As the world begins to open up again post-Covid and many return to work, family routines are shifting again for working parents. Working from home has been great at times (except the homeschooling part), but I’m also really excited about being back in the office with a team around me.
However, for all the progress that’s been made with ways of working, most forms of childcare haven’t adapted. Here’s what we now need from our childcare more than ever:
- Childcare which enables us to work from home with focus.
- Childcare which enables us to decide which days we will be in the office – and to change these week to week.
Flexible childcare is the great enabler of hybrid working. Childcare is the way to make the most of your time and be the best employee you can be. It should not be a source of guilt and nor a source of stress (there are enough of those!).
We working parents also need to refresh our mindset and attitude towards childcare.
Here are some rules that I stick to in order to be productive, happy and hybrid…
To make the most hybrid working, you also need hybrid childcare
So this ‘hybrid’ work term is being thrown around a lot (‘flexible’ has become too loaded / too pre-Covid). All it means is that we are going to combine a few different approaches. And that’s what we need to do when it comes to childcare too.
So, in fact, most of us working parents already have hybrid childcare. Especially if you’ve got more than one child. It’s the nursery – breakfast club – after school sports – nanny cocktail that makes life manageable.
The challenge with hybrid childcare is that it often requires a lot of glue to keep it together. That’s why being able to book an hour or two of childcare here and there is so essential for me. So on days I’m working from home I can do the drop-offs and pick-ups, but on some days I need someone for an hour in the morning or a few hours in the afternoon.
This is where Bubble makes my life manageable. I love to be flexible and hate having to plan everything weeks in advance. With Bubble as my childcare support, I make a plan at the start of my week about which days I’m in the office and when I plan to stay home.
Childcare is essential if you want working from home to really work
Working from home, parenting and childcare is not something that seamlessly can be combined. We all have different situations, but it’s good to start by working out where you would benefit from some help.
Is it someone to help first thing? To help you start the day feeling in control?
Is it someone to do pick-ups? At the start of the day doing pick-ups feels manageable but suddenly it’s 2pm, you’ve just managed to grab lunch and you have to leave.
For me homework time is a real crunch too – my kids aren’t the sort that you can just leave to get on with it and I have a stab of guilt every time I see my son’s yellow ‘reading diary’.
On Bubble, you can figure out exactly the hours you need and find someone to fit into your family’s schedule. Plus, if you only realise what you need 2 hours before the huge Zoom presentation, you can book a local sitter in minutes.
Working from home requires territorial instincts
We’ve all had to rethink our homes this year and getting in a nanny or sitter while we work from home might feel like too much of a squeeze.
The secret here is to make sure you have your WFH ‘zone’ which feels separate enough from the main activity of the family. It may not be a perfectly designed space, it may just be the landing (that’s where I’m writing this!), but make sure everyone – your kids, your partner, your sitter – knows that it is yours.
I admit that I do have to forsake the odd cup of tea so that I keep out of the kitchen where my nanny is hanging out with my kids. But it is so worth it for all the pictures of them playing hide-and-seek in the park that she WhatsApps me after nursery.
Childcare is an investment with huge ROI – do not feel guilty
Childcare is too often viewed as a luxury or a guilty secret. Childcare is an investment in our careers and our happiness as parents. It’s an expensive investment, but one which is shown to give plenty of return.
Now more than ever we as parents deserve to ease up on the self-recrimination and make sure we can be our best, so we can be the best for our kids.
Using Bubble requires no long term commitment and you can interview and trial as many sitters and nannies as you like. Simply download the app (on the App Store or Google Play), hit ‘Meet the Locals’ and see all the incredible people ready and waiting to help make your life a little bit easier.
Sarah Hesz is the CCO of Bubble Childcare; she’s also an ex-adlander, TEDx speaker, mum of 3 and advocate for working parents.