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Raising children can be an absolute joy, but the ever-present decision about how to manage childcare can be a difficult one to make. Different families will make different choices according to their own personal circumstances and clearly some of those families may choose for one of the parents or carers to give up paid employment for a while in order to stay at home and look after their children.
However, once your children are slightly older and attending school during the day, it would suit a lot of of people to be able to earn some money working for a few hours in the middle of each day. You may not want (or be able to afford) childcare before and after school, so your available hours of employment are rather limited.
The holy grail of part-time jobs is one that fits in perfectly with the school day, allowing you to drop off your children in the morning and then pick them up again in the middle of the afternoon. If you can find a job with those hours then that's a huge bonus.
Those opportunities are rare though, so for most people the job search might require a little bit more creative thinking.
Here are a few ideas for ways in which you could earn money while your children are at school. Even if none of these are an ideal fit for you, reading through the suggestions may trigger the thought of something that would be even better!
There are a few different roles you could think about undertaking at your children's school (or indeed another school, though clearly it would be logistically easier to be at the same place) such as dinner supervisor, administration worker or teaching assistant.
You may already have some of the necessary skills to do these jobs, but if you don't then perhaps you could volunteer at the school for a short time first and then if you enjoy the work you could think about gaining any required qualifications.
If you enjoy singing or playing an instrument then maybe you could start to teach people how to do the same?
You might find that you have the flexibility to be able to select the hours that you work according to your own schedule and the schedules of your students, so you could adapt it to suit your family commitments.
A career as a child-minder is one that is based in your own home and that hopefully would fit easily with your own current circumstances. If you have younger children yourself then you are likely to be in the right mindset for dealing with other children, plus you will already have some of the practical resources you'll need such as toys, feeding equipment, etc.
Working as a child-minder may also forge a path for a future career in other childcare jobs, so you may have the opportunity to branch out and do something slightly different later on, should you choose.
If you are interested in becoming a child-minder, the following are good places to start:
If you have a skill in a particular area, such as cake making, card design or creating pieces of jewellery, perhaps you could set up your own small business based around your expertise?
If you are going to be doing something for 'work' then make sure it is not only something you are good at, but is also something that you could do on a regular basis according to other people's requirements.
If you love baking cakes because you like to experiment with unusual flavours then you might need some time to feel comfortable in a job where you are predominantly asked for plain chocolate cakes.
Would local print advertising be more suitable, such as handing out flyers or trying to get a local newspaper to run a story about your new business? There may well be local networking groups for parents in similar situations, so it's worth searching on Facebook and other social media sites to see what is around.
Check out this page on the HMRC website for advice on setting up your own business of any kind.
Not everyone has a yearning for work that creates a physical product, but perhaps you could consider working online instead? You could become a proof-reader, for example, and check documents for spelling and grammatical errors.
You could help people build and maintain websites if you had the necessary expertise. You could even get involved in market research, as the technology now exists for people to carry out such tasks from their own homes using remote access to a company's network.
Think about where your skills and experience would be best put to use and then do a little bit of internet research into what might suit you. You might find that you grow into something once you've given it a go for a bit, so be careful not to write opportunities off without thinking about the pros and cons.
Any work you've done in the past will have furnished you with transferable skills, plus, any time you have spent looking after children will have required planning, patience, the ability to negotiate, the ability to work to deadlines... The list goes on!
This may not sound as though it would be the most exciting job in the world, but many people relish the satisfaction of cleaning and tidying and seeing a job well done. There are no specific qualifications required and if you found that you were becoming very successful you could even think about branching out and hiring other people.
Unlike cleaning, doing the ironing for people is something that you could potentially bring back to your own home if you preferred to work from there. This would also give you the chance to work in the evenings as well, if you wanted to earn a bit of extra money.
If none of the above is ticking a box for you, then maybe you'd like to retrain and use the time when your children are young to lay the foundations for a successful future career in a different area than you've worked in before?
If you are able to forego a salary for a little bit longer then the short term pain might be more than outweighed by the long term gain, both in terms of career happiness and potential earning power.
As and when you do start earning any money while your children are at school (or indeed at any other time!) bear in mind that if you are self-employed you will be responsible for your own accounts, which will include paying the appropriate amount of income tax and the correct National Insurance contributions. This link to the HMRC website is a good place to start.