By Nicole Pierre
The rising costs of childcare facilities are becoming a significant burden in local communities, especially for many young families. Yet one working mother’s idea, subsequent business plan and new initiative might be a solution.
Sally Miles is the founder of the startup ‘Upswing’, the first of its kind in Australia. Upswing promotes both pop-up childcare services and a co-working space. She developed her plan after balancing two full-time jobs, one being motherhood. She compared her two roles as a juggling act and admitted, “I felt like I was failing at both.”
Sally’s situation is shared by many women who are forced to put their careers on hold once they have children. “When you become a mum, you have to shift your career to create a more flexible career path such as starting a small business or retraining in a new area,” she says.
Some businesses often recognise this challenge and offer support in the form of parental leave, and flexible working schedules. McKindle Research found that one in 12 people are working at home. Its studies found that the rates of productivity were lower for those remote workers due to household distractions.
How can mothers who continue working after childbirth be productive at work?
Upswing could be the solution for some parents by offering a distraction-free environment for parents, and a separate childcare service within the same venue. Each session lasts for three-hours, and costs $55. The flexible sessions consist of two separate spaces – one for children to be supervised with qualified caretakers, and a workspace set-up with desks for parents.
Lane Cove Council supports the Upswing initiative by offering community spaces free of charge for the project’s initial months. According to Sally Miles, the Council backed the initiative because it “advantageously supports both local working mothers, and alleviates pressure from local daycare facilities”.
A local Council in partnership with a thriving startup like Upswing is the first of its kind in Australia. Deborah Hutchens, Lane Cove’s Mayor says, “I think it is a fantastic initiative.” She acknowledges that childcare is increasingly expensive, and that in many cases “both parents have to work in order to make ends meet”.
The initiative is offered to all, but aimed at women working in jobs that offer a flexible working schedule such as freelancers, and business start-up managers.
With its unprecedented success, Upswing is now implementing plans to expand their services to other Sydney suburbs including Cromer, Naremburn and Balgowlah.