Among the more glaring struggles of working parents is finding affordable childcare during the workday. While it might seem like parents who freelance have it easier because they often work from home or have more flexible schedules, that comes with its own unique challenges. Now, some co-working spaces are now offering childcare options.
As reported by the New York Times, freelancers—more often than not—have unreliable salaries and unpredictable work hours, making hiring a nanny or full time childcare unaffordable and impractical:
“Parents are in a real bind,” said Selena Beal, founder of the Workaround, a program for parents in East Williamsburg. “They’re looking for something, but they can’t afford a nanny.” The problem is particularly acute for parents of infants, for whom day-care options are very expensive.
For Williamsburg, Brooklyn parents able to pay $150/month, the Workaround organizes 15 hours per week of desk time at a local co-working space, which provides the quiet and accommodations of an office to freelancers and people who would otherwise work at home. Members of the Workaround also “participate in a babysitting swap, earning babysitting credits for the hours spent watching one another’s children.”
The Workaround isn’t the only company that’s attempting to cater to freelance parents:
It is no wonder that CoHatchery, a co-working space that also offered child care, managed a waiting list 500 names long during the brief period it was open in Park Slope last summer. Parents dropped their children off at a neighborhood day care center and crossed the street to toil in CoHatchery’s sleek co-working space with its lacquered white tables. But the experiment was short-lived, and when the company’s sublease expired at the end of the summer, it folded. Its founders still hope to reopen in a new space in Manhattan sometime next year, but it won’t be cheap.
Unfortunately, as with other current childcare options, these parent-friendly co-working spaces, though certainly a positive move in the right direction, are really only available to parents within a certain income bracket or those who have time to take on a second job of babysitting other people’s children in exchange for 15 hours of desk space. For low-wage workers (predominantly women), affordable childcare still remains out of reach.