When was the last time you had a second to catch your breath and enjoy a moment of “me” time? Self-care isn’t just a selfish indulgence. It’s a must-do. One Chicago mom is determined to make it easier to fit more of that essential, self-care-focused ‘me time’ into the lives of parents across Chicagoland. Read on to learn how the new MeTime app is making finding last-minute childcare for your kids a cinch so you can grab ahold of some of that elusive alone time.

photo: MeTime Founders

Self-care: a necessity, not an indulgence
Shortly after she went on maternity leave, Chicago mom Kayla Carey contracted a brutal case of mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue often accompanied by flu-like symptoms.

“I needed to take my son Liam with me as I went to the doctor and the pharmacy for treatment while finding the stamina to take care of him throughout the day,” said Carey.

With her husband out of town for work and without regular childcare, Carey needed a babysitter STAT. Unable to secure a last-minute sitter, she spent the whole day caring for a newborn, despite desperately needing to rest and recover.

“The whole experience was exhausting, but I couldn’t find an alternative on short notice,” she said.

This situation prompted Carey to wonder whether other parents dealt with the same balancing act of self-care and care-giving.

“Most parents know the struggle of finding affordable childcare that fits their schedules. On top of that, there’s a daily negotiation of how to find some time for yourself,” she said. “Parents, especially moms, feel like they need to do it all, and often for others, leaving nothing left for themselves.”

Need last-minute childcare? There’s an app for that! 
Carey decided to take action: She paired with a pal, Toi Valentine, and the duo harnessed their combined professional experience in healthcare, business strategy and product design to create trymetime.com a web-based platform for parents to find and book drop-in childcare in the greater Chicago region and Northwest Indiana.

The technology-enabled childcare co-op platform is one of the first services of its kind as a drop-in childcare aggregator and booking tool.

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“Flexibility is hard to come by, so many parents are forced to find their own workarounds — whether that’s a change to their position at work or informal childcare arrangements with other parents,” said Carey, who serves as the co-founder and chief executive officer of MeTime. “Just like any caregiver, parents need a respite from time to time.”

“MeTime was born of necessity. Parents need more options for childcare than what exists today, especially millennial parents. They have different needs and lifestyles than those of our parents before us,” co-founder Valentine said, who serves as MeTime’s Chief Product Officer. “However, even if parents find flexibility in their professional and personal lives, they still need flexible childcare to match their needs.”

How it works
MeTime helps parents locate childcare options near home or their points of interest, such as the gym or grocery store, on an interactive map. The map displays the type of provider, the distance from your location, the provider’s amenities and photos of both the provider and their child-friendly space.

All of the providers undergo rigorous vetting, including background, home inspections for child safety and reference checks, in order to be listed on MeTime.

MeTime users can book as little as one hour of care up to a full day. The platform has approximately 1,500 hours of childcare per week as its current capacity. To meet the anticipated demand, MeTime is adding providers to its network — such as licensed daycare centers, in-home providers and playspace drop-ins — on a rolling basis. The co-founders hope to expand to several other cities by the end of next year.

Schedule self-care on-the-spot STAT
“Self-care is a necessity, not an indulgence,” says Emma Bennett, LCSW, who specializes in working with new moms. “We need to nurture ourselves just like we nurture our children. If we don’t take care of ourselves, feelings of depletion, resentment, and isolation could potentially arise. I feel more centered and present after taking time to engage in self-care, and strongly believe in building it into my daily agenda.”

Ready to book a little ‘me time’? Visit trymetime.com to learn more or to schedule a little self-care STAT.

— Amy Bizzarri

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