“So what are you up to these days?”
A completely reasonable question but I’ve been so busy building this new thing that I haven’t spent much time writing about what it actually is. And now it’s been so long that I almost don’t know where to start…
Ten months ago, I had this crazy idea and for a couple of weeks I let it meander around in my head, gathering steam as the pieces connected and coalesced. At night as I lay beside the Bug, waiting for her to fall asleep I would noodle names and business models. I would try to test myself to see if this space was truly what I wanted to get myself into, trying to find a way to dissuade myself from getting involved.
Because it has none of the glamor or pizazz or frankly, the appeal of retail and e-commerce. And unlike those spaces, I didn’t know then the metrics and measures I would need to rely on to make sure I had a healthy, viable venture.
No, in some ways, this category is downright mundane, full of tricky twists and turns. A whole lot of room for misery and not a lot of glory.
But oh, if we get it right? If we fix this in a real way for families everywhere? Some seriously incredible stuff.
I’m talking about childcare.
Huh? Yeah, old-fashioned, run of the mill, babysitting childcare.
Because guess what? It is old fashioned. Filled with inefficiency and archaic practices. Even the apps that are trying to tackle this are just skimming the surface.
No one is digging deep and turning the whole notion upside down.
And that’s exactly what needs to happen. 10 months ago, as I desperately tried to find someone to watch 2 year old Bug and tiny 4 months old Peanut for one Saturday night so that we could go to a party of one of our closest friends – nadda.
I asked every parent I knew – but they were either using their sitter or they didn’t want to share. I get it – what if I hit it off with them and stole that awesome sitter?
So what happened? I convinced our friends to have their babysitter also watch Bug for a couple of hours while I “wore” Peanut to the fancy party in a stylish Baby Bjorn (“Oh I love that jacket – is that new? Oh and that baby carrier – is that this season or last?”)
I was mortified at having to explain that I hadn’t gotten my act together enough to get a sitter like every other sane, social couple.
And it hit me – how very inefficient and insufficient this whole set up was for our modern lives.
Everyone trying to find their own little caregiver teams, hoarding them until the sitters inevitably move on and the cycle of panic begins again.
So. Exhausting. This never ending searching, poaching, hoarding, always living with uncertainty, just so we can go about our daily lives.
Everyone with family to call on never worries about this. But the rest live daily life held under the threat of childcare falling through.
And so I got to thinking. What will future versions of us have as options? Surely not this archaic mess?
What if you could always be certain to get someone you trusted by just sending them a quick text?
Wouldn’t that be liberating and wonderfully efficient? Access when you needed it.
The more I noodled it the more I was certain there was a way. But I needed to test it out. So with $180 and a coupe of weeks I tried out the premise in our little Seattle neighborhood.
And what do you know? Other parents agreed. Families started using it. And then they told their friends.
10 families in one neighborhood has multiplied many times over in many communities. In a few short months we’ve grown beyond what I thought would just be a little test.
Because it’s as simple as this: having access to a great caregiver that fits with your family and is available when you need them to be can quite literally be the difference between a week you conquer and a week you want to erase from your sleep deprived mind.
So yeah. Childcare. So not sexy. But every day I see how we’re changing the lives of families and making a tiny difference.
And with the most incredible team beside me, we’re actually building the model of the future. One that families everywhere can depend on to be there when they need it to be. It’s not perfect, and we have a long ways to go.
But I do know I could have used it on that Saturday last January.