Good-bye “Hot Mess” Mama! How Affordable Childcare Changed My Life

Poop or chocolate? What day is it? Did I forget pajama day at school? OMG there’s a field trip and I forgot to pack a lunch!!!!

Let me introduce myself, I’m the “Hot Mess” Mom. You might have seen me on that new BuzzFeed video going around Facebook.

Actually… let me rephrase that. That WAS me up until a few months ago…

As a business owner and work at home Mom with a busy 2 year old boy and boisterous 6 year old girl, I was always stretched to my limit and felt like that “Hot Mess” Mom every single freakin’ day. It wasn’t pretty and I felt like my performance in all roles was sub-par… worker, parent, wife, friend. As a borderline type-A (I like things handled well and LOVE to overdeliver), it has been an extremely humbling year and a half as I’ve tried to nurture my family and grow our business at the same time.

Wondersitter would love to share this playdate offer with you. We are now launching Wondersitter Playdates exclusively with PEPS families. Since we believe so much in the principle of affordable childcare, we are making first time playdates FREE! Click here to learn more about our Playdates Program and how you can share a babysitter with your tribe for FREE!

For a while I just trudged through it, but I was feeling more and more desperate. I really needed more childcare support. Within the limits of his job, my husband arranged flex hours and took the kids on Saturdays so I could work; however, this still wasn’t enough. I was working every night until midnight and unsuccessfully multitasking way too much. Most afternoons I was trying to answer emails and texts between keeping the toddler from drawing on the walls, serving the 6 year old an endless supply of after school snacks and preparing dinner. My “me time” was a late night show on Netflix after I had closed out work for the night, exacerbating my sleep deprivation. My husband and I were ships passing in the night. It didn’t help that due to his flexible work schedule he needed to get to work earlier, so he went to bed most nights with the kids. It never really sunk in when my Mom talked about her experience as a Mom with young kids and how crappy it felt at times. Now here I was hanging on to my sanity by a thread…

So now let me explain what I do… our family owns an on-call babysitting business, Wondersitter.com. We provide on-call babysitters to families all over the Seattle area and in 10 other cities across the country. Obviously if I need more childcare, I should be able to get it! No problem right?!

Childcare in this country is in crisis. Affordability and quality are hard to get in the same place. The high cost of quality care is putting a severe economic and emotional strain on middle class families. I lived it, and now with pride, I’m helping solve that problem one playdate at a time.

However, there was one problem… good quality childcare is expensive…. VERY EXPENSIVE! At $18-20 per hour, I could not afford to hire a Wondersitter every day. And don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that wonderful childcare providers should be paid a good wage. I want my care givers to love their work, have lots experience, be profeZicoandSorenssional and truly exceptional and wonderful people.

Then it hit me… why not share my Wondersitters with other Moms and families in the same situation – those who need the extra support but who, like me, cannot afford the high rates? So I blasted out a message on Madrona Moms, Next Door and my daughter’s school listserv asking if families were in need of affordable part-time childcare and would like to share. Almost immediately, I had 2 morning playdates a week locked down with another Mom! She had a toddler the exact age as my son and also desperately needed some regular “me time.” Then I heard from a neighbor (also a work from home Mom) who lived less than a block away who I had never met and we started sharing occasional babysitters when we both needed the extra support. Flash forward to present and I have 5 mornings a week of childcare at $7-$11/hr with 4 different families within a few miles from my house and a pool of wonderful babysitters, AND I have regular date nights with my hubby where I share sitters with friends!

Good-bye “Hot Mess” Mama! Welcome back old me!

 

Changes Worth Mentioning

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Candice has written 2 more great articles for PEPS, Top 5 Tips for Finding and Keeping Wonderful Babysitters and Keep the Sun Shining, with rainy day activities for parents and caregivers.

Since I’ve started arranging playdates (or sharecare) for my children, there have been a few amazing life changes worth mentioning…

  1. I’m better at work. My clarity and productivity have increased! This doesn’t really need explaining, but I’m able to focus on more high value work during the day and leave some of the task related things to night time. I’ve been able to push more projects through that have been on the “to do” list for way too long.
  2. I’m a better Mom. I’m much more present with my children. As an example, after school time is much more relaxing and satisfying for all of us. I’m not as tied to my phone desperately trying to finish one more text or email. I can play; we take our time coming home from school to stop at the park; and I am more grounded and patient with my kids.
  3. I’m a better life partner and friend. I have a stronger relationship with my husband and friends. Monthly date nights with hubby to talk and be together has really helped us to find each other again. It’s still tough finding time, but those date nights help to keep us whole. I have also been able to organize social outings with friends I don’t get to see enough. Group date nights are super fun for the grownups, while the kids get together, eat pizza and have movie night or build huge forts in the living room. Thanks to my new playdates, I also have a growing group of new Moms I can call friends. Now I have a bigger peer group of women who are in the same boat as me. I’ve begun to find a tribe again, something that I was really missing for a while.
  4. I’m a better ME. Because I have more head space, I’ve actually been able to plan regular “me time” for yoga and other things. Time away from our children is so important for healthy families, but too often gets completely thrown out the window when busy work and parenting takes over. I used to be a pretty committed yogi, practicing at least four times a week before kids and at least two to three times a week after my first child. After child #2, it took a year and a half to get back on the mat. Now I’m back at it. Even if it’s only one to two times a week, I’m a much better version of myself and it doesn’t go unnoticed by my family.
  5. I feel great about helping people. I hear great feedback from my share families about the affordability, ease and quality of our caregivers. I get quick texts “I’m SO productive!” during our playdates and can see the relaxing effect of a good yoga class when the other Moms come to pick up their children. Helping feels really good too, especially since I know exactly where they are coming from!

 

Changes for the Kids Too

I’ve noticed a change in my children too…

  1. Trust. My almost 2 year old son has learned to be very trustful of caregivers and different adults in his life. He welcomes a new babysitter with high fives and will take their hand to show off his toys. This is a complete 180 from my daughter at that age, who was very distrustful of other adults and spent most of her time with me. Despite our protective instincts to keep our kids close, recent studies have shown that having multiple high quality caregivers has a positive impact on the development of children.
  2. Socialization and the Power of Play. In the early years, play is the work of children. They are constantly busy with and focused on play. With my busy schedule, I felt I was constantly battling with the kids between getting things done and play. It resulted in a lot of conflict. Now my son spends 4 hours a day playing with his peers and an engaged and enthusiastic babysitter. They build, do crafts, dig in the sandbox, sing songs and do all of the stuff that toddlers are supposed to do. When I get him for nap time, he’s happy and tired. Things flow smoothly. On the days we don’t have a playdate scheduled, I can tell he gets frustrated with just having me around. At a very early age he is also building social skills like taking turns and learning empathy. The introduction of these skills came at a much later age for my daughter who had less social interaction in her toddler years. My daughter is already entering the fast paced school and achievement environment, where the tendency is to schedule every minute of every day. But really she just wants to play too, especially after a long week at school. So we hire a Wondersitter, host playdates with her buddies and all of our needs get met at an INSANELY affordable price. I FEEL LIKE I’VE WON THE LOTTERY!

 

These past few months have been an awesome transformation. We are all doing well, not just me and my kids, but now multiple other families that I’ve helped to find their groove too.

Childcare in this country is in crisis. Affordability and quality are hard to get in the same place. The high cost of quality care is putting a severe economic and emotional strain on middle class families. I lived it, and now with pride, I’m helping solve that problem one playdate at a time.


About the Author

Candice V familyCandice Vleugels is a work-from-home Mama to a 6 year old daughter and 2 year old son. She works as the COO and Seattle Partner for her family’s on-call babysitting agency, Wondersitter. Wondersitter has nearly 20 years experience providing wonderful on-call babysitters to families across the country including families in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York City and Boston. Candice works closely with her brother Chris (CEO), her sister-in-law Rose (Founder), mother Delores (Recruiting) and the rest of the Wondersitter family to guarantee a Wonderful experience for every client and Wondersitter in each and every job.

When Candice is not booking babysitters or working on improving Wondersitter Operations, she enjoys spending time giggling with her spunky daughter, patient husband and busy toddler boy.

Check out the more reliable on-call childcare option in Seattle at wondersitter.com and as for our special offers for PEPS members and alums!


Wondersitter Logo

Wondersitter would love to share this playdate offer with you. We are now launching Wondersitter Playdates exclusively with PEPS families. Since we believe so much in the principle of affordable childcare, we are making first time playdates FREE! Click here to learn more about our Playdates Program and how you can share a babysitter with your tribe for FREE!

Wondersitter is PEPS annual sponsor and provides PEPS parents, staff and alums awesome discounts and first time offers for new clients. For more information visit wondersitter.com and the PEPS Offer page.

  One thought on “Good-bye “Hot Mess” Mama! How Affordable Childcare Changed My Life

  1. April 1, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks so much for letting me share my transformation with PEPS!

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