The Home Daycare Owner

a day in the life
7:00am – alarm clock goes off.. hit snooze
7:09am – alarm clock goes off.. hit snooze
7:18am – alarm clock goes off.. hit snooze
7:27am – alarm clock goes off.. roll out of bed. Run around really quickly, washing face, slapping hair up in a bun, make a cup of tea.. wait for the door
8:00am – First child arrives – extremely excited and waving frantically. Greet parent, exchange pleasantries. Scoop baby out of parent’s arms and put her things in her cubby. Wish parent a good day, wave to parent out the window.
8:04am – Next child arrives, counting the porch stairs as she climbs with her parents. Greet parents and exchange pleasantries. Help toddler out of jacket and shoes. Chat about toddler’s previous night with parents. Wave to parents out the window.
8:07am – Next child arrives, parent is late to work – nudges child in the door without coming inside as well. Yells “Bye! Have a great day!” runs down the porch stairs and back to the car. Child looks tired. Help child with coat and shoes.
8:10am – Last child arrives while husband brings my own toddler downstairs. All of the children are excited to see each other. Last parent chats about a day off next week. Leaves quickly.
8:15am – Hand out sippy cups of milk to each child and seat them in a circle on the rug. Put out blocks and legos for them to play with while you make a hot breakfast.
8:20am – Cook breakfast for everyone, scrambled eggs. Sub eggs for whole wheat toast for the child with an egg allergy. Ask the two oldest toddlers about their night last night while cooking.
8:30am – Line up 5 high chairs, line up 5 plates, line up 5 cups. Seat all of the children and hand out breakfast. Sit next to the youngest to assist with baby food. Talk to the children about the trucks driving past out the big window in the family room. Ask children not to play with food.
8:45am – Wash hands and faces of 5 children and one by one take them out of their high chairs. Sweep floor and wash off each chair and tray. Stack chairs back in their place and throw away the trash. Plates in the sink.
9:00am – Head upstairs to the playroom. 4 diaper changes, 1 potty run.
9:15am – Turn on music and dance with children. One child shows off her latest ballerina moves from ballet class. You have her teach the other children how to do it. Children beg to hear song again, explain that it’s the radio. Child cries.. you put on a CD. Everyone is happy again.
9:45am – Time for play, children chose the basket filled with 3 million plastic pieces of “food” to play with. You dump the bucket. Everyone squeals with delight. One child complains that it’s not blocks. You promise blocks tomorrow during playtime. There’s only so many toys that you can take out at once. Children pretend to cook meals. Two children have a tea party. You sit with the youngest and manipulate the food with her little hands. Older children bring you plastic cake and you join the tea party. You’re tired and sneak a few sips of a diet mountain dew.
10:00am – Potty run
10:10am – It’s getting cloudy outside and looks like rain, you decide to talk about the weather. You ask the kids if it’s warm or cold outside. They say cold. You ask them what else is cold. They say ice. You ask them were the sun is. They say hiding. You tell them you wish the sun would come out. They yell, “so we can go out and play!” You tell them you’re going to try to go out in the afternoon, if it’s not raining.
10:20am – Snack time, you dice up bananas and pears and hand them out to the older children. 10:30am – It’s story time. You pick out 5 books about using the potty. All of the children gather on the floor and fight over who gets to sit in our lap. You tell them that they can switch every book, so everyone gets a turn. There’s whining in protest, but no one cries.
11:00am – Potty run and diaper changes. You suggest to one toddler that she try the potty, like in the book. Toddler agrees. No success, but you cheer for the effort.
11:30am – Bring children back downstairs and teach them how to play hot potato. Once the children seem to understand you step into the kitchen to make lunch while watching over the counter. Younger children lose interest in hot potato, older children keep playing. Younger children take out trucks and begin to drive them around. You warm up baked chicken cooked the night before, peas, and slice cheddar cheese while singing jingle bells 4 times at the oldest child’s request.
11:45am – you take out the 5 high chairs again, and line them up. You line up the 5 plates, and five cups. You wash everyone’s hands and one by one seat them in their chairs. You hand out lunch and sit next to the youngest, again assisting with lunch.
12:00pm – You talk to the children about what they see outside as they eat. Talk about the color of the sky, the grass.. point out the people walking by, the dogs…
12:15pm – You wash off everyone’s hands and faces and take them out of their chairs one by one. You sweep the floor, and wipe down all 5 chairs and trays. You stack the chairs back in their spot.
12:30pm – You have the children help you put all of the toys away so you can vacuum the wood floor and area rug. Children are so excited for the vacuum. You notice the children handing toys off to each other to get it done faster. You tell them that, that’s called “teamwork” and praise them. You get the vacuum out and all of the children dance around and try to run away from the vacuum. You dodge little toes as you go.
12:45pm – Potty run, diaper changes, youngest gets a bottle
1:00pm – Nap time. You successfully get all 5 children into their beds and listen to the silence.
1:15pm – 4pm – you sit as still and quietly as you can so that you don’t wake up the kids! You hear snoring of stuffy noses and children rolling over in pack n plays. You type out 4 daily reports and prepare them to be emailed to parents before pick up time. You add the day’s attendance to your calendar. You answer 2 inquiries about future opening from potential clients. You read some postings from a local parenting message board. You catch up on your favorite blog. You drink some a lot of caffeine.
4pm – Children start to stir. You greet them all and ask them how their naps were. Diaper changes and a potty visit.
4:15pm – Snack time again. You serve pretzels and sit in a circle with all of the children. You tell them about tomorrow’s art project and how you’re going to paint flower pots.
4:30pm – Youngest gets a bottle. Oldest start to put their shoes on. You help the youngest 3 get their shoes on.
4:45pm – You head outside to play in the yard. Children ask why there is nothing growing in the garden. You explain, like you do every day, that it’s winter and things will be growing again, because it’s spring soon.
5:15pm – You feel rain drops and hurry the children back in. Parents are coming soon anyways.
5:30pm – First parent arrives. They are excited to see their child. Child is happy and waves. Parent talks about their crazy train ride and you try to listen but are really watching the other children.
5:40pm – Next parents arrives. Parent asks what’s cooking. You share recipe for dinner that’s in the crock pot. Child doesn’t want to leave. Parent asks child if they want to stay all night instead. You laugh – nervously. Parent and child leave and you wave out the window.
5:45pm – Next parent arrives. You ask about their day. You know this parent a little better then the rest by now. They joke about a movie they saw over the weekend. You think to yourself how you’d like to go see a movie, if you could stay awake through it. Parent leaves, and you wish they’d stay a little longer and chat.
6:00pm – Last parent arrives at 6 on the dot, out of breath from trying to make it on time. Their child is excited but doesn’t want to put their coat on. Parent pleads, child refuses, parent pleads, refuses. More pleading. You smile and think that it’s so nice that you work from home and don’t have to do this yourself. Parent asks about potty training progress. You update. Parent ask if you have any fun plans for the evening. You laugh.
6:05pm – It’s quiet now that it’s just you and your toddler. You stir the crock pot and get out the plates. Husband strolls in and you finish getting dinner on the table. Husband asks how day was. You say, exhausting.


jmo said...

I ran a home daycare for three years.

I would never ever ever put my child in one.

Phoenix said...

jesus that sounds absolutely awful. I don't ever remember my home daycare like that. We never had activities. In fact I really don't know what the hell we did all day. I think you take this very seriously and it sounds really horrible. I am glad you like it though. I would have run away.

AMom said...

I don't understand, if you ran one, why wouldn't you put your child in one? did you just sit in the house all day with the kids and do nothing with them? Never take them outside or to parks or playgrounds?

NapTown Nanny said...

Oh god...this brought back memories. I did daycare in my home for 5 years. I had 8 kids (one of which was my own) who were all 3 and under for 10 hours a day. I don't know how I did it. Now that I'm a nanny, I could never go back to doing that no matter how good the money was. I really just wanted to be able to stay home with my son and not put him in daycare.

jmo said...


no, none of that is correct. I took them out every day and did much the same thing as OP did.

I would never put my child in one. Ever ever ever.

AMom said...

I'm curious to know why you would never, ever, ever put your child in a home daycare if you yourself used to run a good one and know how good they can be. Can you elaborate as to why you would never ever ever?

MissMannah said...

I'm also interested to know why Jmo wouldn't put her child in a home daycare. I am in the process of getting my degree and am seriously considering opening a home daycare a few years down the road. Those of you who have multiple childcare experiences, which do you prefer? I hate working in daycare centers and liked being a nanny but sometimes got bored with just one kid.

OP, it does sound like a lot of work but sounds really rewarding too. (I found it odd that you kept saying "you" instead of using the more typical first-person point of view.)

sharon said...

miss mannah - using "you" is a valid writing form - isn't it called the "second person" i think?

It's not as popular as 1st person and 3rd person but seems to be utilized when the writer wants you to be in their shoes and understand their emotions

The poster did very well - very effective writing

if i was doing an interview for in home care for my kids i would use this post in the interview

Reese said...

@Miss Mannah: Yes, I agree with Sharon. You meaning "You" as in directed toward you but from another person's mouth.

I had a friend who worked in a very successful home daycare and her day was quite similar to yours OP. She worked long days, from 6-6 and cooked, cleaned and cared for the children. It was tough work, in her off time, she had to plan healthy, kid-friendly meals, shop for groceries on a weekly basis as well as clean the house and plan activities. She did it so she was able to stay at home with her young daughter who was around the same age as her clients and her daughter thought it was cool that every day, all her friends came over to play! She needed the money and this was the only work she could do without putting her daughter in daycare. She was wonderful with the kids and the money was great. Better than a nanny's salary, albeit a helluva lot more work!

I think your day does sound stressful and I liked how you worded your post without it sounding like you hated your job. It was a very objective piece and the reader can draw his or her own conclusion on whether you like your job or not. I commend people who do what you do. Your job is physically and mentally taxing, yet you succeed in fulfilling all the needs of these five (inc. your own) children.

Lucky you that they nap that long. In my friend's daycare, they only napped between 12-1:15 so she didn't get much downtime. She usually spent naptime rubbing their backs to soothe many of them to sleep.

jmo said...

I just wouldn't put my child in one because I personally felt like it was intrusive and frankly too difficult. I got burnt out. I would be afraid that the provider would feel the same.

I just feel that way.

nycmom said...

OP, you sound like a great home daycare provider! How long have you been doing this?

Unfortunately, I have to agree with jmo on this though. I would never put my child in a home daycare. Mostly this is due to my own personal bad experiences. I grew up with my mom running a home daycare. Almost my entire childhood, roughly 6yo-15yo, she had a home daycare. I prefer not to give too many personal details, but it was hell (as was my childhood, but that's another story!). *I* basically watched the kids 50% of the time starting at 8 or 9yo when I was not in school. My mom routinely left the kids with my or my brothers without the parents' knowledge. She was licensed for 6 kids, I think, but it was always so many more. The "activities" were minimal, the TV was on all the time, the food was uninventive and not particulary nutritious, and safety was a joke. As jmo said, in the early years my mom was a lot better, but she totally burned out fast. She was never outright abusive, just totally disinterested with very low standards for any kind of actual age-appropriate stimulating activities. These were different times in an area with lots of poverty, but she was only charging $50/week for up to 12 hours a day!

In terms of oversight, the county rarely inspected. If they did, my mom always got notice and we "hid" the extra kids, cleaned the place up, and put on a show. My mom is very likable and charismatic and the parents always loved her. We had a pool and I or one of my older brothers was the pool supervision! I truly cannot believe most children survived unscathed. I think we had a couple of broken arms over the years, but that was it. I still remain shocked as to how none of the parents picked up on any of this - though perhaps they did and figured it was a good value?

I realize an individual nanny or a daycare center *could* suffer the same issues. But at least a parent can nanny cam a nanny for a few weeks initially, then do drop ins, and get feedback from others at park, etc. A center has multiple, unrelated staff who can somewhat police one another. A home daycare just seems like childcare wilderness to me!

However, let me be clear, OP that YOU sound great. You don't sound anything like my experience and I truly hope there are many more home daycare providers like you out there, given that it is one of the last affordable childcare options for many.

sharon said...

i had a friend that did the home day care - it upset her kids as the other kids would take and play with their things

she started a petting zoo and pony co and all family members became much happier

Former day care provider said...

This post was great! I ran family day care for 15 years. I ran a high-quality program with structure, a curriculum, and a daily assistant. I would definitely use a FDC if I had a baby/child. You just have to be a vigilant parent. Trust your instincts and your intuition.

For those of you who are thinking about this as a business/career, I say go for it! If possible, use a separate part of your home rather incorporating the day care into your living space. I had a separate playroom, but I still used my kitchen for meals, snacks, and cooking. Boundaries are important to set up in advance with parents. Contracts are essential. FDC can be very rewarding, lots of fun, and pretty financially sound. Prerequisite: an abnormally high level of patience and a TRUE and genuine love for children.

Chicagonanny said...

I worked at a home daycare and I was burnt out a few months into it. all my friends always ask me if I would ever open my own home daycare and I always say NO! its too much damn work.

MissMannah said...

Sharon, I know what 2nd person writing is, I'm not an idiot. I said I found it odd she wrote that way instead of the "more typical" 1st person. Geez.

Former day care provider: were you ever a nanny before you did your in-home day care? I'm guessing it is like comparing apples and oranges but I'd still like to hear some people's preference.

When yall are saying you got burnt out by all the work too easily, what exactly do you mean? Is it the kids or all the planning?

sharon said...

i have it upon very good authority that you are not an idiot miss mannah. I was just commenting that i liked the use of the 2nd person because - yes it is unusual and can be very effective.

Mrs. Jenny said...

Miss Mannah..oohh touchy much? I have noticed that you like to add sparks to all the posts and while I like a good debate, I do not see any reason to start one now.

Anyhoos, nycmom, your own mother sounded like she really did not have her heart in operating and owning her own daycare. She should never have done that line of work, I think she has an ethical accountability to the children of the world and their parents as well to only provide childcare if her heart is truly in it. If it isn't, she most definitely should have found another line of work to do. Well it is under the bridge now, but I bet there are many other women (and men) who are doing this because they can stay home, not pay for childcare for their own young children and they think it is easy money. Yes, the money can be good, but this type or work has looong hours with not very much downtime. After working 12 hrs straight all you want to do is go to bed, however you still need to cook dinner for hubby, give the children their baths as well as clean up, wash dishes and straighten up play areas/cubbies. If there is any time, one must also plan the next days activities as well as plan what to serve for mealtimes.

Single Mum of Three...... said...

Your mother sounds absolutely horrible to me. No offense against your mum, however what she did was unacceptable. No wonder you choose to hire a nanny vs. putting your children in daycare. But remember dear: not all families can afford a private nanny like you can. Don't be such a snob.

Someone's Nanny said...

I have seen a few sketchy home daycares, but also a few really great ones. I think no matter what type of childcare you choose, it's important to do background checks, check references, drop in unespectedly, etc. I know a woman who runs an amazing home daycare. We have a weekly playdate with her and her little ones, and I'm always so impressed with how calm and patient she is. She genuinely loves all of her kids, and goes out of her way to plan activites and theme days that cater to their different interests. If, god forbid, I ever had to leave my current job early, I would beg their parents to send the children to her, and I would beg her to take them!

Nom de Plume said...

I thought this sounded wonderful and like the provider really enjoys what she's doing. She used many opportunities to teach the children and obviously loves what she does. But wow, that was a LONG nap time. I think in over 20 years of caring for children the only time they slept that long was when they were feeling poorly.

If I wasn't a nanny and had a job where I couldn't afford a nanny or nanny share, I would definitely do daycare. My nephew went to a great local place that had more than one adult caring for the children. It was very reasonable as well.

nycmom said...

Single Mum,

My mother WAS a horrible daycare provider (didn't I make that abundantly clear?) and she is a very flawed mother/person also. No offense taken. Were I to provide more personal details of my childhood (which I shall not do), it would only be more evidence of her shortcomings.

I also thought I made very clear that my opinion was due to my own personal experience and clarified that "OP that YOU sound great. You don't sound anything like my experience and I truly hope there are many more home daycare providers like you out there, given that it is one of the last affordable childcare options for many."

I have no idea how you would draw the conclusion that anything I said was being a "snob" nor how my words in any way reflect a lack of understanding of the need for affordable childcare. Care to clarify?

Bostonnanny said...

I really want to start a home daycare when I have my first child. I think it's a wonderful way to stay in my field and be able to care for my own child. After being a nanny for a few years and caring for multiple child at one time I actually believe it would be easier then being a nanny. The children would be brought to be clean and dressed for the day, parents would have their lunches prepared and I wouldn't have to do any cleaning during the day besides child related things. I also like the idea of having my own curriculum, setting my own hours, vacations and holidays. I think I would feel like I have the upper hand, parents agree to my terms within reason.

I think OP sounded like nice happy daycare provider but I didn't see much of a curriculum or different learning centers. OP do you have a curriculum or do you just plan activities based on your mood that day? I'm very curious because I like the curriculum very good childcare centers provide but like family atmosphere that small home
daycares have. I just wonder if it's possible to combine the two seamlessly.

Original Poster said...

OP Here -

To answer some questions:

I write my own curriculum. I have a master's degree in education and I'm a certified teacher. I also have experience in curriculum design, so I write my own. I use an art integration and learning by doing approach to teaching children. The oldest children I have right now are 2.5 years old, so we aren't extremely heavy on the academic side, but work on social skills, verbal expression, creativity and of course numbers, letters, etc.

The long nap - I am currently blessed with a set of excellent nappers. It hasn't always been this way, and it won't always be this way, but for now its quite nice. My own son is a champion napper and everyone else started napping as long as he does. I do not take newborns (I actually do not take children under a year old) so our schedules are structured and very routine.

I do not envision myself doing this long term. I chose to do this because I live in a very large city with a huge demand for childcare. There are a lot of unlicensed home daycares here, and I wanted to provide an alternative. I'm highly educated and have a lot of experience. It has been and continues to be extremely nice to be able to be home with my son and have him also be in a social environment while he is young. To be able to be home with him is the biggest reward of doing this and my main motivation. My long term career goals lie elsewhere though. That doesn't stop my from providing a really good service in the mean time though. Parents need good options to feel comfortable with, while they are at work.

I was a full time nanny for almost 5 years before graduate school (before having my own child) I would never nanny again. I love working with young children, but I much prefer running my own business, hours, etc. I had some crazy nanny experiences and wouldn't do it again.

While I am extremely tired at the end of the day, I am relatively young (in my upper 20's) and do have a lot of energy given my line of work. The downfalls of doing this is that it takes up a about 1/2 of my home, due to the set up of my home, and we've made a lot of sacrifices. I make very, very good money due to my location and experience which I am very grateful for, but I also have little to no flexibility when it comes to needing a day off to do something, being able to go to a doctors appointment, etc. It's a very interesting job, but when I hear about providers doing it for 15-20 years, I'm in awe, because that will not be me.

And last but not least, I wrote in that style so that the reader would be reading it in my shoes. Thanks for reading!

sharon said...

very good writing style - when you get some time - write more about your nanny experiences !

christine said...

My sister in law had a licensed home day care for a very long time. She is slightly (okay- very) manic and eventually had to start taking anti-depressants. She was very easy for the parents to communicate with...she has the gift of gab and they liked her. I left my children with her in an emergency once and never did it again. She simply wasn't very nice to the kids.

I actually used a home daycare and the experience was lovely. The house wasn't as clean as I would have liked but if that was my only complaint, I felt fortunate. The woman was a real "mom" type and her son was the same age as my daughter. I never had even one issue. When they were four and went to nursery school we sent them to the same one and she was able to pick up and drop off for me. All around great! So, you never know... I wouldn't leave my kids with a family member but a very lived in home of a stranger (at first) worked out well!

Funny stuff said...

A curriculum for one year olds? I love it, LOL! ABC's and 123's aren't enough anymore? They need a curriculum? LOL, God help us!

erics mom said...

OP why not hire someone to help you out? Not all day but even three hours a day. Maybe, that time you can step out. Take a quick nap. Spend one on one time with your daughter, etc etc.

the truth hurts said...

Home daycare sucks. I'd like to see a true "Day in the Life" of a typical home daycare, and typical home daycare clients.

Most parents who put their kids in home daycare can afford better. They are just cheapskates.

Truth Seeker said...

erics mom: I think she cannot step out very often because by law, a home daycare must have a certain adult/child ratio and if licensing should come to check that out, she could lose her license. I think a helper is a great idea, however many home daycare owners are hesitant to do this since they don't want to have to pay someone else to help them when they can handle them themselves and save money. The thing that irks me about home daycare owners (not you OP) is that they are very cheap. Meaning, they like to pocket the money all for themselves and get as much as they can. They usually pay their helpers minimum wage and many pay under the table to save costs for taxes and unemployment insurance. Yet the work is very hard for an assistant since she basically does all the stuff the owner doesn't want to do. The assistant gets to mop pee from the toilet and floors, take out the dirty diapers, wash the dishes, vacuum and clean the bathrooms along with sanitizing all the toys that were played with. You couldn't pay me enough to do that.

jmo said...

Truth Seeker,

I know when I ran my own home daycare, I needed to use all of the money to live because I made peanuts.

I don't agree that most home daycare owners cut corners purposely: I believe they have to because the pay is so low.

Save money on taxes? Ha! That's a laugh. I made less than 1000 dollars a month BEFORE taxes and I payed 15.7 percent self-employment tax. Add up living expenses: what is left? Give me a break. There are no corners to cut: you don't make enough to live running a home daycare on a small scale like having four or five kids. At least not in my area.

It is not a lucrative business. You really can't live on it unless your home daycare grows to the point of having two rooms with upwards of 33 clients. Or if you are not alone. (I'm a single mom.) If your husband works, that's another story. But don't talk to me about cutting corners. I hardly made enough money to live on and I worked 50 hours a week. It sucked.

I would never, ever ever do it again.

oh well said...

Taking care of young children takes a particular calling, as it is certainly exhausting and most often does not pay well, however it is clear that quite a number of people enjoy doing it. I would never rule out any particular form of child care, as I have met a few teachers and at least one home daycare provider who were passionate about what they were doing and really seemed to be enjoying their lives.
nycmom I am sorry to hear about your experience.

I said...

@funny stuff

i'm a daycare teacher for one-year-olds and we make weekly lesson plans. i love my job

227 said...

I was laid off from a home daycare about a year ago my former boss claimed she couldnt afford to pay me the extra 90 dollars a month that she gave me as a raise. I saw her a few weeks later driving a brand new Prius.

A lot of people who start a home daycare do it because the money is great and apparently you really don't have to have much experience working with children my former boss did't.