Child care at conferences is awesome but not for the reason you think it is. We think it helps women who have no other options for kids to attend. Really it helps all parents be closer to their kids, helping people in technology build strong families, relationships and communities.
Child care helps attendance for local meetups
Child care is often toted as a way to enable women to attend conferences. I think that’s really true when the conference is local. It’s not that women (or men) couldn’t find someone to watch their kids but it’s one less impediment. The meetup is posted, you see there’s child care, you can just rsvp. Later you might find child care or you might use the meetup child care.
Most people that travel for work have child care
But as anyone that travels a lot for work knows, it’s much more work to bring your child than it is to leave them at home. If you have to travel for work, you probably have child care options for your kids at home because there aren’t enough other options while traveling for work these days. (Luckily, I have an awesome extended support network at home.)
But child care at conferences is vital for our extended community
The reason I think child care at conferences is awesome is that it allows me to share my work, my travel and my colleagues with my kids. It allows me to bond with my child in an environment that I don’t get to share with them very often.
My kids love attending conferences with me. They get to share my love of traveling, stay in hotels (which they still think is awesome), get swag, meet all the people I talk about and play with colleagues’ kids.
My kids have met my colleagues – really smart, funny people. They have played nerf guns and games with the kids of my colleagues like at the kid day at SCALE or the daycare at Grace Hopper. They see what I do when I travel – my youngest turned the slides for me at my talk at SCALE and helped out at both the Kids on Computers and Mozilla booths. They’ve enjoyed exploring cities with me the weekend before a conference.
Hopefully they’ve learned more about the world, how technology makes it works, why open source is important and how people debate and collaborate on things that make the world a better place.