Posted by: whirlabout | November 4, 2008

Sitter Scramble

One thing that irks me about freelancing is the panic that comes with each new job. That panic is not about the work. It’s about finding someone to care for my children.

As a voiceover talent, I work sporadically on a project-by-project basis. My schedule can vary from once a month to five days a week. It all depends on the job at hand. I don’t require regular child care. And for that reason, it’s not always available when I need it.

Most child care facilities in town don’t allow drop-ins. My boys aren’t familiar with the setting anyway. So the few times I have tried this option with my youngest, it was painful for both of us. He cried when I left. He cried while I was gone. And he cried when I picked him up. He’d sleep for hours when we returned home, exhausted. I hear what you’re saying… millions of mothers and children endure this daily. And sure, I understand kids get over the stress once they get used to it. But that’s the problem. I don’t need day care often enough for them to get used to it. I can’t afford it either.

The ideal solution we’ve found is a babysitter in our home (tough during the school year for those midday appointments) or calling on friends who also have children. This is great for my kids, but not always great for friendships. And you can never guarantee it will be available when you need it.

One time I literally called twelve different people, heard back from five, and found just one that could help. This whole process took two days. Frustrating, to say the least. Emotionally draining and laden with guilt for trying to find somewhere to dump (that’s what it felt like) my children. On top that, it doesn’t help business when clients need an answer quickly.

So it’s an avalanche of panic. Where will my children feel safe and happy? Who is available to watch them this time? Have I called on them too often? How much will it cost? Not just money, but my relationships? Will I earn enough to even make it worthwhile? When will that sitter call me back? Tick tock, tick tock… really, client, I swear I DO want to do this work for you.

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