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Freelance parents - what's your dream childcare scenario - top 10 wish list

(28 Posts)
semi Thu 11-Jun-09 13:07:14

I am a marketing/BD/creative -I think I've come up with what I think is a brand new concept in childcare that would allow working freelance mas and pas like me/you to work and look after their little ones - eg in an adjacent room. So the kind of kids cafe with a twist for you in that you've got an official 'office'....albeit it temporary - and visibility of/opportunity to network with others.

Would you be prepared to purchase something like this?

What kind of services would it need to provide?

How often do you think you'd use it?

Would be great to see if there are parents out there who would derive benefit from something like this.

thanks in advance - semi

GoodWitchGlinda Thu 11-Jun-09 13:12:43

YES! I would use it. I have DD in nursery 2 days per week, but often have work for more than that, so have to beg extra nursery sessions or beg grandma. It is a total ball-ache.

But if I had somewhere I could 'drop in' and work for a couple of hours or up to a day at a time with DD being looked after, I would definitely use it.

Ideally would be nice if it could provide food for the DCs so a whole day could be catered for, but not essential as could manage lunch at local caf if needed. As for the workers, all I personally would need is a desk, wi-fi connection, power and coffee smile

GoodWitchGlinda Thu 11-Jun-09 13:13:42

It would need to be manned, though, by childcare staff. I couldn't work if I had to keep an eye on DD through the glass... Presume that is obvious, but just in case wink

Bramshott Thu 11-Jun-09 13:14:45

The kids bit would have to be VERY separate - I couldn't imagine anything worse than hearing my kids either (a) kicking off, or (b) having a lovely time without me, while I was having a meeting . . .

dotty2 Thu 11-Jun-09 14:14:41

For me, the idea of flexible extra childcare you could book at short notice is appealing. My nursery has spaces and I could book extra days when I have extra work, though I try not to as I think it's unsettling to be chopping and changing the number of days they do. It might be better to have somewhere they only ever went for "extra" days, now I think about it. Like bramshott though, I think it would have to be well-separated physically (on different floors, say), and maybe better suited to younger children who weren't so aware that mummy was just upstairs. (Can't really see it working for my 4 year old, but she is exceptionally clingy well-attached!)

Since I also work from home and wouldn't want to meet clients here, it could kill two birds with one stone if it also offered meeting rooms. Though it would have to be cleverly presented so that clients didn't think they were meeting you in a creche!

wasabipeanut Thu 11-Jun-09 14:18:15

Would be very useful if it offered meeting rooms.

Agree with all other comments re separation of functions!

semi Thu 11-Jun-09 15:32:31

great feedback - keep it coming...
I was thinking glass fronted....sound proof - and yes would need one (or more) childcare experts....strict ratio if parents are not overseeing kids - but think this is where the glass bit comes in......
I am thinking incubator type offering....spaceto plug and play laptops....but it has to be commercially viable - as i'll be remortgaging my house to do it!!
pricing models? monthly subscription for a min no of 'sessions'?
what would a session look like - 2 hours blocks? or 1/2 day or even whole day?
my other halfs a chef...so scope to make further sales...
Location? Need parking? Or expect it to be for locals only?

wilbur Thu 11-Jun-09 15:41:53

I would have used something like this when dcs were younger, but now they are at school/nursery, my needs have changed a great deal. I imagine it would mainly appeal to p's of babies and young toddlers. I think you have to decide if you can let the parents leave the premises when their kids are there, ie for a meeting and talk to Ofsted about what requirements they have for that kind of place.

ReallyReally Thu 11-Jun-09 15:46:51

My youngest is just about to start school, so I'm 'growing out' of this, but...

I think I'd find it impossible tbh. And clingy kids would know their parents were still there. I can imagine them clawing tearfully at the glass while you were on the phone.

Bramshott Thu 11-Jun-09 18:17:51

Although reading your title, I would have to say that my "dream" childcare scenario would be a regular caregiver who is known to my child(ren); who is able to be flexible enough to take them at short notice; but in her house not mine because I work from home; and who will bring them back to my house at the end of the day and put them to bed if I'm not able to do it. Oh - that's my CM grin!!!

semi Thu 11-Jun-09 19:58:41

I really appreciate your views..thanks

TantieTowie Thu 11-Jun-09 22:08:59

As wilbur says, makes sense for it to be for pre-schoolers - but I think that's where the demand is - after that they're in school anyhow... except for half terms, holidays etc (though must confess I have no actual experience of what happens when they're in school).

I think I would have used this by now if it was available where I am - I've often ended up typing with DS (2.5) climbing over me, or alternatively sticking him in front of Thomas to meet a deadline. This would be better.

I've also negotiated extra sessions with CM - but that's not always possible. I think what you charge would be related in some way to local average childminding rate (1.5-2x maybe) - but less than what freelancers are likely to be making per hour or it's not worth it.

The children wouldn't have to be able to see you - or they wouldn't accept being left. From their point of view, it would be like being left in a creche, I suppose.

semi Fri 12-Jun-09 08:44:50

this is great -and useful info re pricing at less than hourly rate of earnings is spot on but precisely something that you might overlook when trying to find a price point!

i think pre-3 year olds makes the most sense - since that's when the 'free'nursery places kick in - albeit it for only half a day....

does everyone out there freelancing feel that by bringing in a networking element too that would be useful? ie i know thet are loads of sites out there aimed at smes and startups - but having some kind of physical presence - mixing with other freelancers - would that be part of the pull?

would be useful to understand what type of freelance work people are doing? i know lots of writing pr, marketing etc....who else would require catering for? thanks in advance everyone.....nb in (early for me) at work to ascertain your views...

bathtime Fri 12-Jun-09 14:07:02

Interesting idea.
I'm a freelancer (tv) but I usually need ad hoc childcare for a full day at a time, so really it wouldn't work for me.
How would you deal with staff/child ratios - you need a really high staff ratio for under 1's.
You should look at how some shopping malls run their creches, because the operation of that would actually be quite similar. I know there's one at Centrecourt in wimbledon, and I'm sure there are others. I wonder if some of their costs get offset into a service charge by the mall?

Oh, and in terms of what you'd need: somewhere to plug laptop in/go online, somewhere to have loud private phonecalls. Reception type scenario to receive couriers? Maybe little area to meet a client/colleague?
Could people drop the kids off and then go somwhere else? Would you be classed as a nursery in which case you'd need to comply to various sorts of registration/ofsted etc?
Opportunity to network, see same faces etc would be a good thing - eg if in Soho lots of media mums etc.

Good luck with it though - anything that helps freelancers is a good thing!

MrsMerryHenry Fri 12-Jun-09 14:13:56

I think it would be essential to have flexible childcare for people who don't work the same days every week. Our current nursery is fantastic but you can't change your days without getting an ear-bashing.

I'd be happy for DS to be nearby, but in the same building? Not sure it would work...when we're at home he's constantly running into the office to see DH (works from home). But maybe he'd behave differently if he was outside the home.

Networking idea - brilliant. I'd love to organise stuff to get people socialising.

A French friend of mine (freelance theatre administrator) works in a 'community' of freelancers, where they have a shared office space and network together, share ideas, etc etc. It's a brilliant idea and I've wondered about how to translate it over here. No childcare though - they organise that by themselves. If you want to know more about it, semi, CAT me and I'll put you in touch with my friend.

TracyK Fri 12-Jun-09 16:35:33

Surely if there were other kids to play with and toys etc - they'd be less likely to come looking for mummy or daddy?
I'd be happy to use these facilities - through the summer hols.
God knows how I'm going to get any work done Jun/Jul/Aug!

likessleep Fri 12-Jun-09 19:25:12

I freelance and have a 19 month old son, who is looked after by a CM 2 days a week (and who is flexible with extra days). So I'd fit the pre-school profile.

I love the idea in principle, as work is so erratic. I am unclear those as to whether:

A) My DS would see me. In which case, I wouldn't get any work done, as he'd be back in and out more times than a YoYo

B) My DS wouldn't see me. In this instance, I would doubt my DS would be comfortable being left in an environment without someone he knows? When he started dropping off at CM, it took about 6 weeks until he was comfortable with the situation. He isn't old enough to understand the situation, he just knows that he doesn't know anyone.

Sorry if this is a bit negative. I do love the idea and the short-term flexibility of it is great (and I'd pay more for that!).

Good luck whatever you decide

eviz Mon 15-Jun-09 21:33:04

Semi - I'm sure I came across this business model before (was researching kids cafe/childcare on Google a few months as a potential startup). Not that that should stop you - it proves it's viable!

Good luck!

mrsbaldwin Tue 16-Jun-09 08:55:17

Semi - sorry to rain on the parade but I'm afraid I think you'll go bust within a year, although I'd be pleased to be proved wrong!

For myself:
*Could I afford to rent temp office space? Yes (although I don't)
*Can I afford to pay for childcare? Yes.
*Would I rent temporary office space with temporary childcare attached? No - I'd find another temporary childcare solution eg agency nanny, or use any existing back-up networks I have.

This is because I don't want kids in my work life - I'm sure some on this topic would agree when I say they are both the enemy of income-generating thoughts and the enemy of professional credibility (unless you run a business manufacturing organic baby clothes or somesuch)! I'd rather drop 'em off elsewhere en route to the meeting/office and collect them later. I definitely wouldn't want the client to see them at a visible creche setting next to my office - because I'd prefer clients to think of me as a high-powered strategic executive personage grin rather than a distracted, yoghurt-haired mummy.

So good luck - but I think other forms of temporary childcare (and the fact that some of your potential customer base can afford to use these) are the threat to your business model here.

IKnowWhoYouAre Tue 16-Jun-09 09:29:18

When you talk about glass fronted, do you mean that parents could see their children whilst they're working? I really wouldn't like this, I like to be able to concentrate on my work and not have my mind in two places at once. I don't think there are many DC who would play happily in one room if they could see mummy was otherwise occupied in another room. Children have such a radar for when your focus is elsewhere and they want it back on them.

staranise Tue 16-Jun-09 12:03:26

i'm a freelancer (editor/writer) and have a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a baby so my childcare needs are various and changing!
The problem many freelancers have is that if they could afford quality, flexible childcare, they wouldn't be freelance/working from home. Also many people with younger children also have older ones at school so want to be around for the school run and then need somewhere to work say 10am-2pm, hence work from home - thye may not want to block book a whole day. Would I use an office with a creche attached? Yes, for my sort of work (writing etc) which requires no meetings and rare phone calls it would be ideal for me and my baby but it would have to be cheap as I currently don't use any (I work with baby at home) and TBH, cheap childcare is not normally very good childcare.
But best of luck, I hope it works out for you.

semi Wed 17-Jun-09 15:54:08

lots of questions and lots of scenarios to plan for - with this level of variance i can see that it isn't going to be easy!!

mrsbaldwin - really useful feedback...for this concept, i am thinking more of a service for those who are only just starting out= thus don't know if they can afford office rent or indeed childcare going forward....so allow me to refine this would be for early-stage freelancers... to use on an ad-hoc basis....

nannynick Wed 17-Jun-09 22:33:22

I think you will run into a few problems with childcare legislation. They can probably be overcome... for example, if you limited the amount of time a child could spend in the facility it may be possible to be a Creche rather than a Nursery. For a starting point see EYFS Statutory Framework and EYFS Guidance at Teachnet:EYFS

Planning permission may be an issue... business parks do have nurseries on them, I've seen that. So it's possible they would permit a nursery in the same building as small offices, though it would need looking at - think office would be B1, Nursery would be D1 Town & Country Planning Act Use Classes Order 2005 - Guide to Classes

Would it not be easier to run managed temporary offices, with links to local Childminders & Nurseries, so that your clients can get ad-hoc childcare at local childcare facilities. I would have thought there is more potential for making money from renting out the office space, than providing childcare.

semi Thu 18-Jun-09 17:25:53

I like the latter idea - certainly a way to keep standards high (ie have the experts provide the childcare) and share the risk.
Thanks for the info on the premise classes - this is something I hadn't had front of mind - as yes, bringing two or more services together will require requisite usage permissions....so with the initial concept finding premises adjacent to each other would be an issue. thanks

midnightexpress Thu 18-Jun-09 17:46:36

I work as a freelance editor, working from home. My children are at nursery 3 mornings a week and at the moment DP looks after them the rest of the time. The problem I have is when he is unavailable and I have a job on that requires fairly f/t work - this usually means when DP is just starting a contract and I am ending one or in the middle of one (he's a contractor, so his working also erratic). At other times I can fit work in around the hours I have available, but at those times things become extremely tricky: he can't afford to turn work down, and I don't want to let existing employers down by suddenly cutting my availability. So for me, something very ad hoc, where I could book a day or a block of days/half days, but perhaps only once every 6 months would be very useful. But I imagine that the nature of that sort of care might make it unfeasibly expensive?

I also agree with those who say that the children should not be able to see the parents - I know that mine would demand immediate access to the 'puter to watch the Wheels on the Bus.

For me, somewhere quiet, with fast broadband access, preferably two screens and a phone is about all I'd need.

And cake. Obviously.

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