Starting a New Childcare Business can be a daunting task. You may find that you have just opened your doors to your new Childcare Business and feel overwhelmed. It takes some time to find your groove so be patient with yourself.
Our readers have kindly shared their advice for helping "New Childcare Providers". Below you will find advice from over 40 Childcare Providers on how to tackle everything from parent Communication to balancing your work and business life.
Advice from Providers for Providers.....
"Don't undervalue yourself to fill a spot. It isn't easy work you literally are responsible for the safety, happiness of another person's whole world. Many parents will try and talk you into reducing your rates." -Amy H.
"Make sure to take time off for you and your family! For years I never took vacation days and it made me start to resent always having other peoples kids always with me and it never just being me and my kids alone (like on Christmas break etc) so I added them to my contract 8 years ago and it has made a big difference in my own attitude when I have "breathers" from other people's kids." - Kate M.
"Don't expect perfection. your program will need a little bit of wiggle room until you and your children find out what works for you and you find your "groove". And secondly have your contract in place. find a mentor board, other providers, or just someone who has a child in care to look at you contract and what things you should adapt. After a year evaluate what works and what doesn't. you will inevitably need to modify based on your program needs and what you have encountered during your first year" -Tammy S.
"Parents will only do what you allow them. If they forget a coat and you dont bring it up, they will keep forgetting it." -Kari-R
"Routine! It helps everyone know what to expect!" - Beth R.
" Trust your gut feelings on a family during an interview. Don't take a child because you are desperate. It will usually come back to bite you in the ankle later." -Michelle F.
"Schedule time to be with other adults. I know it sounds silly but it can be very isolating at times. Hang out with those girlfriends or go to the club. Just being around 'adults' is helpful." -Mari J.
"Remember you are interview the family as much as they are interview you. Never sign someone up on the first interview. Take your time and find the right families. If someone is in a rush to sign up with you immediately that should be a big red flag."-Mari J.
"Have fun and enjoy. remember there are Millions of children but you can only care for so many therefore do not look at other providers as competition. .we're all one in the same industry. Focus on the vision of your school& keep your children and families happy and learning" -Natasha O.
"Stick to your guns with your policies. Be firm or else it will likely come back to haunt you." -Amy H.
"Policies are not policies if you don't enforce them for all." -Mari J.
"The first 6 months will be frustrating, awesome, tiring, and you will question yourself if you are cut out for this, if it will work. But it gets better, you will find what works for you and the children and will get a great routine to achieve many daily requirements and allow the children lots of freedom in their play. Be flexible, you will have an idea as to how it will go and guess what! It will change a ton!! Trust your gut, take time for yourself, and sit and do nothing during nap time every now and then." -Veronica G.
"When filling spots you do the interviewing not the other way around. You decide who is a good fit for your daycare / program. You do not need to take every family you interview with just because they say they want to start with you." -Karly T.
"Always collect tuition in advance. I collect the same amount for every month regardless of attendance (including my time off). They are paying for the spot, not how often they use it. Have very clear policies and enforce them from day one. If you give an inch.....-" -Deb D.
"Be strong and stay firm if its a rule you set don't bend, you will hear every story in the book as to why they cant pay today or when they are running late or dropping off late set your guidelines stick to them an the parents will follow , its not easy but remember the childcare facilities don't bend you aren't any different , you are not a babysitter you are a early childhood education professional don't let any parent treat you any different keep your head high an love what you do" -Stephanie M.
"Never be desperate even though you may be in a tough time. You will end up unhappy & miserable. Make sure the family fits well with you & you fit well with them. Not every provider will work for every family." -Dawn I.
"Always remember just because you may need the money or want to make the money don't let parents walk all over you , they need you for a service you don't need them , there are thousands of families looking for someone special like you to watch their most precious gifts , if they aren't a good fit let them go !!" -Stephanie M.
"Don't do it! Run away!! Nah, just kidding. Make sure you are doing for the right reasons and you're prepared mentally, and financially. Make friends with your local providers as it can get lonely in this field. Educate yourself and don't think that babysitting or being a mom is experience enough. Be professional. That's my biggest thing I tell providers. If you want people to take you seriously talk, act, and look professional." -Kris L.
"It will get better lol, and you'll look back and smile at how you've all grown. " -Kim T.
" Try to embrace a minimalist approach. You'll have more time for yourself, your family and your business. Less is always more!" -Alina D.
" Be strong and don't bend for anyone. Parents will try to take advantage of certain things such as paid closure days or other things. You can be nice but at the same time you are running a business. Make sure you put time aside for your family best of yourself. Follow your heart not just an easy way to be with your kids. Join an association to make friends that understand what you go through on a daily basis. Don't overwhelm yourself. Take everything day by day, don't stress yourself out." -Adrianna D.
"Do not be afraid to ask for help/advice from other providers around your area"
"Put 5 paid sick days in your policy manual. This is something we usually don't think about until we need a day or two off." -Carla L
"At the end of a stressful day it's okay and healthy to vent."-Audrey H.
"Be firm on receiving tuition payments ON TIME!!! Ur parents' bosses don't make excuses as to why their paycheck will be fashionably late!! Child care tuition should be a priority bill just as mortgage, car payment and utilities!" -Brandi K.
"Make sure you take care of you and your family first. This is your business and you get to decide when you are open and close. Take some time for your family and put in paid vacation/time off and sick days. Don't forget about taking holidays off with pay too. Some may question but you are taking kids for many hours a week and you deserve a break too. You will need to figure out what works for you but I take 15 paid vacation days per year along with all the major holidays including days after Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have never had a family complain and most of my families have been with me for over 2 years. (I have been providing licensed childcare for up to 12 kids for 4 years.)" -Mari J.
"Always get payment in advance of care. If parents aren't following your policies bring it up with them, respectfully. It's your business, they are not in charge. If parents aren't respectful to you don't keep them, it's not worth the stress." -Jenn I.
Stay on top of your receipts and do them weekly. I have also found that spending a little extra on office supplies and having matching color coding folders help with organization and as silly as it sounds make it more fun and have pride in your paperwork. Have a contract and follow it. The parents will respect you more.
If a child isn't a right fit sometimes it is better to cut your losses and move on. The stress and dread of doing your job are not worth it and it affects your home life & the children in your day care." - Jolene P.
1. Make your payments due on Monday so you are paid in advance and have less chance of working for free.
2. Stick to your contract and make sure you go over it the interview.
3. Have toys that do not belong to your child. It is hard enough to share their home and parent without having someone else play with or break their toys.
4. Save every single receipt!!! Can't stress this enough. If you buy something at a garage sale, write it down. Write date and how much.
5. Track mileage.
6. Do not compare your space to someone else's. Each provider has different reasons for doing their space the way they do and you will frustrate yourself trying to "keep up with the Joneses".
7. Do not be afraid to ask for help or vent from other providers. We are in the trenches with you every day and do understand what you are going through and how you feel. Best friends and hubby may not.
8. Take a vacation every year even if you stay home. You need time to rejuvenate your spirit as this job can be draining.
9. Do not feel bad if you cannot reach every single child you come in contact with.
10. Routine is 75% of your day and can save your sanity. -Kris R
"Laugh. Enjoy the moments and milestones with your Little Ones. Randomly dance and dig in the dirt. We all know how important a role we play in their lives but they can also give the gift of childhood wonder to us." -Angela B.
"Try not to see other providers in your area as competition. Get acquainted with them, do play dates, be friends with them if you can." - Jenn I.
"Write down the funny things the kids say and post them. Kids and parents will love it and on those tough days when you wonder if it's all worth it look over and read all of the fun you've gotten to experience." -Nicole T.
"Be consistent with kiddos and parents except for days things are out of whack or you don't feel good. Consistent rules and routines make you and your program successful." -Jolene P.
"Enjoy your job , be silly, learn from other providers in area, keep learning, make Pinterest your friend, strive to improve,and try to teach kids at least one thing each day. In return kids and parents will be happier. Also keep paperwork up to date" -Tabitha C.
"Stand your ground, don't let parents be push overs!!!" - Gina G.
"The biggest thing I learned is I will never take checks as a form of payment. I have had family's sign up give me a check and I cashed it to find out ten days later they had cancelled it and I was out the money so now only certified check,money order or EMT. They can't be cancelled. Also payment upfront and don't waiver on our fees your worth it. After four years I still struggle with this but I had to turn down one client and it killed me as I say long walk out the door but knew I wouldn't be happy so I turned them down but feel better I won't be fighting with what I want" -Danielle L.
"Start your business out as a business. ECE people tend to be so nurturing we forget to take care of ourselves. Be friendly to clients but also firm. Stick with your stated fees etc. have a written contract which gives specifics such as days you are closed, fees, be sure to charge an overtime fee for late pick up etc."- Rita N.
1. Clients are not friends or relatives so don't treat them as such.
2. Have fun with your job. Yes it's a job but you're the boss! Do things with them that put a smile on your face to!
3. Always keep busy, your days will go fast if you do.
4. Keep learning. Go to classes not only to get your hours in but classes that interest you.
5. After hours are YOURS!! No daycare during your time! This is how I got stressed out a lot. If you do have daycare things to do make sure you clock in and out to keep track for tax purposes.
6. I get bored easily so my preschool always ends up being different themes. This some may not like but I have an office dedicated to daycare/preschool and should have 5 years of materials in it. I always when making or printing off, make enough for one to two following years. That way it's easier on me.
7. Stick to your contract! Very important! Some parents think they can switch it up on you. Don't let them!
8. When a client is being rude or disrespectful remember that this is a business and you must stay professional. Don't get into a verbal match, it never ends well. Simply terminate and move on. Record everything though! Very important!
9. When getting inspected don't take it personal. (I do so I do need to work on this one) 🙂 They are there to do a job and make sure the kids have a safe place to stay.
10. Always try to improve.
11. State is strict with forms so make sure everything and I do mean everything is filled out.
12. Save receipts!! Put them in each month. Organize, organize, ORGANIZE!!! It will save so much stress! -Stephanie W.
"Get to really know the families and children you care for. Because it's not until you know them that you will know what their needs are. Cnce the child feels loved and secure in their environment that they will be able to thrive and succeed, making more meaningful connections.
I know we need to be strong and run our business that way, but I like to look at it as showing confidence in what I do and stand by it. I have rules and they follow them and if they don't, they know I will have someone waiting to get in. I don't worry about making someone unhappy if it's about following my policies, only when I may have truly made a mistake. So what I'm trying to say is SHOW CONFIDENCE, and the families will see that in you and start to hopefully show more respect because of it.
I did see others say this, and I totally agree, continue to take classes. There are so many great ones out there and they do help. Some will even respark your passion and start making your days so much better after taking them. Find the classes that I like to call "has some beef" to them, meaning valuable content.
Remember that you are never stuck. If something doesn't work, then change it or fix it.-I've gotten many ideas over the years from the Internet and from books and when I get compliments, I just brush them off saying that it's just from the Internet. So one of my teacher moms said to me, "no you know the value of a good idea." So remember that even when they aren't your ideas, you still can recognize the value in that idea." -Lori C.
"If it is not affecting the health, safety and well being of you or children in your care then let it go! I can't tell you how many little things I have seen other providers stress themselves out about." -Michelle J.
"Always stay firm on your policy,don't let parents walk all over you. Once you bend rules for them once they'll keep expecting it. I learned that the hard way....." -Ashley B.
"You cannot please everyone, all the time. Sometimes you will loose them, due to parents not agreeing with you, but it's ok let them go, every one is trying to do what's best for the kids, but sometimes don't agree what that is." -Christina B.
"Always keep a professional distance between yourself and the families you are working with. Try as much as possible to work in partnership with parents. Remember they are the primary carer and know their child best. Don't be tempted to offer more than you really know you can handle. The job can be overwhelming, challenging and isolating sometimes, make sure you still remember to have adult time sometimes, otherwise your life will quickly be consumed by little people lol "-Jen N.
"If it's not working for you, change it. Sure, it seems scary to turn anyway away or "make" someone upset...but if you act professional, you will only receive the best. Your hours, holidays, leave time, lay payment/pick up fees, built in protections, your choices... it's YOUR business. And your number one priority is your mental health--childcare has one of the highest burn out rates--which means you have to protect yourself so you can be your best mom, provider, wife, friend, YOU. So figure out what works for you, make those rules, and stick to your guns." -Annie C.
Thank you to Everyone who contributed
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