Is it possible to eat healthy and save money? I hear people say all the time, it’s expensive to eat well. There are many reasons why it’s much less expensive to eat high quality, nutritious food. Let me show you a new way of looking at it.
Archive for Caring for the Caregiver
Throwing parties for kids should be as simple as possible. A valentine party is no exception. The easier you make it on yourself, the more fun you can have. We do very simple little parties at Little Sprouts because it makes it so much more fun!
I go easy on the decorations and focus on what we are going to do. I ask each family to bring a treat to share. That takes care of the snacks and I don’t have to cook for days. Another reason to let kids bring the treats is because this is another great way to get parents involved in the daycare. Parent involvement is a big key to a successful childcare business. Click here to see more ways to get parents involved.
This isn’t what I signed up for. Motherhood is not what I expected. Being a mom is much harder than I ever dreamed. Are those thoughts that have run through your mind? I think all parents have thought about this a time or two in their life. It seems like we know everything about parenting until…we try to do it.
Being a mom is hard
Motherhood is not pretty. It’s not for the weak. It’s not for the faint of heart. Motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever love. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Phases pass, but each one brings a new set of challenges you never thought possible.
Motherhood is also the greatest blessing, the most indescribable thing. You can’t understand until you’re a mom, but it’s like the Grinch, your heart grows sizes. It does, I swear. There is no way to fathom how much you can love until you hold your child.
Payment policies are super important. It’s even more important to set your payment policies BEFORE you need them. You and everyone you are serving in your business needs to have a good idea of what to expect from the business relationship. You as the provider are in charge of this business and you are the one who can make it a success or a failure.
The number one thing I see providers doing is not running their childcare like a business. Providers, in their nature are lovers and givers. They are big-hearted people who want to help people. If you give people discounts because you feel sorry for them and then you can’t pay your bills, who are you helping? That’s not good for that family because you as a stressed-out provider who can’t pay her bills, are not going to be giving your best in care for their children. Payment policies will help with this tremendously.
Starting over sucks. BUT, new beginnings can be a time of fresh rejuvenation and sweet sweet renewal. There is always a silver lining in every situation even when it doesn’t feel like it. Did you lose your job? Did your blow your diet? Did your marriage or relationship fall apart? Did you face a health crisis? All of those things can seem like life threatening things, but guess what? They aren’t.
There are so many times in life when it feels like we can’t go on with the changes we face. It’s okay to stare down the dark hallway of despair and be afraid. What we can’t do is stay there. You can’t let your situation keep you stuck forever. What can you do to pick yourself up and try again? Isn’t it too hard?
You are the most valuable asset in your life.
Remember that YOU are the most valuable asset you have. Do you feel worthless because someone said you are or because you lost a job or made a mistake? Do you feel like no one will ever love you? I have felt that way many times, but that is a LIE! You can be your worst enemy or your best asset. If you make a mistake at work, guess what? Everyone does. There are plenty of skills and talents you have to offer. I don’t know you but I KNOW that God didn’t make a mistake when He made you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. If someone told you that you’re nothing without them, guess what? They are a big fat liar and you don’t need friends like them. You are NOT unlovable. God loves you. He made you and He delights in you.
Not ever situation is as bad as it looks.
Think about the presidency. We have a new president-elect. He may not be the nicest person or the best choice for our country, but we can look at the good in him and be excited that we are starting over. He knows how to handle money. He cares about America and wants it to be great. He is going to do the job for free and save us a few bucks. Do I think there is a crap ton wrong with him? Heck yes!
When I found out he was elected, I was devastated. Crushed really. I don’t like a whole big lot of what he stands for and I’m scared about the future and what will happen. I also didn’t think we had better choices. But guess what? The president is not all powerful, the congress, supreme court, and states have power too. He doesn’t get to tell us how to treat people. We can still show respect and kindness. There are many good things we could find in our scary situation.
I think it’s a call to action for us to make sure we spread love and joy in this country. We need to start doing it double time now!
Look at the good in your situation.
Your life changes can be like this. There may be a crap ton that is bad about them, but there are also good sides to every situation. About 15 years ago, my husband got fired from his job. He makes the majority of the income for our family. I make nearly nothing. We were in a real pickle. We had a house payment, car payment, and tons of other payments along with utilities, food and supplies to pay for. Guess what else? We survived.
When it first happened, I thought I was going to die. I was so afraid. But God reminded me that He will never leave me. Guess what? Through a series of events, he got a job doing what he’d ALWAYS wanted to do. He hated what he did at that job. Even though he’d been there 10 years and got fired on his birthday, it was still a relief to get the heck out of there. He is a good man and just went to work to take care of his family. He never complained.
Starting over is hard.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Starting over is HARD, I know it is. But it’s good to clean out your heart and mind sometimes and make a fresh new beginning.
Over 20 years ago, my family moved to the town we live in. We had grown up on the other side of the state. It was comfortable and familiar. We moved here so my husband could do an internship to finish college. Our theme for the first year was, “nothing good ever happens in this town”. We said it all the time. We hated it here. It was painful. But it wasn’t long before we found things and people we loved. I can’t imagine moving away from here, I love my city, my state and my country. A new beginning was necessary for us to build our life here.
When someone dies or leaves, when someone doesn’t want to by my friend anymore, when I lose something I love or care about or when I have to take another path, it hurts. It hurts in a way it feels like it will never stop. It takes time to process this. Give yourself a break if you have trouble focusing or doing everything right for a while. Love yourself anyway.
Forgiving ourselves for our mistakes is often the very hardest part of making it through a change. But forgiveness of ourselves or others is paramount for living the best life we were meant to live. God doesn’t want you to live a life of anger, bitterness or fear. He wants you to thrive. He wants you to depend on him 100%. He wants you to love Him. He wants to give you good things.
God has a plan for you. It’s for something good. He doesn’t give crappy gifts. He doesn’t make crappy people. If you are down on yourself or something about you, you are dissing what He made and He doesn’t like it. Get after living a life of love. Love for yourself. If you are facing a situation where you have to start over, look that sucker in the eye and do it. It’s okay to lament for a while. Even feeling sorry for yourself is okay. You just can’t live there forever.
Look at yourself.
If everyone around you is wrong and a big loser, maybe you need to look at yourself and see what you could change. Maybe you’re the one with the problem. Starting over is something everyone has to do. We have to get used to something being different than it was. We have to make a new normal. Let it be one that is better for you. You can live a fuller, happier life if you face the changes and embrace them.
Life is not easy, not one bit. But you can do this. You’ve got everything it takes to thrive. Believe in yourself and you’ll be on the path to a better life in no time. God’s got your back and He won’t ever let you down. He’s a good good God.
Do you want to read some other real cool new beginnings that will encourage you? Click on the links highlighted below. You’ll love them!
Contracts and policies are so important for your childcare business. If you don’t treat your business like a business, it will not run as well as it should and you will probably end up burning out. If you are having trouble establishing your paperwork for your business, read on and find out how to develop it in a systematic and simple way.
Contracts deal with time and money, policies are rules about other things. Contracts must be signed if you change any part of them, policies can be changed as you wish. The contract is a legal binding document, the policies just help spell out expectations. Tom Copeland has some great advice on writing a contract, click here to check it out.
Let’s start with contracts and handle policies next.
What does your childcare contract need to cover?
Your business rules can be whatever you want them to be with the exception of any type of discrimination. Think about what is most important to you and set your business up with those rules. Click here to see what many seasoned childcare providers think are the most important rules.
Your contract should state your name, the parent’s names and the children’s names childcare is being provided for.
Your contract should state the days and hours you are open and which of those hours care is available for this family. Some providers are open something like 12 hours a day, but only watch each child for a certain number of hours such as 9.
Your contract should state any holidays you will be taking and whether they are paid or not. It should also include vacation days for you and whether those are paid or not. It’s a good idea to get paid for some of your days off if not all of them. Most parents have paid holidays, why shouldn’t you?
The contract should state what parents owe you. Weekly fees, field trip fees, art fees, transportation fees or whatever fees you are going to charge need to be outlined in the contract. It should also state when they are to pay you. I allow parents to choose their paydays for me but they have to stick to those days. There is no saying, I want to pay once a month and then coming in and saying, I’m going to pay for this week. We have to sign a new contract and AGREE that we are changing payment dates.
Your contract SHOULD state that parents have to pay a week in advance for care. You should stick to this rule, it will save you so much trouble in the future.
Your contract should state what parents are responsible to provide and what you provide. My contract says parents are responsible for diapers, wipes and a change of clothes.
Your contract should introduce your substitute and for what situations that person would be left in charge of the kids. No one should come to pick up and find someone they don’t know watching their children.
The contract should state how the care provided will end. My contract states that two weeks’ notice is required to terminate it. Parents are responsible for paying for two weeks if they decide not to finish care. My contract also states that the first two weeks are a trial period for parents, provider and child. That way if I decide a family is not a good fit for my business, the contract will end.
Your contract should state that you are a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse and sex trafficking behaviors. This is something that should be handled up front and having it in your contract is a great way to get it out there.
Discrimination-make sure you state you do not discriminate for any reason and make sure you don’t. It’s not okay to choose clients by race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability. This is illegal. My contract states, children will not be discriminated against for any reason.
It’s a good idea to disclose something that may be of concern to parents. My DHS worker suggested I disclose our pets and our religious beliefs. I think this is a very wise idea. We always have cats, so the interview is a good time to talk about that in case someone has a child that is allergic to cats. I have watched children of pagan parents, atheist parents, and agnostic parents. I am a Jesus loving Christian but I disclose that in my contract so no one is taken by surprise. You would be amazed at how well we worked it out. I told them up front we pray, the kids learn about God and Jesus, etc. They were fine with it and dealt with it in their own way at home.
Being open and honest is the best policy in any situation. If your husband is at home 24/7 and helps with the daycare, parents have a right to know that. If he works odd hours and sleeps during the day, they should know that too. If you have grown kids that visit or live in the home, have a friend over to visit, or anything like that, it’s important to disclose it. Anything you think might be of importance to a parent, it’s best to let them know up front.
Signatures should be on the contract, both of the parents if possible and yours.
Please make sure you don’t include rules in your contracts and policies that you are not willing to enforce. What this does is show parents you are not serious about any of your rules. If you’re not willing to make people pay a late fee, take it out of the contract. The things in the contract should be very serious and always enforced.
Keep your contract as short as possible. Parents are much more likely to read a shorter contract and to pay attention and take notice of what is mentioned there. Policies should be as short as you can make them as well.
Contracts and policies have similar purposes, but some differences. The remaining items you want to communicate to parents will be in your policies.
Does your state have any rules about what has to be included in your policy book? In Oklahoma, we do. Click here to see the requirements and a sample of my policy book.
Some of the things childcare policies should include are:
Discipline and guidance procedures.
Procedures for the day. Let parents know anything about how you run the business that would be of importance to them. You can’t expect them to always have their child their by 9 am if you don’t let them know that is your rule.
Your outdoor play policy. I take the kids outside to play, weather permitting, any time it’s between 40 and 90 degrees, that is in my policy book. Also, kids get dirty here. We garden, we play hard, it’s a dirty job to be a kid. So, I let people know that in advance.
Your daily schedule or activities kids will participate in regularly.
Your inclement weather policies. How do you deal with dangerous weather? Do you close on snow days? Parents need to know what to expect.
Your training and education.
Emergency contact numbers.
What are the reasons you would chose to terminate care? Those should be explained in your policies.
Emergency and disaster plans should be in your policies as well. Parents should be informed on what procedures you will take in caring for their child should a disaster or emergency occur. Where might you relocate to? Where will you shelter? What supplies do you have in place for children’s safety?
I have a form at the end of my policies for parents to sign they have read and understand the policies. I feel that covers me from any extra problems later with someone saying, I didn’t know anything about that.
What do you do if someone does not want to follow your contract and policies? This is a big indicator that your business relationship with this person is not going to work out. You need to tell them it’s not a good fit and you cannot provide care for them. If they cannot agree to your rules, they will not respect your business and the way you run it. It will not turn out well, I promise.
Making sure your business is being run like one will help you gain respect and appreciation from your parents. Having contracts and policies in place will show families you are serious and want to give high quality care to their kids. If you act professionally and show your parents respect, they are much more likely to respect you. If you are giving and receiving respect from your parents, you are much less likely to burn out and hate this job. You will enjoy your work and be successful. That’s what I’d really like to see for everyone.
Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer them if I can. I’d love to help you make sure your business is all it can be. Let your contract and policies work for your business and you!
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Gifts look so much more special with some personal touches and cute wrapping. I am not the queen of cuteness when it comes to wrapping, but I found some great things to help me win this year.
I love giving!
I LOVE giving. I love to give any time of the year to everyone. Gifts are my favorite part of Christmas. I love to help make people’s lives easier and more blessed through something I could make or buy for them. Christmas is a super fun time of year. I used to stress out about it, but I have learned to let old feelings go and make new traditions. I’ve learned to focus on time spent with loved ones and making memories and not on the hustle and the bustle and the people fighting over sales at the store.
Christmas is what you make it.
Christmas just like any other day is what you make it. You can have the feelings you want by just adjusting where your focus is. If the giving stresses you out, cut your list down and simplify. If the cooking stresses you out, order some pizzas the day before and heat them up on Christmas. It’s a time for love and joy not perfection and stress.
I LOVE rustic wrapping. Brown paper, twine, mason jars, raffia and other things that look like Laura Ingalls would have received her gift in them are really my cup of tea. I love coming up with great vintage looking wrappings for my gifts.
I also love cute shaped boxes. I love giving treats like a cupcake or cookies in a cute container that shares the Christmas spirit. Festive wrappings are the bee’s knees.
Wrap according to your style.
Oriental Trading has great prices on their tissue paper, wrappings, and ribbons. I love using curly ribbon. It has a hundred uses and one roll will last forever. These rolls they have are 500 feet. It’s good quality ribbon for adorning your holiday packages in a ton of cute ways. Making curly bows, tying up packages, and even making hair bows for little girls are all great ways to utilize this stuff.
Oriental Trading Company offered me some Christmas wrap in exchange for my honest opinion about them on the blog. All opinions on the wrap are completely my own.
Tissue paper can make your gifts shine too. I love to get a big multi pack of tissue and use it throughout the year. You can stuff it in your gift bags to make them look more festive. You can fluff it up in a basket to make your basket items at the right height or to keep them in place and add a pop of color. You can wrap an article of clothing in it inside your gift box. It’s super versatile.
Buy wrapping that can be used for many seasons.
I prefer gift wrapping supplies that can be used any season. I love taking a festive black and white polka dot paper and tying it with a big red bow to make it look Christmassy. You can use the same paper and tie it with a white bow for a men’s birthday gift earlier in the year. You can use the polka dot paper to wrap a child’s toy gift and make a bow out of multi colored curly ribbon that a child would love.
Check out Oriental and all of the affordable gift wrapping options they have. There is tons of cute stuff there that can make wrapping your gifts and making them look special so much easier.
My daughter makes bows for packages from wrapping paper or even brown paper sacks. They are so cute, here is one she made for fall gifts. I love it! Click here to check them out.
I love to use peach baskets that I buy my peaches in to make my gifts look old fashioned. They look so adorable all full of love and joy.
Make your Christmas packages look extra special.
It just takes a few minutes to make a package look extra special. An extra ribbon, some cute containers, or a pretty bow make your gifts look thoughtful and personal. Click here to see some more gift-wrapping ideas.
Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.
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What’s the difference between a good provider and a great one? Great childcare is a blessing to families and it’s rare. How can you grow your business and cut down on stress in your life? What are you doing to make sure your business is successful in the future? Would you love to know the magic formula for keeping daycare families and having a thriving home daycare?
Word of mouth is by far the most important part of growing a successful childcare business. What are people saying about the care you provide? Have you gone the extra mile to let parents know you love their kids? Do they know you care about them?
People often times ask me, what is your secret? Why do you never have openings? Why does everyone love you so much? What do you do differently? The honest truth is I don’t know what I do differently, I just know what I do. I use my instincts to be the best provider I can be. I care for my families, not just the kids. To me, the whole family needs me.
I try every day to provide great childcare. Some days I do and some days I suck. That’s no reason to stop trying. Parents need support and advice, older siblings need to know their little brother or sister is safe, and everyone needs to know you have their best interest at heart.
I hear providers all the time talking about how the kids aren’t the problem, the parents are. To some extent it’s true, but if you really care about your parents, they won’t be disrespectful to you. Parents know when their kids are getting great childcare and when they are not. You can really help yourself have easier days and help your reputation by being kind to your parents. I promise, it’s good business sense.
Parents are not out to get you; they only want the best for their kids. Be open and let them know that’s what you want too, and they will be on your side. Every day will be easier. Make sure you are up front with them. People can sense when you aren’t being genuine. No one likes being lied to. I have been a parent using childcare before and the most important thing to me was KNOWING my child was safe. My provider made sure I did and I never forgot that. Parents who are nervous or scared aren’t trying to be annoying, they need to be comforted by you as their provider.
Also, please remember, if someone leaves or doesn’t chose the care you provide, it may just not have been a good fit. Not everyone is meant for everyone else. Different people have different ideas and procedures and that’s good because different families have different needs. All people have good inside but it doesn’t always match someone else’s good.
Here’s another big secret. As hard as I try to provide great childcare, NOT EVERYONE LIKES ME or the care i provide. They just don’t. Everyone won’t be a good fit no matter how hard you try or how much you care. Check out what a group of parents had to say about good childcare and great childcare.
According to parents surveyed a good provider is:
Reliable and on time
Trustworthy and honest
Takes care of kids
Meets basic requirements
Has an illness policy
Does what they say they will
Knows about child development
Helps kids mature as appropriate
Joyful and happy
Structured and has rules for children and families
Has a clean home
According to parents surveyed, a great provider:
Above all is honest with parents
Teaches manners and how to handle problems in a positive way
Serves quality meals (not just junk food)
Loves what they do
Knows how important the job is
Keeps kids safe, doesn’t put them in harm’s way
Is interested and committed to the profession
Stays informed on issues and regulations
Values parents and children
Is involved with parents and invites parents to be involved in the program
Communicates, gives honest feedback, and empowers parents
Honors parental wishes and respects their decisions
Give opinions and advice when needed
Goes the extra mile
Loves kids like their own
Takes time to send pictures of kids at daycare
Talks to parents about their child’s day
Feels like leaving kids with family or friend
Puts kids before money (meaning, the kid’s needs are more important than the paycheck)
Doesn’t lie to please parents
Is constantly improving and learning
Develops a positive environment
Has a professional handbook
Knows DHS rules well and follows them
Nurtures children emotionally, nutritionally, socially, and academically
Only practices developmentally appropriate practice
Is strict with parents for the good of all children in care
Is an advocate for children both of the parent and the other kids in care
Sets consistent boundaries
Gives time to play
Communicates with parents to empower them
Is warm and welcoming in the mornings
Cares about cleanliness
Treats the job like it’s more than just a paycheck
It’s their calling to provide childcare
Has an even temperament
Is available to parents
One thing I would add that no one mentioned is a great provider can balance the parent’s needs with their own so they can support the whole family, not only the child in care. It takes a village.
Parents polled shared the following bad experiences that were deal breakers for childcare:
Kids weren’t safe
There was no outside play
There was no art
The TV was constantly on or kids watched TV all day
Provider played on phone all day
Environment was unclean
Environment was disorganized
Provider lied or was dishonest
Environment felt institutional
Children seemed unhappy
Parent didn’t think their children would fit in
Teachers seemed unhappy
Children were picked up with dried snot on their face, that no one had cleaned all day
Environment had odor of poopy diapers
Negative feedback was given daily
Provider seemed vague
No call, no show
Parents interviewed shared these reasons why they scheduled and interview and either didn’t hold it or chose not to use the provider after they showed up:
No sick policy was in effect, sick kids in one room, well in another
Provider insulting kids during interview
Parent found out personal info that made them uneasy
Outside of home needed general maintenance and upkeep, looked junky
Environment was not clean
Security seemed lacking
Provider seemed superficial or dishonest
Ladies (and gentlemen), the most popular complaint I hear and heard from parents is caregivers not being honest. They want to know the truth about how their kid’s day was, they want to know the truth when they ask you questions. If you did something wrong, fess up to it. People respect you so much more when they know you are truthful. You don’t want parents lying to you, so don’t lie to them. Respect goes both ways.
Parents also commented that many people think daycare is bad because some are bad but it’s not true. There are good providers, but it’s not what people focus on. People prefer to see the negative, it’s just human nature.
A provider’s point of view (previous childcare provider):
“The pay versus work doesn’t seem as great as parents think when they are paying it. You begin work before they do and end after they do. Not to mention that many things come out of that pay like food, art supplies, utilities, etc. It really has to be a calling. It has to be more than just a paycheck.”
That my friends, is truth! If you are struggling to fill spots or have a hard time figuring out what parents want, look over these lists occasionally and see if there is something you can change to make your business more successful. If you are going to be a childcare provider, it is the most important job in the world, be a great provider! If you don’t want to be a great provider, do something else. It’s not worth it.
Great providers are a gem, click here to see how to find a hidden jewel in a provider.
If you are worried that your home is not up to par, try going outside for a few minutes in the evening and then stepping in the door and taking a big whiff. If you smell foul odors, your parents do too. If you don’t know if your house looks clean enough, step out on the porch and look around what parents see as they arrive. Is there something you can put fresh paint on or a few nails that need to be hammered in? Is there anything attractive and nice to look at? As you come in the door is there filth and trash all over the greeting area? If you need to be a clutter bug, do it in the back room or your bedroom. Let your entry area be your best foot forward. It will make a world of difference, I promise.
I don’t have anything nice, and my house is not perfect, but I have had many people step in and say, it looks so clean. Make sure that’s what people see upon entry. If you don’t know, ask a friend to come over and look. They can tell you what people will notice that you don’t because you see it every day. A few minutes of tidying before you open will make a big difference. If you don’t want to get out the vacuum every night, get a cracker beater like they have in the church nursery and do a quick buzz by the front door each evening after care. Take pride in what you’re doing, you’re a WORLD CHANGER and anyone can be a great provider if they really care about what they’re doing.
What do you think makes a great provider?
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Do you love finding Christmas gifts you can make yourself? I do. I love the idea of giving something that I made with love. It’s a beautiful thing to put time and thought into your gift and your own energy from your own hands.
Here is a great list of things you can make yourself that your friends and family will love.
Homemade Granola (kids can help with this one too!)
Gifts You Can Sew (with free patterns)
Gifts for the Home
Texture Painted Magnets (kids can make)
Mason Jar Gifts (Spice Jars, Lamps, Soap Pumps, etc)
Gift vouchers (with free printables)
For the Kids
There are so many things you can make for others that show you love and care about them. Putting thought into homemade gifts you can make yourself makes the Christmas season or any time of giving a whole lot more personal and fun!
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When you open a new family childcare business in your home, it’s hard to know what will work and what won’t. If you start your business and add rules, it’s much harder than beginning the business with your rules in place. You can have them already in your contract or policies depending on where they belong and you will save yourself a whole lot of headaches.