| Childcare Solutions for Parent Entrepreneurs
By Marlynn Jayme Schotland, Founder and CEO, EventBliss and SchotlandPR
Throughout my son’s lifetime, we have sampled a variety of childcare options, each suitable to our work lifestyle at different points in time. When I worked full-time outside of the home, we had a nanny who came to our house three days a week. When I left to launch my businesses, he was in a childcare center setting for two half-days a week, and we gradually increased that to three half-days a week. When we found out we were pregnant with our second child last summer, we pulled him out of childcare and he has been home with me full-time since then; we call on friends and family to babysit for those times when I cannot take him to meetings with me or when I have massive deadlines piled up and need to concentrate 100% on work.
I’ve learned that no matter how you choose to run your business as a parent entrepreneur, there are so many different childcare solutions to consider, and there is undoubtedly one that will work for you and the schedule/lifestyle you wish to pursue. There are full- and part-time childcare centers, full- and part-time nanny options, on-call babysitters, and family and friends. There is no right or wrong decision, just the one that suits you and your family’s needs. As you go about your search, here are some questions that may help narrow down the most suitable childcare option for your situation:
How many hours realistically do I need to put into my business, and what hours of the day are most critical for childcare? Many parents choose to launch their own business to spend more time with their kids, and are able to work part-time, while many others must work 40+ hours per week in order to maintain the business. Determining a realistic schedule will help you narrow down the type of childcare option that is right for you.
If I work from home, will I honestly be able to get work done if my child is in the same house? This is a tough one for many mompreneurs that I know. They have home offices, and while hiring a nanny or babysitter to come to their homes to watch the children sounds like the best of both worlds, it can also be a huge distraction and thwart productivity. The children may also have a difficult time understanding the lines between “mommy/daddy is working” versus “mommy/daddy is available to play.” On the other hand, an at-home nanny or babysitter is a great option in my mind for mompreneurs who are still nursing – it allows them to still conduct business but also be available to nurse an infant.
How flexible does the childcare option I choose need to be to work with my business? For some business owners, their hours are set and there is little variance. In those cases, enrolling children in a structured childcare setting can work well. However, many small business owners, particularly in certain industries such as the events industry or the arts, hours may vary from week to week or even day to day. You may consider a childcare setting that has greater flexibility, or hiring a nanny or babysitter that is flexible with his/her work hours.
How will I handle last minute work emergencies should they arise and my normal childcare provider is not available? Regardless of the childcare situation you select for your family, it’s always a good idea to have at least two back-up options for those unforeseen work emergencies that must be tended to ASAP. Make a list of friends and family members and their available schedules for on-call babysitting. Check out nearby drop-in daycare settings and make note of the one you would feel comfortable leaving your child with. Start a babysitting co-op with friends and neighbors, or join a MOMS Club that has a babysitting co-op. Check with your normal childcare provider and ask if they have references for alternative babysitters should an emergency arise and they are not available.
As you search for the right option for you, always remember to take the time to do a thorough search. Always meet the providers in person beforehand, visit the sites at least once, and don’t be afraid to ask as many in-depth questions about their backgrounds, why they want to watch your child, discipline philosophies, teaching tactics, cleanliness, timeliness, and so on. No matter what childcare option you choose, knowing your child is safe, loved and well taken care of by capable professionals in your absence will give you peace of mind w while working on your business.