CHILDCARE

Uggghhhhh this one is tough, I'm not gonna lie. Regardless of whether you are on location & away from home or working locally it's tough (and expensive) to leave your kids all day while you go off and battle the endless war that is filmmaking. And when you're not working what do you do? Do you let your beloved nanny go? Do you lose your spot in daycare? Do you keep paying for childcare even though you're not working? Lots of questions and lots of different ways to approach it. I'm in no way suggesting that my way is the best way, in fact if you find something more efficient let me know! So much of it depends on whether or not you have a partner who can help out and what their schedule is. My husband works full time in advertising and travels out of town a lot for work so he was never an option of helping out with the childcare. But if your partner freelances maybe you'll have better luck in being able to balance your schedules so one person is "on" while the other is "off" and not have to pay for childcare.

NANNIES vs. DAYCARE

 My son with the other kids in his playgroup that our nanny set up for him. She also texts me pics of my little all day which is nice.

My son with the other kids in his playgroup that our nanny set up for him. She also texts me pics of my little all day which is nice.

I went with a nanny because the daycare hours just didn't work with my or my husband's schedule. The inconsistency of sometimes needing to wake up at 4am or getting home at midnight certainly did not work with daycare hours, especially when my husband was in Toronto for a week. I needed a childcare situation that was flexible. This is not to say that the nanny situation is without challenges. You know how we don't get our call time until the night before? Yeah....that sucks for us and for the nanny too. But if you are lucky to have a partner at home that you can tag team the situation with, along with the nanny it'll be all good! If you don't have a partner at home and you are single mom'ing it don't be shy to ask your friends and family and neighbors for help.

Even though I have a full time nanny I've had my friends & family help out when my husband is out of town and my nanny needs to get rest. I've gone down the list of everyone in my family & my in-laws to come into the city to help out for a week here and there when I am scheduled for overnight shoots etc. Once I go through the list I start back at the beginning. It seems obvious "ask for help" but really...you have to ask for help, as much of it as you need. It's amazing how many people you can string together to cover the childcare hours. You might feel funny asking the entire world for help but remember you won't ALWAYS need this much help, it's only temporary. As your career grows you'll have more control over your hours and your kids won't always be so helpless ;) They'll get older and eventually learn how to feed themselves. Your friends and family will understand, they love you and they will help, utilize them!

It's cliché but it really does take a village...


THE COST 

As you can imagine, leaving your little baby with a stranger is tough. Once you find someone you can trust and your baby loves, it's really hard to let that person go...even if you're not working and you don't "need" them. Even though we are freelancers, most nannies are not & as baby gets older and becomes aware of people it might get harder for them to acclimate to new caregivers over and over again. 

I decided to hire my nanny full time...yup that's right. She works every week whether I work or not. I couldn't handle the stress of trying to find a new nanny every time I got a job and then letting them go every time a job ended. That's just me. I discussed with my nanny very thoroughly my situation, my unpredictable schedule, and my need for a flexible caregiver. We also discussed a minimum amount she would get paid per week when I am not working and then when I am working, since the hours go way up she makes way more.

On the weeks when I am not working but still on the hook for childcare I spend those hours child-free; interviewing for jobs, cooking & freezing food, doctor appointments, paying back favors to everyone who helped me out with baby while I was working, reading child rearing books, etc - basically trying to get my house back in order before the next job begins. 

It's expensive and it makes taking jobs more difficult. The rate has to be more than what you pay your nanny and good full time nannies in NYC get paid a lot. A lot of them also expect paid vacations, paid sick days, paid snow days, holiday bonuses, paid holidays etc. Of course you can set up any agreement you want with your nanny. My nanny also helps out with light housework, it was something we agreed upon upfront. Small things like doing dishes, emptying garbages, and laundry make a huge difference. Some people even have their nannies cook food for their kids. And did you know babysitters are different than nannies? Babysitters are like the freelancers of the NYC childcare world. They are more part time, don't expect the benefits of PTO like the full time nannies. It might be harder to piecemeal the schedule together with a part-time nanny but if you're on a tight budget it might be a good option. 

Basically think about the situation you want; nanny or babysitter? How much are you willing to pay? Hourly or weekly? Should they help with house chores or not? etc etc. It's helpful to have a vision for what you will need before starting the interview process.


NANNY SHARING

The idea of nanny sharing is alluring. In the beginning I shared my nanny with a friend who was also freelancing. It was great when I wasn't working because I didn't have to pay out childcare because my friend would take our nanny for more hours during those times and then vice versa. When I was working full time I hired an additional short-term nanny for the days that my nanny was with my friend. It got a little complicated and ultimately I found juggling everyone's schedule too stressful. That's just me tho, I get overwhelmed by stuff like that. I know a lot of people who do nanny shares and it totally works out for them. It's a great option if you don't mind sharing your nanny and can be flexible with another family's schedule.


ON LOCATION CHILDCARE: Away From Home

Getting family to help out a week here and a week there is always the first call to make if that's an option for you. Chipping away at the weeks you are paying someone is always awesome. If it's not then hiring locally, while scary is totally doable. When I traveled to Rhode Island for a job I signed up for a profile on Care.com - I listed my ad and outlined all the challenges with it. I sifted through resumes and emailed back and forth with people while I was still in NYC. 

 The nanny I hired in Rhode Island for my first location job - from Care.com ;)

The nanny I hired in Rhode Island for my first location job - from Care.com ;)

I had 3 interviews set up for the day I landed in Rhode Island. 1 person cancelled on me so I just ended up interviewing 2 women. I chose Kathryn (pictured above) because I had a good feeling about her. I of course checked out her references as well. Care.com does a nice job of outlining profiles on caregivers, giving you the ability to filter and choose certain things you want your caregiver to have (CPR certified etc). Choosing a caregiver from the internet is scary, trust me I know! I was freaking out about it for sure. I was super lucky that my situation with Kathryn worked out. 

Breastfeeding (or not)


LACTATION CONSULTANT:

If you plan on breastfeeding I highly recommend researching lactation consultants before baby arrives. Breastfeeding is one of those things that no one tells you can be really frustrating and difficult in the beginning. The first 7 days of breastfeeding were really hard for me. I almost gave up because I was in so much pain and baby wasn't latching correctly. If breastfeeding is something you want and can do all I can say is stick with it. It takes a little while for you and baby to get your rhythm. I promise, IT GETS EASIER.

I had a lactation consultant come to my house for my first AND second son. Lactation consultants do home visits, that's what they do - you email or text them and they set up a time to come over. They help you and baby with latching techniques and so much more. They are a great source of information & emotional support. They will give you a form to fill out at the end of the session that you can then mail in to your insurance company and get reimbursed for the cost. (Depending on your insurance). Most, if not all lactation consultants have a policy where once they come to do a house visit, if at any point in the future you have questions that can be easily answered via phone or email all that stuff is free. Good lactation consultants also help not only with nursing, but with pumping and basically any question you have pertaining to breast milk in general. 

Finding the right one is key. With my first son I didn't research lactation consultants at all and then he wasn't nursing so I had to hastily google to find one who could come over immediately. She was nice but definitely not anywhere near as good as the second lactation consultant I had with my second son.

There are a bunch of them out there, ask for a personal recommendations from your friends, pediatrician, mommy message boards etc. I used Katherine Lilleskov and adored her. But again, it's all personal preference and who you vibe with.

BREASTFEEDING: Pumps

FREE PUMP
First thing's first. Did you know you're entitled to a FREE BREAST pump? Follow the link to claim your pump. There are a limited amount of styles to choose from but if you plan on pumping a lot it's always nice to have more than one breast pump. One you keep at home and one that is portable and travels without. It's super easy to get your free pump, do it!

PUMPING ON THE GO:
Make sure to get a portable pump, it'll come in handy on set when there aren't always available outlets! I've used both the Medela Freestlye & the Spectra S1 and they both have pros and cons. It really comes down to personal preference. The Medela freestyle is cheaper than the Spectra. The Spectra (and all it's pump parts) really start to add up, but a lot of people say that the Spectra does a better job of extracting the milk. 

MEDELA FREESTYLE
I currently have this one and use it for on the go pumping with my second son. It's lightweight & cost efficient (as far as portable pumps go). Since it's so portable, that also means it's not as strong. It was suggested by my lactation consultant that I use this in conjunction with a hospital grade pump that I keep at home to keep my milk supply up and avoid plugged ducts when I go back to work. (see last pump - the big boy, Medela Symphony)

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SPECTRA S1
I had this one with my first son. It was easily portable, not super loud, and gentle. I had a problem with plugged ducts so ultimately this one was still not strong enough for me to use exclusively, but it was great for on the go pumping situations. A drawback is that this one is bigger/heavier to lug around, probably because it's more powerful.

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SPECTRA 9 PLUS: This one is free people!
I've personally never tried this one but hey, it's free! Follow THIS LINK and get your free pump, it's super easy.

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MEDELA SYMPHONY: HOSPITAL GRADE, STATIONARY
Something that happened with my first son that I didn't expect was that because my work hours were so crazy he eventually stopped nursing and preferred the bottle. I was hellbent on feeding him only breastmilk for the first year (which now when I look back was just a lot unnecessary pressure that I put on myself). Anyhow because he stopped nursing I had to turn to exclusive pumping which honestly was a nightmare. One of the biggest reasons it "sucked" (ha!) was because I was constantly getting plugged ducts. If that happens you should seek help from a lactation consultant, don't suffer through it! One way of keeping milk supply up and preventing plugged ducts is to rent a hopsital grade pump. They are hella expensive to buy, but you can rent them from $70/month from WORLDWIDE SURGICAL

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BREASTFEEDING: ACCESSORIES

BRA
You're going to need a pump bra, so your hands can be free to email, text, or eat while you do your thing. I got two of these from Amazon - one in laundry and one in use at all times.

CLEANING
You might not have access to a sink when you are pumping on the go so having these will be awesome.

KEEPING MILK
To keep the milk fresh you'll need a mini cooler. This one is compatible with Medela pump containers. If you choose a different brand I think they all have their own version of this.

MODESTY
If you think you might be pumping or breastfeeding in public these hideous pump covers help. I found them better than just a plain piece of fabric or scarf because these have a structured neckline that holds the cloth away from the body, allowing you to look down and see what you're doing, ha!

**Bonus is if you wear a shirt that buttons up the front so your backside is covered as well as your front. If you end up pumping in a car, closet, bathroom, room with windows etc this will be helpful.

BREAST PADS
Yup, once you start producing milk your boobs will leak in between feedings. In order to avoid having wet circles on your shirt you can use breast pads, i.e. - maxi pads for your bra. I like these ones from TARGET and these LANSINOH ones as well. Don't get the Medela ones, those are bulky and I hate them. You can also get cloth/non-disposable ones. I tried those too, maybe I didn't try the right brand or something but I wasn't into them. You can also use these NURSING CUPS which collect the leaked breast milk and keep fabrics from chafing against your nipples if they are sore in the beginning.

PAIN RELIEF
If you're nipples hurt this LANSINOH cream helps and it's safe for baby when nursing. I like the multipack because I kept one near my bed and one in my purse etc. You can also try using a NIPPLE SHIELD - I've never used them but I know people who have and they seemed to help.

STOCKING UP
If you plan on freezing your breastmilk to stock up for when you return to work these LANSINOH bags are fantastic.

FURTHER READING
I am also no expert so if you want to hear the right way to do all of this check out PUMP WORK REPEAT for tips on working & pumping. I read it...it's good. Some of it doesn't apply to us and some of it does. It's written more for moms who have an office and more of a full-time/office type environment but there were definitely some helpful hints.

NURSING PILLOW
All my friends loved this NURSING PILLOW for some reason I didn't like it...

 


FORMULA FEEDING:

And if you decide that breastfeeding is just too much or your body isn't able to, there is seriously no shame in supplementing with or using formula entirely. Seriously. Do what you have to do and don't feel guilty for a minute. When I was waiting for my milk supply to come in (it took about a week after baby was born for my body to produce enough milk) I supplemented with this as per my pediatrician's recommendation. Everyone has their own preference for baby formula, I'm sure they're all good!

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BOTTLES:

We had to try a few to finally find the ones that worked for our kids. Our sons both used these PLAYTEX bottles. My second son also used these COMOTOMO bottles. I always been curious about MIMJUMI bottles, if you try it let me know how it works!

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BOTTLE CLEANING:

I like these MUNCHKIN brushes with the soft foam top to clean the bottles. Also these MEDELA sterilizing bags for use once a week. And then this BOON drying rack which comes in different sizes. This TRAVEL DRYING RACK also comes in handy for....traveling, ha!

BOTTLE WARMING:

This is a double edge sword. We used a bottle warmer with our first son because he ONLY wanted warm breastmilk.....yeah then we were stuck warming up his bottle for 2 years after that.

Here are some of the best reviewed warmers from 2018

NURSING BRAS (and shirts):

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on these. I bought (and threw) away a lot of bras in this process...wasted so much money agghhhh!!! In the end I found that THESE H&M BRAS worked best for my price point, my body and the neckline of my clothing. I liked  this one from AMAZON for night time and this one from TARGET and when I wanted a bra with a more unstructured look. 

THESE TANK TOPS are really helpful to wear under your already existing button down or easily liftable shirts. Instead of buying a whole new style "nursing" wardrobe with shirts that lift, snap, zip, etc. I also bought a couple versions of THIS TSHIRT too. I found that a lot of clothing that advertised itself as "nursing friendly" was still difficult to maneuver or was just straight up fugly. These clothes are so temporary it was hard for me to justify spending any real amount of money on them. 

In general I found H&M to have the best variety of styles at reasonable prices. (ALL below Images from H&M)

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