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One of the main reasons I became a web worker was so that I could be around when my son got home from school. But I can’t imagine what it would have been like to work from home when he was in preschool. Peanut butter, meet […]

One of the main reasons I became a web worker was so that I could be around when my son got home from school. But I can’t imagine what it would have been like to work from home when he was in preschool. Peanut butter, meet keyboard.

Mike Gunderloy just did a post in which he suggested working at a stand-up desk might be a reasonable way to keep your work out of the reach of children. He also did a great post last year, discussing how to manage having kids at home.

We all agree that, as web workers, we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to participate in the discovery years. But you also have to admit that sometimes it’s impossible to work with a toddler or preschooler around.

If you have children, they probably have a lot to do with your lifestyle choice, so I imagine you don’t want to send your tiny tot off to daycare every day. But to get serious work done, you sometimes need a few hours to a few days a week without kid distractions.

Childcare Options

You could get creative with nanny sharing. if you have schedule flexibility, you could start or join a childcare co-op in your area, or find other at-home parents and do some informal kid sharing.

A few co-working centers that offer on-site childcare have come and gone (TwoRooms in NY, Gate 3 Work Club in Emeryville, CA). Neil Goldberg of WorkClub, which ran Gate 3, says there is lots of action in the co-working arena, and that the topic of childcare always comes up. He pointed out that liability is a major factor when it comes to adding a kid space.

Now there’s a new co-working center called CubesAndCrayons, which Imran Ali discussed just the other day. This one might just survive, due to its location in Silicon Valley. As Imran pointed out, It’s a fully equipped work center that offers professional childcare for kids from three months to five years old. It has all the amenities you’d expect and one I didn’t: a workout room. Nothing like a few minutes on a treadmill to clear your head.

The Bigger Picture: Get Organized

What we really need is a village. We need to be able to coordinate with each other through a site where we could group ourselves and network according to our very specific needs and interests.

CafeMom, the most popular social network for women, has 500 groups for work-at-home moms. I browsed through some of them, but their emphasis seems to be on finding ways to work at home, rather than coordinating or dealing with childcare or other challenges faced by web-working families.

I also went to LinkedIn to see if anyone had created a group for web workers. I looked under “Professional Groups” and “Networking Groups” and didn’t find one. Lots of you belong to LinkedIn, I’m sure. Anyone feel like creating a web worker group there?

Or someone could launch a social network for the web-worker niche. They’re saying that small is the new big; people are starting to gravitate towards social networks that are built around particular interests. It’s relatively easy to do and there are many options available, one of which Mike Gunderloy reviewed not long ago. Someone named Larry started one at Ning, but he’s the only member so far…

There are more of us web workers out there every day. If we were organized, we might even be able to do important things like influence government policy to improve our lot. Right now we’re all like Whos on Horton’s dust speck. We are here!

ed: If you’re interested in any of these ideas, say so in the comments. We’ll see what we can do to make it happen.

  1. I know there’s a lot of churches in my area that offer “Mother’s Day Out” programs for kids, and the local YMCA has day camps during the summer. Both of those are good options. There is even a “by the hour” day care center near me.

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  2. Or move to France. Free daycare for everyone.

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  3. I would be VERY interested in a webworkers-only social network. However, it’d need to be useful, and not just replicate existing social networks. I don’t need another Facebook or LinkedIn; I want a social network with features targeted specifically towards webworkers.

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  4. A very new social network you may want to check out is Workology.com. It’s targeted to web workers and those with nontraditional careers and ways of working. It has just been launched and is UK based, but anyone can sign up and start connecting with other web workers and independent professionals.

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  5. Hi John. All very good suggestions for older kids. I put my son in Y camps during school breaks sometimes and there was also a really good hourly day care center in Austin I used occasionally when he was about 5 (although in general they make me kind of nervous and I wouldn’t put a baby in one). Thanks!

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  6. Hi Ben. I agree completely. What features in particular do you think would be useful, if you don’t mind? I think local groups would be good, for coordinating things like childcare, co-working, happy hours (!). Events calendars that members could post to so you’d all know of events in your area.
    Maybe a training directory or calendar members could post to if there are trainings in the area (software, management, etc.). Anything else? Thanks!

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  7. Yes, Vincent, I know France rocks.

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  8. Hi Francine. I looked at Workology. It’s very clean and appears to be well organized. The members seem to be serious independent professionals for the most part. I’ll take a closer look and definitely keep an eye on it. It’s bookmarked. Thanks for the tip!

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  9. @Ben, why not create your own at WackWall given it’s THAT easy now?

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  10. @Emil – WackWall produces seemingly generic social networks. It’s an okay concept, but I’d rather see a more targeted site.

    @Pamela – All the features you mentioned are good. I’d add features that allow web workers to see and search each others’ skill sets, integration with popular social media (Twitter, Dopplr, etc.), built-in collaboration tools (code review/versioning, whiteboards, etc.), and freelance job postings.

    Actually, I’d love to see WWD involved in such a project. A lot of great ideas come through here and many of them would be perfectly suited to such a site.

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