Saturday, April 9, 2011
The other side of daycare
I opened my own home daycare this year. It has been quite an interesting journey so far. I haven't been on this side of daycare before. I've had my own kids in various daycare situations so I knew what I did and didn't want to do generally when running my own. Here's where I'm at with it at this moment in time.
First, I have a new appreciation for parents of multiples. It is so busy to have 5 kids under the age of 5 in the house. Routine is so important. I feel like I've got it now. There's the one on the potty, another on the potty, diaper change the third, then diaper change the fourth routine. There's also the surround yourself with high chairs at lunch time and spoon feed toddler one, toddler two, toddler three and repeat trick. Alternately, I've got the first toddler in the high chair, feed yogurt, second toddler in, third toddler in, fourth toddler in trick. Fortunately for the most part the majority of the kids are self-feeding (or at least I'm making them finger food so that they can be) so it's more a trick of getting all the food ready, getting the kids in their high chairs/booster seats and fed all at once. I'm also pretty proud of the getting 4 kids to nap at the same time trick. My own son who is 4, just has a quiet time, no nap.
I think the key to having a good daycare going is having a plan, a good schedule and keeping them busy, very busy. You can see when they start to get bored with one thing, then it's time to clean up and move onto the next. So we go outside and play with balls, trucks and dirt. We come back inside to dance, sing and read books. We have basic crafts to talk about shapes and color with crayons. (they love having the big roll of paper out to use markers - I just have to watch my own daughter who likes to put them in her mouth). We have times with Play-do and times with blocks. A lot of the time, they are playing. They play with tupperware and pots and pans when I'm getting lunch ready in the kitchen and they play with toys just to be kids.
Everything takes a long time. To go anywhere outside means potty and diapers first, then shoes, outside pants, jackets and hats for everyone.
The parents wonder how I get all the kids to sleep at the same time. My answer is routine. I have to get them all down, so I do. They know it's lunch, clean up the morning mess, story, nap. I draw the curtains closed, lay out their mats and blankets and they sleep.
Not everything happens according to schedule every day. This week one my kids was really sleepy at snack time (2 hours before our regular nap) so she had her nap early. Of course at nap time she wasn't at all sleepy so I had to find a way to keep her quiet while the others slept.
It's also a very long day. My earliest kid comes at 7:30am and my latest one home is just before 6 in the evening. There's not a lot I can get done for my home during the day. I had mistakenly thought originally that I could use their nap time to do some work around the house. I didn't count on 2 light sleepers in the bunch. So really, I can't do much of anything, except stay quiet on the couch myself while they sleep (I'm getting some good reading in).
It's been an eye opening experience doing this and I'm enjoying it. Every day is busy and not quite the same, but it never is with kids is it?