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It started with an age old question from a friend, “How do women go back to work full time? What do working parents do with their children? Especially, during off school days like Election Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring, etc.? How about snow days? Full time camp in summer?”

Yes, working for yourself might seem like it’s going to solve the childcare problem, but an entrepreneur has commitments, too. If you want to keep your professional credibility, you need a plan B (and maybe plan C and D) for your baby, your toddler, and even your school aged child.

Another friend provided one of the best responses I have ever read. She’s agreed to let me print here.

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How do you solve the child care puzzle?

This is a really tough question. Here are my thoughts:

1. In my fantasy world, you have family in the area and they step in to provide babysitting– regularly or on an as-needed basis for those strange holidays. We do not have this arrangement (parents are out of state or not well enough to help)– but a few friends of mine do have families who help out majorly.

2. Neighborhood grandma: Growing up, when my mom entered the work force, she had to find a place for my little brother to go before and after school. She found a retired grandma who would take in my brother before and after school. It was easier in the “old days” because, for example, you could get the school bus to stop pretty much anywhere (or even take a different route home)– now, the rules are much tougher, but allowances are made for regular transportation to babysitters.

3. Nanny share: Some families (more common in some neighborhoods) share nannies– they might have a nanny two or three days a week, which lets them work on those days.

4. Au pair: The current rate for au pairs is around $355/week, which for 40 hours of care would be doable, since we normally pay $15/hour to babysit just the two older kids. I’d be able to work at least a day a week (probably more like 2-3) and could cover the au pair fee myself with earnings. The downside would be that the person would have to live in our house– which is big, but not set up for that type of sharing. For example, we do have a guest bedroom, but the bathroom is currently being used by the kids.

5. Stop funding retirement and hire more help: If we needed to hire a nanny, that would be what we might have to consider doing– but retirement savings is so important so we have been unwilling to do that.

6. Don’t go back to work full time. I ended up quitting a job that I loved to stay home because it was so hard to work out childcare. I just decided that for now, I should be home with them. I am lucky in that I have a nursing job that I can do per diem, part time, or full time, and pretty much any shift– but even with all that flexibility, it was just too hard for me to figure out the daycare aspects– so I quit.

7.  Some schools run programs before and after schools. You can pay for care on a daily basis (as-needed) or routinely.

8. Local college students might have students who are able to work for you; many have their own cars. Contact the career placement office to post a job ad.

9. Local daycare facilities. When we did a large school (franchise chain), it was nice because they were open from 7am-6pm, and they never closed down if someone was sick (i.e., if you had a babysitter and they called out sick, you’re out of luck). The downside was that for my kids, the noise was overwhelming– I felt like for me personally it ended up being more like a parking lot for my kids rather than a place where they grew and thrived.

10. Local pre-schools: Nice for enrichment & social aspects, but it’s only 3 hours a day. You can pay for more care there (at $7/hour for up to 3 hours)– but even with 6 hours of care a day, that’s not enough if you have an 8-hour shift somewhere. However, it does make it a little more possible for a neighbor or friend to pick them up and only watch them from 3-5 or 3-6.

11. Local sports facilities. See if yours has a busing arrangement with area schools.

12. I’ve also heard of the local Karate place as taking kids after school (I forget if it’s once or twice a week)– they pick up and then provide a class.

13. Building Blocks: They are a daycare facility that also allows you to buy a day at a time. If I were working and needed care for a school holiday day, I might consider them. I think someone told me that it was $150/day, but don’t quote me on that. I have only talked to one parent who sent their kids there– they ultimately switched– but they had some challenges with their kids so that might have contributed.

14. There are also online resources like sittercity.com and care.com — as well as joining local Moms Club and trading babysitting (which I’ve done and is usually great). Ask at your local church (if you have one). I would stay away from Craig’s List– too many weirdos.

Closing thoughts: It’s just really, really hard to make it work. I look at families with grandparents who help out and I’m envious. However…. not having my parents so close also means that they don’t interfere with my parenting–which is nice, too.  (Trying to find the positive!) When I drive around in the morning dropping my kids at school, and returning home with the baby, I’m always struck by the thought of “Wow, I could be doing so much, but instead I’m home with the baby, and she would probably be just as happy hanging out in a room full of babies”– but then I need to pick my second one up at noon, and be here to greet my oldest at 4 when he gets off his bus– so I feel like I’m at the mercy of their schedules— but in a few years, once they are all in school for a full day, I’m hoping it gets easier (or at least less expensive)– then I could potentially either work overnights (with a shift starting at 11pm and ending at 7am) or weekends, or something…. but right now, I just don’t know how people do it. If anyone solves the puzzle, please clue me in.

Put together by just another mom…

What’s your childcare solution while working? Does it feel like it costs you a million dollars?

 

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You don’t know what you don’t know when you become a parent.  Here are a few doozies that still catch me off guard.

Table manners matter.  I’m not sure when this happened, but I became a stickler for table manners.  Of course, toddlers don’t have table manners.  More accurately, my toddlers actually own manners, they are just constantly misplacing theirs.  My oldest is five, and she absolutely loves being loud, making funny noises, hiding under the table, and getting her younger sister to misbehave along with her.  I wish I could be the carefree mom that laughs and sings at the table savoring every moment with my young children, but after getting everyone to a hot meal, I just want to enjoy it in relative peace.  Not complete silence, just peace.  Call me crazy.

No respect.  It amazes me that Rodney Dangerfield, who is absolutely a man, made a career of the phrase, “I get no respect.”  In fact, it is mothers who get no respect.  It’s become a running joke in my family, and it happens all the time.  I shop for dinner, plan dinner, and prepare dinner, but hand it off to my husband to grill, and the girls say, “Thank you for a great dinner, Daddy.”  For our recent trip to Hershey Park, I clear the dates, book the hotel, and buy the tickets, but my husband drives the car, and the girls say, “Thanks for taking us to Hershey, Daddy.”  I shop for clothes, launder them, and get the girls dressed, and the girls run to daddy to hear his obligatory praises of, “Oh, how pretty!”  I knew this would happen, of course, because I under-appreciated my own mom.  Serves me right.

Guilt.  I am sometimes ashamed and terrified of my perfect children.  As I befriend mothers who are raising children who are allergic, fragile, disabled, or tragically taken too soon, I am struck by guilt that I don’t actually worship my perfectly healthy children.  When they have a meltdown in the store or smack each other, I admit to sometimes losing my cool.  No, I’ve been too busy rearing them and setting boundaries to smother them in kisses several times a day, which is exactly what I should be doing. Which is exactly what my friends would do if their child were suddenly cured, restored, returned to them.  In the same breath, I am terrified that something terrible will happen in the next moment to my perfect children.  Would I be as graceful as these women I have come to admire?  There’s no way of knowing until I am tested, which I pray I won’t be. More guilt.

I love working.  Not that this one is a complete surprise.  I’m just grateful to be able to design a life where I can enjoy my kids and enjoy a fulfilling creative outlet that produces and income.  Especially when my kids drive me crazy, I still have this professional side of me up and running, and it is worth all of the energy that it takes to keep both sides of my life running at the same time.  Frankly, some days I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my awesome business.  Yes, I love working, and I love working for myself even more.  udge me if you want, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this one.

I’m sure there are more. But they’ll have to wait for a refill on chocolate and coffee, which I swore I would never use as crutches to get through my day.  Never say never.

 

 

 

 

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Hey, have you heard the news?  Kids are expensive. 

OK, maybe that’s not news, but it makes the news every now and then.  Thinking about this, in an ideal world, should start before you add kids or another kid to the mix.

Marketplace Money is one of my favorite places to get my news, and you can hear their recent take on how to brace yourself for the costs of kids

Need some ideas on how to cut costs?  Read come of my strategies on what’s available at consigment sales, and check out my favorite go-to book on buying for baby, called Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields.

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Every now and then you might read a story about the effects on children from moms moving from the home to the workforce.  Usually the news (or perception) is not positive.  However, I think that entrepreneurial moms have a different story to tell.
From an expert perspective, I strongly believe that being expert problem solvers (notice I didn’t say expert multi-taskers!) gets passed on to our kids.  This isn’t just hearsay, it appears to be neurological and something we can influence through upbringing.  I reference Richard Nisbett in his book, Intelligence and How to Get It, in this excerpt from my book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur:

“It turns out that being read to and exposure to books are socio-economic indicators that are found with higher-IQ children according to Nisbett.[i] Earlier and more consistent access to schools and learning programs are also highly correlated with higher intelligence.[ii] Being exposed to the problem solving, like that required to run a successful business, must qualify as educational, rich, and diverse experiences. Entrepreneurial mothers were not highlighted as a group in Intelligence and How to Get It. Although not scientifically studied, it makes sense that if you are steeped in the entrepreneurial environment and, even better, expose your child to aspects of it, your child is likely to benefit cognitively from that experience.”

From the perspective of a services professional, I can tell you that one of target client sets is young adults who have not learned the skills or organizing because their parents never taught them.  I believe that the entrepreneurial family is more likely to pass on skills that allow a person to be self-sustaining and more able to achieve their own goals.
From the perspective of a mom, I can tell you that my 4-year old helps me take care of the house because I expect that, and she’s learned to be part of the family team from an early age.  She’s also learned that there are times when you work, and times when you play.  She gets it now, and I expect that she’ll continue to grow into a person who can structure her own time to meet her goals.  Prioritizing is a critical life skill, so you can enjoy life more.
I’ve talked to at least three people just this week who said to me that their inability to prioritize is their biggest problem.  Successful business owners must prioritize, or they aren’t successful.  If we pass this trait or skill alone onto our kids, we’ve done our jobs as entrepreneurs and moms at the same time.  Ka-ching!

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