Have you been struggling to figure out how to manage the new temporary “normal”
Where your kids are home, but you’re still working full time?
And, summer’s just around the corner, which means that distance learning is coming to a close… So, what the heck are you going to do with all these video conference calls and no camps, activities, play-dates, and all the things?!
Black-Tie Babysitting‘s CEO, Hope Oriabure Hunter, has some fantastic suggestions to manage full-time parenting while working from home full-time (because who knew that would be a thing?!)
Normally, Black-Tie Babysitting provides professional event and wedding childcare, but today, Hope will be helping you navigate through this confusing/challenging time (and, keep reading to see how this fantastic business was born)
Why did you decide to start your own company?
My sister was getting married in 2009 and wanted an adult-only reception. I was pregnant with my fourth child at the time of her engagement. I explained to her how difficult it was for parent guests not to be able to attend weddings without their children.
So, she challenged me to come up with a solution.
I hired my then part-time nanny and a few of her friends to watch the kids in a separate room. I packed my children’s toys, a slower cooker of hot dogs, and made a sign-in sheet.
It was a win-win for everyone involved. My sister got her adult-only reception and the families got to attend the event together. At the end of the evening, the parents started asking the name of the company that provided babysitting.
I immediately claimed it as my business.
I didn’t have a name for the business, a plan, or a card, but it was mine. I told the parents to write down their email addresses and I would forward them some information in the coming weeks. I had some talented friends to create my first logo and help me build my first website quickly.
Do you have a favorite part of what you do?
I love seeing families get to attend events together!
What is your favorite part about what you do?
Black-Tie Babysitting, provides onsite professional childcare services at events and weddings. We love serving families at our events so they can attend together. We are fierce UNO players and hope to teach every child who doesn’t know how to play.
We go beyond the obvious (kid’s table) to create an experience. We believe we have a wonderful opportunity to create memories with and for our children guests.
Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you personally?
I was a very shy child and often played alone. However, I had a strong sense of family and knew I belonged to them. This is why I believe every family should be celebrated.
I loved playing with Barbie. I am very particular about the toys we select for our children guests.
We have classic board games but also like playing P.E. games from my childhood. Typically, the kids have never heard of them and it’s so fun to see them enjoying something outside of technology.
Working From Home with Kids: Video-conferencing tips for parents
Experts in cities and states are convening to figure out how to reopen. But what about your household?
Many of you are still working from home. What are you going to do with your kids? Now that most school years are ending, you will not even have schoolwork to subsidize babysitting. It is going to be even more of a challenge to have video conference meetings for work with the kids nearby.
Hope Oriabure Hunter, owner of Black-Tie Babysitting, a wedding- and event-sitting company, is an expert in solving the challenges involved with blending children into adult spaces, and she has some tips to help survive the webcam work world.
Thanks, Hope! We can always count on you to help us out!
A Guide for Parents on Video Calls
1. Scout out your meeting location. Before Black-Tie provides childcare at an event, we scout out the location. Typically, we check the room for the number of outlets (for outlet covers), we count the number of exits, and we ask to have the site remove large pieces of furniture that crawlers and new walkers may run into.
In your home, try to have your video-conference in a place with a door that has only one exit and entrance so children can’t unexpectedly enter. You want to be sure it is clear of toys and child gear. Remove anything that might cause you to get distracted, and bring in anything that will help you get into a business mindset.
2. Establish “power hours” with your kids to help them understand you are off-limits while you are on a call. Have this conversation with your kids the day before your call and reinforce what the power hours mean the day of the call.
For older children, you may have a sign on the door that has the call’s start and end times, or caution tape to visually drive the idea you are not to be disturbed. For younger children, set a timer for them to keep and let them know when it goes off, they are free to visit you.
Give yourself at least 15 to 30 minutes past the end time, because meetings can run longer than expected. Be realistic about your child’s temperament. If you know your child can’t be without you for more than 30 minutes, explain to the meeting organizer that you have a hard stop.
If you can, enlist the help of your partner, spouse, or older children to assist with the younger ones. I have my husband move to the living room when I have calls in my bedroom, so he acts as a physical barrier between my kids and me.
3. Try your best to have “clean audio.” I know it can be hard to get children to be quiet, but others on the call may be distracted by loud TV’s, video games, or talking toys. Consider investing in a wireless headset.
Also, mute yourself when you are not talking. When possible, schedule meetings during naptimes or downtimes for your kids. My children are much louder in the mornings than in the afternoons, so most of my calls are during the afternoons and early evenings.
4. Establish activities and toys your kids can play with only during meeting times. Explain to them, they can lose the privilege to play with these things if they do not follow your power hour rules. Make sure these are coveted toys or activities.
If your activities include screen time, make sure they are activities your children will not have questions on, and can be self-directed. This isn’t a time to try out new games or activities. In theory, it may hold their attention, but the flip side is that they could also get frustrated easily.
5. Set expectations for your participation at the beginning of the call. You may not have the ability to be in a separate place or you have your children right beside you. In this case, join the call with your camera and introduce yourself.
Then, explain that you have little people nearby and will be turning off the camera and muting the phone. However, be available to unmute if called upon.
Also, utilize the chatbox for questions and comments if your house becomes too loud to unmute.
Make sure your profile picture is recent and appropriate because your other co-workers will be staring at it for the duration of the meeting.
6. Give yourself grace and be nice to your kids. Kids are unpredictable, and sometimes they do things that are out of our control. These things make memories and laughable stories later, but can be extremely stressful while they are happening.
Understand your kids have lost their school year, birthday parties, and sports seasons. The last thing they need is for you to lose your temper. If you try these ideas or ones of your own and they don’t work, it’s okay.
We are all trying our best to make sense of this new normal. You are doing a good job.
We would love to hear if these ideas worked for you and any other ideas you have. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org subject line #YesWithKids.
PS: Hope Oriabure Hunter is releasing her new book this summer called Bring the Kids, Leave the Headache: A comprehensive guide for bringing kids to grown-up events.