Being able to get it all done in home daycare without losing your mind and still have a life outside of work can be harder than people realize. But you can do it if you work smarter and not harder.

How to Run a Daycare at Home Without Losing Your Mind (and Life!)

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As a home child care provider, running your business and your home life can be harder than people realize. Living in your workplace means you always have to be on. If you’re wondering how to run a daycare at home without feeling overwhelmed and “always working,” I’ve got lots of productivity tips from my 27 years of experience. 

time management tools, clock, computer, coffe, paper, etc

In the child care business, parents see what we do with their kids, but they often don’t see all the work it takes to get there. There’s cleaning, planning, prepping, cooking, paperwork, managing supplies and so much more. And with clients coming in and out twice daily, our daycare home needs to always look presentable. 

But you can do it if you work smarter and not harder. 

Small Business Time Management

It’s easy to push yourself to do more and more with an all-encompassing job like home day care. But as a child care provider working out of your home, you need to find ways to focus on efficiency and time management.

My nature is to be super productive. I was raised in a family of procrastinators but I’m not one at all. Get it done, don’t hesitate, work it out. 

I want to be on top of everything because if I feel unprepared it causes me a great deal of anxiety. So, I treat myself nice and try to stay ahead of the game. The way I run a successful at home daycare is through time management!

Time management is using the time you have wisely. There are so many things in today’s world that compete for our time and distract us from getting things done. 

People always ask me how I get so much done. Managing your time is an art form – here are my best tips:

  • Delegation: Are you doing things you could have someone else do? Is your family all watching TV while you are cleaning the kitchen? How about handing them some laundry to fold while they sit there. 
  • Don’t procrastinate: If you have a task that you have to get done, don’t wait around. Get it done right away and free up time for you. You won’t have to be thinking about what’s left to be done.
  • Prioritize: Make sure to get the most pressing things done first. Maybe some tasks can be omitted if you need some downtime for yourself after the must-dos are done.
  • Create goals: If you have something you really want to accomplish such as decluttering your bedroom closet, write down a goal. 
  • Make lists: When you have a ton to accomplish, make a list and mark off what you get done. I LOVE checking stuff off my list! I’ll even add stuff like “eat lunch” or “turn on the dishwasher” just so I can mark it off. It makes it more fun!

Daycare Provider Productivity Tips

Productivity increases when we limit distractions. Two BIG distractions that people don’t realize suck hours from every day are TV and Facebook! Talk about a way to get lost. 

Other phone or computer distractions such as games or Pinterest are a time suck too. It’s okay to do those things, but if you have a plan to get a ton done on Saturday, wait until the evening when your work is done to start playing.

I feel like limiting my screen time is the biggest way I accomplish a lot. Personally, I have an anxiety disorder and sitting around not accomplishing stuff makes me a little unsettled. I think that’s why I push myself all the time. 

People always say, I wish I had your energy, but it’s a nervous energy. I am unable to sit and relax like most people do. So, I figure, why not make the best of that energy and use it for productivity instead of Facebooking or something else. Then I have something to show for all my hard work.

Decluttering – The Right Way!

When you are working, make sure you work with a purpose and a goal. I have seen people empty out a bunch of drawers, then go do something else. Then they have that big mess left to take care of. That’s inefficient and overwhelming. 

Just empty one drawer, clean everything up and then put it back. Then if you get distracted, that’s fine, one drawer is done and there’s no mess.

Another thing I see people do is declutter, but then not take care of the stuff they need to get rid of. If you are downsizing, make a bag for donations and a bag for trash. Empty the area, sort the items, then put the trash OUT and the donations IN THE CAR. 

There’s no reason to walk around them for days making life in the house harder. Once you pass a donation center, just drop them off. There’s no need to procrastinate about getting it done.

When you start something, finish it. When you finish it, put everything away. Then when you’re ready to move on to fun stuff or start something next time, you have a clean slate. It feels so good to have everything dealt with.

Toys in clear bins on shelves.

Finding Time as a Daycare Provider

When you work 10 or more hours a day like we have to in home day care, it’s hard to find time to get it all done. I like to steal small pieces of time to be productive. 

My most productive time is mornings, so I always wake up early. I lay in bed and pray for a few minutes, then I get up, shower and start working. I blog, do paperwork, or get activities ready for the kids in the hours before they arrive.

If that works for you, do it, if you’re a night owl, do it before bed. It doesn’t have to be two hours like I do. But if you got up 15 minutes early or stayed up 15 minutes late when everyone else is in bed. You’d be surprised at how much you could get done. 

If you have big jobs that are overwhelming, set a timer and just do it for 15 minutes a day. If you have a lot of decluttering, paperwork, taxes, or whatever to do, just set a time every day and get a few minutes in. It will be done before you know it.

Turn off the tv, music, computer, and phone and focus on your tasks before you let those things distract you. This is one of the best time management tips to get things done that I can tell you. Some people work better with music. If I’m cleaning, yes, music motivates. But if I’m writing or reading or any focused work, it distracts me. Do what works for you.

Nap time is also another time when child care providers can get things done. When the kids go down for their nap, I NEED that quiet time for my brain to rest. But before I start relaxing, I spend about 45 minutes working on things for my blog. I still have about an hour and 15 minutes to chill, but I feel better crossing some things off my to-do list first. 

Calendar and paperwork.

Save Time by Bulk Tasking

Bulk tasking will save you a ton of time when you run a daycare at home. If I cook, I cook in bulk. If I clean, I clean several things at once. When I plan activities, I plan a lot and make lists of what I need to buy. 

Working on something all at once helps you get focused and get a lot done and then have time left for you.

I might spend 2 hours one day making lesson plans, but then they are made for a while and I don’t have to spend time on it daily. I just get up, look at what we’re doing, get out the stuff I already bought and enjoy.

Set a phone reminder to work on your tasks each day. I like to set a schedule for what I need to get done each day. My husband and I both have daily chores, and we already know what they are. It saves time in planning when you have a routine.

I have the same thing for my daycare activities and lesson plans. Mondays we do “school”, Tuesdays we do science or math, Wednesday is music and free art, Thursdays is crafts or art, and Fridays is fun Friday. This is how I get things done and stay organized.

Break Up Big Tasks to Get Things Done

If I have a big task I need to get done, I will write it on my planning sheet for different days. For instance, let’s say I want to deep clean the kitchen.

I’ll schedule out 15 minutes on Monday for surfaces and scratch all the food and handprints off the front of all the cabinets and appliances, wipe down the tops, move everything and get behind it, and wipe out the microwave. 

Tuesday I’ll schedule to clean out the fridge and freezer. Wednesday I’ll schedule time to organize the busiest cabinets and put everything back in place. Thursday I’ll schedule to grab a box and fill it with things I rarely use and donate them and Friday I will schedule sweeping and deep mopping the floor.

Bam, everything is cleaned and I only did a few minutes a day. It doesn’t seem as difficult that way. And believe me, I HATE cleaning. I have to get it done in order to have a successful home daycare, but I really hate it. So, this helps me get it done!

We all have things we hate to do and times when we just don’t wanna. But I have heard the phrase eat the frog first and everything else you do that day won’t seem that bad. So do the worst part first and the day gets easier from there.

Steam cleaner on wood floor.

Separating Work from Home in a Home Daycare

Running a home daycare business is not easy. There is so much to juggle, and living in your workplace can make that difficult. The first thing you need to do is find a way to separate work from home. 

I have a big shade on each of my front windows of the house. I close those when daycare is closed and open them when we’re open. Mentally, it’s like an open and closed sign. It ends the day and starts family time. 

My husband likes to see outside, so on the back side of our house I have the windows open and airy. When I’m not home, he still opens the front shades, and that’s fine. But I love the feeling when they are closed and it’s time to relax. 

Some providers put away their bulletin board of required papers to post. And some providers drink a glass of wine. Some providers put the toy baskets away. For me, I close the playroom door and the front shades and I feel closed. Do what feels good for you.

Working from home as a family child care provider requires time management skills and the ability to set boundaries. Hopefully, these tips will help you find small ways of increasing your productivity and getting it all done. 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of my series on how to run a home daycare and increasing your productivity: 

Don’t forget to pin for later!

If you’re wondering how to run a daycare at home without feeling overwhelmed and “always working,” I’ve got lots of productivity tips from my 27 years of experience.

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