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Introduction to Childcare Ideas
Hello. Welcome back to the show. This is a bonus episode. I think my first true bonus episode for Live Free, Creative, at least over here on the main feed. I do a bonus episode every single month within the Podcast Plus Patreon group. And that has been so fun.
As I was recording this week’s episode, I finished it up and finished editing and I thought back to it and realized that there was kind of a big piece that I didn’t address when I was talking about the juggle between motherhood and working. And that is what I do with my kids while I’m working. The five tips that I shared in episode 105 are really important. And they’re all things that I use on a regular basis. And if you are starting from ground zero, where you really don’t even know where to begin with, how to handle having your kids watch or doing something else or taken care of by someone else, while you work, then this bonus episode will be helpful.
10 Childcare Ideas for work-from-home mamas
I’m going to share 10 ideas for creating space to work while you have kids. Some of these are things that I did when my kids were younger, that no longer apply some of them I only have been able to do since my kids are a little bit older, but among these 10 ideas, I hope that there is something that will be helpful for you to incorporate into your life, to create space for your work while you have kids, if you don’t work, but you’d like to have some sort of personal work, personal hobby, volunteer work, or even just self care.
These 10 ideas for childcare are things that can be helpful while you’re creating space just for your own personal endeavors as well. A couple of these tips were shared in episode 10 with my husband, when we talked about making space for your marriage, because date nights are something that we have always felt like were important. And so we shared a few ideas for how to find a babysitter for date night. I’ve added a couple additional ideas that are relevant to moms working a stay at home moms, finding hobby time, and basically creating some space where your kids are taken care of or self-sufficient so that you can focus on other things for a little while.
I’m going to go through these sort of chronologically, starting from the first ones that I used when I became a mother for the first time and had young children all the way to some of the strategies that I’m using now that my kids are a little bit older. And I feel like I have a little bit more freedom because of their ages. Not all of these will apply to everyone. I recognize that some of these ideas have inherent privilege that I can afford to pay for a babysitter.
Every so often that I have had childcare as a regular part of my routine as a mom. In addition, some people have family nearby. We currently do not, but at different points in our life we have. And so that has been a resource I’ve been able to utilize. So among the 10, I’m guessing that at least one or two will be something that you might be able to use or something you might not have thought of in order to create some space and time for you to work. I’m going to start at the beginning.
1. NAP TIME
Number one is nap time utilizing nap, time as creating space for your work time. From the time your kids are really little. They’ll take a couple naps a day. And then at least around one, one and a half, my kids transitioned to having one solid nap a day. I have always been a nap time working mom.
That was when I wrote my blog five days a week when my kids were young. It was when I used all of my time for sewing, when my kids were sleeping so that I can pull out all of my sharp scissors and needles and pins and not have them getting into it all, especially when they were babies and toddlers, I consider naptime a very sacred time, and I very rarely, as a young mom used nap time to do household chores or to do things that I didn’t love. I really thought of nap time as my personal time. And when my babies were tiny, tiny, I would use nap time for napping. But for the most part, I utilize nap time as a very clear definition of when I could spend time on personal projects and work projects that I wanted to do that works really well until your kids get out of the stage of napping.
2. QUIET TIME
And that transitions into number two, which is using quiet time. One of my good friends, Jansen Bradshaw from Everyday Reading has a whole blog post with really specific ideas for how to incorporate quiet time into your everyday routine. This is something that helps when you have a young one who’s napping, but a little bit older sibling who doesn’t nap anymore.
You still can use that same timeframe. In our house, it’s always been the afternoon hours between lunchtime and the early afternoon as quiet time. Quiet time means different things in different families. And I was talking to a friend actually last night who said will quiet time would just never work for my kids because they don’t play quietly. They’re not really used to that. And I reminded her that no one is used to it. When you first start, you have to put in a little bit of legwork to create an expectation for your kids.
And maybe you start with a half hour at a time and you build up to two to two and a half, three hours long where they can do some independent, play, some quiet reading. Some families incorporate watching a family friendly show, things like that, so that your kids know that they have some time on their own in a safe place, maybe their room, maybe the playroom while mom is doing something else.
I think this is a really healthy developmental stage for kids as well, giving them some space and time to explore, to be creative, to lay down and take a nap. If they want to color, to paint, to take out all of the blocks and build a tower. It’s really healthy for kids of all ages to have a little bit of independence within a safe environment and be able to play. If you wonder if this would work for your kids, I recommend giving it a try for a month, give yourself enough time to help your kids build up a little bit of stamina and also set your expectations really low.
If you leave your kids to play independently in the playroom, okay, we’ll probably be out. If you leave them in the living room, all the cushions might be on the floor and they might have built a Fort and there might be things all over the place expect big messes, expect them to have explored the nooks and crannies of every single thing that you own in the space that they are given and know that that’s okay, that the price of having a few hours of alone, time to work or to focus might be that you have big mess to return to.
And if you set your expectation for that, and then you combined with the child help to clean up and to get things back in order, then you might find that you really look forward to having that alone time, even if it means to clean up a mess later.
3. ENGAGE FAMILY
The next idea number three is to bring your family in to help. If you live in an area where you have family nearby, this is such a huge resource. And I hope that you, you realize how wonderful that is. When we were first married, Dave and I moved to the DC area and while my own family and Dave’s family lived back in Utah, Dave had an aunt, a wonderful aunt who was willing to help with Milo while I went back to work. She watched him two days a week for a couple hours and was able to just be home base for him and take care of him while I was working part time in diabetes education, as an RN. I was using my nap times for my Etsy business, my side hustle and my hobby of blogging.
And I was using family resources is of help, just super simple plus help and generous help. I look back now and we weren’t paying her. She was doing this dedicating time to watch our child without pay cause we were in school and just barely scraping by and they was so generous and also so wonderful and such an such an ideal situation of how community and family can really work together to create support where needed.
We currently don’t live nearby any family. And we haven’t had that resource of having our family help. Occasionally when we go out of town or if I need to travel for work, we will invite one of the grandparents out to watch our kids while David’s going into the office for work and I’m traveling for work. But for the most part, we don’t rely on family help here in Richmond. And so that brings me to my next one.
4. BABYSITTER SWAP
Number four, which is a couple ideas for babysitting swaps and pods. There’s a lot of talk going around right now with the digital learning about learning pods, which is a group of kids getting together at someone’s house. And maybe that house rotates the week so that they can concurrently do their digital learning. This same idea works really well for babysitting.
A babysitter swap where you match up with a friend who has kids of similar ages or who enjoy each other’s company. And you trade days, maybe Tuesday/Thursday, the kids are all at your house and they’re playing together, which I have found actually eases the burden of the individual childcare because one, my kids have a friend over. Oftentimes they’re really engaged in playing without as much hands on attention. It’s also good socialization development for them.
And then a couple of days a week, all the kids go to your friend’s house and they’re all playing over there while you’re able to have some free time to get work done.
This is something that we utilized from the time my kids were about one year old. I created a playgroup co-op in the neighborhoods that I lived in. I did it both in the DC area and in Texas. And my young kids would, I would have a day or a couple days a week where I had the big group at my house. And then I had a couple days a week where I was free for several hours while the kids were all playing at their co-op. And I was able to focus on things that I needed to get done for myself.
5. BABYSITTER SHARE
The next idea number five is similar, but a little different where it frees up both moms at the same time by doing a babysitter share. This is something that really depends on your area because babysitting costs vary so greatly across communities and across States and different cities. Also the idea of whether they’re paid per child or just for the group, um, in most places that I’ve lived and with the types of babysitters that I’ve used, the cost didn’t go up dramatically with the number of children that were watched.
So if it was two kids versus four kids, maybe you pay an extra couple dollars an hour, but it wasn’t like a cost per child. So if I could hire one babysitter and split the cost with a friend and combine our children at someone’s house, and there’s that added benefit again, if the kids get along well, have the kids playing together and making it even easier on the babysitter, then both my friend and I could go and work or, uh, you know, have the kids watched at one house and we could co-work at the other house. Or we could go to a coffee shop or go out and get our work done somewhere else.
A babysitter share can be really effective and as a cost cutting measure, and also creating some regularity and adding that social piece in of your friend is going to work and you’re going to work. And so you both kind of depend on each other for motivation and saying, okay, it’s work time. So we’re gonna, you know, the babysitter’s here, we’re dropping the kids off and we’re going to go get some stuff done.
6. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL BABYSITTER
Number six falls, a little more squarely in a traditional babysitter or childcare role, which is to use some professional babysitting services. A lot of people have asked how we find babysitters. Dave and I have used babysitters in all the many cities that we’ve lived in because we have a regular Saturday night date night. That’s our standing date. I have just recently in the last year or two fallen in love with Bambino. It’s an app. And I actually have a link with a discount code.
Link that will give you a $10 credit when you sign up for Bambino. (Get $10 credit with code LIVEFREE)
If you want to try it out, uh, if you’re comfortable, I know right now in the time of COVID things are a little weird. I know they’re using some specific practices and, uh, and things, if you’re comfortable having a babysitter come, maybe for an outdoor babysit, you know, have their kids play outside or, or at the park or something, um, the Bambino sitters are all vetted and you can read reviews and things like that. We’ve really liked the babysitters that we’ve used through the service. And it’s kind of like a on demand, like an Uber for babysitters. You can go onto the app, plug in the timeframes that you need, and it will send it to the babysitters you’ve chosen. You can send up to 10 requests at a time and then see who’s who responds, who is available.
That’s been really helpful. I know some other friends really enjoy care.com and have found their babysitters through care.com, which we haven’t actually used. It was a little bit more expensive of a service. When I looked into it, Bambino is free to try and care.com has a little bit of a cost associated in the beginning, but both of those are great services. If you’re just at a loss for how to find a babysitter, that there are some ideas of places that you can look.
7. USE A MOMMY’S HELPER OR OLDER CHILD
My next idea, number seven is to either hire or use one of your older kids as a mommy’s helper. So in my mind, the difference between a traditional babysitter and a mommy’s helper is that you are going to stay home. You’re going to be at home, either working in a home office or working off of the dining table or working in the backyard.
You haven’t left the property. And so there’s a little bit less responsibility as far as emergencies because you’re still present, but someone is taking care of occupying the attention of the children while you get your work done. In past years, I’ve hired a young babysitter, maybe an 11 or 12 year old to help play with my toddlers while I was at home working on a project that freed up my attention. But also I was present for the responsibility of an emergency.
One of the benefits of a mommy’s helper as well is that they’re a lot less expensive. So you can get away with paying an 11 or 12 year old girl, maybe $5-6 an hour versus $15 or $20 an hour for a more adult professional babysitting service. Now that my oldest is 11. He is of babysitting age. I was 11 years old when I started to babysit outside of my own home, other families.
And I feel really comfortable with that. My other kids are also not tiny. Plum is six, Eliot is nine. And so all of them have some level of independence that they didn’t have when they were babies. And toddlers. I have found it really helpful during COVID that I can leave Milo with the responsibility of being in charge of the other kids. And that doesn’t mean bossing them around that means playing with them or, um, if they need something helping out while I work at home.
So I can go upstairs and record a podcast in my bedroom, I can take calls. I can, I do my coaching calls all from home right now. Things like that have been really helpful beyond the mommy’s helper. I do feel comfortable once in a while, leaving my kids at home while I go to my office, which I rent an office nearby my home.
It’s about three minutes away. It’s great because it’s quiet. I have everything that I need and I don’t have any chance of interruption, but I’m close enough that if one of my kids need something and Milo, of course, we got him a cell phone for his birthday this year, which I’m so excited to share more about Gabb Wireless coming up soon and I’ll have a special discount code. They just came out with a new phone. That still is just so great for the young ones. Cause it doesn’t have any of the apps or any of the wifi, but he’s able to call me, text me and let me know if he needs me. That has been so helpful.
So make sure you’re utilizing your older kids. If you have them, I’m guessing moms that have older kids already do this because it sort of feels like a weight off your shoulders. When your kids get to the age where they can become the babysitter and you see a lot more freedom and sort of the light of the tunnel ahead, okay.
8. USE MOVIE OR CRAFT TIME
Number eight, this one might be controversial, but I think sometimes it is totally appropriate to set on a movie and tell your kids, enjoy this movie. I’m going to go sit at the table and work. Or I’m also with crafts. We love Kiwi Crates. (30% off your first month!) I mentioned that with our homeschooling and I have a discount code. If you want to use a Kiwi crate, you can go to the show notes of this episode and sign up with 30% off.
Handing my kids a craft project that has all of the instructions and all of the supplies, right? There is a time buyer that is like an investment of, here you go. Here’s your box. In exchange I get two hours of a free time. Of work time. So I’m having either a movie time set aside or a craft time set aside that you can say, okay, while you do this fun thing that I’ve provided for you, I’m going to go and get some work done. And just being really clear about that.
Like it’s going to be two hours and you can even pop some popcorn for them. You could make this a weekly thing. You could make it part of your routine, that on Wednesday afternoons, while you answer emails, your kids watch a movie that is a totally in my mind, just like totally acceptable, totally creative and fun way to get your work hours in while your kids are occupied.
9. WORK OUTING
Number nine is a work outing. Now this one in some ways goes a little bit against. One of my rules are the things that I shared in episode 105, about that juggle between working in motherhood, which is that I like to really keep them separate a work outing would be an time that you can’t necessarily do that, or you’re up against a deadline or you have something that you need to do.
Of course, all of these tips assume that for the most part, you’re working remotely, which I know isn’t the case for everyone. So there’s a whole different set of ideas if you are like working full time in an office. But a lot of people who ask me about this are work similar to me that they’re creative entrepreneurs, that they can, you know, work flexibly, but they want to actually get some of that work done. How do they do it?
A work outing for me looks like taking my kids to a really fun playground or park and letting them play independently while I sit on a bench. Or another example is back when gyms were a thing where I live gym still are not open. And so I could go to the gym specifically. The YMCA, when we lived in Texas was amazing and my kids loved playing in the play area there, and there was great wifi, so I could take them to the gym.
I would usually do a little workout and sometimes not honestly, sometimes I would go and let them play at the gym while I sat on the table in the lobby and got some work done that, that type of work outing where they’re being taken care of, even though I’m kind of there and I don’t pay any extra because it’s either a park or it’s a gym membership that I already paid for those things have been really helpful as just additional ways to create some space for me to work when I’ve needed to.
10. WORK RETREAT
The final idea that I have for you today is something that has been hugely beneficial in my life. And you’ll recognize that as I share about it, is the idea of a work retreat. This is something that requires a little bit more investment, both of logistical time and organization and finances.
And I have found that it yields huge, massive benefits when it comes to getting ahead or on top of, or just really digging into work in a meaningful way. I did my first personal work retreat when I started writing my book. I knew that I wanted to get started on this book. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but I hadn’t felt like I had the quantity of focus time necessary. Like I didn’t want just a couple hours one day. I wanted like multiple hours and a couple days of just focus, work, you get in the zone and really dig in. And I didn’t have that at home, no matter how I sliced things.
While I was getting ready to go to a work conference, which is different than a work retreat, and I’ll share a little bit about that. I scheduled myself to fly in three days early and I spent three days by myself in an Airbnb in Joshua Tree National Park.
I just zoned in on creating the outline for what I wanted my book to look like and feel like, and, and mining my experiences and writing and writing and writing and going on a quick walk in the desert and then coming back and writing and writing and writing I had got so in the flow. And so deep into this work, it really started that whole project off with such momentum that it was, it was really fun and easy to continue.
I left that three days with 18,000 words written, which is a lot of words. That’s a third of the whole finished book. And I was able to do that because of that multiple day, multiple hour focused time.
Now the difference between a work retreat and a conference like a work conference is that that space and time is dedicated to working where I go to work conferences fairly frequently, while I’m at a conference I’m learning from other people, I’m attending sessions, I’m doing a lot of networking and creating relationships and talking with sponsors. And the time is really full. I actually come away from a work conference, often feeling further behind in my business then when I began. I had lots of good ideas, but I actually work product was not able to get a lot done while I was at the conference.
A work retreat is a place where I have dedicated time and space to getting the work done. At the end of writing my book, I took a weekend and went with a friend to a nearby hotel, and we were able to both get so much work done and also just feel recovered at the end of it because we got a massage and we hung out at the hot tub to like discuss what we were working on. And then we had so many hours of actually doing the work as well. It was really nice.
Both of those experiences combined with reading Cal Newport’s book Deep Work really motivated me to start my Live Free Creative Camp work retreats, which the first one happened last year in November and everyone who came reported that they got far more done than they expected. And that the experience itself was beyond what they hoped for. I have a holistic chef and nutritionist come in and create incredible food. We have a meditation teacher and yoga instructor doing daily meditation and yoga. There is a creative practice happening every day and peer reviews that are kind of interspersed among what makes up the bulk of the retreat, which is these deep work sessions.
Everyone can put their phones in the technology box, in the middle of the room, and either find a quiet place by themselves to work or what we ended up doing so much was sitting all together in the big living room, cozied up with our laptops and really digging into our work concurrently but individually.
So I might be working on writing an online course. The person next to me is a photographer, who’s digging into editing a bunch of batch processing photos and managing some logistics. Someone across the couch is working on getting all of her products updated in her Shopify and getting ahead on batch processing emails for her newsletter.
There are so many tasks that are required within most people’s jobs that are just so much better when they’re done in this really deep focused way, rather than kind of winging it here and there. And so creating the space at a work retreat is something that I feel so passionately about. And I’m so excited because I have another one coming up in November. It is an investment. It’s an investment of time. It’s four days long. It’s an investment of money. Because my goal is to provide really nurturing care for your mind, body and spirit, while you’re able to get your best deep work done.
I only have a couple of spaces left for the one coming up in November. It’s November 4-8th in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And it’s going to be incredible. I’m so looking to it.
If you can’t come to Live Free Creative Camp, there will be hopefully a spring and a fall next year. And it’s something that I hope to continue to do into the future. If you can’t come to one of my Live Free Creative work retreats, you can create your own work retreat by just getting yourself out of your house. The main point here is that you create space by really getting away on a retreat. So whether by yourself or with a couple of friends, um, going to a hotel, going to an Airbnb, I’m getting some guidelines set up for yourself where your technology is put away, where you have a really clear idea of your goals for each of the days or each of the sessions, and that you’re able to allow yourself to dive in deep, without distraction and get that work done.
Work retreats have helped me propel my projects at lightning speed compared to what I would be doing just on like a couple hours a day at home with the added just regular distractions of what errands need to happen, what home projects we’re working on, what time my husband will be home from work. How are the kids doing? Even if I’m not home. I’m, you know, I’m kind of thinking about that.
Where when I take myself away on a work retreat, I am able to just let go completely of everything happening at home and focus on diving into my best creative work. And it’s fantastic. So that is, I know a much higher, different investment level than working while your baby is sleeping during that time. And I think that it’s important to recognize that there is a scope for this.
There’s a huge scope of what you can do in order to create space for you to work. Some things I didn’t mention are daycare and regular childcare. Obviously school is a huge benefit for having your kids occupied in a meaningful way and learning while you have some free time and space at home this year has shaken all of that up. And so I think some of these different ideas can be helpful in an environment like 2020 that we don’t.
Most of us don’t have our kids going back to school on any sort of regular schedule. And so being able to create space even during the summertime or when the regular childcare that you have set up has fallen through, or, or you can’t afford it, you’re, you’re just trying to get things off the ground and make a little bit of space without a huge investment.
Ten Childcare Ideas
I hope these 10 ideas have been helpful for you. So I’m going to go back through them really quickly. And then I will seal up this bonus episode.
Recap of the Ten Childcare Ideas:
- Take advantage of Nap Time
- Create a regular Quiet Time
- Employ the help of Family
- Consider a Babysitting Swap
- Hire a Babysitter to Share
- Utilize Bambino or Care.com
- Hire a Mommy’s Helper
- Create A Movie or Craft Time
- Try a Work Outing
- Go on a Work Retreat (like Live Free Creative Camp)
Okay. Moms, I hope that this bonus episode has been really helpful as it tandems with Episode 105, about managing that juggle of working and motherhood that I hope these ideas give you some inspiration and also some encouragement that you are worth it, your hobbies, your goals for work for creative business, for being an employee for working from home, for working in an office, all of those things are worth it.
If you want to do it, you should be able to create the space to make it happen in your life. And these are some of the ways that I have been able to do that in my own life.
Thank you so much for tuning in. I appreciate every single time someone shares about the show or writes a review on iTunes. All of those things really add to other people, being able to find and discover Live Free Creative Podcast, and also helps me feel like this free show that I’ve put out every single week is worthwhile because adding value to you and this community have a great week. I will talk to you later.