Childcare Tips for Doulas
Cincinnati Doula + Birth Photographer
I've found that one of the most common factors that prevent people from becoming a doula is the overwhelm of working out childcare. Birth is unpredictable, and doesn't usually happen on anyone's time except for the baby's.
I'm the mother of four homeschooled children, right now they are ages 7, 3, 2 and 1, and I've been in the birth arena for many years now. I'm grateful for my husband's career that is not only accommodating and flexible, but offers paid days off from work. But I understand that not everyone has that option, and it's totally fair to worry about how you'll find someone you trust that will be on-call to watch your children.
But sometimes we, especially mothers, stand in our own way. It's probably generations of the patriarchy conditioning us to believe our passions and callings aren't as important to pursue as our male counterparts, but still... we do sometimes stand in our own way. Birth work isn't the only on-call occupation, families from all over are making on-call careers work. If you have a burning in your soul to become a doula, I'm positive you'll find a childcare situation that gives you the availably to head out the door when your client comes calling.
Write out your family's weekly schedule. By writing it down, you'll get it out of your own head and logically see what days and times you truly need childcare - which may be less often than you believe. Is your partner home overnight and weekends? Is your partner home by 5pm during the week? Do your children go to school? While not everyone has a partner, writing out schedules does help to see exactly when you'd need childcare.
Fill in the gaps:
- Extended family. I know it seems obvious, but extended family is a great option for last minute childcare. Do you have a family member who is retired, or stays at home with their children?
- On-call retainer fee. Pay for a nanny's on-call time, even when when they aren't physically watching your children. Being on-call is difficult for anyone, so paying someone to be on-call for your family is very fair. I've seen doulas pay their nanny a fixed monthly retainer fee for being available to offer last minute services, and others pay a guaranteed 80 hours a month at $10 an hour.
- Another doula. Trade childcare with another doula, they already understand how to work on-call, and know how difficult it is to find childcare so swapping services is a great way for everyone to feel supported and sustainable.
- Nanny share. Not all doulas would like to swap childcare, but many are also struggling with finding solid childcare. Get a couple doulas together to pay for a nanny's on-call salary together.
- Au Pair. I know of a few doulas who've hired an Au Pair who receive a weekly stipend from the doula. This is actually an option that even I have looked into in the past, and it may surprise you with how affordable this option can be - especially when you're charging your worth.
This definitely isn't an extensive list of options, there are so many unique ways to make this work. If your career is on-call, how do you find quality childcare for your children on your unpredictable schedule?