Informal Childcare Arrangements in a Cohousing Village

My name is Caitlin, and I struggle to ask for help. 

As a result of this single-minded independence, I have avoided formal childcare arrangements for the entire two years I’ve been a parent. It doesn’t matter how burnt-out I am, or how many work deadlines have piled up, I’ll never call a friend and ask them to watch my son, even for a few hours. 

Why? For one thing, admitting I need help requires a certain level of vulnerability. Secondly, having someone drive over to my house, or host my son at their place, feels like too much of an imposition. Practically speaking, I fear such an arrangement wouldn’t actually afford me that much “free” time once I factor in the drive, catching up with my friend on either end of the playdate, and – let’s be honest – worrying about whether my son is okay without me. 

Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of shared childcare… in theory. But in reality, every time anyone has offered to watch my son for a bit, my knee-jerk reaction has been, “Thanks, but that’s not necessary.” And, two years in, I’m exhausted.

One of the primary draws of Treehouse Village for me is the prospect of unique opportunities for shared childcare that feel more accessible. Unlike in a regular neighbourhood or friendship group, the cohousing model offers plentiful scope for simple, low-stakes, informal childcare. 

Rather than having to call a friend and ask them to watch my son for a few hours, I’ll be able to look out of my window, see my neighbour and his children setting up a game of soccer on the common green, and send my son out to see if they want an extra teammate. Rather than staying up into the wee hours because I can only reliably work after bedtime, I’ll be able to get stuff done during the weekly games evening in the Common House, or during kid’s hour at the workshop. 

There’ll be a range of planned and spontaneous activities for my son to participate in, with or without me, and friends to invite along on our own adventures. I’ll know my neighbours well enough to be able to judge when an extra child would be a welcome addition rather than an imposition, and to know, without being asked, when they might need a helping hand. I will be surrounded by people I trust, who know and care about my son, and who came together for the specific purpose of belonging to an intentional community. And I’ll always only be a few doors away if that scraped knee can only be fixed by a mama hug. 

I don’t know exactly what shared childcare at Treehouse Village is going to look like, but I do know that my little family will have more support there than in any neighbourhood I’ve ever lived in, and will likewise be able to offer more meaningful support to the families around us. 

Categories Bridgewater/Community Life/Families

Post Author: Caitlin Stonham

Caitlin is fascinated by people, culture, and stories. She recently completed a Masters in Social Anthropology from Dalhousie University, and lives in Bridgewater with her husband, two crazy cats, and an even crazier toddler.

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