Flexible working: Business ideas that fit in with family life – part 1

If your job is inflexible, there are many options out there for you

Whether you have been in paid employment all your life or you’re an experienced entrepreneur, trying to find a business that fits in with your family needs can be a challenge, especially if you are relying on the income.

For some people it means a complete career change, for others it’s a case of adapting existing skills and experience to form a business that fits in with family responsibilities. This five-part series looks at a range of business ideas that are well-suited to family life.

Child-related businesses
There is no shortage of ideas and opportunities to start a child-related business, as there is usually high demand from other parents who are looking for childcare or activities for their children.

Childminding can be an attractive option both for women who have a background in childcare (such as nannying or teaching) as well as professional women who choose not to return to their previous employment after having their own children.

The obvious advantage is that you can earn a regular income while continuing to look after your own children in your own home. Not only does this mean you don’t need to fork out for childcare costs yourself, it also gives you the flexibility to choose your hours and days, as well as decide on each day’s routine and activities.

Childminders must be registered with Ofsted and there are strict guidelines as to the number of children a childminder can care for, including their own. Your home will be inspected to ensure it is safe and suitable for children, and you are required to attend a childminding practice course which covers starting a childminding business and managing children’s behaviour.

Baby and toddler classes
There is a range of baby or toddler classes that you could choose to run, such as baby signing, baby and toddler exercise, baby yoga, baby swimming, infant massage or music classes.

You may be able to run them with your own baby or toddler, or you could run them out-of-hours or on weekends. Classes can be held in your own home, at a local hall or swimming pool or at the home of your client. Some training in the skill you plan to teach will be necessary, and it may be worthwhile gaining a first aid certificate.

A creche provides a safe and secure place where parents can leave their children on an ad hoc basis, offering at least two and half hours of care a week. In England, they must be registered with OFSTED.

Creches are often attached to a permanent establishment, such as a place of work, a swimming pool, a fitness club or a shopping centre.

Children’s day nursery
This provides continuous care for more than four hours, for children aged between three months and five years. The demand is high for day nurseries, but the start-up process can be quite lengthy.

Playgroup – provides sessional daycare for the under-fives. Many are not-for-profit, but there are some privately-owned businesses.

Out-of-school and holiday club – provides care for children before or after school or during holidays. A minority of clubs are run as privately-owned businesses.

Children’s indoor play area – provides a safe yet fun environment where children can play, and often a coffee shop for the parents to relax. Both the set up costs and time commitment involved can be high.

Children’s entertainer – performs a variety of acts for children (e.g. magic tricks, puppetry, juggling, clowning, face painting) usually at parties. Entertainers are often required on weekends or during holidays, but it can be hard work establishing yourself.

Home nappy service – delivers supplies of cotton, cloth or terrycloth nappies, liners and over-pants to parents. You will need a vehicle to transport the dirty and clean nappies and access to washing machines and tumble driers.

The main issue to consider will be the premises, as there are strict rules on the amount of space needed, the location and safety of kitchens, toilet facilities and gardens. A cr?che can not be run by a sole operator so you will need either a business partner or staff.

This is part of a series of articles, be sure to catch the rest of the series! In the meantime, you could also check our sister site Change Your Career, Change Your Life (  for more ideas on careers.

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