Karen Greenoe

Childcare on a Budget

Hello hello! Karen Greenoe here! Today we are going to tackle this subject that is on every mama’s mind. CHILDCARE. Whether you are just starting a side hustle, growing your business, or just need a freaking break, getting help with your childcare is so incredibly important. Not only is it important for YOU, but it’s also important for your kiddos. Although time with their parents is precious and helps build the foundation of who they are, social skills are learned from their peers. Setting aside time for your children to socialize positively will help them as they grow and mature in a way that being with their parents cannot. That being said, we all know that childcare can be a challenge, particularly because it is really stinking expensive. I get it! I am in the thick of it with you! In today’s episode we are going to talk a few child care options that you may not have considered that will not break the bank. 


I have two little girls at home under the age of five and I know first hand how hard it is to accomplish much of anything when they are awake. We do try our best to limit TV time as well so turning Elsa or Moana into our babysitters isn’t always the best option either. Our older daughter recently quit napping so other than after bedtime, there really is no time for me to get things done uninterrupted on the days that I am home. And I’m willing to bet if you have little ones, you’re in the same boat.


Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do need to tell you that I am extremely lucky. My husband is a stay at home dad, my mother-in-law lives two streets over and absolutely adores our little girls, and we live in an amazing community of friends with children of similar ages. We’ve also developed an incredible network of babysitters that are always willing to help us even at a moments notice. Because of all of this, it is easier for me to get away from the house to work, but there have definitely been times where we’ve needed a little bit of extra help.


In today’s episode I am going to share three ideas with you that I have used myself that have helped me carve away a little bit of extra time to build my business. All of these ideas are either free, yes my favorite four letter F word, or very inexpensive. Whatever your needs are, it is important to step away from the hustle and bustle of your family to re-center yourself. And of course, its an added perk if you can use that time to grow your business!


 When I was younger, I always pictured myself as a stay at home mom. Mostly, I think that was because my mom stayed home with my brother and me for most of my life. She once told me that either she could be really good at her job or she could be a really good mom. But she didn’t think she had it in her to do both. I totally respect her viewpoint and do believe that she chose what was best for her. This seemed to be a logical path for me as well.


When I was in my mid 20’s and was selling surgical equipment, I was visiting with a friend of mine that was on my sales team. She had just had her second baby and I asked her why she was going back to work. I was genuinely curious. Her answer was one that I believe changed the trajectory of my life. She said that being a working mom made her a better mom. Because she had time away from her children it made her appreciate the time she had with him even more. Something clicked in my brain that day because she and I were so similar personality wise, a new potential path in life all of a sudden made sense to me. I didn’t need to pick one path or the other. I could travel both at the same time.


Again, let me be clear that everyone needs to pick their own path. Not every option is best for every person or every family. Some moms thrive being home with their children and being very involved with their day-to-day lives. Others fleurish at work and then can enjoy the time with your little ones even more. Some moms are somewhere in the middle and have found a perfect highbred of working and being at home.  You are the only one that knows what option is best for you. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.


My first two childcare ideas are focused on community. I truly believe that a strong community is so important in raising a family. You’ve heard the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I think that is just as relevant today as it was back in agrarian culture. So join a mommy group, get to know your neighbors, and reach out and make mom and or dad friends!


Idea number one: the progressive play date. This brilliant idea comes from my good friend Lauren. Her son is just a few months older than my daughter Giles and until recently they lived just down the street from us. She was one of my very first Biz Balance Podcast fans even before it launched so major shout out to you, Lauren! The concept of a progressive play date is this. Get together with 3 to 4 families with kids about the same age as yours. The kicker is that the families need to live within walking distance of you. Think progressive dinner party but with childcare! For one hour at a time, the kids will progress from house to house. Each parent is responsible for the whole gaggle for the hour that they are at their house. It may sound overwhelming to have a larger group of kids at your house for an hour by yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on the ages and needs of the kiddos, they may mostly entertain themselves. I’ve actually found that I’m more able to do things like laundry or dishes with a whole crew of kiddos at my house than I am with just mine. If you don’t think that would be the case for you, plan an craft or activity that would engage the group. At the end of your hour, you escort the kiddos to their next destination and you now have a block of at least 2-3 hours all to yourself! And it didn’t cost you a penny!


This next idea is perfect for you if the idea of being responsible for more than just your kids is enough to send you running for the hills. Idea number two is a group babysitter. Again, get a group of families together and have a singular babysitter watch all of the kids for an afternoon. Even if you pay that babysitter $25-$30 per hour to manage the mayhem, the cost per child is still pretty darn low. Added bonus, more socializing time for your little ones!


On to our final childcare idea! Idea number three is to get your rear end to the gym, specifically a gym with childcare! We joined the YMCA when Giles was tiny and we’ve loved the opportunities that it’s given us…especially the childcare! Our gym offers two free hours of childcare per day, six days a week. That is a goldmine of time right there! So let’s do the math…our membership is about $200 per month for our family of four. Two hours per day six days a week (not that I am suggesting you work six days a week! You need rest too!) equals approximately 51.6 hours per month. Divide the cost per month by the maximum number of hours and you get to a whopping cost of $3.88 per hour of childcare! I don’t care how you slice it, that is a freakin’ bargain! And while you’re there, hop into the workout room a few times a week for 30 minutes at a time and get your sweat on. Those positive neurochemicals that flood your body after a good workout will help you accomplish even more in your working time blocks. Added bonus here is that research shows that by giving yourself short bursts of working time with definite deadlines (like picking your kids up so they don’t sell them to the traveling gypsies) you actually get more done! So grab your laptop and get your butt to the gym! I promise, you will be in good company with the laptop wielding mommas! Bonus tip, before you head to a busy place like the Y to get some work done, sign up for a service like Brain.FM or Focus@Will that currates music that is scientifically proven to help you focus. I’ll link both in the show notes!


There you have it! My out-of-the-box childcare ideas that will buy you back some precious sanity and working time without breaking the bank. If you know a mom who would love these ideas, do her a favor and share this episode with her! Until next time!


Steph Pape Photography

January 6, 2020

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Karen Greenoe