It’s no secret working from home is on the rise; last year, 37 percent of U.S. workers said they’ve telecommuted (that number was 9 percent in 1995). One common benefit oft-associated with working from home: more flexible schedules to accommodate caring for children. But if you’ve ever tried balancing kids and working from home, you know it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“[Freelancing and working from home] are both a blessing and curse [with people realizing] 'Oh my gosh! I have to do everything,'” says Eva Monsen, board president of the Women’s Business Incubator (WBI), a local nonprofit dedicated to helping women in business and particularly working mothers who are entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers.
Monsen herself is a working mom; she’s the owner of a small data engineering consultancy and parent to a 4- and 7-year-old.
In the spirit of support, WBI will host two pop-up working events that include onsite childcare. Both are scheduled for Mondays — Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 — from 9 a.m. to noon at North Seattle’s Wunderkind coffee shop. Spilt Milk Nannies will watch children ages 18 months to 5 years in a Duplo Lego Room downstairs while parents work upstairs.
The suggested donation at each event is $15 per parent and child pair plus $5 per additional child and $5 per solo parent per event (advanced sign-ups are preferred, but last-minute drop-ins are welcome).
From pop-up to permanent
WBI’s ultimate goal is to create a dedicated workspace with flexible onsite childcare in the Greater Seattle area. In the meantime, the nonprofit plans to open a drop-in preschool and co-working space at a North Seattle church this January. While the specific location has yet to be announced and fundraising is still underway, WBI has said the space will be open Monday through Friday.
“We want working parents to have access to mentorship and a business resource center under this one roof, too,” says Marnee Chua, co-founder of WBI, president of Works Progress, a co-working space in Greenwood that opened in December 2012, and mother of two.
For her part, Marlene Mejia Weiss, WBI’s board vice president, says she’s tired of watching stressed out parents who are trying to figure out how to fit in work and care for their young children.
“It’s the same cycle and something’s gotta give when no one feels like they can do both work and family well,” says Mejia Weiss. "I just want to make it better.”
Mejia Weiss runs a part-time freelance marketing business and is parent to a 4-year-old and 7-year old. “We’re trying to create a village in our more modern spaces,” she says of her work with WBI.
Chua seconds this idea, saying that what can be missing from other parenting groups is a physical location to see each other and a feeling that this is the parents’ space together. While running Works Progress, Chua say she’s met many parents, and particularly women, who say they need childcare.
“I feel like together we can make this happen,” Chua says. “[We can create] a space for parents to work productively while their kids are cared for nearby.”