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Home Sweet Daycare

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

It's Thanksgiving week, 2019. It's another Monday morning. With three children under four years of age, our mornings are extremely structured in order for me to be able to get EVERYONE ready for the "school" day. Little did I know my house was about to be Home Sweet Daycare.

Breakfast made, baby nursed, three backpacks packed, three coolers packed, three blankets gathered, three boys dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, home office opened, computer turned on, car loaded. On the way out the door, I glance at my phone to see a text from the baby boy's teacher that reads:

Good morning! I'm sorry to bother, just this morning I found out some bad news, the daycare is closing....

WHAT?!?! A thousand unanswerable questions start running through my head. My stomach drops somewhere deep down below the surface of the earth. I have a full-time job as an SLP. I have three children who aren't school-age. The daycares in my area are full because its practically December! I envision my three hooligans at home with paint on their hands, and smearing them all over our walls. Soon it'll be Christmas and what are these sweet people who take care of my children going to do for a job? Then, I keep reading...

And I thought about you, and what you're gonna do with your little ones, since I'm going to be without a job, if you need anyone to watch over them, I'll be available.

I didn't even look for another daycare. I had already done so four months prior, and there was not a one that fit the whole criteria list. And so, our family was gifted with the most wonderful, passionate in-home childcare imaginable with our Miss M.

Our saga didn't end there, though. There were a lot of considerations and transitions to be made. Our household literally and legally became an employer in every sense. Our house, itself, felt AND LOOKED like it had been taken over by a large ground invasion. Consequently, we developed a counterattack strategy that went something like this:

1. Have a DEFINED Home Office Space

This is HUGE. If you have children in your home while you are attempting to work as well, they need to learn what it means for Mommy or Daddy to be "at work." I believe having a defined work space is critical, and even better if it's behind a closed door. It took a couple of weeks to get used to, but my children eventually learned that when Mommy "went to work" they were not allowed to interrupt. They learned that Mommy would periodically come out of the office for a kiss, hug, play time or activity. Once this routine was established, they were blowing me kisses as I walked down the stairs to my basement office.

2. Have DEFINED Child Activity Areas

This may mean different things depending on the size of your house. I've found that children thrive when they have defined spaces for toys, activities, food, sleep. Our playroom is where all the toys stay to play. Our kitchen couples as an arts/crafts room (easier clean up!), complete with a rolling drawer cabinet holding all of their supplies and creations, and a food-prep room. Our dining room and dining table is where all meals are held. Their bedrooms are our quiet rooms, where they have a cozy corner for quiet times and reading as well as their naptimes. Our garage is our "activity room" for riding toys, etc., when the sun refuses to shine. Make use of your WHOLE house.

3. Have a DEFINED Schedule

Again, having a defined schedule is important for both daily continuity for your children. Although it may seem boring to me, my children love that they know the sequence of what's going to happen during their "homeschool" day. But of course, activities get rotated in and out to break up the monotony! This also helps morning transitions from Parent to Nanny in the morning when timeliness is necessary.

The other important schedule to have around is your own work schedule. This has helped us TREMENDOUSLY. Our Nanny knows when to expect me to take work breaks, or have a busy afternoon which would require complete isolation. In turn, she is able to answer my children's questions that inevitably surface such as "What is Mommy doing?" or "When will Mommy come up?" We've put my work schedule on our communication board, another key component of our in-home daycare.

4. Have a DEFINED Communication Board

While going digital for schedules and calendars is great for keeping data and events in one place, it makes for a very poor communicator when it needs to be shared with others in your household. For our transition, we chose a dry-erase calendar that also has a) space for notes and b) a cork board for pins. This is COMPLETELY ESSENTIAL to our communication with our Nanny (and made my husband and I better communicators with each other)! Here is where you can write down weekly outings, upcoming events, days a Nanny may need to take off, reminders to yourself, crafts needs, food needs, etc. If you are transitioning to in-home daycare, this purchase will be well worth it, I promise.

-Angela C. Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP

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