Daycare requires a ton of "stuff". Paperwork, toys and supplies can be overwhelming. Keep your daycare organized and save yourself a ton of trouble.

How to Keep Your Daycare Organized

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Daycare requires a ton of “stuff”. Paperwork, toys and supplies can be overwhelming. Keep your daycare organized and save yourself a ton of trouble. You have to find ways to organize when running a home daycare.

Home daycare storage and paperwork center

Family Childcare comes with a whole lot of stuff. It’s all needed, but it’s hard to manage it sometimes. Even if you don’t have a childcare, having a family comes with the need for lots of gadgets, supplies, and papers that have to be kept in an orderly fashion.

For other tips to simplify daycare, click here. 

The first thing you need to do to get your life in “order” is to decide what you have to have and what you don’t. Do you really need nine million puzzles, or is 20 enough for the group of kids you have? Do you need every bill you ever paid since you were in college 20 years ago, or can you just keep the last three years’ worth or even the last year?

There is so much paperwork involved in childcare, so let’s start there. You NEED a place to keep important papers and a place to plop them. I use a filing cabinet with a little drawer. If I don’t want to take the time to file my bills, I plop them in the little drawer and file them when it won’t close anymore.

Let’s all get real up in here. If I need to look back and see if something is paid, it’s at least narrowed down in my drawer. If you don’t have a business, you don’t have to keep your bill stubs, just throw them out when they are paid.

Daycare paperwork

Your filing cabinet can have a file for important documents like car titles and such, or you can keep all of your valuable documents in your freezer in an airtight container. If you have a flood or fire, those documents will stay safe. It’s a lot easier to move on when you don’t have to go applying to a million agencies for new titles and birth certificates.

organizing paperwork

Business receipts

Now let’s talk about receipts. If you have a home daycare, you know I’m talking to you! You have to log every single receipt in order to pay your taxes at the end of the year, and the more receipts you lose because you are disorganized, the worse off your financial situation will be. 

To keep your daycare organized, make an allotted place to keep them until you can get them logged. I have a little drawer in my desk. Everyone in the family knows to get the receipts to that drawer or else!

organizing business receipts

Daycare tax information

I have an excel spreadsheet that I made up for logging my receipts. It totals each column for me and I can log them whenever I take the time. (Even if that’s in December) You should try not to wait more than a month to log them because it’s more difficult to remember what you spent on what and will reduce your deductions if you don’t know what they are.

Click here to see how to prepare for tax time and here to see what’s deductible. Tom is the expert on that. One of the most important ways to keep your daycare organized.

At the top of my spreadsheet, I make columns for each type of expense, for example, I have advertising as my first column. After advertising I put 100% because what I spend on advertising is 100% deductible. This helps me remember at tax time. Then under that, I put schedule c, because that’s where that expense belongs.

This makes it easier for me to fill out my tax forms once I have everything totaled. It saves me hours of writing and calculating these expenses. I would much rather spend those hours doing something funner. (Funner is a word in toddler world!) That’s why I keep my daycare organized.

Organize daycare paperwork for DHS 

If you have a daycare, let’s talk about your DHS required paperwork. What do you do when your licensing worker or food program monitor come to inspect you? Do you have a way to keep your stuff ready for them to view? I have a three-ring binder for these papers.

In the first section, I have my training certificates, my staff information, and my cat’s health records. In the next section, I have all my kid’s paperwork including shot records and food program enrollment forms. My licensing worker used my notebooks to teach a class on how to keep your daycare organized. 

I keep that notebook on a cabinet where I also keep my compliance file for DHS and my DHS handbook. When I need to look something up, everything is right there. Also, if a parent wishes to view the compliance file or handbook, it’s easy to access for them as well. My DHS worker loves that I am organized. It makes her job easier too. 

In addition to that area, I have another area with my bulletin board on the wall. Then I have a set of shelves underneath. The bottom shelf has my kid’s books that I can rotate into the book rack for them, the next shelf up has my personal reference books, the next shelf up has my purse and anything I need for my lesson plans, and on the top shelf, I have another notebook.

Organized child care

This book contains my rotating grocery list so I can see what food I need for my menu and make my shopping list when it’s time to go to the store, my calendar that holds all my important information, my in and out sheets, and my vacation list and waiting list for future children who need a spot here. This is another crucial way to keep your daycare organized. When you are ready to fill spots, you’ll have a great resource to get you started.

It’s all together so I can see anything I need at a moment’s notice. I log parent payments on the in and out sheets so at the end of the day I can see if anyone owes me money or what is going to come in to use to pay my expenses.

These notebooks have saved me so much time and frustration over the year, and all of my monitors LOVE them. They keep me organized. They make my inspections easy and smooth. In addition, my bulletin board contains all the mandatory postings for DHS and the food program as well as my weekly cycle menu, my monthly lesson plan sheet, and any other information I need at my fingertips.

Click here to see how to keep your paperwork organized.

Downsize to organize your daycare toys

Now that we have handled papers, let’s talk about “stuff”. How much stuff do we really need? Chances are, if you haven’t needed something in the past year, YOU DON’T NEED IT! Why are you holding on to so much stuff that you can’t find what you’re looking for? I asked myself that years ago and I have never regretted downsizing. I do a big purge now and then to keep things at a minimum so they don’t get overwhelming.

Have extra storage areas to keep your daycare organized. In my garage, I have a set of shelves that hold art supplies, science stuff, and games. It’s all easy to see and easy to find when I’m ready to do a project with the kids. If you have your stuff in totes or boxes, it’s really hard to get what you need in a timely manner, or even find it sometimes. I have the basics, and I make most activities work from those.

daycare organization

In our playroom, we have a set of shelves at the top of the room. These shelves have totes which each contain items that go together. We call them our “special toys”. I have a basic bunch of toys out for the kids all the time such as dress up clothes, kitchen and accessories, and a tool bench with tools. This is another key way to keep your daycare organized.

Classroom storage

We also have a set of shelves that hold stuffed animals, trucks, and other assorted everyday toys. Every week, one child gets to pick our special toy for that week and we get down the tote and play with it all week long. I also rotate out books and dress-up clothes once a month or so, but for the most part, this is how we rotate what we are using.

When I first started daycare, I wanted to obtain tons of things for the kids to use, but over the years, I found out the more toys they have the more bored they become. Too many toys or things is overwhelming for kids, and they just dump them all out and leave them. It’s difficult to keep them organized.

The fewer things you have out for the kids, the more time they spend in thoughtful play and the less frustration there is at clean up time. Click here to see how I get my kids to clean up.

I have pared down a ton of the excess I had that we really didn’t need. All I have now in the garage rotation is a couple of totes of dolls and dress-up clothes so I can put out different ones occasionally when the kids tire of them.

Daycare supplies

Less is more, I have learned from 20 years’ experience. I promise you, less is more! Every once in a while I like to go through my personal things and just really pare them down as well. There is no sense in having a closet full of clothes you don’t wear. If they don’t fit, or you don’t like them, give them away. Someone else could be using them and you are not going to wear them. If you haven’t worn it in the last 6 months, you don’t need it.

Our home is very small, so here, space is a commodity. This is another reason it’s crucial to keep your daycare organized. We have a good amount of storage for this square footage, but we still have to be selective about keeping a lot of things we don’t need. It feels super great to unload a bunch of things that are in your way and making life harder to navigate.

Child care supplies

Take a trash bag once a month, set the timer for 15 minutes, or even 5, and fill that trash bag with things you never use. Take it to a charity where someone will enjoy using it. We don’t NEED half the stuff we think we do and someone else actually might!

Another great method of paring things down is having the rule if you bring something in, you have to take two things out. This is a great idea for clothes, dishes, gadgets and other things that we seem to accumulate way too much of. If you have a clutter problem, you don’t have to gut the place and haul in a construction dumpster, you can just handle it a bit at a time and it will still get better.

Finally, when you are thinking of purchasing something, think about how many hours you had to work to earn the money for it, think about how much you will really need it, and start practicing a whole lot of leaving things at the store that you don’t need. Your family and house will thank you and so will your wallet! Financial reasons are more great reasons to keep your daycare organized.

Check out what home daycare essentials you really need here.  

Classroom storage ideas

Look around you right now and see if your life is the way you’d like it to be. If you feel cluttered, grab a box or a trash bag and get to tossing. You’ll be so glad you did! For more on how to organize toys, click here. For inspiration on how to set up your daycare arrangement, click here. 

For a planner made JUST for home daycare providers, this jewel will help you get all of your business organized-AND, it’s gorgeous! There are tons of great provider helps on this site. I wish resources like these ladies have were available when I started. There was no help for home daycare providers back then. But don’t forget to always take care of yourself so you can take care of others!

Click here if you want to see how I make my super tiny kitchen work too!

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  1. Very great points! Ever since I read this last year I have been trying to follow the advice and it helps so much!

  2. I am having a hard time getting rid of things// but what I found here. I think will help me. I hope anyway. 29 year of this toy hoarding is enough.

  3. organization is key! I am getting better and better at it and I have to credit my wife who is really top notch when it comes to being organized. Plastic tubs, properly marked … huge yard sale to get rid of the garbage we don’t need and so on. Every little bit helps/

  4. So many great tips!! We moved last year and got rid about half of our stuff (at least it seemed like it). And we’re still constantly going through getting rid of more stuff. Thanks for the paperwork in the freezer idea! I’ve been thinking about getting a fire safe, but I guess I don’t need one!!

  5. Do you have pictures of your garage organization. My daycare toys are stored out in my garage but um always looking for bcleaner ideas.

    1. I can try to get some, I don’t have any right now. I just have my storage toys in totes. They are stacked up on the side of the wall, one has dress up clothes, one has dolls and doll accessories, and one has trucks, and one has dishes and kitchen stuff. Most of my rotation toys are the ones at the top of the play room you see in the photo. Then I have a cabinet full of paper, die cuts, cardboard, posterboard, and things like that. Then I have 4 sets of metal shelving that are all art and science stuff. My house is super tiny, so I don’t have a lot of room for that stuff inside. 🙂

  6. You are so organized! I feel pretty organized around here but you’ve got me beat big time! 🙂 Thank you for all the helpful organization tips.