Child Care When You Work from Home
I am a working Mom of two kids, ages 13 and 3. I have my own consulting business and work remotely, mostly from home. I live a very blended life with almost no boundaries. I work and play every day. I typically work half my work day during the day and the other half at night.
Since I do half my work at night when the kids are asleep, I don’t need full-time care. I use a combination of college nannies, a childproof playroom and a Pack n’ Play stocked with a special, rotating toy stock. We started our system when our 13-year-old daughter was a baby and perfected it with our son who is now 3.
The Nanny Equation
I have 12 hours/week of child care since I like to be hands-on with the kids but you can certainly have more care if you wish. I have someone come to my home.
Care.com didn’t exist for Baby #1 so I used a variety of methods posting on college job boards and putting ads in college newspapers. For Baby #2, I have found all of my Nannies through Care.com. We live 15 minutes from three universities so most of my Nannies have been college students. For a part-time schedule, college students have worked very well. The downside is sometimes having to rotate girls when school schedules change.
Once I find a good candidate, I start with an email screen and then a phone screen. I don’t take the time to do an in-person interview until someone has passed these two screens. The biggest thing I’m looking for in the in-person interview is how the Nanny interacts with my child so I always have my child present. In the early days, my husband also participated but now he’s comfortable trusting my judgment. Once I find someone I want to hire, I speak with three non-family references.
You will find the ad I post, my email screen, my phone screen, my interview questions and my reference check questions in the Billable with Baby® Child Care Tools.
I have found it useful to have a training process for new Nannies. We would have a training process for new employees at work so why shouldn’t we have them for this most important job? I have a set of the three documents – Nanny Sheet, Baby’s Routine and Baby’s Food. I give a copy to the new Nanny and keep them on the refrigerator. I update them from time to time as things change or I realize I missed something.
You will find my Nanny Sheet, Baby’s Routine and Baby’s Food in the Billable with Baby® Child Care Tools.
Even with the screening and interview process, sometimes a Nanny just isn’t a good fit. Having someone in your home is very personal and the chemistry must work. There’s no way to predict this 100% in advance. If you find yourself in this situation, my advice is to get rid of them quickly and hire someone new. Don’t wait or second guess yourself. Parenting is about following your instincts so much of the time.
The Childproof Playroom
Another integral part of our childcare strategy is a gated, childproof playroom. We gated and childproofed our living/dining room area. Everything in the room is baby/toddler safe. It’s a little odd when we have people over for dinner but it works well for us. We can clear it for a fancy event but that’s rare. Our friends with kids love to come because they can let their kids down to play and not worry.
We have lots of toy stations around the room including a toddler sized table with chairs and 24 square cubbies filled with toys along one wall. The cubies are from Target and they are not very expensive. New board books are expensive so I bought two lots from eBay which gave us a lot of great books. I also add age-appropriate, low mess art supplies.
This room allows me to work while my child is playing. It’s also great for getting chores done and taking a shower. It’s good to start putting your baby in the playroom alone for short periods of time when they are very young so they start getting used to it. Build the time gradually as they get older and stay out of sight so you don’t interrupt their stream of play. I get a couple of hours a day with this setup.
Pinterest has some great child proof playroom ideas if you’re looking for ideas on how to set up your space.
The Pack ‘n Play and Rotating Toy Stock
My last key childcare element is a Pack ‘n Play and rotating toy stock. I started doing this with Baby #1 because I take dance class several mornings a week and didn’t want to stop or pay a babysitter once I became a Mom. I would set up the Pack ‘n Play in the corner and bring a large bag of toys she only got to play with in the Pack ‘n Play. This worked so well that I realized I could also take my baby to business meetings and speaking engagements if I needed to or wanted to. I have even taken my babies to important board meetings. I now have three large bags of toys which I rotate. I currently use this set-up three or four times a week. You think your baby would never do this but you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you try it. Like the child-proof playroom, you need to start putting your baby in the Pack ‘n Play when they are very young so they get used to it.
Other Tips and Tricks
It’s good to have a back-up plan if an important meeting comes up unexpectedly or your Nanny calls in sick. I haunt the discount shops from time-to-time and keep at least a few new toys hidden away. The right new toy can buy you the 30-60 quiet minutes you might need for that phone meeting. Hide it away again after the meeting and you can use it another half dozen times.
I have also learned that sometimes if the Nanny calls in sick, it’s better to just drop work and embrace the extra play day. If it happens too often, it’s time to find a different Nanny.
I am a working Mom of two kids, ages 13 and 3. I traded my corporate job for consulting and make more money than most executives. Now I want to help you be Billable with Baby®. Take control of your career and have the flexibility to raise your children on your terms. Work when you want, where you want and how you want. Stay home with your baby AND earn executive level pay doing the same type of work you’ve always done.
If you have questions or want to find out how other Billable with Baby® moms handle child care, join the discussion in the free Billable with Baby® Community.
P.S. If you are looking at hiring a nanny, I have prepared a Nanny Contract Template to help you hire your own nanny.
Read other posts from this childcare and nanny series.