With any job, balance can be difficult to achieve. It can be especially challenging as a childcare provider who's hours begin well before their first client arrives, and end well before their last client leaves.
Here are some super tips from the Childcare Providers in our Facebook Community on how to balance a childcare business and family:
"My advice would be to always include your family. Daycare isn't always an easy job but if the family pitches in it becomes a team effort and your family members will take pride in the business. I'd also say know your limits, don't be afraid to say no sometimes and utilize your time during the day so that your off hours can be spent with your family. I've found over the years that when I have strong bonds with my daycare families that are built on respect they are eager to help me when I need time off for my family or myself and it really becomes one big family!" Christina N.
"I hear from a lot of providers that are afraid to take time off for vacation, when they are sick, or personal days. They are either afraid that the parents will get mad or that they cannot afford to take the time off. My suggestion is to do what you can to make it work. The parents are typically understanding if they know what to expect. Have it laid out well in advance for them. I print a "school calendar" and laminate it for each family. I also send a reminder in our newsletter about a month in advance of any time I take off. Vacations and time off should be somewhat evenly spread out, also consider the times your children or husband will most be able to spend with you. One of my vacations is taken during winter break so I can spend time with my school-age kiddo. As for the financial side; I understand that every provider has a unique situation and it might not be easy to take the time off unpaid, but there are options! You could work towards having your vacations paid, many providers do this. Or raise your rates to cover the time off. Do fundraisers to cover the costs of materials, or ask for material donations! Find ways to cut expenses so you can afford the time off. I know it isn't easy, but I think taking time off is an essential part of balancing family and work. Involve your family in ways that are meaningful for them. My middle child loves to help me with my meal prep on the weekends, and with prepping breakfast each morning. Sure it takes twice as long, but he learns a lot and we get to spend that quality time together. My oldest son enjoys playing with the kids when he has time after school, to that end I pay him to "work" for me after school. At the same time I get to see him and hear about his day. My husband is a big fan of reading with children, I invite him in to read to the kids when he has the extra time." - Sheena W.
My biggest struggle daily is remembering when I'm working I have to be the provider when I'm not I can be mom. Provider is structured, scheduled, and strict. Mom is more laid back, not really having a plan for the day, less demanding. I can't be full time mom when I'm working because full time mom wants to protect my own children all the time, but I have to make sure all the children are treated the same and no one feels less then another. It's a struggle and I often feel bad for my own children that's why on weekends and nights I don't ask for chores to be done or even if they don't want to get dressed I don't care. Hahaha" -Meagan P.
"Have an agreed on closing time and stick to it so that you have time for your husband and kids to be with just you" -Vanessa S.
"Providers NEED to take time off. A few days a year just for them---that break is so important to lasting long in this business. Parents take several days off during a year, so they shouldn't be against YOU doing the same.--Plenty of notice given. Do not mistake closing the day care because of illness or other emergencies as personal days off. These are days to regroup, get away from and have that break."-Sherry W.
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Interviewing new clients can be stressful for both parents and Childcare Providers. Here are some tips and some great advice from Childcare Providers in our Daycare Spaces and Ideas Facebook Community to help ease your nerves during the interview process.
Advice from Childcare Providers for Childcare Providers
Ask why they are looking for childcare. Are they leaving another program? If so, why?
Do a quick Facebook search on the client prior to the interview- Sheena W.
Ask the following questions...
What are the top three things that are most important for you in a daycare environment and in a provider?
What's more important to you that your child plays or sits down to learn?
What type of relationship do you want your child to have with the other kids and what type of relationship do you want to have with me?
Do you prefer to have daycare very scheduled or something new each day?
What things do you or your child like about day? What area have been challenging to you?
What type of manners do you expect your child to have?
What activities do you do for fun as a family?
How do you handle a emergency/sudden daycare closing?-Emily U.
Go over Policies to ensure they understand them.
Be prepared! Make sure your entrance is clean and welcoming.
Have all your paperwork ready to go.
Remember it's your business and you are interviewing the client to see if they are a good fit for your program just as much as they are interviewing you! -Kathy M.
I ask the parents to provide me with 3 references usually family member, friend and a coworker or employer that I do contact just to give me a better idea of the best way to work with the parent and support the children's needs. -Tami F.
I normally start by getting a feel for the family over the phone. How old is your child(ren)? What hours are you looking for? Has the child been in care somewhere else? And so on. Then I invite them to come for a interview and I always ask them to bring the child along. When they arrive I give them a tour and I tell them about myself and my program. I explain curriculum, routines and then we sit down and I ask them what their needs are. Are there any special needs they are concerned with when it comes to their child? What are they looking for in a program? Etc. then we go over my contract in detail and discuss any area they may have questions. Then I normally send them with my paperwork and I follow up later if I feel like the family is a good match.-Christina N.
My best piece of advice is to put as much information in their hands as possible ahead of time - the only things I personally feel that I need to "know" from a prospective client before investing time in an information and interview exchange is 1) age(s) of child(ren) in case I am near my infant or total maximum. And 2) the hours and schedule they need for work. I don't post my open-close hours because I find it less inviting and needlessly excluding: everyone has their own schedule and needs, and I would rather assess them on a case by case basis. Hours are somewhat like ages: if I'm not open until 6:45pm, or on weekends, and that's what they need? I can at least actively make recommendations from there: sometimes there are actually ways to still offer care for those families by offering options that they may not have thought about (could a family member or trusted babysitter pick up on your late Thursdays, or overnight shifts? Would you want to stay on a waitlist? etc.)
The second big tip is that I invested *a lot* of time creating a *thorough* Handbook - and I posted it on my website so that it's easily accessible. This way, I can send a link directly to my handbook quickly over an email or text message instead of emailing 10 different attachments (which possibly won't open or display correctly on their computer or phone). It includes links to all state-required enrollment paperwork as well - so that if I am not a good match for a prospective client, I can at least still provide them with quality, informative service - which helps generate positive word of mouth & builds a professional reputation.
I send the link again before an interview and try and get any questions they might have answered before we meet: I want my interview to just be meeting them and the child, time where they can check out the place, and making sure we feel comfortable with each other before care begins. Once upon a time when I was new, interviews involved me reading over contract bullet points and hoping I didn't miss anything important - eventually I learned that really doesn't work for me!! Nor is childcare like, say, renting an apartment. I'm not a big chit-chatter at drop off and pick up (well not about non-kid things), and more conversational and connection-building interviews really helps me build a good foundation on my parent-provider relationships! -Kathleen M.
I always tell them I have multiple interviews and I will know by (date) who I have chosen, only because if I don't get a good feeling or have red flags during the interview it gives me an easy out without burning bridges. -Katie B.
Do you have some advice for handling
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