The first two years of my son’s life, I was a working mom with a son in daycare. Then, after my daughter was born, I decided I wanted to stay home with my kids. But financially, giving up a second income all together was not an option, so we decided to open a small family daycare out of the home.
I retired from daycare almost a year ago and think about those years often when I meet new moms who are putting their child in daycare for the first time. I always like to offer advice from the perspective of the daycare provider and share things with them that I wish had been shared with my parents when they first started in my daycare.
So here is a list of the things your daycare provider wishes they could tell you.
1. SHE IS NOT RICH
Most daycare providers are struggling just like everyone else. The money spent on toys, food, cleaning supplies, laundry, daycare insurance, licensing, an assistant, and taxes cost more than you think. When you don’t pay your daycare provider, they sometimes can’t do their grocery shopping — shopping that includes the food for meals they’re going to prepare for your child the following week. What would you tell your boss if he/she told you he/she would have to pay you sometime next week instead of payday?
2. YOUR DAYCARE PROVIDER HAS A LIFE
If daycare hours are 7a.m. to 6p.m. that does not mean 6:40a.m. to 6:30p.m. If you think it does, that mean your daycare provider may miss back-to-school nights or dinners with friends while waiting for you to show up.
3. SHE IS NOT A BUSINESS, SHE IS AN INDIVIDUAL
When write your daycare provider a bad check, it does not get returned to the accounting department. There is no staff to send you the check back with a form letter to ask for payment. When you bounce a check, her checks bounce.
4. “CASH ONLY" MEANS CASH ONLY.
Cash only is for your protection as much as your daycare provider’s.
5. IF YOUR CHILD IS SICK, KEEP HIM/HER AT HOME
Read your daycare provider’s sick policy and follow it. Think about how you would feel if it were someone else’s child who was sick and infecting yours.
6. IF YOU'RE HOME SICK, CONSIDER KEEPING YOUR CHILD HOME TOO
Chances are your child will be exposing everyone else to what you already have, especially if you have something highly contagious like the stomach flu. Otherwise you just might be staying home again if your daycare provider catches it a few days later.
7. YOUR DAYCARE DOESN'T HAVE SICK LEAVE
Try to help daycare providers out, by avoiding getting them sick when you can.
8. DON'T LIE ABOUT POTTY TRAINING
Don’t send your child in underwear saying that they’re “potty-trained” when they are clearly not. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many parents don’t get this.
9. BRING DIAPERS FOR YOUR CHILD
When your daycare provider need diapers for your child, please bring them. When you run out, she then has to take from someone else’s supply. That’s money out of someone else’s pocket, and is unfair.
10. BE ACCESSIBLE
Your daycare provider needs to know where you are. If you are taking the day off for any reason, tell him/her how to reach you. In an emergency or if your child is ill, she needs to know. And please don’t turn off your cell phone.
11. ANNOUNCE ABSENCES
If you know you’re not coming on a certain day, don’t wait until 11a.m. that day to call and tell her. You never know when one absence will make a difference in not needing an assistant, or preparing a smaller meal or activities for that day.
12. NO JUNK FOOD IN THE MORNING
Do not send your child to your daycare provider’s house in the morning with a snack that consists of sugar and chocolate. Even if there was enough for everyone, chances are the other kids probably aren’t allowed to have chocolate cookies in the morning…