Be sure to read part 1 if you haven't already. In this part of the guide we will consider your home set up and dealing with potential problems and even disasters.
Your Home Setup
Your home of course will need to be a clean and safe environment. You'll need to consider just how your home will be used, and not be used for childcare. Which rooms and areas will you keep off limits, and how? A baby gate or two may be needed. Will you allow the kids to roam about in your kitchen? You'll want to take extra precaution to avoid injuries especially as this could bring about legal issues. Is your backyard suitable for the children to use? Do you have pets? Pets can be a real problem; even if they are safe and gentle some parents may have an issue.
Other Family Members
It's very important that other families members at home are in synch with the childcare. It can be very challenging for them as well and some clear communication beforehand is essential. They'll have to realize that there will be some sacrifices required on their part.
Since you are no doubt a parent yourself the supplies you need will be pretty obvious. You probably still have plenty of old toys and such to get you started. I would discourage the parents from having their children bring their own toys as this usually ends up in either fighting or their toys getting mixed in and even lost among yours. Highchairs are a must. If you don't have any you certainly don't need to buy anything new. You may have friends with old ones they would be willing to donate. Yard sales are also a good cheap source for just about anything you will need. Most people will practically give away children's items at yard sales. When it comes to beds it usually works best if the parents provide you with a pack and play or portable type of bed that you can keep at your home all the time. These can just be folded and put away during off hours as needed.
For infants some parents may supply breast milk which you'll have to keep close track of and sometimes freeze or thaw. Whether the infant is on breast milk or formula the parent will likely request some kind of notes for the feeding you give them each day. For toddlers it's actually simpler if you provide the food. You can streamline the whole process and serve everyone the same. Don't forget to keep your receipts for the food you buy so you can deduct it from your taxes. If on the other hand, the parent supplies the food (some parents will insist on it) you'll have more to do in keeping up with who gets what. Sometimes the food a parent supplies may also require more work in storing and preparing.
Diapers and Potty Training
If you're watching kids of a certain age, the day will inevitably come when the parent happily announces that it's time to start potty training. Believe me, it will not be a happy announcement for you. For one, it will probably be too early, but it doesn’t matter, it’s not your call, but it is your responsibility to make it happen since you are the one watching their child 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is where you truly earn your money when it comes to childcare! Although changing diapers is not any fun you may quickly find yourself missing the simplicity and quickness of diaper changing once you get bogged down with the potty training. One of the hardest aspects of the potty training is the fact that even though you will be expected to do the bulk of it, you will not be doing all of it, meaning there will often be inconsistency between your approach and the parent’s. Communication with the parent is vital but you may still find yourself feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the parent pressing you to make great strides on one side and the child stubbornly resisting your efforts on the other. What's even more aggravating is when the parent boasts about how well their child does for them at home and then they question why their child seems to have such a hard time with it while in your daycare. Easy…take a deep breath, count to 3. No, make it 10.
A policy should also be established from the start regarding sickness. Remember, the parents of the other children won’t want their kids to be exposed to someone you know is ill. You probably won’t like being exposed either. How sick does a child have to be before you won't accept him or her into your daycare that day? Think about this and talk to the parent during the interview process, not later on when it happens. I would suggest putting it all down in writing as well. What sort of cough will you accept? A slight one, ok, but a croup-like, barking cough, probably not. Sometimes small children can choke a bit and incidentally vomit, but repeated vomiting, especially accompanied by diarrhea is definitely a situation where the child needs to stay at home or be sent home if it develops while in your care. As for fever, the large daycares use a temperature limit of 100.4 as their standard which I think is a good guideline. Be warned that some parents will load their kids up with Tylenol just to get their temperature down long enough to drop them off at daycare.
Handling the Kids
You no doubt love children or you wouldn't be considering this sort of work in the first place. Still, you will be tried in a way that may have never happened with your own kids. It's important that you are in control of your temper. You are going to have to try to control different kids with different personalities all while being restricted in just how you can control them. Some ideas you'll just have to come up with as you go as to what works with each child. Some kids will be harder than others. Most kids seem to be worse on Mondays. The very worst is after they've spent the weekend being spoiled grandma's. Babies who are used to being held a lot at home won't be held as much in your daycare because you have to divide your attention. Sometimes both infant and mommy are not happy with this but it’s the reality of daycare. There are some small children who will scream their heads off unless they have constant attention. You will have to do some training with the children to help them learn how to function in a daycare environment which, although takes place in a home, is not their home. Firmness, encouraging good behavior, and clear boundaries are essential.
Letting a Child Go
Once in a while, if you do childcare long enough, you may come across a completely defiant child who is disruptive to your business and even dangerous to other children. If so you may have to let that child go. This can be a hard situation which will infuriate a parent who will probably accuse you of exaggerating. Don't be intimidated. This is your business and your home. It's just not worth hanging on to a troubled child if the parents of the other children start leaving you because they don't like having their children being bit, scratched, and beat on.
Sometimes, someone besides the parent or anyone else you've met will need to pick up a child. In this case I would require that the parent always tell you beforehand, give you a name and description of the person will be doing the pickup, and that the person doing the pick up show you some ID. Remember, there are child predators out there and you are responsible for keeping the kids safe. Also, trust your senses if you ever have someone asking about childcare who seems suspicious. For example, if someone calls and is vague about their situation and just seems eager to come by and check out your set up during childcare hours, that's a red flag. Personally I would recommend that you never allow a parent's first visit to be during childcare hours.
Hopefully this article hasn't discouraged you. If it seems a bit on the negative side just understand that this information comes from having been involved with childcare for many years and having seen the worst of it. Writing about the best of it would hardly serve much purpose here in helping you prepare for the challenges. There are a lot of wonderful and rewarding moments to be had in operating a daycare and a lot of money can be made as well but it’s important to think things through before you begin: It’s a classic case of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.