As a new mum and as a freelance creative producer I am pondering some big questions. I love my career and I love my son. He’s only going to be small for a little while and I want to explore ways to interrogate and subvert existing models of childcare to fit my needs as a nomadic worker and mum in the 21st Century. I believe that existing childcare provision serves industrial 9-5 workers; it is over-priced and mostly average. Young women through vocational training often deliver it and it pays them poorly. Options are limited and subscription is vast.
In short it is no longer fit for purpose.
How I work now that I am a mum.
I am tired all the time, so my working day is shorter. However I am more motivated to do short bursts of productive work and I procrastinate less. I am acutely aware that my time is precious. So I want to achieve more in a short space of time. I feel that I have a better understanding of the scale and ambition of my work and I feel more ambitious now. I want to make positive changes, for him and for future generations. I want to be present in my son’s life and not be under pressure to work long hours and weekends. I don't want to run projects back-to-back, I want time to reflect and to feel that my work is strategic, timely and informed. I understand the crucial importance of networks and communities, both in my working life and in the raising of my son.
The way people work is changing.
There is no doubt that freelancing and independent working are becoming more common in the UK, with an increasing number of people realising there are alternatives to traditional full-time jobs.
Every set of annual labour market statistics since 2000 has highlighted growth in self-employment.
The freedom, flexibility and earning potential that come with being your own boss are proving attractive to many people, including parents who want to create a career that fits into family life.
Many of the reports and articles that call for childcare reform seem to only imagine childcare in economic terms. They nod to issues around poor quality provision and say that there are not enough child places available.
- The government spends approximately £6 billion a year on childcare.
- The cost of sending a toddler to nursery part-time has risen by around a third in some parts of the country, with parents now having to pay £6,000 a year on average.
The state say that more affordable provision will get women back to work and each political party has childcare as a key theme within their manifesto promises.
"The Family and Childcare Trust has called for an independent review of childcare funding so the UK can have a childcare system that delivers for children, for parents, for providers and for our economy and are working with Nesta to look at alternatives."
The Family and Childcare Trust briefing paper is available to view online here.
But let's make the assumption that the way people are working is different so their need for childcare will be different.
Let’s for the moment, imagine that it's not about money - at this point it's about the need and the method. A working financial model can come later after the provision and need has been identified.
Mothership HackerMoms in Berkeley California offer a collaborative space to share tools, intelligence & community plus an onsite childcare programme.
Hackerspace: A collaborative space where do-it-your-selfers share tools, intelligence and community. There are 1,000+ hackerspaces across the world. Mothership HackerMoms is the first-ever women’s hackerspace in the world. We offer onsite childcare through our Hacker Sprouts Kids Education program. We were founded in April 2012 by and for creative mothers and our families. Our expanding community includes hacker moms, hacker dads, non-moms and kids. HackerMoms has been widely covered in the press as a pioneer in the emerging DIY culture that’s now embracing women and children.
F L E X I B L E childcare on a Pay as you go basis for nomadic working mums/dads with onsite co-working.
Parents choosing to home-educate their children is increasing with the Birmingham City Council team apparently having 50/60 new referrals each week.
The home-school community are made up of supportive parents, grandparents, ex-teachers and siblings who co-op learning, childcare and pastoral care, creating unique child centred learning experiences for their children.
A Crowd-sourced Approach...
Crowd-sourced childcare is something that freelance theatre & opera director Poppy Burton-Morgan talks about on her fantastic blog here. Poppy used Facebook to crowd-source childcare for her son, from peers saving her family thousands of pounds in childcare costs and building a strong supportive network of peers, friends and family. She talks openly about her approach and how important it is for her to be a visible parent artist. How she builds childcare costs into funding applications and encourages bringing your baby into the rehearsal room, to meetings and conferences.
It's May 2022 and this is my typical week.
My daughter Minnie is 9 months, she has 2 big brothers Buddy who's 4 and Theo who is 7.
I'm a freelance creative producer and collaborate with a bunch of different organisations to develop my projects. Today Minnie is with her nan for 2 hours in the morning as I have a workshop and then I get an email from an investor asking for a meeting, so I check the co-kid* app to see if there's space for Minnie for 2 hours.
Co-kid is housed in an old biscuit factory in Digbeth with a converted roof garden. It follows the Regio Emmilia approach, an education philosophy that is child centred based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community, through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. It is based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum. It offers flexible pay-as-go childcare, full time nursery places, summer schools, and has an open access 'hack-schooling' programme to support kids to learn through discovery and play. When a kid turns up to co-kid they are immediately entered into digital register which has functions that are much like a project management application such as basecamp or trello, mixed with whatsapp or snatchat. Updates can be sent to parents and grandparents throughout the day which can include video/photos to see how a kid is getting on. It's also a scheduling app so you can see if there's space within 30 mins of needing it and book your kid in on the go. There is a minimum slot of 1 hour and longer slots of up to 6 hours.
In a typical week I use co-kid 3/4 times a week, I also use grandparents, others moms from the network, play schemes, nursery, baby art classes - as the old adage says - it takes a village.
I have got together with Impact Hub Birmingham and Birmingham Open Media to explore the idea of radical childcare and we’d like to invite you to contribute to the discussion on Friday 17th April 12-3pm at Impact Hub Birmingham.
For all the information and to register - http://www.famalam.org/radical-childcare/