Convincing your boss to let you telecommute will be much easier if you have a plan for your children's care while you are working. If you plan to have a sitter help out during work hours, make sure you state your intentions. The wrong approach would be to tell your boss you want to be at home with your children. Your employer needs to know that your priority during work hours is to dedicate your time to the work.
If you want to work from home for a single employer, you would be well advised to have a completely separate home office. Many employers need to answer to OSHA and various insurance companies, so the fewer reasons to say no, the better your chances of a "yes".
To bring up the subject of telecommuting to your boss, first decide which of your tasks would realistically be suitable for telecommuting. Some tasks, like meetings and in office staff consultations would clearly not be well suited. Document your tasks and plan your week before you approach your boss.
To increase your chances of success when approaching your employer to let you telecommute, plan ahead and make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You will have an easier time convincing the manager if you are already well equipped and do not ask your employer to foot the bill.
Creating a telecommuting proposal is similar to creating a business proposal. Focus on the outline first, planning your sections carefully to include cost benefits, time saving benefits, and productivity increases. Keep in mind you need to focus on the benefits to your employer, not the benefits to yourself.
To successfully convince your boss to let you telecommute, you must first make sure your job description fits. Perhaps you would be more successful if you offered to work in the office two days a week instead of diving into a full time proposition. Many employers are more likely to allow you to work from home part time if you are willing to go to the office part of the week. This is particularly true if your job description includes arranging meetings, or organizing group efforts. By recognizing your employer's need for you to be in the office part time, you are reinforcing the idea that allowing a telecommuting arrangement is beneficial to your employer.
In your proposal to your boss, be certain to cover how your work from home situation will impact your fellow workers, boss, and team. Try not to focus exclusively on your own position, but expand your proposal to include how your team will be affected.
When you present your telecommuting proposal, make sure you leave out your own personal reasons for wanting to work from home. Your employer will want to hear about how much money/space/time it will save, and will want to know how much more efficent you can be.
Ask what you can do for your employer. Employers need to know what you can do to make their lives easier. They need to see your portfolio, hear about your accomplishments, and wonder how they ever got along without you before. They do not need to hear, "Well, I'm not really qualified for this position, but you should give me the job anyway because I'm good at all kinds of other things, and I need to work from home because I've got a sick child/spouse/parent/cat/parakeet that I need to take care of, so I probably will only be able to work between the hours of 2 pm and 5 pm, and oh yeah, I need to make $50,000/year". Your best success will happen when you review your strategy and turn your job search into a search for opportunities to work closely with employers who need your skills.
When you want to telecommute for an existing employer, it is too easy to approach the situation only from your own perspective. Try instead to think of your own job description the way your boss sees it, and redesign your approach accordingly.