Draw The Line

Bridging The Gap

The "nanny gap" is John McDonnell's greatest nightmare. He lived through it once and doesn't want to again. As a work-from-home parent (his wife is an account executive with a pharmaceutical firm and frequently travels for business), he had to design a patchwork arrangement when the family's nanny went on a scheduled maternity leave and they couldn't find an appropriate replacement right away. "We thought a month would be sufficient time to make arrangements," he says. "It took three months."

The two-month breach cut deeply into McDonnell's work as a freelance writer and editor. First he'd drop off the two older children at school, then he'd leave his 3-year-old at his sister-in-law's for the morning. Then he'd have to pick up his youngest before the others came home. "For much of that time, my work day shrunk from 10 hours to four hours, so I had to work at night and on weekends," McDonnell recalls.

Trying to run a business that requires a lot of phone contact and blocks of concentrated time in an unpredictable, kid-filled environment can be stressful. At times, it's even cause for panic, McDonnell says. The imaginary beam that's supposed to balance business and family responsibility rarely does. Still, McDonnell, who until 1991 was an office-based writer and editor, thinks having his office in the basement of his Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, home is wonderful.

"I had wanted to do this since the day I got sick at work and came home to find the babysitter shouting at my 2-year-old daughter for something ridiculous, like spilling milk," he says. "Now, though I am not actually the child-care provider--except in emergencies--I can hear how the nanny and the children are interacting, and I can pop upstairs to see how things are going. My mind is at ease."

Contact Sources

Absolute Advantage, P.O. Box 718, Durham, CT 06422, (860) 349-0256

John McDonnell, (215) 830-0591, jaymack@ix.netcom.com

Liane M. Lemons, CPA, (208) 368-0525, fax: (208) 343-2063

Morning Star Organizational Development, 130-13 146th St., South Ozone Park, NY 11436-2308, (718) 529-0380

Northstar Homes Inc., (847) 714-0054, nstarhomes@aol.com

Peabody Advertising Co. Inc., (973) 812-6536, fax: (973) 812-6529

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