A long time ago (but not too long!), I worked as a freelance music video and commercial producer in Los Angeles. I was also fortunate to work with a director who gave me regular jobs. However, after taking years out to be with my children while they were young, coming back to work was not quite what I thought it would be. Let’s just say work did not come as easy as it had before. In fact, I had to go “undercover” as a PA, not only to work my way back up, (rapidly, thank goodness) but also to regain my confidence. So, for the first time, I found myself, now a mother, at the mercy of other producers and production managers.
My first job out of the gate was working for a production manager who made zero accommodations for me being a mother. She would force me to needlessly sit in the office, even after work had been completed. Though she knew I had to pick up my girls (and the money was racking up on the childcare bill), she insisted on keeping me there! One day I calculated, after paying for childcare and after taxes that I made only $4.96 cents an hour and that’s before the gas to get me to work!
Back then, for many reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help. The resistance to ask for help is especially prevalent for freelancers with children, as the schedule is irregular and often chaotic. Sound familiar anyone? When self-employed, wearing multiple hats becomes second nature, as does the instinct to take on more than one can handle. Add children to the equation? Five times harder. Part of the issue at play is the idea that a request for help is viewed as one-sided. If one person is giving help and the other is receiving it, what does the giver gain in the long run? Of course, this isn’t true: the person giving help gains a new opportunity, relationship, and the satisfaction of doing good. With this in mind and armed with the lessons learned while attempting to rejoin the workforce as a woman whose identity is not just that of a professional, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a neighbor or a friend, I built The Urban Helper.
The Urban Helper wants to empower you to ask for help and give help right back, by harnessing the power of U-Brix. U-Brix are time dollars, a currency that builds the foundation for reciprocity and The Urban Helper is the bank.
So, let’s revisit that first job back to work and pretend that The Urban Helper already existed…..
Being a savvy ex-producer I would have been prepared for that first call. I would have signed up on The Urban Helper and pre-vetted a number of babysitters that accept both dollars and U-Brix. I would also have found that quite a few other parents, that I already knew, at my children’s elementary school were also signed up to offer services ranging from childcare to pick up and drop off, from piano lessons to services that had absolutely nothing to do with children whatsoever! By hiring a parent for U-Brix to pick up my kids from school, feed them and later drop them off for piano lessons (also paid for in U-Brix), I would have been ready.
After that, while sitting in that office with nothing to do, I could have had another caregiver, whom I chose to pay for in regular money, pick my kids up, take them home and get them ready for bed. Net result? My daily wage minus only two hours of childcare as opposed to six!
How did I get the U-Brix to pay for the first four hours of childcare that day? Simple, I received five when I signed up, and I earned more helping others with all sorts of things from gardening (which I love) to taking my elderly neighbor to the VA hospital (which is an experience!), to helping a local charity set up for an event.
The Urban Helper was made with you in mind. Put yourself in a position to be more helpful AND more helped. Get rid of the guilt associated with asking for help, and instead make it an empowering experience.
CEO, The Urban Helper