The rising cost of housing and climbing daycare fees have created a unique subset in Squamish’s parent demographic – the “mompreneur.”
Managing hectic days, more mothers are working from home by juggling paid employment with taking care of their children. They are opening new home-based businesses, finding employers who cater to work-at-home moms, or altering their workload so it can be done away from the office.
Although the vast majority of mothers agree the benefits of living in Squamish far outweigh the drawbacks, there are challenges to living in a growing community.
Jody Kramer, an animator and art teacher, runs her business remotely from home and attends in-person meetings when her husband is home in the evening or when her young daughters are in daycare one day a week.
Finding enough time in the day to get everything done, such as getting her daughters’ hair cut or going grocery shopping, is often tough for Kramer and other entrepreneurs.
She finds transit in Squamish to be one of the biggest challenges during her busy day. “We are a one-car family and the buses don’t run frequently enough. We have to plan far in advance to get anywhere,” said Kramer, who lives in Valleycliffe. “We have to find everything within walking distance – their daycare, the playground. I would like to put my daughter into French immersion but that’s downtown and would be too difficult to get to.”
She is worried that her transit problems will get worse as the population increases in Squamish, which has become one of the fastest growing communities in B.C.
Daniella Greer, a financial advisor who runs her business from home, balances work with taking care of her two-year-old daughter. Like many other entrepreneurs, she doesn’t have a nine-to-five job because her clients need help at all hours.
“As a working mom, I can’t attend playgroups like Strong Start with my daughter because it doesn’t fit into my schedule,” said Greer.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m missing moments with my daughter, but I still need to work. Today, a lot of families need two people working to survive,” she said.
Childcare availability and price have been Greer’s biggest challenges. So far, she’s only been able to find daycare three days a week, so her daughter is at home with her on Mondays and Fridays.
“I can only work when she sleeps on those days. It’s tough, but I work it out.”
Kramer echoes this, saying that while she loves being home with her children, she also doesn’t see many full-time job opportunities that would work with her life as a parent.
“When looking at a new job, I have to figure out if it will cover the cost of daycare, car payments and commuting. Squamish has limited opportunities in my field unless it’s work that’s done at home,” she said.
The rising cost of daycare is a major reason parents are finding creative ways to earn extra money while staying at home with their children.
On average, daycare costs nearly $60 a day, which is $1,200 for full-time care per month, according to statistics kept by Sea to Sky Community Services. This number often climbs between $1,400 and $1,500 for children under three years old because it’s more expensive to run these programs.
“Finding care for children aged 12 to 36 months is extremely challenging,” Lisa McIntosh, a child-care resource and referral consultant in Squamish.
It’s not as easy as getting on a waitlist early, she said. Instead it often comes down to luck, depending on whether an appropriate spot opens up at the right time.
“I tell parents that they need to be a squeaky wheel. They must advocate for that spot for their child.”
Commuting can make finding childcare even more difficult, since most daycares are only open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the latest.
McIntosh has seen more nannies and au pairs being hired by families who are having a tough time finding daycare spots, but the exact numbers aren’t available because Sea to Sky Community Services isn’t involved in this kind of care.
Marcia Kent, who works 12-hour shifts as a nurse while raising her six-year-old twins, says balancing work and home life can be difficult. To tackle the daily tasks, Kent and her husband have formed a strong team.
“I sometimes feel like I don’t have anything left to give to myself because my energy is either spent between my family or my work, and the only person to blame for that is me,” said Kent, who is the chair of Brackendale Elementary School’s Parent Advisory Committee. “That’s a normal feeling most parents have, or health-care workers for that matter.”
Still, she wouldn’t want to raise her children in any other community than Squamish.
Although Kent owns a house, she knows many people in the community are unable to afford one. The benchmark price of single-family houses jumped 15.5 per cent since last year, to $642,800. That’s up 43 per cent from five years ago, according to the latest figures by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. The benchmark prices for townhouses and apartments also rose last year to $508,200 and $296,600, respectively.
With mortgages or rent to pay, mothers are being extra creative with finding ways to make money. They want their families to stay in Squamish, praising the district’s abundant outdoor activities and closeknit community.
There is one quote in particular that Kent says sums up being a mother: “The feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.”