Ok, not forever of course. But maybe for a few hours?
Today’s message about creating childcare swaps is written by a terrific guest blogger: Lesley Sebek Miller. I found Lesley’s blog; www.barefooton45th.com by chance and am very happy to introduce her to you.
She is a mother of young children who is finding creative strategies to make life work optimally. Her blog about creating a childcare swap offers a solid strategy for finding time for ourselves while creating a supportive environment for our children. Enjoy!
How To Make a Childcare Swap Work
Before I had my first baby, I lived in a delusional world where stay-at-home moms could productively work part time, from home, while their children played quietly and/or took looooooong naps.
Little did I know that between a baby who napped in 45 minute increments much of her first year, and an influx of dishes, laundry and floor cleanings (spit-up, everywhere!), my dreams of part time work from home would be more difficult than I originally thought.
I wasn’t in a position to hire a nanny or drop Anna off at her grandparents, so I started to think about creative ways to find a few extra hours each week to accomplish work. A childcare swap has been a solution I never thought could work as well as it has.
What is a childcare swap? It’s when two or more moms come together and determine how they can collectively care for their children during the week.
The beauty of a childcare swap is threefold:
- your children are being cared for by a mom you trust
- your children get time with other kids
- and you’re not spending any extra money on their care
Here are a few tips for setting up an effective childcare swap:
1. Find the right mom(s).
Look at your friend and church network first. It’s ideal when you can find a mom you already know and trust, that lives close to you.
When talking with women you know, pay attention to those expressing a desire for more time to get work done, or even some quiet afternoons to catch up on grocery shopping. Then, simply ask if a childcare swap is something they’d consider.
Other things to think about include; the amount of time you are desiring each week, and the number of kids you have and their ages.
My child swap is with one other woman, who has a toddler the same age as mine, which makes care simpler. We each take each other’s child for 3-4 hours a week, but the amount of time could be more or less.
2. Be clear about your hope for the swap.
It is important to find someone as equally on board as you, especially if you’re counting on time each week to meet deadlines. And while things always come up, sick kids being the likeliest example, it’s best to make your swap times a priority so that each mom knows she can count on the other.
3. Set a trial period.
The hope is that the childcare swap is a success from the very beginning—but in the event things aren’t working, it’s nice to have a trial period.
Before starting, commit to your set-up for one month. Have a date already scheduled to discuss what’s working, and what’s not working. During this meeting you’ll then feel safe to bring up any concerns you have or to cancel the swap all together.
4. Consider adding a date night.
The best part about my childcare swap is the date night we’ve added. Every Wednesday, whoever is watching the children will keep them into the evening hours.
When I watch Eden, we feed her dinner and put her to sleep in a pack-and-play in our extra bedroom. Her mom is then able to get work done in the afternoon and show up to her date night feeling refreshed.
There is nothing more wonderful than time with your spouse, especially when you haven’t had to feed the baby with one hand while applying mascara with your other. This schedule gives each couple two date nights a month.
While my swap schedule only includes one other mom and child, if your home is large enough to accommodate multiple children you may want to consider approaching another mom. By doing so, you’ll have one day to watch kids, and two days to yourself.
Childcare swaps can be a beautiful way to get to know other moms, get work done, and offer your children time to play with other kids. Is a childcare swap something you’d consider? Have you done one before? What works and what doesn’t’?
Bio: Lesley Sebek Miller is a wife and mom still figuring out creative ways to work part time as a freelance writer. She is currently working on her first book, a personal narrative about her husband’s cancer diagnosis. You can read more of her work by visiting barefooton45th.com.
Photo by brizzle born and bred