 months stage, when she wasn’t sleeping through the night. I honestly don’t know how I did it. There were days when I didn’t even remember my commute to work, I was so tired.

    What I’m saying is, yes, logically it may seem like you can care for a baby and work an undemanding job at the same time. But it would be incredibly difficult. I spent 3 months at home with a 4 year old during COVID, and I barely got any work done and lived in fear that my managers would notice.

  90. Mmm.*

    I hate it when companies simultaneously say “you need childcare” and “we don’t pay enough or provide assistance for you to have childcare.” I doubly hate that industries that very reasonably require childcare and (being honest about where we remain as a society) are more likely to hire women–e.g., teachers and nurses–don’t just offer childcare on-site or at a centralized location.

  91. Lily Potter*

    Sorry OP. This is a case of “if you have to ask if something is ethical, it most definitely is NOT”.

    I’m going to stay away from the issues of WHETHER or not it’s feasible – the fact that “every baby is different” has been beaten to death in answers above already. Of course you CAN do it, with varying degrees of success. Your question to us is more of “SHOULD I do it?” To which I say, absolutely not:

    1) The union is not going to protect you if you get caught. The union may protect poor performers but they’re not going to protect someone who flagrantly flouts an established contract rule. The fact that the rule is IN the contract means that management cares about the issue. Management had to give up something in order to get that rule into the contract. You’re likely benefitting from something because the rule is in there.

    2) You’re going to have to either lie to your bosses/co-workers about the baby being at home (co-workers are going to ask “so where is little Mathilda going to daycare when you come back from leave?) OR you’re going to have to go into stealth mode whenever you’re on the phone. One little wail, and your secret is going to be out. Both sound really stressful, if you ask me.

    3) Don’t try to justify breaking the rules because “I earn 60% less than my colleagues”. By your own admission, this is because you’re a reasonably new employee and the only way to get more money is through tenure. You can hate the system, but you know what it is. Either put in the time and get a raise or find another job.

    4) All the details above aside, you’re essentially asking “Is it okay for me to work a second job (taking care of an infant) while getting paid for the first, even though my employer has explicitly told me I am not to do that”? You are leaning toward answering “Yes, it’s okay because I probably won’t get caught.” The real answer is “No, it’s not okay.”

    1. Username Lost to Time*

      “3) Don’t try to justify breaking the rules because “I earn 60% less than my colleagues”. By your own admission, this is because you’re a reasonably new employee and the only way to get more money is through tenure. You can hate the system, but you know what it is. Either put in the time and get a raise or find another job.”

      OP is putting in the time to get a raise. They are not slacking on the job as defined by either the tenure-based compensation system or the performance system. OP has excellent performance reviews and can very effectively do their full-time job in 10 hours.

      1. Lily Potter*

        Agree with everything you’ve said. I said nothing about whether OP deserves or doesn’t deserve to make more money or about their job performance. My opinion is that the OP wrote in hoping to find justification for breaking her employer’s explicit rules against caring for her infant while drawing a full-time paycheck. “I make 60% of what my peers make” is a rationalization in the OP’s mind to make breaking the rules “okay” to herself and those in internet-land. She wouldn’t have brought it up otherwise.

  92. JR 17*

    I’m curious about why you’re ending up only working 10 hours per week. Is it because you’re faster than other people – you do the same amount of work in less time? Because there isn’t enough work to go around (and if it’s this, will that change in the future – either by more work coming in or by cutting headcount)? Because your boss doesn’t realize how little time the work takes? Or they just know and choose to be overstaffed and are ok with it?

    I think this majorly impacts the pros and cons of your various options.

  93. Cascadia*

    As someone who has an 18-month old currently, and works full-time, with full-time care I second a lot of what I’ve read in the comments. A lot of people are saying you won’t know what kind of baby you have until they’re here. That’s true! What I haven’t seen mentioned yet is also that babies change in terms of their schedule/routine/neediness CONSTANTLY. Especially in the first year. It’s just good to keep in mind that nothing lasts longer than a few months at most with a baby, and then it all changes. My baby didn’t nap longer than 40 minutes until she was 6 months old. And for the first few months she was a contact napper, meaning she would only nap while being held. This meant you could get NOTHING done while napping. At 6 months her sleep drastically improved to napping longer, but also she became a lot more mobile and all of the sudden watching her became so much work. Now at 18 months she’s a champion napper, but when she’s awake she requires 24/7 constant vigilance! It’s like toddlers have a death wish. It’s wild. This is all to say, if something is working for you at 3 months, great! Just be prepared that it might stop working at 6 months, or 12 months or whenever. I think you can certainly try for this, but I wouldn’t necessarily make it your long-term forever plan. Maybe just a plan for the first year or so. Also, the older they get, the more stimulation from outside sources/other kids they will need. You won’t want to stay in the house all day with them – you’ll want to do swim lessons and library story times and walks to the playground. All of which may conflict with your working arrangements.

    The other thing I’ll mention is – if you plan to breastfeed, don’t underestimate how hard this is and how much time it takes and how much work it is. When my husband was giving the baby a bottle so I could have a “break” it just meant I was tethered to my pump for 30 minutes. It’s a real bear and something that’s not hugely discussed. I was shocked by just how many hours of my life were given over to feeding my baby, either directly or indirectly. When I finally weaned her, I felt like I got so much time back! Good luck with this!

    1. UrbanChic*

      This comment on nursing is so true. Solidarity. Right before we had our third child, I totalled up all the hours I had spent just pumping at work between my first two children and it was 3200 hours – more than 130 days! Granted I travel 20% of the time, but that is SO MUCH. Thankfully for much of that I could be at my desk working, but having a child is an enormous time commitment – and nursing is a big part of that for those that can and choose to do it.

  94. Numbat*

    When I had a baby my manager at the time (a mother herself) told me “Breastfeeding is a full time job” and she was not kidding. Those words echoed in my head long, long after I heard them. Another bit of the puzzle to consider.

  95. Frankie Bergstein*

    I have had colleagues who do this — even with a very undemanding job, it’s so hard on the other colleagues. The multitasking colleague never is quite free from interruption or the possibility of interruption. I also think that my colleagues who do this are just not that focused or engaged — that’s been my personal experience and opinion; I know it won’t be popular.

  96. boof*

    Uhg op, what a sticky situation – I say that because especially with your partner available to help, I can see it being really tempting – both for the $$$ savings plus I always felt personally like I’d prefer to not go to daycare under 1 (I had a mom in law and a nanny for my kids until they were over 1) – please before anyone reads into that I am not criticizing, we all do what we need to do and it’s ok if that’s what you need to do, just that I know I have/would really try to keep a baby home if I could until around 1-2 years old.
    So I think it’s tempting to try it BUT the part that makes it risky is if it’s not working out, finding quality child care tends to have SUCH a long wait list, you may be stuck settling for a place you really don’t like or stuck in a really stressfull situation of juggling more than you should. So, what is the safety valve if things don’t work out? Worth really discussing this with your partner, with friends, and understanding what sort of wait lists the childcares in your area have.

  97. BJP*

    Hi, OP. Parent of two children under age 5. Both of my kiddos had a part-time nanny (really a babysitter) who came 2-3 days a week for a set schedule, which let me keep up with minimal work stuff (my job is output-based, not butt-in-seat-based) before they started full-time daycare.

    I found the babysitters through my local Facebook page for babysitters; I interviewed people extensively and asked a lot of questions about safe sleep, feeding, etc. I meticulously checked references as well. Also I was always home while the babysitters were there so I could jump in if needed.

    It worked out great for us. The first part-time nanny was a pediatric nursing student who fit our hours in around her coursework; the second was just getting started as a nutritionist and had been a live-in nanny during COVID. I will say that this can work for you but also be clear about your scheduling needs and theirs, and be ready for the person to turn over every 3-4 months especially if you are hiring students.

  98. Data Slayer*

    While not ideal for all the reasons Alison and others mentioned, I think this might be feasible for the first 6-9 months or so, while babies still nap quite a lot. And that’s assuming you have a good sleeper which is certainly not guaranteed. As babies grow though, I think it becomes more challenging to keep them engaged while you are juggling work and child care. They become much more explicit about wanting your full attention, and they need more stimulation that can only be provided with activities outside the house (and therefore away from your computer).

  99. Yougotthis*

    OP, congratulations! I’m doing something like this. I have a seven month old now. I took 12 weeks FMLA and then we have a sitter come three days a week for four hours. You could definitely do less, it sounds like your job is less time consuming than mine. Any extra stuff I do after she goes to sleep. A good sitter will definitely be easier to find than day care spots, plus less sickness! I love the extra time I get to spend with my baby and it’s been great for nursing. You will not want your baby in day care while you’re home twiddling your thumbs, trust me.

  100. Semi-retired admin*

    I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned. If you do decide to do it, you need to be fully prepared to lose your job if your employer finds out. I’m not saying that’s right, but you are considering a blatant violation of company policy, so no claiming to be the wronged party if it goes south.

  101. Lily*

    Oh man – it’s shit like this that ruins WFH for the rest of us. It’s no wonder there’s a trend toward sending people back to the office. Sure, as Alison says, stealth clean your baseboards if you have time. Better yet, do some online retraining and reskilling. Or even a little side hustling. But full-time care for a NEWBORN. WTF?

  102. MT*

    You’ll either be neglecting your job, or neglecting your baby.

    Before having a baby, it’s hard to conceptualise just how all-involved their care is as for most of us, we’ve never experienced that relentless level of responsibility before. Even if you do get some downtime, you need be available to your baby at the drop of a hat. Even the time you think you may have to do other things while they are asleep will be cut short without warning when they wake and need you instantly. Especially in the early days, parenthood is all consuming. You may get lucky and have a baby who will chill alone while you do other tasks, but you can’t plan for that unfortunately.

    All of this without even considering the total exhaustion and mental fog you are live with for the first 3 months.

  103. bamcheeks*

    LW, I’m in the UK so I took ~7 months of paid leave with both children and was able to go back part-time, so there’s some context that I didn’t have the same decisions to make as you. THAT SAID– leaving my babies in their first 12 months or so was really hard and sad, and full-time nursery fees for us were about £1400 a month, or about 60% of my monthly post-tax salary, so you can bet your life if I was in your position I would be considering every angle to make “not putting the baby in full-time childcare so I can sit at home reading a book or cleaning the skirting boards” a realistic possibility. So I am going to take it as read that you are probably going to try and make this work, and that very little anyone can say here will change your mind.

    My advice is: HAVE LOTS OF BACK-UP PLANS. Don’t go in assuming this is going to work beautifully. Assume that a best-case scenario is that it is going to work about 80% of the time, and plan for the 20%. The more friends, family, neighbours, paid babysitters etc that you and your partner can call on for days when you both have six hours of meetings or something suddenly needs turning around in 8 hours and the baby is having a teething or a fussy day, the better. If you have a parent or a parent-in-law who is in reasonable distance to mind the baby one or two days a week, or two half-days a week, even if it’s not guaranteed every week, ask them. The longer the list of friends who can mind the baby in a pinch in return for dinner / reciprocal childcare / whatever else, the better. The more flexibility your partner’s job has, the better. The more childcare waiting lists you’re on JUST IN CASE, the better. Also make sure the most likely back-ups look after your baby for a couple of hours or longer semi-regularly, even if you don’t technically *need* them too– it makes it way less stressful for you if the baby knows them, they know the baby’s routine and (if necessary) you know you can have them in the house looking after your baby whilst you do something else without you driving each other around the twist.

    I totally think this can work, but knowing you have options and back-up if it doesn’t work full stop, or for specific days and times when it doesn’t work, the better. It is going to be *enormously* stressful if you *have* to make it work, if your partner can’t also provide (frequent, reliable) childcare, and if your back-up childcare community don’t have regular contact with your baby and are coming to it completely fresh when you need to be focussing on work.

    You also have to be the kind of person who is willing to take the piss a bit, which either means having a strong enough track record that you can get away with taking the piss for a couple of years and then re-comment to career advancement, or being willing to forfeit career advancement in favour of a more relaxed career path and time with your family. I personally think these are entirely acceptable and ethical trade-offs, but some people *hate* being that person and will feel dreadful about it.

    GOOD LUCK! and please update us!

  104. Serenity by Jan*

    I’m all the way at the bottom so nobody will probably read this, but this comment section is so relevant to my current situation. Husband and I are both WFH. Before even getting pregnant, we decided my husband would quit his job. He took paternity leave after my leave – he loved every minute of his leave. He got cold feet about quitting at the last minute and we decided we’d wait three months for his bonus in late January.

    For a few months. we were able to patchwork it between family and friends helping out, along with me using PTO for a reduced schedule. It actually worked pretty well. Now that’s it’s the new year, I’m very busy as is my husband, no family visiting to help and a friend who we were paying the going hourly nanny rate has been busy and can’t come by. Two weeks into this new schedule has been AWFUL. I’m so stressed out and cannot wait for my husband to resign. I’m hoping his company offers him a part time contract and we can get a steady sitter, but we’ll see. Our baby is on the easier end of the spectrum, but never been a consistent napper.

    My husband thinks his job is so easy that he can do both, but he has to deal with fire drills and phone calls. When that happens, he texts me to see if I’m busy and can jump in. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. But I feel it’s not fair to my employer and I stay active on Teams when I’m watching the baby. I’ve even taken lower priority non-client calls while nursing. Sure, we’re saving money, but this situation is not sustainable. And I spent all day Sunday just catching up since I couldn’t give my full attention to my job this past week. And we’re only two weeks into this temporary setup.

    To add to it, one of my direct reports had their childcare collapse this past year and it took them a few months to get a new arrangement. They had a relative pitch in, but their performance greatly suffered during that period. They were removed from an important project and now one senior leader stated they never want that person on one of their projects again. Also this person’s bonus is being reduced because of their poor performance for a few months. As this person’s manager, I have to be the messenger and it’s not an unfair message by any means. They understood – during their childcare lapse, I told them to use PTO which is generous at our employer, but they didn’t. At least from my perspective, taking time off looks better than being non-responsive on an important call. However, this situation leaves me feeling like a hypocrite since I have inadequate childcare for the moment. I’ve come across something fuzzy in a recent companywide email about having childcare, but nothing explicitly stated in the company code of conduct.

  105. Anonymous Union Rep*

    Hi LW, I did just want to point out, as someone who’s currently a rep for my union, I have not been able to help people who explicitly break the rules. Most of the potential grievances I’ve handled have either been edge cases where the language in the contract was fuzzy or straight-up “You didn’t pay me what you should have paid me, employer” cases. The few times that someone has broken an explicit contract rule like, in our case, “You can’t spend more time than one day a week on your side hustle or consulting job,” they’ve been fired.

    Whether or not this is fair, I wouldn’t say that the union contract is a magic bullet in this case.

  106. UrbanChic*

    first, congratulations! second, I am not going to comment on the ethics of your question – just the practicality of it. If your employer asks you to furnish proof of childcare coverage, you have to decide what seems ethical to you to say to them – even if it is possible to care for your child and work “full-time”. The norms at your company may inform this (not sure if others are as underemployed as you and are also caring for kids at home).

    Practically – I’m a mom to three kids under 6, and have worked through their childhoods. The first had high needs (constant holding, shushing, bouncing, feeding, patting, etc.) the other two low to medium needs. The first is the most challenging because you are also learning how to be a parent – and that requires time and energy and is exhausting given limited sleep. All that being said – depending on your kid – I think it is totally do-able to find 10 hours of peace a week to do your work while your coparent is caring for your child. yes, it will be hard in the beginning to manage everything and you might need a sitter to come in several days a week for a few hours. But, if you enroll your child in full-time care, your child will be at home with you a week a month anyway due to illness. So – if and only if the ethics line up – I would try it and see how it goes. You can consider full-time care at anytime – which may be useful once your child gets more alert and mobile. But in the mean time, I’ve done a ton of work babywearing (I went back at 8 weeks with each of my kids) and working. Good luck!

    1. UrbanChic*

      And forgive me – to be completely clear – I have ALWAYS had full-time childcare. My role is not one that I can do asynchronously and I am on-call throughout my work hours. But in the early days there were many meetings where I nursed and wore my baby, but there was always someone there to hand off. If your work is truly asynchronous and takes such limited time, this may work, but I have not done it. :)

  107. Hales*

    I had a colleague who did exactly this, and quite honestly, it worked better than I would have ever expected. She could not find affordable child care in her city, and after an exhaustive search decided she was just going to care for her child while working. She had to make adjustments when her child was closer to a year old and more mobile, but when the baby was still an infant, it was surprisingly easy. Similarly to you, my colleague’s role does not require a lot of on demand work, and she was able to set meetings at her own schedule. She was also able to do more work in the evening when her spouse was home and could care for their child. Once her child began walking, she was able to recruit some part-time child care a few days a week. But she is still predominantly caring for her child at home, and it has been a non-issue.

  108. JelloSalad*

    I know I am late to the commenting game – but I live in the US and have always worked part time since I had kids (10 years ago). We’ve had a nanny come anywhere from 6-20 hours a week. It hasn’t been hard to find! College kids or a mom with kids in school or any number of people have been happy to have part time work (while I have worked from home/out of the office). Don’t discount finding someone part time if that is what you want!

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