It Takes a Village

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.

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