If you're a doula or midwife (or student), and have young children, wondering what you do for childcare? I've done DONA training but not my births to get certified, and am also interested in the CPM route. But with children at home and in school, I just don't know how I could commit to an "on call" schedule. My dh leaves weekdays around 5 a.m. and gets home about 6 p.m., and is sometimes gone, like a UK trip for 3 wks. coming up.
So if you aren't leaving your children with family (not an option for us), what do you do?
We have four children and are also homeschooling. Unfortunately, we don't live near family.
We have a list of people who are able to watch the kids if I'm at a birth and dh has to go to work. A couple of them are babysitters who I've interviewed, checked references and had them come over to hang out so I could see how they were with the kids. A couple of them are other homeschooling moms.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds
I'm very interested in this as well. I am not certified or trained for anything yet (been wanting to become a doula for 4 years now, but between having 3 babies 3 and under, it's been tough!) but I was just coming here today to ask this question. My father-in-law does live up the street, but he works and would never be able to watch the kids when my husband wouldn't also be available to watch them. We, too, homeschool and I am a part of a large group of families that homeschool as well, but there's only maybe 2 people I could think about leaving them with, but they both have 3 or 4 kids of their own. I would feel horrible pushing my kids onto them for a long period of time and at the last second.
Child care is absolutely the hardest part of my job and always has been.
One thing I've found is that people with more kids are more likely to be willing to take on another three or four kids than people with only a couple of kids. Once you have three or four, what's another two, three or four? I've had eight children 10 and under in my house, as has my friend who I used to swap child care with.
So my child care situation has really evolved. I've been doing this for six years now, starting in an apprenticeship.
At first, I had only two children and hired a homeschooled highschooler for a nanny on prenatal days and then a friend who watched the kids during births. Then the nanny situation imploded and my friend watched the kids on prenatal days too. Originally I paid her, but eventually she asked me to to just trade child care and favors with her. It worked great for a long time. When things were slow and was homeschooling and doing home visit, I'd take the boys with me (still only had the older two children) and would only rely on her for births. DH had changed jobs and was just about never away from home overnight, so it helped.
Then we each had two more children (one of her births was free b/c she had provided me like $4000 in child care over the years and the second would have been at a deep discount had she not risked out of midwifery care early in her pg). We also moved about 20 miles apart instead of the original three miles. It got a lot harder to swap child care and neither of us has a vehicle that would transport 8 kids, which was fine when we were homeschooling, but not so good when we put the kids in school and needed to pick kids up. It became a real juggling act and my practice was getting much busier because I had a birth center.
So I hired a college aged nanny who could drive and pick my kids up for me when/if I needed her to. I checked her references and did a background check but in the end she made a decision regarding carseat safety that was unacceptable so I fired her.
Which brings me to my current situation: I pay a day care to be available from 6am to 6pm for my littles (I use it three half days a week--one for prenatal day and two for some college courses I'm taking--if there's not a birth). My bigger boys are in school from 8:00 to 3:00. DH has a flexible enough schedule that he can drop them all off at school/day care if I leave in the middle of the night. We have a few people who the big boys can either go home from school with after school or who can pick them up and drop them at home, where a neighbor is available if they need her before DH gets home 1.5 hours later.
My friend moved five hours away in December so the bottom has fallen out of my emergency child care system and DH is working 50-60 hour weeks. A few weeks ago he worked a 33 hour day, which required him to sleep in his truck on a location. There was a lot of praying going on then b/c I wasn't sure what I would do if I had a labor. I have a backup midwife I can call if I just absolutely can't make it to a birth and my apprentice is very capable of laborsitting while I wait for child care to get to my house so I can leave. I have two friends with teenagers who are homeschooled and are often available for $10 an hour--but they don't drive and they are both the oldest of 6 so their mothers don't have the capability to transport my kids and their kids (maybe I should buy a bus?!). When DH was gone for two weeks in December (left the day after a client's EDD, so it was almost a certainty that she'd have a baby while he was gone), my friend's daughter spent the weekend with me so that if I got called out in the night, there would be someone there for my kids and I had a list of adults who were willing to come to my house in the middle of the night during the week and see the kids off to day care and school if I got called out. It ended up my client was 17 days after her EDD so all of the stress and planning and arranging was in vain b/c DH was home by the time she had her baby.
I'll say it again: child care is absolutely the hardest part of my job and always has been.
This is a very timely subject for me. I have not been accepting clients for the last year or so due to family health problems, but I am not considering coming back to work and working with another midwife to split call and hours.
Childcare is the biggest issue I have. My oldest daughter moved out and is also apprenicing, so it's not usually likely she can watch the other kids. Even though my next oldest is almost 16 and i have a 12yo girl, I can't really leave them alone for any length of time because of the horrible fighting they currently do. The two boys, 8 and 5, don't really listen to the girls well and it never ends well.
I used to live in a development near several friends, but we moved in August to a new school district and a new development. I don't know anyone here and haven't been able to find a sitter around here. My husband is usually home during the day, but gone in the evenings (when everyone is home!). I teach nursing students two evenings a week and that alone has been difficult this semester.
So, I don't have any great answers, just empathy. I can't afford to pay a sitter to just be on-call right now, although that's certainly a good option once I'm working again with a full client load. Having more than one sitter is a necessity if you are busy. Having others in the birth field is the best; they understand the schedule.One of our local colleges puts together a list each semester of students who fill out a form stating what services they can do, like cleaning, babysitting, etc., whether they have a car, their email, hours, etc. Sometimes I have pieced together some of them to be on call. The downside is that the students are only there a semester, go home for holidays, and aren't available during finals week,e tc.
The hardest thing for me is when my clients wait to call and I'm out with the kids and have to rush home, get a sitter and run back out. This happens OFTEN with my clients and totally stresses me out!
Good luck! I like hearing others post about their experiences and how they managed to find sitting.
This used to be the biggest difficulty with being on-call for me. I was a doula for years before going to midwifery school. We tried a variety of solutions and after about 6 months of midwifery school and apprenticing we hired an aupair to live with us. An aupair is similar to a live-in nanny except they are from another country and it is supposed to be a cultural exchange. They stay with you for 1 year (can extend for a 2nd year) and then you do it all over again. We are getting ready for our 4th aupair to arrive in less that two weeks. I have 3 kids (8, 6 and 4) so far it is the best thing for us as a family. It wouldn't work for all families but does for us. I just couldn't handle the un-reliability of local babysitters and nanny's are super expensive in our area. Also it is easier on my kids since they know who will be with them if my husband or myself isn't home.
I want to know more about an aupair. We've talked about it at length and I really think at the rate we're paying for child care right now we might be able to make it work but I really don't know where to start.
I have a babysitter who goes 'on call' when I do...she is willing to come and stay for the duration of the birth. I pay her well above her hourly rate for any birth she covers, so she is happy to do it. This has been the best solution so far.
Wow...that can really be a huge issue. More than once I've had to really figure out a plan - but for years we home schooled our 4 kids and the older ones weren't quite mature enough to sit for long. I've had friends come over, had my husband come home early or stay and work from home, mother in law, my mom, my sister...it is just a real challenge when the kids are too little to be home alone and you don't have family near. I have taken to praying that nothing would happen when no one was available...and it has always worked. So, all I can really say is get creative but don't be dumb. As they told us in CAPPA training - it is better that you be the example of a good mother than put your kids off for your call of duty...even if it means missing a birth.
I'm blessed to live in a country where having a nanny or maid is the norm and not expensive. We hired her when the twins were about 6 months old, and even though I'm a SAHM she's been wonderful for watching kids, cleaning the house, picking kids up from school, helping with food prep, keep kids occupied while I do my midwifery studies. AND if I go to a birth, she doesn't mind if I call her late at night or early enough in the morning to let her know to get at the house before 7am when DH leaves for work. Great arrangement and I know it won't work for most. It is very hard (for me) to find some that I trust and is willing to do all of the above.
Missionary, birth-worker, midwifery student
Mama to DD (9yr), DS (3yr), & UC twin DDs (5yr)
The problem with being on and off call is that when you are the midwife, you are always on call. You can't miss a birth because of childcare. You will see your business dry up quickly if word gets out that you're unreliable. Especially if you take more than one client per month; you're always on call. It's a big difference between being a midwife in the hospital and being a homebirth midwife. It's an issue I've seen with apprentices in the past. Sometimes I don't think they realize that they will need to have childcare 24/7 and need to be available to come to births and be on call, just as the midwife is if they want to apprentice.
I'm currently working out arrangements to work with another midwife and I'm fortunate enough to have several midwives and assistants in the area to help with births should I have issues. But I would feel irresponsible if I took a client on and missed a birth due to childcare. It's caused some HUGE stressful moments in the past and I've had those times when it seems that all childcare options fell through, but I've just had to make it work.
Just today, I was out of town with my 15yo DD for a doctors appointment and her friend came home on the bus to babysit my other children. (my husband works most evenings). My 8yo apparently got off his bus, came in, dropped off his bookbag and took off to the neighbors. Of course, panic spread as the friend couldn't find him (and didn't see his bookbag) and didn't think he came home on the bus. I was almost home and began to call the school, my husband, etc. When I got home and found him walking along the street, I wanted to hug and kill him at the same time! Reminded me of how stressful childcare is for any situation, not just midwifery/doula work!
When I was apprenticing and lived in a different area, the YMCA had a drop-in childcare that I used. It was FANTASTIC! And since we were poor, we paid very low rates for care. My husband's job was flexible enough that he could always arrange to be sure to pick up the kids from childcare/school as well. I got spoiled.
Now, there is no drop-in childcare where I live. So far, I have relied on friends. This has worked well and I am sooooo grateful to them! Oh, and it thrills me when they need something that I know about so that I can pay them back. However, several of my friends have had situations change in regards to school, work, and family life that will likely make that all more challenging come this summer. I am back to trying to figure this all out. Once fall come, all my kids will be in school for the first time!!! That will change things a bit for me as well!
A friend of mine who works as a doula and apprentice has a really smart system that I thought I would share. She has a whole group of women who take turns being oncall for her childcare. She set up a yahoo group for them (I think there are like 5 women) where they can communicate with one another, trade call, etc. She pays them something like $25 a week to be oncall for that week and then she pays them quite well if she has to utilize their services. These women are staying at home with their other kids and available anyhow, so they don't mind taking a week of call a month. I think this is super smart as no one gets burned out and so far it has been a really reliable system for her.
Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.