by Kayla Sosa
When Megan Dimmer joined momHIVE last October, it was because she wanted to be able to do it all: build up her marketing business, meet with her team, get work done outside the home and have affordable daycare for her twin toddlers.
MomHIVE is a coworking space for women in Grand Rapids that provides on-site childcare. Located in a renovated house in Eastown, the space serves about 32 members a month and six children a day. There’s flexible seating and coworking space, meeting rooms and a kitchen.
“The one thing I loved, beyond having the childcare, is just the energy of the people there — they’re all there to get stuff done,” Dimmer said. “At coffee shops, it can be really distracting because people are there for a variety of reasons and at home it’s distracting because I don’t have anyone to watch my kids, so then I’m always on-call.”
About a year ago, Alyssa Cairns was always on-call. She was working from home and taking care of her kids while trying to scale her interior design business. She met Kelli Palm and, after surveying Facebook mom communities, the pair co-founded momHIVE.
“We knew it needed to be a space that was uniquely designed for women,” Cairns said. “We also knew having an element of childcare was going to be crucial because that’s the thing all of us were missing, was having a place to put our kids while we work.”
Childcare at momHIVE is offered for four hours a day and is determined by the member mothers’ monthly schedules. The more childcare hours needed, the higher the cost of membership. Mothers have to stay in the coworking space while their child is being supervised.
“We’re not a daycare where you can drop your kids off and leave,” Cairns said, adding that there are plans to expand childcare hours in the future. “We grow with the demand.”
Cairns said it was a priority for the space to be welcoming and not feel like a corporate office.
“There are blankets on the couch for you to curl up in if you’re cold, the chairs are household style instead of office style,” Cairns said. “All of the artwork in the space is done by local female artists who are also mothers. We provide coffee, tea, decaf herbal tea … We always keep some kid snacks like goldfish and fruit snacks on hand for the kiddos. We have a space that’s designated for private pumping or nursing sessions if you need the privacy.”
In addition, all bathrooms are stocked with diapers and wipes to make the space as family-friendly as possible.
When Dimmer transitioned from working at home on her marketing agency to being based out of momHIVE, her client base grew to 15 and she was able to hire four team members. Both her clients and employees include women she met through the momHIVE.
Now, with many people staying home because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, momHIVE and tinyHIVE are closed for the time being. Cairns said an online platform has been launched, but times like these are a painful reminder why this kind of service is needed for working moms.
“The number one thing that women ask of their employers to stay fulfilled in their jobs after they have kids, is flexibility,” Cairns said. “Working moms, they don’t necessarily want to quit their jobs, but they also feel enormous social pressure and personal pressure to be a good mom and be a good employee. Remote work actually gives you the independence of time and location to do the mom stuff and do the work stuff.”
While momHIVE members have been able to congregate on an online platform sharing inspiration, homeschooling resources and connections, Dimmer says moms need more than support.
“Because of the craziness of being at home and running a business, I just don’t have time to engage with it,” Dimmer said. “I’m literally having to slow down what I can do in a day in order to be present to my kids and have my business still be possible. I think every mom from momHIVE is feeling that too. The online (platform) is great, but it doesn’t give us what we actually need, and that’s a space where our kids can be entertained and be separate from us and still have that community and get stuff done.”
To learn more, visit momhivergr.com