We are theatre professionals and mothers: Kristina (writer and a mother of a 10 month-old) and Tina (director and a mother of a 5 year-old and 3 year-old). Together we started a company notnow Collective which is dedicated to integration of parenthood and career.
When we first started talking about problems which we faced as theatre professionals and mothers I remember feeling very lonely (you know that feeling, when you think that you are the only person in the world with such a problem, how foolish!). I was so grateful that I had Tina as an experienced mother to discuss, compare practises in different countries and dream about utopian solutions. But then we started to connect with other people, and that was a journey of its own. In April we attended the first conversation about radical childcare in Impact Hub Birmingham and I felt so understood (you know that feeling, when you know there are other people who share your views, how great!). We were all talking about the same thing: The world has changed, there are so many people who don't work 9-5 and yet, childcare is not following their needs. We need more flexibility.
A couple of months later and the radical childcare pilot program was there! Organised in Impact Hub Birmingham it gave a perfect opportunity for parents to test what childcare might look like in the future.
Having never tried traditional childcare, it is difficult to compare, but when I was considering putting my baby into the nursery I experienced the feeling of anxiety that every mother has when she has to leave her kid for the first time. Co-creche was relaxed and easygoing, it gave me opportunity to work, while knowing that my kid is just upstairs and I can visit as many times as I want; just to see him through the glass door happily playing with other kids or getting inside to give him a cuddle when he was upset or even breast feed him if he was hungry. I felt I was there for him, and I didn't just leave him in a nursery and went. It was also good to get to know lovely ladies, childcare professionals who were there every week to take care of our children. One of them had her baby in the co-creche which felt more personal, like a community.
We had a three hour slot to work in an inspiring space of The Impact Hub co-work office. You can not believe what two mums can do in 3 hours! Seems like after having kids we get some super-power over time and we become focused and productive, making most of the time that we have. Usually we juggle with working from home, surrounded with nappies and toys, baby cries and feedings. Being surrounded with other workers, amongst desks and computers, coffee machines, flip charts and books was a great feeling, it felt very grown up. And I think that is what every mum needs, some grown up time.
Co-working was not just great because it gave Tina and me time to work with no interruptions, but also to connect with other mums who were working at the Hub. The pilot project started a conversation and we all shared our experiences. I remember one mum saying „I don't want to be stay-at-home mum, but I also don't have typical go-back-to-work job“. As freelancers, we really do ask ourselves – is there a third way, can we have it all? I suppose so, but only if we start a revolution and question everything they told us about childcare.
I have been juggling kids and work for over 5 years now. I work in theatre, so, unlike my microbiologist friend who works in a laboratory, or my engineer friend, or my physiothearapist friend, I was able to occasionally bring the kids to work with me. Being a nomad and travelling mamma, I also have some experience of various nurseries, both in UK and abroad. Or rather: I have experience of the constant battle with their policies (which would either ask us to keep paying to keep the space, or would ask us to leave as we did not fit into their scheme).
This is a snippet from my experience of Radical Childcare.
An evening before the first session. Kids are in bed. Sebastian is 3 and has never been left in the nursery. Pascal is 5. They are both apprehensive. Sebastian does not like the idea of being left somewhere, although on occasion he has to be. Pascal has experienced several childcare options and is well aware that this will be a different setting.
- So, where will you be working? – he asks me.
- There is an office space downstairs, this is where I will be. You will be playing upstairs. So if you need me you can ask someone to get me.
- (Pascal smiles. Works it out. It's different than the usual thing when I go. This is nice.)
- (Sebastian:) So, can I be where you are?
- I am sure. But you probably won't want to.
(On the day neither Pascal and Sebastian did not want to see me throughout, or leave after our 3 hour slot. At lunchtime they sat with other Impact Hub co-workers, chatted and made friends amongs them. Pascal told one lady he is home educated and interested in space. So she suggested to him a trip to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.)
It took me a few years of motherhood to realise that working and mothering will have to co-exist. Not only that, they should positively feed into each other. Maybe my guilt vanished as I saw both of my kids rather benefiting from the erratic and nomadic life, and being drawn into a lot of creative stuff that I do. Although it is far easier working without their interruptions, my reality does not allow for the cost of private childcare or baby-sitter.
For me Radical Childcare means creative and safe space for both me and my kids. With this unique formulae I become more productive, focused and my work, therefore, better. And my kids learn what it means to be a happy worker. I think it is an invaluable investment into our present and our future.
notnow Collective was founded by Tina Hofman and Kristina Gavran out of necessity to make our caring roles visible and explore ways of integrating parenthood into both professional practice and quality theatre experience.