More Than JUST a Provider
I am not a babysitter. A babysitter is a teenager you pay to eat your food, watch your TV, and play with your kids for a few hours while you go out. I am a childcare provider. I provide a quality environment for children where they can learn, play, and build relationships. I provide a safe, nurturing place for the kids I take care of. I am more than JUST a childcare provider. I put my heart and soul into what I do.
Quality childcare is valuable. The quality of care a child receives has a lasting effect on their future academic success. Click here to read more about it.
Throughout my 21 years of providing care in my home, I have heard and seen all kinds of attitudes and ideas about what I do. I have heard people say, all you have to do is sit on the couch and people hand you money. I have heard people say, I hate my job. I have heard people call the kids they care for ugly names. I have heard horror stories from my parents about children being found strapped into high chairs for long periods of time, gated into a room separate from the caregiver, and all manner of things that shouldn’t be part of children’s lives. It’s very sad. There is plenty of bad care out there. I guess that’s where many pre-conceived ideas come from about the value of childcare.
I remember as a child being treated and talked to horribly by some of my caretakers. I remember one time my mom told our caregiver that beans made my sister sick and not to feed them to her. I remember after my mom left, this woman told my sister that she was not too good to eat beans and she was going to eat beans at her house. Then she told us my mom was ridiculous. She forced my sister to eat a whole bowl of beans.Then she threw beans up all over her house. The woman became enraged and spanked my sister relentlessly for throwing them up. My mother told her they made her sick. I was just a toddler, but this left an indelible scar on me.
I remember another provider that made us stay in her basement while we waited for time to go to school. She seemed to despise children. We weren’t to talk to her or ask her for anything. We were to play in the basement and watch TV and be quiet.
One day I got to stay with her all day and I was so excited to get the chance to play with her daughter on the ground floor of the house. She let me go in her daughter’s room. It was so exciting. At lunch she berated me for how I was eating. Then we went back to her daughter’s room and her daughter said, hey, I love jumping on my bed, let’s jump on my bed. I said, are you sure we’re allowed to do that, we can’t jump on the bed at my house. She said, yes, I do it all the time, so we started jumping on the bed. Her mom came into her room and grabbed me by the arm and told me I was a horrible child. She sent me to the basement for the rest of the day and said I was disgusting and taught her daughter evil things. EVIL? I was in Kindergarten. How was I EVIL? I told her that her daughter asked me to do it and she said, she never acts like that and I must have spread my naughtiness to her. I was a bad example and a horrible child. WOW! I just hope no one ever remembers me in a light like that. I would never talk to a child that way. I don’t know why anyone would.
I remember another provider. Her name was Jean. We walked to school from her house as well and stayed with her in the summer when school was out. She was so kind and sweet. She taught my sister and I to finger crochet. She crocheted clothes for our Barbie’s. She always looked us in the eye. She spoke to us and not at us. She was a blessing. She made me feel like I was good enough to be on the planet with the other humans. She was always quick with a hug or a smile. She told me my hair was beautiful. She adored us. I will always remember that.
Think back to a time when you were growing up about how you felt when someone interacted with you? Were there people who made you feel like crap? Were there people who made you feel valuable? Providers, teachers, and caretakers have such a great responsibility to treat these precious little ones with care. We are teachers, boo boo kissers, Band-Aid appliers, wound cleaners. We are song singers, and book readers. We are shoe tiers and hug givers. We are Barbie clothes makers and skill teachers. We are comforters until Mom gets back. We are helpers for learning new skills. We are cookers. We are game players. We have so many rolls for the kids.
For our parents we are advice givers, councilors, encouragers, and shoulders to lean on. We take our jobs seriously. This is not a game to us. We know we hold the future in our hands. We respect our parents and are here not to judge them, but to support them and build them up.
This is a hard job. I take training after training, at least 40-50 hours a year on a slow year so I can be the best me I can be. I earned my Child Development Associate and did everything I could to better myself and improve the care I provide. I have learned and grown over the past 21 years into what I think is a wonderful provider, and I give my all every day. Some days my all totally sucks and some days, I rock the house. I am human.
I spend a great deal of the fees I am paid on quality food, supplies, and activities for my kids. I study and learn to bring them the most beneficial things I can find for them to do while they learn here. I support their relationships and give them the best of myself to navigate life. I hold their hands, I lift them up, and I encourage them to make good choices and be their best selves.
Over the years I have been told I do childcare because I can’t do anything else, but you can ask my boss at my last job if I am capable, and she will tell you I was amazing! I give my 110% at any job I do. I make sure I give the best of me. I could do whatever I wanted. I am smart, I am kind, and I am valuable.
I have been told I charge too much, don’t do things right, say the wrong words, or don’t work the right hours. I have been told I shouldn’t take vacations. I have been told I must be rich. I have been asked to run errands for people and all kinds of other ridiculous requests because I am home, right? I have had people insult me, my family, and my ideas. I have had parents ignore requests, question my abilities, and tell me I’m wrong. Each of these experiences taught me something. Can you imagine doing a job where people felt it was okay to say these things to you?
I have one of the best groups of parents I have ever had , and I know every one of them respects me, but I have not always been treated well by everyone I provided care for. For the most part, I have. I am blessed. I still see there is this idea from some people that I am JUST a childcare provider. It has been described as swinging with the kids, playing around and other derogatory terms. But guess what? I LOVE what I do. I am awesome at it. And I’m rocking the future with these precious children I care for. Their parents know it! Most of my parents have always known it. People usually see there is something special in me. Over the years I’ve learned to believe it myself.
We are not JUST babysitters. We are not JUST childcare providers. We are warriors, protecting the future and changing the world. We are supporting the most important asset this world has. We do it for super long hours, and less than minimum wage. Our houses get torn up, our families have to share everything, and our bodies get worn out. We sacrifice all of this and people still think we are sitting on the couch with our feet up, eating bon bons. There is still, after all the research about the importance of the early childhood years and brain development, little to no respect for what we are doing. Even the government is not smart enough to fund it well. They always make cuts in childcare first. Click here to learn more about the importance of learning in the early years.
Personally, I am so grateful that I get to do this. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time. I know I am called by God. I am different. I am special. I am me.
My fellow providers and I are SUPERHEROES. We are WORLDCHANGERS. We are not JUST providers, we are PROVIDERS! Now stick out our chin and grin and BE AWESOME like you are!
If you want to check out what some other providers think about what we do, click on the links below. There are some great tips and points in there. Be super!