A mamapreneur’s guide to finding childcare (without breaking the bank)

Not a month goes by when I don’t get some variation of this message from an exhausted mamapreneur…

How do you do it all? How do you actually find time to run your biz while raising kids? How do you get help without breaking the bank? How do you deal with the guilt of realizing that you just can’t do it alone?

As a mama who has been juggling three littles while growing what is now two businesses, I’m right there with you. The cost and guilt alone was one of the reasons that it took me nearly an entire year after my twins were born to come back from maternity leave and really get my business off the ground!

But I quickly realized that I couldn’t run my business during naptime. I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be when I was attached to my my laptop all day long. I couldn’t be the entrepreneur I wanted be when I was constantly interrupted.

And attempting to get up early or work late… that assumes that my kids are all amazing at sleeping through the night {not so lucky in that department}.

Trying to do it all by myself was a lose-lose situation for my kids and my business.

Getting support was the answer.

Admittedly, finding the right childcare for your kids is one of the greatest challenges any working mom faces. For many mamas, the cost alone is so high that they give up altogether until their littles are ready for school.

Waiting until these little people were in kindergarten wasn’t an option for me… but living on a school teacher’s salary while I took my business online didn’t leave a big budget for childcare. I had to get creative.

And I knew that even 5 dedicated business hours a week would skyrocket my productivity.

With a little creativity, it’s completely possible to find the support you need {and feel most comfortable with} so you can run your biz while raising kids.

Getting Creative {Cost – FREE!}

When my twins turned 1 and I was ready to get back to business, I was only looking for 20 dedicated hours a week where I could focus 100% on my biz. But paying a nanny for 20 hours a week just wasn’t in the budget. So I supplemented those hours with a combo of free childcare:

Daddy Daycare.

Mamas – ask your partner to share those childcare responsibilities! I often found myself as the default parent, thinking that there was no way that I could ask my husband to come home from work and handle the kids by himself.

Then I realized how ridiculous and 1950s that was. My hubby is completely capable of taking care of babies, going grocery shopping, and starting dinner. He can even do laundry! It’s a miracle!

For all the talk about there about being 50-50 partners… I admittedly defaulted to taking on 100% of the kids and home without even considering that my husband could help me out. All it took was an honest conversation and a plan.

The one nice perk of being married to a school teacher was that Jameson pulled in the driveway by 3PM. So from 3 – 5PM each day, he took the kids out to the park, gym, or library, giving me about 10 hours of blissfully quiet time during the week. He also took on the chore of grocery shopping and prepping dinner {GAME CHANGER!}.

Those hours were specifically dedicated to time I needed to schedule anything like client calls and interviews. A babysitter might cancel, but I knew my hubby would show up every single afternoon. It worked so well that we did this for 4 years until he left teaching to come work with me {and yes – he still does the grocery shopping}.

How could this work for you?

:Make a schedule. This varies from family to family – if his schedule changes frequently, this will be more difficult. But where in the day can he give you 1-2 hours of support Can he take over the morning shift with the kids, getting them fed and ready for school Can he take over the bath + bedtime routine Create a family model calendar and assign each parent dedicated times so there is no confusion!

: Delegate some chores. One of the biggest questions I hear from Work-At-Home mamapreneurs during my Fired Up & Focused Challenge is always around getting things done at business and at home. Often mamas are feeling overwhelmed by to-do lists from both that could easily be delegated {and free up precious hours to work on your biz}!

: Don’t hover. He will not parent the same way you do. He won’t fold the towels the right way. It’s easy to hover and point out all the ways that you could do it all better… but mama, he loves his kids just as much as you do. And this gift of dedicated time with Daddy is important for your kids too. Let it go and get back to work!

Keep It In The Family.

Looking back, I don’t know how my parents would have built their businesses or gotten through the years after my moms accident without my Granny or aunts helping out.

When we had kids and realized the cost of childcare, we seriously considered moving closer to family just so my mother-in-law could help out. It just wasn’t in the cards for us.

But if you’re lucky enough to have a mom or aunt or sister who adores your kids, it’s worth a conversation to get a few hours of childcare! And again, you’re giving your child a true gift of being developing a special relationship that will last a lifetime.

How could this work for you?

: Get their support. They love you and support you no matter what – but if you are asking to have dependable hours, it’s really important to get them excited about what you’re doing {and see that this is more than just a fun hobby}. Talk to them about your business. Let them see your excitement. They need to know that they are a part of your success team!

: Make a plan. What days and times will they watch the kids? Will they be at your home or theirs? What activities can they do {trust me – giving Grandma a list of outings will make her life so much easier}?

: Check in regularly. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that things change. Make sure you’re taking some time every month or so to make sure this arrangement is still working out ok! Be prepared to shift the schedule as needed.

My mom is with my daughter 2 days and my sister one day so I’m able to get a good solid 3 full days of work each week. I feel totally lucky to have them?caring for Leona. The 3 day work week is working out well and on the days I don’t have help I work during her naps.

Cailen Ascher

Mama of Leona and Clarity Coach at CailenAscher.com

Babysitting Co-op.

Amazingly – this brilliant idea comes from my dad!

If you happen to have a mamapreneur friend who is also needing a few hours a week of childcare, you could have the makings of a great little babysitting co-op! You simply trade childcare with one another, each gaining some dedicated work hours without spending a dime. Plus your kids get a standing playdate!

How could this work for you?

: Clear expectations. Communication is key for this to work! You’ve both got to be on the same page. It really helps if you have similar parenting styles {if you’re anti-TV for littles but she keeps the TV on all day, this isn’t gonna work}.

: Set the schedule. Again – schedules are so important here! In talking to other mamas, when you have set days you can depend on for childcare, this runs much smoother. You have to depend on one another!

: Business BFF dates. If you’re both working on your businesses – you’ve got a built in business bestie! You’ll both stay encouraged when you’re cheering each other on. Set up time to hold each other accountable so those hours aren’t wasted. Bonus – you can have a mini-mastermind while your kids play with their bff!

Bonus Idea! Gym Daycare.

When I was just getting back into the swing of things, my full-time ‘mommy’ days were Tuesdays and Thursdays until Jameson came home from school. I was doing my best to stay active and joined a local gym. Imagine my surprise when I realized that 1) I could get up to 90 minutes of gym daycare for FREE and 2) the gym had free internet!!!

It’s like they wanted me to drop off the twins, get in a 45-minute workout, then knock a couple items off my to-do list.

We recently switched to a different gym that has one of the BEST kids zones I’ve ever seen {literally my twins BEG to go to the gym} and a separate cafe with WiFi upstairs. I think it cost us about $40 a month to have the kids on our membership but when you break down the hours they are there vs the cost, it’s a winner.

Plus – you can find AMAZING babysitters through the gym daycare.

How could this work for you?

: Do your research. Of course, this only works if you feel comfortable with the quality of the care. I wasn’t ready to try this until my twins were about a year old. Most gyms don’t do naps or snacks or even diaper changes, so it really is only helpful for short timeframes.

: Get to know the staff. One thing that held me back from even going to the gym was worrying about who was watching my kids. Once I got to know the staff, I felt so much better and even made sure we were going when our favorite people were working.

: Stick to quick to-dos. If you can’t get the task done in under 30 minutes, then don’t start it here. These short bursts are perfect for tasks like answering emails, scheduling social media updates, or research for pitching an interview.

Outside the Home.

As my twins got bigger {and much more noisy}, it was time for us to explore childcare options outside of our home. I’ll be the first to admit, I was really nervous about this and it took me several months to just get used to the idea once we started looking at options. The key for me Talking to other moms and families who went to the same place.

In-Home Daycare.

Growing up, I remember going to my ‘Nanny’ every day with my sisters. Nanny wasn’t a relative – she was a sweet lady who kept a handful of kids in her home so their parents could get to work. Between my Granny and Nanny, my parents pieced together enough childcare hours until I was old enough to go to preschool.

I didn’t really consider finding an in-home daycare with the twins but we lucked out when we moved into our new home across the street from another family with small children. Our kids started playing together and we learned that our neighbor watched couple of other kids a few days a week.

During the month of December, when our regular nanny Lauren was dancing with the Richmond Ballet, Mitchell spent a couple of weeks playing at the neighbors. It’s been amazing to know that we have a backup in case other plans fall through.

How could this work for you?

: Ask for referrals. When my sister was looking for an in-home daycare for her baby so she could get back to work, she realized that some of these providers work in a gray area of the law. You’ll likely find the best option when you ask your fellow mamas for referrals and do your research.

: Get to know them. The best part about living across the street was that we could get to know them and feel confident about the level of care. But you can get to know the caregiver by spending a day or two with them and talking to the other families.

Daycare and Preschool.

After nearly three years of the twins being home with me, they were ready to go to school. They were needing more time with other kids and I was needing more peace and quiet!

Our last house was literally 3 doors down from a private family-run preschool. We didn’t know it at the time, but this little place was an institution in the neighborhood. Open for over 60 years, there were generations of families who would come back just so their kids could go there.

We started with just a half-day of preschool, but by the time Mitchell was born, the twins were ready for a full day. It was a blessing to me in the months leading up to having another baby to have time to prepare and take better care of myself… and once Mitchell came, I loved that I had just as much 1×1 time with him as I did with the twins {actually, he probably got more because he didn’t have a twin competing for mama!}.

How could this work for you?

: Make a list of requirements. Does your work allow you a typical 9-5? If your hours are much earlier or later, this may not work for you. Do you want to cloth diaper? Some daycares will only do disposables. Is your child potty-trained? Our preschool was great that they helped potty-train – but many won’t. Make sure you’re really clear on what you need before you start the hunt.

: Read the contract. Each place works differently. Some daycares are super flexible and you only pay for days you need. Our preschool tuition was split over the entire school year – we paid the same amount each week, regardless of sick days etc. Some locations even charge you if you’re late to pickup! Make sure you know what you’re signing up for so you can plan accordingly.

What we have found works best for our family is a good ole’ traditional daycare center. We aren’t in a place to pay a private nanny, and my schedule is such that I’m not 100% at home for work anyway.

The hours are flexible. He can be there from 6:45am-6:00 pm if needed, though we’ve never left him there that long. But it helps when I have an early AM class and my hubby has to be at work by 7, he can still do the drop off, but I can sometimes take our son to swimming or music class at 9:00 and drop him at school as late as 10:00. All this flexibility is built in and doesn’t require additional scheduling with someone.

Plus I LOVE all the social interaction he gets and all of the things he learns at school. They learn colors, parts of the body, sharing etc. AND we’ve been super lucky to find a daycare that’s open to our cloth diapers!

Sabrina Carlson

Mama, Adventurer and Yoga Teacher at SabrinaCarlsonYoga.com

Summer Camps.

Once your child goes off to school, nothing throws a mama off her game more than summer vacation. The summer slowdown is a sure thing if you haven’t made a plan to keep the kids busy.

For the past two summers, our twins attended summer day camp at their preschool. Instead of committing to a full summer of childcare, we were able to choose 2 weeks at a time for camp where they took tennis in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. 

Now that they are bigger, there are camps for nearly everything under the sun. Ballet camps. Soccer camps. Drama camps. It’s a great way to let the kids explore an interest while you’re focused on your biz.

How could this work for you?

: Ask your kids. What are the interested in doing this summer? Where are they already involved? We learned that my daughter’s ballet studio was running themed camps all summer… and so was my son’s soccer team. Even our gym is running kids fitness camps!

: Ask your friends. I’ve heard about so many amazing camps that my friends have kids enrolled in this summer. A quick post on Facebook might yield several fun ideas. Even though my kiddos are too little for many of them, I’m filing those ideas away for next year!

My girls are in school all day and now that summer is here I am using camps to keep them busy some of our days but mostly I enjoy hanging with them because, to me, the whole point of my career is to be able to be their mom when they need me.

Shawn Fink

Twin Mama at AbundantMama.com

Help at Home.

As a breastfeeding mama, keeping my babies close by was a big priority for me in their first few years. Just all the complications that come with breastfeeding twins… I really didn’t want to be attempting to pump enough to send off to daycare.

The biggest challenge The expense. This can easily be the most expensive option as many babysitters and nannies start at $10 an hour. You’ve really gotta make sure that you’re focused on that $100 an hour work to feel like you’re justifying the expense!

Mother’s Helpers.

If you’re looking for help in the afternoons, a mother’s helper could be a perfect fit! This is usually a teenager who is a ‘babysitter-in-training’. They aren’t quite old enough or experienced enough to be home alone with an infant or toddler… but are perfect at keeping little ones entertained while you work.

A big plus, They aren’t nearly as expensive as a nanny who is looking to make a liveable income. When it’s a middle-schooler looking for some extra pocket money, you’ll be able to pay much less per hour.

How could this work for you?

: Put the word out in the neighborhood! I discovered that our new neighborhood has a Facebook group and have posted several times to find a back-up babysitter during school breaks when my regular nanny headed home for the holidays.

: Give a list of activities. Most kids at this age aren’t sure what to do – but if you give them a stack of books, crafts, and some other ideas, they will feel much more confident.

: Remember – you’re right there! Especially if you have a baby or toddler – it was a huge comfort to me to know that if my sitter needed my help, I was right there. But also remember that you’ve got work to do! Try to limit interruptions and get used to letting someone else play with baby!

Nanny Share.

When I first started looking for an extra dedicated 10-15 hours of childcare, I knew I wanted a regular nanny. The problem, I couldn’t afford even a part-time nanny!

Because I had nannied for several families through college… I knew that a great nanny is hard to find and KEEP. When they are depending on this job to pay their bills, you’ve got to commit to them just as much as they commit to you.

It was serendipitous that another twin mamapreneur friend emailed me asking if I knew any babysitters who were available in the mornings. I realized that if we could work together, we could share an amazing nanny who was looking for a total of 25 hours a week. For an entire year, I had an amazing nanny who split her time between our two families. It was the perfect way to attract and keep a part-time nanny.

How could this work for you?

: Put the word out. My mama friends are always calling me to ask if I know of any amazing babysitters or nannies. Let your community know that you are looking for a DAY TIME nanny to share with a friend.

: Commit to a schedule. This doesn’t work if your schedule is gonna change ever week or month. You have to be fair to your nanny and your friend! I highly suggest committing to a schedule you can stick with for 3 months and give everyone at least a couple of weeks notice before needing to change the schedule.

: Take your time interviewing. Your nanny is your greatest team member. Not only do you have to feel 100% confident in her {or him!}, you’ve got to depend on this person so you can run your biz. It might take trial and error to find someone who is a perfect fit.

Full or Part-Time Nanny.

For my family, it’s been a combination of having an amazing nanny + preschool that has helped me the most over the past 5 years as a mamapreneur.

I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s HARD WORK to find the right person. When the twins were babies, I went through probably 4 nannies before we found someone who was a perfect fit {and Jenny had fun going between my twins and my friend Ellie’s twins that year}.

Then when Mitchell was a born, I interviewed probably a dozen before I found Lauren, our nanny who stayed with us for the last 2 years. She has been an absolute perfect nanny – she’s been a trainee at the Richmond Ballet {which basically is college for ballerinas} and needed to pay her rent while pursing her passion. As the oldest of 7 kids, she was a natural with the kids. We just said goodbye as she went off to take on her next role as a professional ballerina!

How could this work for you?

: Write a job description. After going through so many babysitters and nannies with my twins, when it came time to find a nanny for Mitchell, I was all business. I wrote a job description {see below} and posted on Craigslist, Care.com, and SitterCity.com.

: Interview like a pro. Learn from my mistakes – don’t hire the first potential nanny you talk to! I talked to a dozen potential nannies on the phone, asked a handful to come meet us in person, and invited 2 to have a test morning with us. Because I was asking for at least a 10 month commitment {through the school year}, I wanted to be 100% sure it was the right person!

: Slow to hire, quick to fire. If for any reason you feel like it’s just not working for you or your family, let them go. We tried one amazingly sweet woman – who was constantly late or canceling because of her own kids. We tried another young mama who brought her baby over to play with mine – it was CHAOS. You know when it’s not a fit. The perfect person IS waiting for your family!

I have a nanny 3 days a week. She helps with my two littles ages 3 and 9 mos. She has been with us for 2.5 years. She does all the laundry and majority of the cleaning during nap times or when the boys are playing on their own. She keeps a great schedule and takes them to the park for 2 hours and they have lunch there too. She also helps with meal prep once in a while too. I use the time she is with my boys to work, work out or spend time with or carpool my 13 year old daughter.

The baby is still nursing so we work around his nursing schedule and I help out him down for his naps. We trade off taking care of the kids during the day and I will spend extra time with my 3 year old when I can sense he needs xtra TLC.

Nathalie Eckdahl

Mama of 3 and Podcaster at BizChix.com

As with any team member, you’ll find the best people when you have 100% clarity on what you need and who you’re looking for. A well-written job description to share with your friends and post online is a great way to filter out the wrong people! Here’s the one we used 2 years ago when looking for our nanny:

Loving morning sitter for adorbs baby boy in our home! 


Dear amazing loving babysitter,


We are a young family with 3 year old twins and 7 month old baby who can’t wait for you to come play with us!


I am a work at home mama, who runs a full time consulting business serving clients around the world. My hubby is a teacher in Chesterfield. Our children are some of the most laid back kids you’ll ever take care of… and since the twinlets are in preschool, I just need help with le bebe.


We’re looking for a babysitter who loves to read to children, take them to the playground, and likes to be silly with hand puppets. We love music, so if you love to sing and dance, these kids will love you. We have a big fenced in backyard to play in, and are just a 10 minute walk away from an awesome playground {with awesome swings for babes}.


We will only work with someone who respects our parenting style fully — no tv {we don’t even have one}, all organic food, mostly educational play. Bebe just started crawling and is excited to start walking soon!


Other than playing with kids, you’ll also be responsible for picking up the main living area {mainly helping to keep the toys under control}, feeding a snack + bottle, cleaning up after meals {highchairs and kitchens tend to get crumbs everywhere}. May also occasionally be asked to switch a load of laundry or vacuum the crumbs off the floors during naptimes {yes, they still take those}.


It is essential that once we decide on hours and days, you show up on time. While I have tons of flexibility as a work-at-home mama, I can’t work with you if you don’t show up, cancel last minute, or are always late. This is essential for our working relationship — I need to depend on you!


We need you to start asap! Days and hours can be a little flexible, but would love to have your help at least 20 hours for 5 days a week {maybe more or less depending on what’s going on in my biz, but 20 average}. We’ll let you know at the beginning of the month if there are any changes {like school days off, holidays, vacations} and need you to let us know in advance any days that you know you need off. This is a long term position — the entire school year — so you’ll be a part of our family from now through June.


Compensation will be discussed if we feel that you’re a perfect fit for our family and is generous for a part time sitter for a full 9 month position!?


Please apply if you are:

— Active and energetic

— Like to play with toddlers

— Like to read, color, play with puzzles

— Enjoy walks to the park

— Laugh a LOT!

— Are super dependable!

— Love dogs — we have a very sweet dog who loves to cuddle and play with the kids.


Please DO NOT apply if you are:

— Going to sit on the sofa all morning

— Going to be on your phone all day

— Don’t have dependable transportation

— Won’t be here on time in the morning

— Need to bring your child with you. I’m sorry — I tried this before and it just didn’t work for me. I really need the extra little bit of picking up around the house to keep things under control, and when we’ve had babysitters bring their kids, that never happened.


If this sounds like a position for you, please email us! You can reply with your name, phone number, hours you’re available, and please let me know why you think you’d be a great fit for our family! Also please include 3 references of prior childcare experience {or at least quality references, not your mom or something}. If you sound like a great fit, I’ll get in touch with you in the next week or so to schedule an interview with both myself and my husband and our kids at our home.

Remember – you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars a month to find time to work on your business. And you don’t have to wait until your littles are in school before you give yourself permission to go after your dreams. With a little creativity and support, you can make it happen.

If you know a mama who needs some help, please send this post her way! I’d love to hear from you in the comments – how have you been creative in finding childcare?