I started consulting before I had kids, but I admit things were a little more haphazard in those free-falling, pre-children days.  About a month before my daughter was due, I sent an email out to all the parents I knew asking about their child care experiences and recommendations.  Those responses are 14 years old at this point.  I was just now re-reading them. They are all so thoughtful and heartwarming.  What a long way we have come in 14 years.  There was every kind of child care you can imagine and those with older children had experienced many options.  At the end of the day they universally recommended to trust your gut.

Calling All Parents

The questions I asked:

  • What have your experiences been?
  • What situations have you tried over the years with your children?
  • What worked well?  At what age?  Why?
  • What didn’t work at all?
  • How did you find the right person or situation?
  • How do you suggest I go about finding the right person or situation?
  • Helpful hints?
  • What should we absolutely do and/or require?
  • What should we avoid at all costs?

I would love to hear any other thoughts you have on the topic.  I’m really looking for open sharing of your opinions.  I’d like to learn from your experiences both good and bad.  If you’re comfortable sharing what you have paid, that would be helpful but please don’t feel obligated to do so.  Thanks a million for your help.  Feel free to respond via email or call me at the numbers below if that’s easier.

Next month’s topic:  How to keep the Grandparents from burying your child in a mountain of toys when you’d really rather have contributions to the college fund 😉

Thank you!

Amy & Chris

What have your experiences been?

We have had a live out nanny for the last 9 years (believe it or not but the same one).  We had put an ad in the paper, but found Sarah through word of mouth.  Our situation is a little unique – Sarah has three children herself (15-year-old twins and a two-year-old).  Sarah is responsible for 6 children during the day (her three, my two and my best friend’s daughter).  Our house is chaotic, but full of life and activities.

What to do/expect, don’t: I think this is unique to each family.  Sarah’s primary responsibility is taking care of the kids.  She does do our laundry (and there have been a few bleach mishaps) and tries to keep the house tidy.  We have been very flexible with Sarah – allowing her to bring her kids, we gave her 4 months off for maternity leave, we pay her for all vacations and holidays.  Basically, I treat her the way I expect to be treated.  For us, it has worked well.  Most people do not have their nannies for 9 years.

How did you find the right person or situation?

NETWORK, NETWORK AND NETWORK.  I was involved with a playgroup through Scripps Hospital (The Parent Connection) and I got hooked up with some moms in my area.  Now, 6 years later we are still all together.  They have been just a wonderful support throughout the years.  I cannot tell you how wonderful these moms and their families have been.  We have been through a lot together and our group is still growing with all the siblings.

Helpful hints? 

Look for the most loving and nurturing person and forget that they can/will clean, cook and/or do the wash. 

Be paranoid.  Go with your gut feel.  The most important factor will be your daughter.  Will she run off to preschool with a smile on her face?  Or, will she be a homebody who will want to stay at home with her own stuff close by?  You’ll have to see what works best for her personality and temperament.

What should we avoid at all costs?   

Avoid the quilt associated with having “someone else watch your child” while you work.   

Don’t keep your child in a situation that doesn’t feel right. 

What should we absolutely do and/or require? 

Insist on car seats and seat belts.  CHECK REFERENCES.  We were amazed at the dirt that the references provided.

Make sure you plan to have some time for you and Chris to stay in touch with each other.  Your relationship and his relationship with the baby will be great, that’s the easy one.  The relationship between you and Chris will take extra effort because it seems like the baby should always come first.  If you don’t take some quality time for yourselves, it can get very difficult for both of you. 

Next month’s topic:  How to keep the Grandparents from burying your child in a mountain of toys when you’d really rather have contributions to the college fund 😉  

Let the grandparents buy as much as they want!!   They’ve been waiting 20 years!  Also, my mom and my husband’s mom both passed away from cancer several years ago.  We cherish the books and other toys that they gave the kids. 

Always, always, always trust your instincts

The most important piece of advice I can give relative to childcare and being a mom is to always, always, always listen to your heart and your gut.  There are a lot of so-called experts out there who want to tell you how to do things and they are full of it (where your kids sleep at night, how they learn, what they need, what sort of discipline is “best”, etc.).  The best advice I can give is to take it all in, do your research and then do whatever your heart and instincts tell you.  You will NEVER regret it.  YOU will know your child and what your child uniquely needs better than anyone else.

Frankly, I would have been happier, EVERYONE would have been happier, if I had been more easy going with all the details.

Good luck!  It is a hard decision, but just trust your motherly instincts.  A mother’s instincts are always right.

And they all said to call them if we needed anything.

And Sharon replied, “You won’t leave that baby.”

I thought she was crazy.  I mean, I have to work, same as you.

In the early days of my business, I was fully engaged for the first few years.  I thought, “Wow, this is easy.”  Then I hit a long dead zone.  Of course, this dead zone was right before the baby was due.  I got nervous and interviewed for a few jobs.  I didn’t end up taking any of them, but it was a nerve wracking time.

When the baby was born, I found that Sharon was right.  Now I was more determined than ever to make my consulting business work.  My first goal was to work from home for the first year.  It’s always best to take baby steps and avoid overwhelming goals.  Now here I am 14 years later still going strong.

Start marketing day one and never, ever stop!

It was then I realized that the hardest thing about being a consultant is bringing in the business.  A sustainable consulting business requires a lifelong commitment to networking, marketing and business development.  If you stop, 9-12 months down the road, your pipeline will dry up and you’ll hit the doldrums.

Repeat after me:

Never let a day go by without doing something for networking, marketing and business development.

Billable with Baby® Child Care Tools

You may be wondering how to handle child care if you’re working from home.  I recommend that you get some help.  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.  Here is my system for hiring and training your part-time Nanny.

What kind of child care do you use? None? Family? Nanny at your home? Preschool? School? Please comment below to tell us what you do with the kids.

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