Should I Open a Home Daycare?

Opening a home daycare, or Family Day Home as many social services boards call it, can be a great solution if you have children of your own, need to contribute to the household budget, but still want your children to reap the benefits of a stay at home mom.

Home daycare can be very rewarding, but it is not a good fit for everyone. Please consider the following:

The children are fun, the parents are not. Snuggling warm lovable babies all day can be a wonderful way to make a living. Dealing with rushed, impatient mommies and daddies who may not be morning people is not. Dropping their children off to you is last stop in what may have been an unpleasant morning. Who knows what may have gone wrong between the time they got up and the moment they walked in your door. Parents build what is sometimes an odd relationship with you. They feel close enough to take out their bad mood on you, but not close enough to feel they have to explain themselves. Unfortunate, but true.

Your children may not appreciate sharing you. As much as your own kids will love having you home, they may not like seeing other kids on your lap, playing with their toys, seeming to be your priority. Kids seem to adapt best when either they are infants themselves – not really aware they are now sharing mommy, or if there is a greater age difference between your children and the ones you will watch. School age kids don’t seem to mind you bringing infants or toddlers into your home, and your toddlers will look up to school agers if you choose to do before and after care. Think twice before you take on kids the same age as your own. Playmates sounds like a good idea but can backfire.

You are in business for profit. Unless you are financially secure and able to provide childcare for free, you must be comfortable asking for money. Standard practice is to require payment in advance each Monday morning at drop off. When a parent shows up Monday morning to drop off little Johnny, mentions something about running late and dashes to the car without paying you, will you be comfortable calling after them and asking for your cash? When a parent gives you one more excuse, asking you to wait yet another week for payment, will you be able to turn them down, to watch them get back in the car with Johnny and drive away? If you do not think you can handle that, this may not be the business for you.

These are all lessons I learned during my five years as a home daycare provider. They were the most fulfilling, frustrating years of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The same can be true for you too, but be sure these are things you can tolerate indefinitely. Once you accept a child into your care you have made a commitment and will be in relationship with them and their parents, hopefully for the long haul.


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