Everyone has a really bad, no good day sometimes. Have you ever read the book about Alexander’s? I love it. It helps us to see that bad days aren’t wrong and the people having them aren’t bad. Sometimes people just feel bad for some reason. Sometimes we are just tired or even burned out. Click here to see how to avoid burnout.
Tag Archive for childcare 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!
Christmas has just passed and it was a wonderfully blessed one for me. I have wonderful daycare families! I had asked a question on a couple of daycare Facebook groups I’m in and I was astounded at the variety of answers about what parents do for their providers. The sad part of my inquiry was how crushed some of the providers were about how their parents chose not to acknowledge them at all.
I have received some amazingly thoughtful and heart felt gifts. All of my parents take the time to show and tell me how much they appreciate me throughout the year. I KNOW they do. Does your provider know?
Do you know what the honest truth is? I don’t really care about gifts. People do not have to give me something to make me feel special. Just telling me and showing me they care is all I need. I appreciate what people do give me, because I know they put thought into it. They thought about me and wanted to bless me. That’s what matters to me. I love what my families have written in cards.
Do you appreciate your childcare provider?
They don’t have to write it. They can just say it. I love that too. Every single one of my parents takes the time to tell me at one time or another that they think I’m great and they appreciate what I’m doing for their baby. That makes me one happy woman. It also makes me want to learn more and be even better so I can reach my full potential. People will always do more than what’s expected if they feel their efforts are appreciated! Click here to see how people’s notes and comments have changed my life.
Did you know that appreciating someone makes them work twice as hard? It does. It’s a crying shame for anyone to be working somewhere and that entity not appreciate them. My husband has worked at his job over 8 years and has never been told I appreciate you by any of his bosses ever! He works hard! He deserves to be told thanks at least once in 8 years. He has a manager, an assistant director and a director over him. Someone should be saying something. It’s a good thing he works for the glory of God and not man, isn’t it? He’d for sure not be giving his best anymore by now.
I am well aware that times are tight and money is not always easy to come by. Guess what? Your childcare provider puts their whole heart into your precious angels and loves them with all of her heart. She puts her family, her home, her mind, her body, and her spirit into what she’s doing, and she deserves to be recognized. Money is tight for her too. Make sure you’re paying her on time so she can pay her bills.
What is an appropriate gift? According to etiquette guidelines “Matching one week/session is considered the “norm.” If your recipient provides service weekly, give the equivalent of one week’s pay. Of course, that may not be practical or possible in many cases (such as someone who uses a nanny at $300 each week), but be as generous and thoughtful as your family budget can afford.”
I know that Christmas puts so many demands on us, and this is not always possible. What you give depends on your personal budget as well. Honestly, where I live, I would never expect this and have very seldom ever received it. But guess what? I still KNOW I’m appreciated. Give your provider the best you can afford to give them.
When I asked daycare providers what the most special thing any family had done for them was, these were some of their answers:
- My parents got together and paid for the rest of the daycare room remodel I was doing as I had funds for it.
- My favorite coffee from Starbucks in the morning.
- My parents got together and bought me a new dryer because mine went out.
- I had a parent give me tickets to a concert.
- I had a parent give me a pampering basket.
- A Sonic drink surprise on the porch.
- I got a bottle of wine with a child’s picture on it that said, because I’m the reason you drink.
- I got gift cards from each of my parents.
- I had a family give me $500.
- My favorite gift is a card with a heartfelt message and a picture the kids drew.
- When I was a young single mom and provider years ago, a grandmother came over and showed me how to fix my loose door knob and a few other broken things around my house and she gave me the tools so I could do it for myself.
There were all kinds of answers of big things parents had done in the past.
There were also answers like:
- I watch 12 kids and I got nothing, from any family in the bunch.
- One provider said a parent gave her a gift that had a toy for the daycare kids to use at her house and a snack, she said, oh thanks for the snack and they said, I thought your husband would like that. So…you gave me a gift for your kids and for my husband? It seems like the thoughtfulness for the provider was left out. Just because your provider is a giving person, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want you to care about her.
- A parent brought me a coffee mug with candy in it a week after Christmas and they know I can’t have sugar.
- Out of 8 kids, I got one gift.
- One provider even received a gift from all of her daycare families except one. When that child was picked up before Christmas, she told the Mom Merry Christmas and the mom gave her a dirty look and said, oh, Merry Christmas in a hateful way, like it was too hard for her to even wish her a Merry Christmas. That’s a great way to show you care about someone, isn’t it?
Many providers talked about how hurt they were that no one even thought of them.
How sad is that? What would happen if your provider didn’t care enough about you to try her hardest to be reliable for you and you weren’t able to go to work every day because she didn’t care about that? What would happen if your child was not treated well or noticed because your provider didn’t want to put the effort in to take good care of them?
How would it feel if you went to work and had to beg every week for your paycheck? How would it feel if on Christmas instead of receiving your bonus from work or being told Merry Christmas, that your boss yelled at you and gave you a dirty look? You like being appreciated, don’t you?
Guess what the big secret is about your provider? She doesn’t care how expensive the gift was, she loves and cares about you and your kids! Do you know what she’s really love? For you to just think about her.
- She’d love to get a big hug and a Merry Christmas and thanks for all you do.
- She’d love a card that your child drew a picture in that said how much you appreciate her.
- She’d love for you to say, it means a lot to us that you care for our family.
- She just wants to be recognized.
The worst thing you can do is nothing.
What are some ways you can show your provider you appreciate her?
- Ask her some questions and keep the answers on hand so you KNOW what she likes. It could be things like; what is your birthday, what is your favorite color, what is your favorite snack, what is your favorite drink, what is your favorite donut, do you have any food allergies, what is your favorite hobby, what is your favorite thing to do when you go out, etc. This way, you can check the list at the times when you are wanting to do something nice for her.
- Make a point to tell her a couple of times a year in a card, a text, an email, or even Facebook what she means to you. If you don’t think she’s doing her best and she loves your baby, you should try to find a provider who does. If you know she does, SHOW HER!
- Saying thank you is good manners. You should thank her for her service. Being kind is free. Showing appreciation doesn’t cost anything. It just takes a minute and little bit of effort to show love to someone. Your provider works super hard for a not very lucrative lifestyle. You may think childcare is expensive, and it is a big part of your income, but there are so many expenses involved in providing care that your provider is earning far less than minimum wage once she buys your baby’s food and supplies to care for them. She does it because she LOVES! She loves kids, she loves helping people, and she loves making a difference.
- Have your child draw her something and give it to her and tell her they love her.
- Provider Appreciation Day is the Friday before Mother’s Day in May every year, surprise her with something then.
- Give her a Valentine when you bring valentines for all the kids. It will make her smile.
- Remember her birthday and be sure to tell her Happy Birthday.
- Look her in the eye and tell her you appreciate her.
- Think about your provider first when you are cleaning out old toys from your kid’s room to make room for Christmas. She would appreciate some new things for the kids because that’s a big expense for her and the kids break a lot of her toys. It would be great to have replacements for free. I love when people call and ask me if I want something their kids are too old for! Make sure you call her first though, she may not need any toys at the time.
- Make or have your kids make something for her like her favorite cookies or a homemade ornament for her Christmas tree. Ornaments my kids make are some of my very favorite gifts!
- Don’t complain when she takes time off. She NEEDS time of to recharge and be a great provider! Why not tell her to have a great vacation instead of giving her grief about it?
I have the most wonderful parents in my daycare and there is no question that every single one of them loves and appreciates me. It makes me want to give my all. They have all let me know in their own ways that what I do matters to them. Make sure you do that for your provider and you’ll make sure your child is getting even better care than before. When people feel appreciated, they do a whole lot more!
Love a childcare provider today! We are changing the future!
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Many times people ask me, what’s a day like for you? I thought now would be a great time to post about a day in my life so you can see what childcare is like.
I wake up between 5 and 5:30. I spend a few minutes talking to God about how grateful I am for the day and asking Him to help me be the best I can be for Him today. I get up and take a shower and get dressed for the day. I take a walk around the house and make sure everything is in order for the kids to arrive, turn on the living room light and open the front shade. It’s so peaceful early in the morning when no one is bustling in the neighborhood and everything is still dark. I love that time of day.
Next I take a little time to prepare my mind for the day. First I read a chapter or two of the Bible, without which my whole day would be thrown off. After my Bible reading is done, I take a few minutes to think about what I read and try to think of a way to apply it to my life or something I might need to learn from it.
Then I turn on my computer and look at anything that needs my attention. I read my emails, check my Facebook, and check over the blog and see if there are comments that need to be answered and how my stats are looking from the day before. After I handle that, I take a few minutes to work on the blog until my first student arrives. The first child comes around 7:15. I have been up getting my mind together and am ready to start the day with them.
When each child comes in, I open the door for them and their parents and greet them with good morning or something like that. I am a morning person for sure and I am cheerful mostly every day. When the child comes in, they find their foot with their name on it in the check in center and chose an envelope to display it in for the day.
For the next hour, kids come every few minutes, so we watch out the window for the next one to come while we visit in the living room until they are all here. Around 8:00 I start breakfast for the kids. This could consist of oatmeal, cold cereal, pancakes, muffins, or toast and some fruit and a cup of milk. I make the pancakes and muffins in bulk and freeze them so many days just have to thaw something from the freezer, but if it’s time to make more, I usually start as soon as the first child arrives. He LOVES to “hatch” eggs and other helpful chores with the cooking, so we enjoy that together too. Once the breakfast is cooked and the fruit is cut up and prepared and the milk is poured into cups, I get out all the dishes needed for the meal and set them in the table and pour myself a glass of water to drink.
Most of the food I serve is homemade from scratch and it can be time consuming to prepare food that way. The kid’s health is super important to me, so it’s worth the extra effort to feed them well. I don’t feel that processed foods are the healthiest choice, so I limit how many of them I serve. When I cook meals for the kids, I usually cook a substantial amount. For instance, I can save a ton of time making soup if I make a huge pan of soup and serve it to the kids for lunch and then we have it for dinner. Mr. Kent takes it in his lunch the next day and I freeze a portion of it for another meal a few weeks later when we will do the same thing. That’s 4 meals for everyone from one prep time. I do the same thing with homemade bread. To check out why I make the bread I serve from scratch, click here. To see how I make it with a bread maker, click here.
When I make my bread, I might make 12 loaves of bread in one day. Making bread is messy, so why not make a lot and have less clean up than you would for multiple bread making sessions? I cool all 12 loaves, slice it, and put it in the freezer so when I need a loaf of bread, it’s ready to go. I serve sandwiches, toast, warm honey butter bread, and many other meals using my homemade bread and I don’t have time to whip up a batch every time I need it. I just make a lot once every few weeks.
We eat breakfast at 8:30. Usually all of the kids or all but one are here by then, so we wash our hands and sit down at the table and the “star of the day” prays over our food. I serve all the kids their food and I eat with them as well. Eating with the kids is super important to model table manners as well as good eating habits. The only things I serve the kids that I don’t eat are milk (because it gives me tummy troubles) and mac and cheese because I hate it. Don’t worry, my despise of mac and cheese DOES NOT deter the kids from loving it.
During breakfast we talk about whatever the kids want to talk about. Meal times are the BEST conversation times of the day. I love eating with the kids because I feel like it helps us get to know each other better. I hear all kinds of stories when we are hanging out at the table. It’s wonderful.
Setting down for “family” meals is super important for childcare providers AND families to do whenever possible. It’s tough to make the time when everyone can get together, but the benefits of it far outweigh the effort it takes to do it. Click here to read about the positive influences it makes when families sit down and eat together. I want those benefits for my kids as well.
After breakfast the kids take care of their dishes. They dump their plates in the trash and load them into the dishwasher with their silverware (I use the term load loosely, but they are still learning even though I have to go back and straighten), and they put their cups on the cabinet for drinking later. I put away the leftover food, take care of my dishes, wipe and disinfect the table, and wash the cups and fill them with water for whenever someone needs a drink. Water is available to the kids at all times throughout the day. The kid’s cups are color coded so they know which one is theirs. They have the same color sleeping mat, pillow, blanket, and foot to check in with.
While I am cleaning up the kitchen, the kids have free play. When I finish in the kitchen, I either take the kids outside if it’s the hot summer time, or they have free play first if its spring, fall, or winter. After breakfast I change diapers and take everyone to the bathroom to go potty and wash their hands. Then, for most of the year, it’s free time. Kids can play with the toys or look at books while I prepare the activities for the day. After I get the activity supplies together, I will sit with the kids and snuggle, play whatever they want me to play or read to them. They serve me toy food, “fix” my hair, or whatever they want me to do. I don’t direct their play, but I respond when they want me to join them.
Free time is over around 9:30. We pick up the toys and they make their beds for nap time. If you’re wondering how I get the kids to clean up, click here. They get their beds out and make them in whatever spot they would like. The kids sleep in the playroom so after the beds are made, we close the door and do activities.
On Mondays, we have “school” where we work on tracing lines or letters for our name, we work on spelling names out loud, practice saying last names and mom and dad’s names, and recite phone numbers. These things are done for safety reasons, if a child should ever get lost, they know who they belong to.
Activities are generally done at the table. I have the kids practice joining in an activity and following some directions so they are prepared to be able to do that at school. After all, this is school preparation. If kids don’t want to participate, they are not forced to, I just know they will join in the next time. Everything I choose for the kids to do is thought through with great concern. I want our time together to be valuable in preparing them for the future, but I don’t want the type of learning I offer to make them nervous or feel inadequate. Everyone is encouraged and celebrated here.
Tuesday is art day. We may do something with collage materials, play dough, have a craft project, make birdfeeders, make pictures with fingerprints, mix paints to learn colors, or any number of other activities, usually open ended and creative. Click here to learn more about nurturing creativity in kids.
Wednesday is drawing and music day. We get paper and something to draw with and make a picture of whatever we want. When we are finished we get out the musical instruments and crank up the CD player with whatever music is chosen by the star of the day and get down and boogie. We LOVE to sing and dance.
Thursday is science day. We may explore magnets, make a goopy goop, plant a seed, cook a recipe, or any number of sciency things.
On Fun Friday, we do not have teacher directed activities at this time. We get extra free play because it’s super important. To read more about the importance of free play, click here.
After free play, I change diapers, send all the kids to the potty again, get everyone dressed in their jackets and head outside. This is the time we may work in the garden, see what’s growing, plant or pick stuff, and play in the playground area. If you want to read about how our garden started, click here. And to see what we are growing, click here, and to see how we grow food with such young kids, click here.
The kids love to dig in the rocks, play with the dinosaurs and animals, swing, slide, run, scream, and climb. During the spring and fall when it’s super nice out, we usually do activities right after breakfast and go straight outside so we can have our free play out there. The schedule is dependent on the weather of course. On bad weather days, we free play inside after activity time.
At 11:00 it’s time for me to cook lunch, so we head inside, wash our hands, use the potty, change diapers, and take off jackets and shoes. I let the star of the day choose a movie (I have vhs movies and a VCR) and they can watch the movie, look at books or play with the special toy of the day. Each day we get out a special toy from our shelves, the star of the day gets to choose it. The special toys are sets like a box of Mr. Potato heads, a box of Lincoln logs, a box of cars and a car rug, a farm set, or something like that. They play with that while I cook their lunch. I serve lunch at 11:30, so they clean up the toys, go potty if they need to and wash their hands. They get their cups of milk and get up to the table. The star of the day prays over the food, I serve them their plates and we eat together again.
We all stay at the table until everyone is done. I feel it’s important to do that with them because if they go out to eat with their families, parents won’t want their kids to jump down after they eat and run all over the restaurant, so we practice every day having good manners. They are not allowed to have seconds until I eat my food, if they do ask, I tell them I will let them know when I’m ready to give seconds. Patience is a virtue that needs to be practiced.
When we are finished eating, they take care of their dishes again, and head to the bathroom to potty and wash their hands, I also change diapers at this time. They get a book and sit down on the couch while I finish putting up the food, packing Kent’s lunch for the next day, disinfecting the table, washing their cups, and putting the rest of the dishes in the dishwasher (most days, sometimes that gets done later).
It’s time for stories. We use a Clifford story book set that has a wall poster and 10 small paper books with the same words. I read the kids the words and they repeat them while we point to the words. We use each set of books for about two weeks and then they take them home. After we read the books, they put them away and we all sit on the couch and sing songs together. Then it’s time for huggies and they get in their beds. I go into the sleeping area and give each child an animal to sleep with and put their blanket on them and tell them I love them. Routine is important in getting kids to settle in for sleep. Bedtime routines is another post that is coming soon.
When everyone is settled to sleep, I go back to the computer and check what’s new. I try to be super quiet while the kids fall asleep and I usually turn the TV on to the food network for background noise so if someone calls or rings the doorbell they don’t wake up. I like food network because it usually doesn’t have loud commercials or action scenes, it’s just even volume talking. Also, it doesn’t have bad language.
After I check the computer, I will either work on my blog or read a book for a few minutes until my friend Yavonna calls. We usually talk for a while during nap. She is a childcare provider as well, so we are “co-workers”. We share ideas with each other, encourage each other, and sometimes we even work on correspondence classes or paperwork together if there is something we both need to finish. She might help me with my CDA renewal packet, or I might help her with tax information. We are a great team. We also plan our activities together, work on our calendars, and share ideas. Good friends are priceless and she is a gem!
I make a snack for the kids during nap. Maybe some crackers, warm bread with butter and honey, dry cereal, or pretzels and some fruit and a cup of water. Sometimes I make cookies or muffins while the kids are asleep for their snack. Many days I will start the preparation for dinner that night during nap as well or do some cleaning or paperwork that needs to be dealt with. At 2:50, I hang up with my friend and wake the kids up with a “wakey wakey shake and bakey” and some tickles or hugs. They put their beds up and go potty, I change diapers. Then we all meet at the table for their snack time. I sit at the table while they eat, but I don’t usually have snack.
When they are finished eating snack, they put up their dishes and get their shoes on. Then they have free play until their parents come. The first child leaves around 3:15 and then kids leave throughout the afternoon until 5:00 when my last family leaves.
I have one after school child that comes on the bus around 3:45 so we watch for him and he eats snack when he gets here. During this time I sit with the kids while they play with the special toy they have that day, look at books which a lot of times they ask me to read to them, sing songs, make up games, and whatever else the kids think of. Usually I have diapers to change or kids to help in the bathroom besides watching for parents to come.
After school, my school-ager and I usually come up with something fun to do the little kids want to do it with us. We might get out some puzzles, make paper airplanes, draw a picture, or play a game. The kids are never short on ideas.
Usually around 4:30 I start dinner and a load of laundry while everyone is engaged in what they are doing. I might get all the vegetables cut up or have something roasting in the oven. Sometimes I don’t get much done before everyone is gone, but that’s part of this job, not everything will go as planned. Some days it does more than others. To me, staying busy keeps me from getting bored, so I like that no two days are the same.
After all the kids leave my husband and I eat dinner and talk about our day. After dinner my husband usually cleans up the dinner dishes and sweeps the floor. I do my chores such as rounding up the herd of cats and feeding them, making sure the carpet is clean, picking up the last of the toys the kids missed before they left, putting my materials up from the day’s activities, putting the laundry in the dryer or folding it, wiping down the bathroom, rounding up the paper towels that missed the trash, slicing up bread or packaging muffins or pancakes, cleaning any toys that need some extra loving, scooping the litter boxes, taking out the trash, and taking the compost out to the composter.
My husband, Mr. Kent, is a great help and pitches in wherever I need him. If it weren’t for him, I would still be doing chores past my bed time, but he’s a team player these days. When we finish cleaning up from the day, we go out into the garden and pick weeds or mow the yard, or whatever chore might need to be done out there. Or we might head to church if it’s Wednesday or run an errand or attend a class or meeting, whatever is on the agenda for the day. Obviously sometimes we don’t get all of that done before we need to go somewhere, so we will have to stay up late when we get home and finish. Usually on Wednesdays we never get to bed at our regular time and any other days we have to be somewhere in the evening.
Childcare is MESSY. It’s not just a “straighten up your desk and head home for the day” kind of job. If you provide childcare in your home, it consumes most of your space and most of your time. The hours are long, at least 10 hours a day, and then you have at least another hour or maybe two or three to finish with cleaning and preparation for the next day.
Usually by 7:00 I am beat and ready to chillax. If we are home that evening, I might work on my blog, work on something with Mr. Kent for work, or read a little. Then we usually turn on the TV about 8:00 and start to unwind from the day. Then we head to bed around 9:00. Mr. Kent has to get up at 3:30 some days and at 6:30 some days. On Monday he usually gets to sleep in until 8:00. We talk some more about our day and pray before we go to bed.
Usually Saturday is errands, gathering food and supplies, dropping off the recycling, and catching up in the garden. Sundays after church we have to start getting everything prepped for the new week of daycare. Prepping food, washing produce, baking, getting meat and bread out of the freezer to thaw, steaming the floor, vacuuming, washing sheets and pillow cases for the mats, dusting, disinfecting toys, and things like that.
A very important part of being successful in childcare is to be prepared. You cannot put off the things that need to be done ahead of time or you will be playing catch up and things will fall apart. You have to have plans to keep the kids busy or they will keep you busy putting out fires. Preparation, preparation, preparation is key!
And that’s my very non-exciting life. It’s busy, it’s hard and it’s super fun! I wouldn’t want any other life and I would never be able to do it without such an amazing, supportive husband. He’s my rock and I would be nothing without him. He’s a trooper.
In 1998, the state of Oklahoma implemented the Stars Program for rating quality. One star was for providers who meet minimum license requirements, one star plus was working toward a higher quality level, two star was better quality, and three star was the best. As a new childcare provider I thought this was a GREAT idea and was on board immediately to get the highest rating.
In order to reach the two star level, you have to have a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Certificate of Mastery in early childhood education, as well as numerous other qualifications. To reach three star level you have to have all of the two star requirements plus be nationally accredited. All of the requirements are great. They include goal setting, parent conferences and meetings, parent involvement activities, additional hours of yearly training required, and things of that nature. I feel like all of those things make me a better provider.
I learned so much through the process of getting my CDA and I know it made me a much better provider and mother. I would recommend every provider do it. It was hard to work 55-60 hour weeks and still go to class for 10 hours a week and then have projects and homework after that. At times I thought it would kill me. My husband continually complained about the extra work, so I quit several times. It took me two years to finish the year long program because I didn’t stick with it. When I was taking my last two classes, he started complaining and I said, this is why I never finish this, now I’m almost done, be quiet! What’s crazy about that is he is my biggest supporter in everything and he is always on board with whatever I come up with as a goal or dream. We got through it and I felt like it was such an accomplishment.
Next I set out to get nationally accredited. Oklahoma had a mentoring program and someone came out once a month and watched me with the kids, taking notes. I was given advice, books to read, and support on whatever areas I would need to improve. After a year of observations, I applied for a grant to get supplies I needed to meet the requirements. I was awarded money for impact material for outside and edging to hold it in, and multicultural dolls and supplies. (Believe it or not there are strict requirements on what can be accepted as multicultural and the only dolls available that meet it are super expensive). After I dotted all my I’s and crossed all my t’s I was awarded national accreditation. I was so excited.
After 10 years of being three star and accredited, I was beginning to tire of all of the paperwork involved. In Oklahoma, there is a massive amount of paperwork involved in just being a licensed provider. Every year the state adds more requirements and more paperwork to the load and continually more and more providers quit (or more likely provide care illegally instead). As the load increased, I began to get disheartened with the process.
For the first nine years I was accredited, the fee was $495 every three years. That is A LOT of money for a childcare provider whose profit margin is laughable. I got a scholarship one year, did a fundraiser one year, and one year paid for it by saving up for two years before it was due. Then I got a notice from the accrediting agency. The price would increase to $600 every three years PLUS a yearly renewal fee of $150 on year two and year three. The fees went from $495 to $900!
A provider who wants to get accredited must have FBI fingerprinting done for a federal background check in addition to our state background checks already required. Guess when you can get those? Monday through Friday 8-4. A provider must also have a TB skin test. Guess when you can get those? Monday through Friday 9-4. I work Monday through Friday 7:15-5:30 so I have to take days off to get those things. Guess what happens when I take days off? I don’t get paid. A provider must also PAY for all of those things. Fingerprints are $53, TB skin tests are $27, copies of your last three years of training cost money, postage to mail a box full of paperwork costs money, fees, fees, fees. Time off and time stressing out about mountains of paperwork and requirements I could be spending to just BE with my kids. Laughing with them, talking to them, and loving them. Spending my evenings getting rejuvenated so I can run and dance and play with them in the days. I felt the process had become more about money than quality. Anyone can put on a show while they are being observed, even if the observation date is a surprise.
I felt like the state had taken us on a journey to the wilderness and then left us out there. When the stars program was being promoted to us, we were told it would be advertised, and the whole state would be informed about what it was. That never happened. We reached for the stars and when we got them, we were left hanging from them. Most parents have never heard of the stars program or have no idea what they mean.
Over the year the grant program was shut down, scholarships discontinued, and raises for DHS subsidy for starred providers did not reflect the amount of work and expense they required. One year the three star raise was 75 cents per day. For paying $500 to get certified, I was receiving 50 cents more per day than a two star provider. That spoke volumes to me about how the state felt about quality. They eventually fixed that a couple of years later, but it was such a slap in the face at the time.
I had a long talk with myself and then with my husband. I wanted to spend my time being fun instead of grouchy and drowning in paperwork. It was really tough for me to give up my rating because I thought the program was such a great idea, but I knew I would be the same me without the stars behind my name. So I decided after 12 years of being three star, to let my stars go and quit the program. I would celebrate my gifts and not worry about what the state ratings said about me.
Sometimes the popular decision or what looks right to everyone else is not what’s right for you. I’m finding that in several areas of my personal life right now, but I can see God makes everything work together for the good of those who love Him! That scripture is very real in my life right now as God is working on me in another area. I never tire of trusting Him, HE’s a great and amazing God!
I have not regretted for one minute letting my three star go. For me, it has been the best choice. In childcare word of mouth is your best tool for success, and I do my best to meet the needs of my families, so they naturally talk to their friends about it.
What steps can you take today to simplify your life? Less is more, you won’t regret it. Have a super day!