27 Jul From Never to Necessity: How One Mom Came to Trust Hello Sitter
We spoke to Brooklyn-based mompreneur Ellie Hearne on the challenges of becoming a working mom, and the lovely way she came to trust Hello Sitter.
Ellie Hearne founded the leadership communications business Pencil or Ink earlier this year and made it look easy. But behind that launch is the story of a New Yorker who struggled a bit balancing her new mom identity with her ambition before finding her way. Yes, we can relate!
Curious to know more, we sat down with her to learn about how she adjusted to life as a parent and the tools she used along the way – tools (like Hello Sitter) she also credits with helping her get back to work.
When you had your daughter back in 2015 you had some reservations about returning to work after maternity leave. But you did return – at least for a while…
I think I made it about a month. After 12 weeks’ leave, challenges with feeding, and lot of hesitation, I told myself going that back to a fairly intense office environment was the right move.
Long story short, it wasn’t. My milk production dropped, my baby lost weight, and I wasn’t fully present at work, even when I was at the office.
To top it off, we didn’t do a great job of hiring a nanny – we left it too late to find anyone all that good and the trust piece was missing from the start. We told ourselves everything would get better, but it didn’t. (It’s funny how sleep deprivation makes you lose all perspective.)
A little over a year later, you’ve started your own company and seem very happy indeed. How did you turn things around?
I am. It was definitely a process though. I cut myself some slack (eventually) and I was lucky enough to have help. At the moment I’m happy, working, and feeling good about childcare – for me, these three things are definitely related.
And you’ve talked about the importance of connecting with other moms.
For me, that was a game-changer. On a practical level, it’s helpful to compare notes with people going through the same challenges. It’s also enormously reassuring to know you’re not alone.
A second-time mom I met through the mommy network became a dear friend and frankly, a lifeline. Tiere had also struggled with her transition to motherhood, but with time and thought (and an entrepreneurial instinct) she had started a mommy group called MamaCollective. We’d meet at her apartment and compare notes on all the ways parenthood changes you: from physical healing to relationships to identity to finances and everything in between.
Tiere also encouraged me to recognize motherhood for what it is: a huge shift, personally, professionally, physically, and mentally – not just a little add-on to your life that causes a little weight gain before everything returns to normal.
Crucially, she pointed out that stay-at-home-parents shouldn’t sacrifice self-care, downtime, or date nights. There may be less time for those things, but they also become more important.
She also introduced me to Hello Sitter.
“Use it while baby naps – go get a massage and you can be back by the time she wakes up.” (Tiere is full of great little parenting hacks like that!)
So Hello Sitter helped you make time for you again?
It did. But not right away. Having been burned by low-quality childcare before, I was extremely hesitant to make that first booking.
I did use it, but got cold feet and rapidly cancelled. Since it was a last-minute thing, I called the helpline in the app to explain myself (this made sense to me at the time!).
Little did I know, I was talking to Lauren – your founder. She was lovely and didn’t force the issue either way.
The next day, I got a thoughtful email from her. She said she understood my reservations and explained why she created the app. She wanted childcare available at short notice, but she also needed those sisters to be verified as trustworthy and reliable.
I was touched. But it was the rest of the email that truly sold me. She walked me through your vetting process for sitters. That every one of them is thoroughly background checked and many are CPR-certified made a huge difference for my husband and me.
We love hearing that – you knew you could trust Hello Sitter babysitters with your daughter.
After that initial false start, we grew to love the app and the freedom it came to represent. Our first sitter was self-possessed and confident, without being pushy – she seemed to read our needs quickly and we actually felt good about handing her our baby. It’s hard to describe, but suffice it to say we did not look back!
The [Hello] Sitters are now such a standard part of our world I take for granted how good they are. My husband and I love that they seem to be uniformly dependable, and all take direction well. Knowing I could leave the house alone again (while my husband was at work) was hugely empowering.
Pencil or Ink is now successful and growing. I couldn’t have pictured this turn of events a year ago, but now I can’t imagine having done anything differently.
Ellie Hearne is the founder of Pencil or Ink and mom of a 21-month-old girl. Her favorite Hello Sitter babysitters are Scarlett Z., Olithea A., and Brittany B.