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Home Daycare

12 Things Daycare Providers Wish Parents Knew

12 Things Daycare Providers Wish Parents Knew

This post has received so much attention, both positive and negative, here on Welcome To The Zoo and in various forums and websites.  As happy as I am to see my blog stats go up, I’m not as excited about the negativity this topic seems to create in some people.  Read my response to the bashers here, in The Perpetually Guilty Conscience of Mommies Everywhere.

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I have amazing clients.  They are wonderful parents that love their kids to pieces.  They spend extra time with them, they miss them when they’re at work, and they show appreciation for what I do.  They pay for stats and don’t complain about my vacation time.  They bring me TimCards and Thank You cards and flowers and Mother’s Day gifts and Christmas gifts.  They back me up when I need to discipline their children, and they respect my home, my time, my children, my property and my business.  In a word, they’re awesome!

In the past however, I’ve had some parents that don’t always get it.  And I’ve heard crazy stories from lots of other daycare providers about just how clueless parents can be.  But here’s the thing:  if I was a parent taking my child to daycare everyday, I might not understand the provider’s side of things either.  So, in the interests of everyone involved, I thought I’d do a litte PSA, just so parents can understand where home daycare providers are coming from.

#12 – If you are at a good Home Daycare, your spot is likely in high demand.  Do everything you can to follow the Provider’s policies, because there is a good chance she can replace you very quickly.

#11 – If your child starts daycare before the age of about 2, he or she will call your Provider “Mommy”.  As much as she reminds them  of her name, they will still default to the name “Mommy”.

#10 – There is a direct relationship between how many hours a child spends in daycare and their behaviour.  In general, the fewer hours a child spends in the care of someone other than Mommy or Daddy, the better behaved they are.  Which means that just because your Home Daycare is open 12 hours a day, doesn’t mean you should leave your child there 12 hours a day (which is 60 hours a week!).  Children benefit from spending the most waking hours possible at home with parents.

#9 – Most Home Daycare Providers can’t imagine taking time off without spending at least some of that time with their own kids.  So it blows their minds when parents take a week off of work and still bring their children to daycare the same hours as every other week.  You’d be surprised how excited your child gets when you show up early — they love it!  And children even as young as 18 months will brag to the others about how their Mommy or Daddy is picking up first.  So if you have the day off, why not spend a little of it with Junior and show up an hour or two early.

#8 – Kids do not have more fun at daycare than they would at home with their own toys and with their own Mommy and Daddy.  As much as they enjoy playing with their friends, doing crafts and circle time, and going for walks, most kids would MUCH rather spend a day playing at home with their own toys, reading books with Mommy and wrestling with Daddy.

#7 – Sick kids need to be at home.  When you get sick, I’m sure the first thing on your mind is getting home to your own bed.  When your child gets sick at daycare, they would much rather be picked up as soon as possible, rather than have to continue to go through the daycare routine (which may involve a bus run, playing outside, meal & snack times, etc).  Your daycare provider does have other children in her care, and quite often can’t sit with just one child without adequately supervising the others.

#6 – If your child throws up on your Home Daycare Provider, there is a very good chance she will not be able to change until closing, because there is simply no one else to watch the kids while she does.  Please, please keep that in mind when your child does throws up at daycare.  An “I’m so sorry this happened” goes a LONG way!

#5 – Daycare Providers are in it for the money.  Yes, Home Daycare Providers do this job because they love children.  But would you do your job if you couldn’t pay the bills with it? And Home Daycare Providers are not “raking it in”.  Yes, I’ve seen parents do the mental math when they think about what they’re paying and multiply it by the number of kids in my care.  Yes, we do make that amount, but then we deduct taxes (about 15%), daycare groceries and cleaning supplies (about 14%), extra insurance and utilities (about 10%), and any new toys, furniture, or outdoor equipment or repairs to our homes caused by running the daycare (5% – 20%).  If you really do the math, you’ll see that we’re making much less than minimum wage.

#4 – You are paying for a daycare spot, in addition to the actual care your child receives.  So if your child visits with Auntie Sue for the week and doesn’t come to daycare, you still need to pay for the week.  Home Daycare Providers need to be able to depend on a steady income.  If they can’t, they will either find a family that comes more regularly, or close the daycare because they need a job that pays the bills.

#3 – When you “forget” to pay your Daycare Provider, she quite often will not be able to pay her own bills.  Her bills include food for your child, heat for your child, water for your child, electricity for your child, insurance for your child, … well, you get the idea.  She will need to remind you to pay (have you ever had to beg, nag and plead for YOUR paycheque?) and that won’t be a enjoyable job for anyone.

#2 – Your Daycare Provider loves your child, but she loves her own more.  So, if your daycare is open from 6:30 to 4:30, respect that.  Don’t show up at 6:25 to drop your child off and then leave them in care til 4:45.  Your daycare provider has a life, and wants to spend it with her own children, not yours.  Sure, she may be up at 5:30, shovelling the driveway so that you can get in, or getting breakfast set up, or showering, or having some quiet time before the day starts.  But please respect that that is her personal time — not time for you to use as you please.

#1 – If your daycare provider closes because she is sick, she does NOT want to watch your kids!  Yes, I’ve been asked.

The most important thing that your Home Daycare Provider wants you to know is this:  She would LOVE to hear how much you appreciate how hard she works!  She takes care of the most important thing in your life, she does it without breaks or meal times, and quite often she needs to run to the bathroom at close because she hasn’t had a chance to pee during the day.  She gets “I love you’s”, hugs and kisses from the kids, but when you say “Thank you” at the end of a crazy day, it makes it all worth while!

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Read the follow-up post here: The Perpetually Guilty Conscience of Mommies Everywhere.

EBook-Running a Home Daycare and Doing It Well

Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!

69 Comments

  1. Ula

    You hit the nail on the head! I would also add, please change your child’s diapers before coming to daycare. It is not OK for you to bring a child with a diaper that has leaked urine all over their clothes. This is a health hazard. If only my parents would get this info. 🙂

    • Katie

      Goes Both ways, make sure diapers are changed before pick up too! And noses are wiped! I picked up my daughter many times and her diaper was about to explode and her face was covered in dried snot from her rubbing it away from her nose! I always made sure her diaper was changed right before going to daycare. But when I leave 8 diapers at daycare and pick her up with 6 diapers… No wonder she was getting diaper rash and never once had it at home!

      • Megan Elford

        That’s one of the reasons why I strongly recommend that daycare providers have a structured routine. I had 5 diaper change/potty times through the day. And of course, any that needed it were changed in between. I really recoommend too that parents thoroughly check out their daycare provider before signing a contract. If there are things that are important to you, don’t assume that they are important to the provider. Not all providers are created equal ;-).

      • April

        Give it a rest! Suppose your provider had just wiped your child’s nose 10 minutes before you came to pick her up. I am sure she has more children than just your daughter to take care of. Also, as far as diaper changes go, maybe your daughter was changed 30 minutes beforehand and did not realize because she has other children to take care of that your daughter decided to poop in her diaper. To be honest, I think you need a nanny since you seem to think that she only has your daughter to take care of. Give your provider some slack! She works very hard and gets very little if any appreciation shown to her at all!

        • April

          Sorry this was suppose to be in response to Katie.

      • Sherrie

        As a childcare provider I agree that it goes both ways. I expect children to come in fresh diapers and I go out of my way to make sure they are in a fresh diaper with their faces wiped up when they leave. I understand how exhausting a long work day can be and I want pick to a pleasant time for parents and children. If your provider is not changing your child regularly and sending baby home soaked it may be time to have a conversation about your expectations and possibly a switch is she is not responsive/cooperative.

    • Danna

      I would consider that neglect if a child isn’t changed in the morning.

  2. nicole

    This is soooooooo on point!!! I honestly love this!!!! Thank you very much for writing this!!

  3. LaSandra

    Yes this was hitting the nail right on the head!
    I’ve been doing this for about 15 years and you’d be surprised at the thoughts ppl have that are so untrue about our profession

  4. Julie

    as a parent who has used daycare in the past I was a little bit surprised at #8. I had kept my child home on days off, doing crafts, baking, playing games but a few times he asked to go to daycare because he wanted to see his best buds lol. Plus they often had special outings to places like the Fire Dept that he liked. Also, my kid likes consistency and even when I was off for a week I would still bring him for a few hours so he could stay in the same morning routine 🙂

    • Megan Elford

      You sound like an awesome Mom!

      The feedback I’ve gotten about that one point has only been from moms that love spending time with their child and their children are so secure in that love, they have the confidence to enjoy time away, and enjoy time with their parents.

      That point was directed at the “other” type of parents that many providers see day in and day out — the parents that leave their child at daycare from open to close everyday, that bring them for the same hours even though they have the week off, and who complain when the provider takes a stat holiday off, or who says “no” when they ask if she could babysit on the weekend. They leave their sick child in care all day, and they send their child in sandals when it’s zero degrees outside. They are the type of parent that is thinking more about themselves rather than their child, and their child is starving for their love and attention.

      The children of those parents miss them terribly, and the provider that spends time with them hears about it. They’re the kids that want to go home with every other parent, because they’re always the last to be picked up. And then, when mom or dad do finally show up, they throw a huge fit because they feel unimportant. Tantrums get more attention than behaving in that kind of family setup 😉

      It’s just a different way of parenting. I’ve always said to my daycare parents, if you feel a little guilty, you’re doing everything right :-). I feel really bad for the kids whose parents don’t feel guilty about not spending any awake time with them during the day, even though they’re fully able to.

      • Katrin

        I was wondering the exact same thing because not being allowed / able to go to Daycare is a punishment for my son.
        You sound like a great daycare provider, thanks for this Post.

      • Josie

        You do have a lot of great points in this article. One thing I do have some trouble with is the comment about not sending kids to daycare when you have time off. As you said, parents are paying for the spot at the daycare, and they pay regardless. I myself pay $67 a DAY. As a nurse who works two days/two nights, and then has five days off… I send my son to daycare on those five days, when they fall on weekdays. For what I am forced to pay (and yes, I am forced to pay that sum, as none of the few providers who are currently accepting children in my area will accept a child with a G-Tube even though he comes with his own P.A. to help) I will keep my son’s routine in place. It means finally being able to finally clean my house (which is a disaster after 4 12 hour work days), run errands, and do a multitude of other things that I cannot do when he is with me. I read your other post on the negativity your article has unfortunately attracted and I do agree that Mommy Guilt often plays into a lot of the negativity in parenting circles. I will also say, however, that everyone has different circumstances and no one can know someone else’s motivations. The impression that I get (and I will be the first to admit I’m not sure exactly what is giving me that – but I have it regardless) is that the parents who send their kids to your daycare are failing as parents and/or are lazy. Please remember that this is not the case. If that is not what you were getting at, I apologize for reading that into it, but something about that section of the article (which I otherwise agree with) just rubs me the wrong way. We cannot ascribe motivations to people’s actions.

        • Megan Elford

          Parents come in all shapes and sizes. Some are amazing (like you sound), and some are not so much.

          I wrote about one experience here. That particular parent never paid on time, tried to drop off when I was closed, and asked me to work overtime so that she could “work” when in fact she was out shopping. I had put all of my plans aside (including Valentine’s with my hubby) to help her out, because I thought she was working.

          I learned from that experience and was much more picky with the families that I enrolled, letting them know my policies up front.

          I think that many daycare providers are the type of people that don’t ever take time off for their own appointments, shopping, etc. They either just skip them (like I did) or they go after hours or on weekends. But nine times out of ten, they’ll have their own kids with them. They also clean their houses during naptime or on the weekends when, guess what, their own kids are underfoot. So I really think that’s why they have a hard time understanding having someone else watch their kids while they do those things.

        • Guest

          In my area, daycare is $1200/month. So $67 per day is extremely well priced, imo.

          • Guest 2

            fyi…. $67 a day would range from $1407- 1474 a month full time (5 days a week).

        • Maggie

          There are two sides to every story. I am a care provider and I’ve had some parents that steadfastly and always bring their children when they have “earned days off” or have booked holidays or whatever. I make this scenario easier on myself now. I tell people in my interviews that I feel child-care is sought out so that parents may be at work. I do not feel good about watching children whose parents are at home and choosing to bring them. I’ve been providing care for 17 years. It took me years to actually vocalize how it feels to be used like that and how it feels to have a 2.5 year old tug at my leg and say “how come I’m here today when my mommy/daddy is at home”…I’m an advocate for the child and that question always breaks my heart. Aside from that, everyone has laundry to do, houses to clean, meals to prepare and appointments to attend. Daycare providers attend appnts on off hours to accommodate working people’s schedules. They also clean house, make meals and a number of other things—all with 8 kids they’re tending to. On my average day I serve 32 servings between breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack and just like you when my day ends, I then cook again for my family of five and pack lunches for the 3/5 that attend school and work the next day. Add that up! You think your house is a mess after 4, 12 hour shifts? Spring cleaning in a daycare happens once a week, not once a year. Ultimately if you think paying for a spot entitles you to use your provider to maximum capacity, you are the parent I used to ask to leave. Now I don’t have to ask anyone to leave because I lay it out in my interview prior. If every parent kept their child home on days off, the remaining children, in care, get a bit more one on one attention than a normal day, which is a scenario that would benefit your child too, when other parents make the RIGHT decision. I’m not a shrewd. I form relationships with all my families. I like and respect them all. When a parent “asks” me for the odd day here and there. I rarely ever say “no”…I like to support people and of course, I would like the odd spa day too, if it were a possibility…I get it…but always having your child in care when you’re at home, is simply not fair to your child. Your child would love to buy groceries with you and fold laundry with you and talk your ear off while you complete all your chores.

          • Nola

            I am a home day care provider. I think it terrible for you or any other provider to tell a parent they have to pay you on thier day of and keep their kid home too!! I have a parent of work right now as he was laid off He brings his kid at the exact times as before to stay home and renovates his home. He doesn’t have to ask my permission or make up reasons to me. He pays me. As far as a 2.5 year old asking you why they are with you instead of the parent I find that pretty hard to believe. Even to have to pick them up early isn’t necessary you got paid. It would be nice if they were picked up a little earlier but it’s not your day off its theirs.

          • Nola

            I am a home day care provider. I think it terrible for you or any other provider to tell a parent they have to pay you on thier day of and keep their kid home too!! I have a parent of work right now as he was laid off He brings his kid at the exact times as before to stay home and renovates his home. He doesn’t have to ask my permission or make up reasons to me. He pays me. As far as a 2.5 year old asking you why they are with you instead of the parent I find that pretty hard to believe. Even to have to pick them up early isn’t necessary you got paid. It would be nice if they were picked up a little earlier but it’s not your day off its theirs.

    • Louise Roberts Steve Gaudet

      I’ve been doing this over 18 years. You are the exception…. I’m telling you.

      Prior to doing childcare I had my two oldest in childcare. I was pregnant with twins and had tons of appointments. I would bring them to every single one. I never considered dropping them of at DC. I could use that time to spend with them. I also only worked 4 days. I never brought them on my day off.

      You can imagine my surprise when I found out how many parents do this!! Regardless, I get paid so I don’t complain. Sadly, I am creating those everlasting memories on days their parents could.

      • Sara

        Wow, that’s pretty impressive? I was pregnant with twins last year and could not imagine for the life of me how all of those appointments would be in any way valuable time spent with your oldest two children?! Nor, how that would be acceptable to the Dr.’s, ultrasound techs, etc. I more than agree with this article and spend as much time with my children as possible. I am the parent who picks up early and spends time on my days off and on weekends making crafts, baking, outdoor outings, etc. (even with infant twins). And I most definitely think there is a time when children benefit from daycare – Dr.’s appointments qualify as one of those times to me! I’m sorry but this comment just struck a chord with me and I had to reply.

        • Megan Elford

          Many doctor’s appointments are inappropriate for children to come to — a physical and/or pap would be one of them. And sometimes kids aren’t allowed to come, like for an ultrasound. But when they are, it’s a great chance for them to learn about visiting the doctor and get to know her, especially since they aren’t there for a needle or sickness. I think it’s a great thing for kids to do everyday errands with their parents, it makes for wonderful learning experiences.

          My own children accompanied me to every mid-wife appointment each time I was pregnant. It was a great chance for them to understand what was going on, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, etc.

          That all said, I take no issue with a parent bringing their child to daycare on their day off by any means. I enjoy a kid-free outing now and then too. However, when you have the entire week (or weeks!) off and still have your child at daycare 60 hours (and you’re not physically unable to care for your child) … something’s wrong.

    • Irene Cameron

      I have had my family childcare business for over thirty-two years, and I still enjoy it. My view is that I am not only here to support the children but the parents as well. Sometimes a parent needs to have a day to themselves, to catch their breath and relax. This makes them better parents. I had one mother who had every other Friday off. She would still bring her two children for the full day and she would clean, do laundry, run errands and yes, have lunch with a friend. Then when she picked up her children at the end of the day, she was ready to give them her attention all weekend because her “stuff” was done.
      Please don’t be too hard on parents. They are very busy and very tired. I occasionally take days off. They get it. (I have six families on my waiting list)

  5. jerry

    I’m going to print this off for my wife thank you very much

  6. Kara

    I love this!!! I have a home daycare/preschool and #4 and #5 are huge for me!!! I wish more people understood that!!!! This was fantastic! Thank you!

  7. Pingback: The Perpetually Guilty Conscience of Mommies Everywhere | Welcome To The Zoo

  8. tammie bakko

    I provided care for a young mom, and to help her out, I gave her a reduced rate. When I discovered she wasn’t working the five days a week that her son was in my care, that instead she was taking a full day for what she called her “me time”, I gave her a two week notice that I would be charging her my full rate. This young mom was so upset that she would no longer have her “me time” without paying full price daycare, that she pulled her child from my care. It did not matter to this young lady that her son was in quality care and well taken care of. Instead she found somone unlicensed with court orders to stay away from illigal drugs to care for her child. Yes she got a reduced rate, and her ‘me time”. The selfishness of some parents, shocks me!!!

    • Sue

      My sister does the same thing, she works about 30 hours per week and has a lot of “me time” for her $60 haircuts, mani/pedi, massages etc. I’m a stay at home mom so obviously I neither have the child free time nor money to do these sorts of things.

  9. Kim

    I don’t know how many times over the past 27 years of doing daycare that I have had to explain to parents why I need a steady income, that it’s not all profit and I do not have the benefits others have at their job or that I always work at least an hour longer each day, do paperwork and shopping and cleaning on weekend that they do not have to do. However the one that gets me most is that they don’t understand their child is using up a daycare spot even if they aren’t here. It’s not like you can just fill that spot. They are paying for the spot to be there when they do need it. However not one of them would complain about paying for cable when they are out of town and not using it, or internet when it goes unused. Paying for a daycare spot is exactly the same. You pay a set fee no matter how much you use it. Otherwise you might not have it when you want/need it.

  10. Amanda

    I love this list! You should add on there that parents should read the policies and procedures manual when they go to sign up. Any good center gives out a manual and if the parent does not read it they have no right to complain with the child care provider enforces such rules as closing for vacation without returning fees for that time. My husband always got upset when our daycare closed and I always had to remind him that we knew that when we signed up! If you signed up for it you should read what you are getting yourself into!

  11. Vee@DlishDishing

    This so explains alot. I wish I could figure out how to get parents to read this without getting offended

    • Cyndi

      I posted it and said I had amazing parents but it was a good read. If that offends them, then we have bigger issues to deal with.

  12. Caty Arp

    Daycare provider and mother.. SO TRUE!! Thank you! 🙂

  13. mommyonthesame page

    I’m a parent and not one part of this offended me….I agree with 100% of it….I always told my lady how much we appreciated her….just as an exzample we would do what we ever could to accomodate her when she needed time off because she has appointments too just like the rest of us…..in one conversation when I told her how glad we are to have her and couldn’t imagine her not being there for us – she said I was on of the select few of her parents of 20 years in dayhoming that “appreciated her”. I was floored. I can’t imagine NOT appreciating her. I work 40 hrs a week and she’s spending more daytime hours with my child than I am…..how are parents not appreciative of someone they are trusting to take care of their children? How can they not understand, agree with and follow all of the points above???

  14. Nana Gail Casey

    I too am a “home day-care provider”…I started taking children, into my home, to watch when my beloved husband passed away 12 years ago…I have watched many children these last 25 years and only once did I have to ask one of my parents not to bring her child to me anymore because the child had behavioral problems that was disrupting the other children in my care…I will tell you that as long as you get onto the same page as the parents of the children that you are watching, things can run very smoothly…I am blessed to be involved with some of the nicest families…I have loved each child, that has been in my care, as if they were my own grandchildren…I am told weekly how appreciated I am by both moms and dads…this makes my heart sing thus it makes me love what I do…the children are great, they learn to know what they can do and what they can’t do…I would be lying if I said that this job was an easy one…although I am tired, by the end of the night, I actually cannot wait until the next day when I get to meet them at the door and welcome them back here to there “second home”….Just always need to remember that I am responsible for these little people who are in my care…so I keep them fed, loved, with rules, lots of hugs and kisses daily…I am blessed to have these children in my life <3

  15. Becky

    I love this and I would like to print it and hang it in my daycare. Before I started daycare in 1992 I went to school 4 days a week. On that Friday I would keep my two kids home with me That was our time to do fun things together. It always feels good when a parent tells you how much they appreciate you and what you do. It’s a shame more parent’s down’t feel like this. Daycare Provider Day is another day that is special and wish more parent’s would just tell you thanks for taking great care of Tommy instead of see you tomorrow. Two years ago my father passed away and I had a parent who was more worried about paying me for being off. Sorry that hit me the wrong way.

  16. Cassi Pietz

    I think I get called Janie more than she gets called mama. I wish that I had read this 9 years ago when I had one…but I have learned over time. I love her like family-she is so important to my kids that my oldest gets excited when he is with me to pick up his brothers because he gets to give her a hug 🙂 I will say though that I use my days off to give my older kiddos one on one mom time as the youngest tends to get most of the attention when he is home. It is nice to take the little guy to DC and take the big kids to a movie 🙂

  17. Barbara Cregan

    all I can say is ty for this.. I have been a child care provider for many years .. over 35 .. Love my job , love my kids , have said all same but to put it in writing and post it never but I did .. ty again..
    https://www.facebook.com/SmithsFallsDaycareConnection?ref=bookmarks

  18. Anna

    Dear Parents

    If there is something on this list that sounds outrageous or offensive it doesn’t apply to you.

    If you read and thought “I would never” you have probably never done it (or you did it once or twice and had a very good reason, it not you she’s talking about).
    If you thought “Sometimes you need me time” then you probably rarely take “me time”.
    If you are someone who does take schedule “Me Time” your care provider understands.
    -You might have children who are difficult to take on errands because unless they are holding your hand they wander off and you have four of them, they know your children they understand.
    -You may have a stressful job that requires me time. Your care provider knows this because they know you(your child loves you and talks about you so they know).
    If you do take “me days” (to clean, do errands, maybe have lunch with a friend, get your hair or nails done, etc.) The request was simple just to pick them up early.

    The main reason you find some of these things offensive is the reason why she wrote them because
    there are parents who think that it’s perfectly okay.
    -There are parents who pick up there children late so often that the care provider closing that day makes sure they have cab fare because they know they are going to miss their bus and the next on doesn’t come for an hour, and then the parent doesn’t even thank them for staying late.
    -Asking people for money they “forgot” to pay is the most awkward and nerve raking thing to do.
    -It’s because common sense is not so common.

    I personally don’t agree with number 5 mainly because the amount of work vs money return is too low to be about the money. It’s about the kids but a person needs money to live and provide for their families.

    Thank you for this list.

  19. Bob

    Daycare providers are women. It wouldn’t hurt to be a little more general.

  20. disgusted

    If you can’t be bothered to change a child who has thrown up on himself/herself for an entire day, your clients should fire you. And you should be ashamed to leave a child in that condition. And perhaps you have too many children in your “care” if you can’t take care of them the way that any normal caring human would. Shame on you.

    • Megan Elford

      I’m sorry that was unclear — the child had thrown up on me, not herself. I did clean her up, got her a drink of water, etc., but was unable to clean myself up because I was watching the children.

    • Blork

      Someone needs to work on their reading comprehension. 🙂

  21. darlene

    This is so true need parents to read this and understand what is going on in home daycare

  22. Vanessa

    These little people we bring into the world are so precious it boggles my mind how ppl just drop them off. I have subsidy being a single parent and they make it mandatory that my son not miss more than 30 days a year. But being a fulltime student I have weeks at Xmas and 1 week in march and I never want to bring him then.

    I’m the last to drop off and first to pick up. He isy world …don’t get how ppl don’t feel the same.

  23. Joanne

    I was a day care provider for 20 years and I loved being with the kids. I solved the problem of not getting paid on time. I had a written rule that payment was due on Thursday at pickup or the parent could not drop off their child on Friday unless they had payment in hand. I never had a parent miss more than once.
    My biggest pet peeve was with parents who would show up with their children not having had breakfast, and a bag of Tim Hortons chocolate donuts in hand to give them. I didn’t mind giving them breakfast, but don’t expect me to feed them chocolate donuts while they were in my home. And if you going to stop at Tim Hortons for breakfast, why not get them a bagel and yogurt instead.

    • darlene

      so true about donuts or they come with theirs eating one cause they stopped and coe in with it and none to share and we teach the kids to learn to share !!!!

    • Jo

      Who are you to judge what the children’s parents feed them for breakfast?

  24. James

    I agree with everything you said except the part of paying the provider when she goes on holidays as I than have to find a sitter for that week or 2 and pay her, so I would have to pay double.

    • Megan Elford

      I agree with that too. Many providers do it differently, but my deal was always that parents would pay for their own vacation time, but not mine. Many families opted to just schedule their vacation time at the same time as mine, which worked out quite well!

    • Beth

      Why not take the same time off as your provider? Most working parents have a LOT more time off then a childcare provider takes. I wonder if you get paid time off of your job? Do you spend it with your children? Either way; if the childcare provider had that as a policy and you didn’t like it you could find one who does not get paid time off.

    • Nola

      I am a care provider and I Totally agree with you!!! I don’t even charge for their time off which I am not against doing.

  25. lorraine banks

    Amen!! This will so be going into my newsletter next month. I have great children and amazing parents , however there is always one. Love my job , just wish we were given more respect and not called a babysitter.

  26. Workerbee

    Our daughter is in full-time daycare. I definitely appreciate and respect this list (it baffles me that it should even be an issue that parents ‘forget’ to pay their provider, don’t realize that they’re paying for a spot, or that they would drop their baby off with a dirty diaper [unless something happened on the car ride in, of course]), and I’ve also been on the weird end of some of these in situations where I felt the home daycare provider didn’t understand her obligations as a business owner. Daycare is EXPENSIVE. While I realize that providers aren’t getting rich of it, it must also be understood that many parents devote entire paychecks to daycare so that they can work to fulfill other obligations to their families and themselves. I don’t feel even a tiny bit guilty about using daycare even on my days off– I pay for it, my daughter prefers it, most of the time, and I get a LOT done. I’ve had one home daycare provider who actually wrote into her contract: “I’m not a babysitter, if you get the day off, give me the day off, too.” It was incredibly passive-aggressive of her and I simply did not tell her when I had a day off- just stuck to the normal hours and no one was the wiser. I do the same thing when I have a day off with our current provider (whom we all love and who is a much better fit)- the current provider has FOUR WEEKS of vacation/personal time written into her yearly contract. I don’t feel bad at all dropping my child off for her regularly scheduled routine on days that I, too, have personal or vacation time to catch up on business. Mama needs a break, too, and sometimes it’s not appropriate or warranted that your 2 year-old attends your doctor appointments, your haircuts, your grocery shops, or your coffee dates with grown-ups. I’ve yet to feel even slightly guilty about my daughter going to daycare on those days- she sees her friends, she does her crafts, her nap and mealtimes are consistent with what she expects, and she and I are both quite happy when we see each other again at 5pm.

    • Megan Elford

      I always told my daycare parents that if you feel guilty about it, you probably have no reason to ;-). It sounds like you are a wonderful parent 🙂

      My beef is not with the parents who love on their kids, but take a break every now and then. I need that too (although I never took a day off work to do that). My concern was the parents that made a habit of it, who left their kids in daycare for 12 hours a day while they took the week off.

      I simply suggest that they pick up their child an hour early if they have the day off so that they’re only in care for 11 hours that day, instead of the usual 12.

      • Workerbee

        I get that. And our daycare is only open from 7:30 to 5:30, anyway– I’m very, very respectful of that, though because of my job, I use the max time and hustle in order to not be late to work in the mornings and not be late to pick up my kid in the afternoons. Days I have off, I typically pick up my kid an hour early, anyway, because it’s not worth sitting in rush hour traffic to wring an extra hour out. I should mention, though, that the four weeks my provider has written into her contract are PAID. She’s worth every dollar, she makes well below minimum wage if you factor our her hourly, and my kid loves her and is thriving in her care. But the fact that that she has more paid personal time than I do at my own job is another reason I don’t actually feel at all guilty dropping off my kid on my random days off. My kid, who is two, doesn’t brag to the other kids that her mommy is on the way- she’s actually going through a phase lately where she throws a fit when she sees that I’m there to take her away from her friends. 🙂 –Also, amen to the sick kids thing. It kind of chaffs me that my kid goes to daycare with some parents who put their job before their (clearly, overwhelmingly) sick kid. Germs are going to spread no matter what, I realize. But it still chaffs me. Keep your kid home for a day, let them sleep in their own bed and snuggle on the couch with their parents, man! Blergh.

  27. Kr

    I understand from reading the comments below your post that you may not have meant it in this way, but some of your items certainly can be taken wrong for working parents. My daughter has been in daycare 9-10 hours a day since she was four months old because both my husband and I have to work. I am glad she is in daycare because she has a more enriched routine than I would be able to provide at home. But regardless of whether she likes it or we like her going, we have no choice. We both work demanding jobs of more than 40 hours a week. We can’t pick her up earlier on a whim, and we already have to make up the days the school is closed. She needs to keep the same routine as much as possible or she gets wound up, so extra vacations are not a great thing from a behavior perspective. We love our daughter and spend as much time with her as we can, and I bet most of your clients are the same. It is great that you care for the kids, but I think it is not your place to judge why parents make the decisions that they do.

    • Megan Elford

      You sound like a wonderful parent!

      You’re right, most of my clients were the same, because as I went I learned how to watch for them. My policies were written to weed out the parents that just wanted to get something for nothing, or spend as much time apart from their child as possible. There were several daycares in the area that were willing to cater to that crowd, so parents always had choices.

      I never assumed I knew what the parent was doing. I only ever responded when the parent told me what they were doing.

      I never, ever took issue with parents working and making a living. I worked overtime very willingly when a parent was on tour (military town) and the other parent had to work late. A job is a necessity and my service was provided to those who needed their children cared for while they worked.

      All I suggested with regards to picking up early was that if you had the day or the entire week off, picking up an hour early would make the child’s day. I saw it again and again — when a parent showed up early by surprise, their own child was so excited and proud!

      An hour early. That’s it. Not even keeping the child home for the day, just an hour early.

      I think that the majority of parents are amazing parents that love their children more than life itself. But I do find it odd that so many parents take issue with the suggestion that picking up their child an hour early would be something their child would love.

      For the record, all of my daycare parents picked up early on occasion. I had some amazing daycare parents 🙂

  28. Kaio

    ah yes, sounds failimar. i send my daughter to daycare in clean clothes every day and by the time i pick her up she is covered head to toe in things she has eaten or crafts she has done throughout the day. i love that she gets to go and play with other kids though so i really don’t give a crap that she comes home messy. however, there is nothing wrong with a child staying home with a parent instead of going to daycare, some would say that is what’s best for the child anyway. i think the first few weeks of changing a child’s routine can be a little difficult as they do not understand why things are changing, BUT, kids are resilient, and i’m sure that in no time she will become accustomed to her new routine.

  29. Pingback: 12 Things Daycare Providers Wish Parents Knew | Welcome To The Zoo

  30. Shawna

    I am a a provider of almost 15 yrs. I don’t think parents forget to pay. I dont think most parents misunderstand our terms. It’s lore like, they dont care. Its more of a I’ll pay when I can. Which I understand when things come up. I ask parents to let me know as soon as possible so I canfigure out if I need to rob Peter or Paul. I made a mistake when telling that to a couple. They continuousely paid late. I have a great policy in place but didn’t really use it becus I didn’t want to come off mean. But after getting behind in my own bills and begging parents to pay in full on time, I had to harden up. I do this by making sure I covered my end of the bargin. And keeping my ads going so I get at least 3 calls for a spot every week. If I have a parent void the contract, I always have someone to fill my spot asap. I had to stop worrying abt the parents and make sure I don’t become homeless.
    As far as my paid vacations, parents earn paid vavcations from thier jobs and so should I. I have a really job caring for real children. Lets do the math. Lets use $20 a day. If you have 10 children and each have 20 absences a year, that’s $4, 000 a year. And that’s a very low number. So yes I charge only weekly full time rates. I do allow parents to get 5 days of vacation creditwith advanced notice.
    I do charge late fees. I run around caring for many little people for 10 hrs a day. Parents have thier few or less children abt 5 woke hrs during the week (Some parents drop the kids off to grandparents on the weekend). I used to be open 12 hrs a day. By the tenth hor, I’m spent. My energy is very low and my daily mental, emotional and physical state has reached full capacity. And aftermy work day is over, I still have to clean up, wash toys, do daycare laundry and some paper work. And switch my hat to mom and wife. So I’m sorry parents may get stuck in traffic, or need to run pay a bill, or have to stay later at work, most parents get time in a half.
    I prefer parents to bring thier children even when they are off. I don’t care what parents do as long as they pick up on time. For some children, I day away brings me a week of de spoiling the child.
    I’ve learned not to expect much fom most parents. If they don’t bring shoes, I have spare. If they dont give medicine, i will. (With signed promission)I provide diapers, wipes, and formula (which is in the cost).
    I don’t give sibling discounts. There’s a reason why you can’t get two happy meals for the price of one. I don’t take state cus they don’t pay as much as parents believe. I’m sorry that children cost a lot, birth control is cheaper. I understand low income. Most providers are low income too. My cost for doing business is about 45% of the money I collect. I pay taxes on every dime i make. Most Parents with low income usually get most back when claiming thier childcare expense. Becus of my gross income, I’m can’t get any assistance from the government.
    So I tell parents to take have of what they pay me and that’s what I have left to cover personal expenses such as my own kids clothing and my life insurance. I do t get a retirement fund or college reimburse ment from my job.
    If I don’t get paid, I can lose my roof. I would love to provide much more but I can’t afford to cover the added expenses of a full time assistants who allow me more time for one on one care. I do the best I can with the resources I have. I love my job but hate the con’s of it. And with every new year I get a few clients whom I pray out of my life. So ith all of that I’ve learned to just focus on what I can bring and ignore the ignorance of those who think less of the childcare provider and just work to get to the next level of business.

  31. Jen

    I am a daycare provider AND used to take my own kids to daycare so I understand both sides. I understand exactly what you are talking about and it’s amazing how most of the issues that you brought up are usually things that we experience with the SAME family.
    i love all my families (I had to go through a few that’s weren’t so good before I ended up with the wonderful group I have now), but I do have one that I get frustrated with sometimes. They always pay me on time, never complain when I take time off, and I know that they love and appreciate me, and I them. However, they are the ones who are the last to pick their child up every day (often about 5-10 late, and to those that think 5-10 minutes isn’t a big deal it is when you have made plans for 30 minutes after closing time and then have to rush around because kids left late), and bring him every day no matter what, even when they have vacation time. And I give 1 week vacation credit, so if they kept him home with them they wouldn’t even have to pay me. He gets dropped off sick, for some reason the only time mom believes he is actually sick is when he has a fever. I had my own vacation ruined because she brought him sick the week before and then I got sick. And I’m not judging them, (although sometimes those kinds of things can definitely be annoying) and I honestly don’t care if they bring him when they are off. It just makes me not feel guilty for having to close one day for a dr appointment or if I’m going out of town. But this child is the one who has the most behavioral problems out of all of the kids. I had to be closed for a couple days and I got a text from mom saying I’m probably used to it but that she isn’t and can’t wait to go back to work. To me this is sad, because the child is lacking important bonding time with his parents, and acts out as a result. Nothing that they do would cause me to terminate my business relationship with them, but I do wish that the little guy got to spend more time with them.
    And what you said about kids calling you mommy is so true. All my kids do. They hear my own children call me mommy, and they are with me 11-12 hours a day so Of course they call me mommy. I try to teach them my name but they’re just not having it.
    100% of what you wrote is true. And I guarantee that if the parents that have a problem with what you wrote opened a daycare, they would understand exactly what you’re saying.
    -and to the guy who said that daycare providers are women, not necessarily, I’ve met a couple male daycare providers. They’re rare, but they’re out there!

  32. Jen

    I am a daycare provider AND used to take my own kids to daycare so I understand both sides. I understand exactly what you are talking about and it’s amazing how most of the issues that you brought up are usually things that we experience with the SAME family.
    i love all my families (I had to go through a few that’s weren’t so good before I ended up with the wonderful group I have now), but I do have one that I get frustrated with sometimes. They always pay me on time, never complain when I take time off, and I know that they love and appreciate me, and I them. However, they are the ones who are the last to pick their child up every day (often about 5-10 late, and to those that think 5-10 minutes isn’t a big deal it is when you have made plans for 30 minutes after closing time and then have to rush around because kids left late), and bring him every day no matter what, even when they have vacation time. And I give 1 week vacation credit, so if they kept him home with them they wouldn’t even have to pay me. He gets dropped off sick, for some reason the only time mom believes he is actually sick is when he has a fever. I had my own vacation ruined because she brought him sick the week before and then I got sick. And I’m not judging them, (although sometimes those kinds of things can definitely be annoying) and I honestly don’t care if they bring him when they are off. It just makes me not feel guilty for having to close one day for a dr appointment or if I’m going out of town. But this child is the one who has the most behavioral problems out of all of the kids. I had to be closed for a couple days and I got a text from mom saying I’m probably used to it but that she isn’t and can’t wait to go back to work. To me this is sad, because the child is lacking important bonding time with his parents, and acts out as a result. Nothing that they do would cause me to terminate my business relationship with them, but I do wish that the little guy got to spend more time with them.
    And what you said about kids calling you mommy is so true. All my kids do. They hear my own children call me mommy, and they are with me 11-12 hours a day so Of course they call me mommy. I try to teach them my name but they’re just not having it.
    100% of what you wrote is true. And I guarantee that if the parents that have a problem with what you wrote opened a daycare, they would understand exactly what you’re saying.
    -and to the guy who said that daycare providers are women, not necessarily, I’ve met a couple male daycare providers. They’re rare, but they’re or there!

  33. Tella

    Being in the child care business for over 25 years, I have found that there are a few families who do need to bring their kids even when on vacation because of routine being such a huge part of the behavioral plan for their child. Not following the routine for some kids makes for a horrible life for that child, as well as anyone around them. It then can take up to 3 weeks to get back on track. Sometimes, for some extraordinary families, there is no day off.

  34. stressed

    I agree with mostly everything! I do not charge flat rate and I am seeing more and more that I need to. I had a baby in July via c-section. I only took 2 week total off. First of all, I couldn’t afford to take even that much off but I needed to. I had my teen daughters here so that helped too. Anyway I have one family who have twins. They are currently 15 months old. They were 9 months old when I had my c-section. The mom and I became somewhat friends during the first few months. She even gave me a bunch of baby clothes that the girls at her work had gathered for a coworker but she then found out the baby was a girl instead of a boy so they said to give the clothes to me. I really appreciated that because I had hardly any clothes for my baby to start with! She sold me some of her baby stuff for cheap as well. But now I think that becoming somewhat friends was my first mistake! I give them a crazy cheap rate of $40 per day and they are supposed to come 4 days per week. The day is 6am-3:15pm. Normally for 2 kids I would charge $50/day. Anyway, I went back to work the first week of August, a week after I had been back to the hospital for extreme swelling and water on my lungs. Everything went fairly smooth with my daughters help. I have 5 other daycare kids as well by the way, with an average of 4-6 per day, along with my 2 teen daughters, my 8yr old step son, and my baby. I have a lot on my plate! In October this particular family started taking random vacation days off, just a couple. I was trying to catch up after taking two weeks off so this stressed me out and I know the mom could tell because she apologized and “felt bad so she wanted to give me as much notice as possible (a week at the most)” I forgot to mention that we also closed my husbands business the same time I had the baby so we were trying to play catch up and relied solely on my income. So anyway, even though it hurt me, I let it go and went about my business. Then comes November and I was informed that they each had a bunch of vacation days to use up before the end of the year and they were using them all during November and December. Great! So my pay went from $160/week to on average about $80, some weeks were $120 but when this happens for 2 months straight, DURING THE HOLIDAYS, that really screws me! I consistently get reminded of how having twins has been such a huge financial burden. I am just thinking “Hello here! I have 4 kids…..they don’t cost any less than yours”. And to screw me at Christmas time not only pisses me off but I think that is very disrespectful. So, I push through and tell myself come January it will get better. There will be no more vacation days to need to use or lose, etc. Wrong. This past Sunday I was told that a friend wanted to watch the kids on Tuesday. Unless the roads were bad and in that case I would watch them. What?! Then Monday night (last night) I was told that they were coming to me because the friend didn’t want to watch them cause she was afraid to drive in the snow. So, they are here today. I don’t know what to do. I am getting fed up. Not only with the inconsistency but the kids are eating everything in my house. They have two brand new playpens ruined because they literally EAT them. Huge holes along the top rails and all the padding picked out and eaten. When they are not supposed to be napping and they are playing they eat and pick fuzz from my rugs. In exersaucers they have the sewn on tags on the back of the seats tore apart from the fabric and shredded. My table has teeth marks in it too. They refuse to hold their own bottles (yes, they still have bottles). I love them but with everything combined I feel so stressed out and honestly think I need to let them go. I don’t want hard feelings, I just feel that I can’t do this anymore. I also feel like with all this added stress I can’t give my son the attention he needs either. The dad is super sarcastic and he is a crap starter on facebook and social media and I feel like I would be a hot topic for debate. I dread that! What would you do?

    • Megan Elford

      That’s crazy, that’s so much to deal with! I can’t even imagine going back to work 2 weeks after a C-section, yikes! I would have to say that you need to do what’s best for YOU. If you let the twins go, and fill their spots with 2 new children, you’ll make more money, AND you’ll have a fresh chance to reinforce your payment policy. Set a specific number of vacation days at half-rate (say, 7 for the year at $25/day) and then charge full rate for any additional days that the family takes off. That way you have an income you can depend on. Remember, they need to pay for their spot, not for the actual days they attend ;-). Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

  35. Jax

    I have a question for some of the home daycare providers on here: if YOU have to close at the last minute for the week, do you still charge the parents? I am in a situation this week where my provider had to close due to a death in the family. I was luckily able to find other care for my children for the week, but I’m wondering if I still have to pay her for this time off? I understand and agree that if I am the one taking them out for vacation, sickness, etc etc that I have to pay. However, since she is self employed, and she is the one closing I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay. I just don’t know what the standard is. Given that it is due to a death, I also don’t know how to bring it up without sounding like a complete terd. Thanks!

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