One of the first things potential clients will ask is “What kinds of things do you do with the kids?”. Having a routine in place is the perfect springboard for answering this question.
Now, you may be saying that you’re not the type of person that likes to be constrained by a routine, and that you want to be free to take the day as it comes. But there are several things that DO need to be done at approximately the same time each day. Besides that, children thrive and respond much better when they know what to expect from the day, even if it’s just the order of things, rather than the timing.
So, start building your routine with the basic non-negotiables. When you open, meals and snacks, nap times, etc. And then fill in the rest of the time with things like outdoor play, circle time, trips to the park, crafts, etc. Your routine may change over time, and that’s alright. But you should have a general idea of the pace of each day so that everything is covered (diapers get changed, kids get fed) and so that parents have an idea of what their children are doing each day.
Here’s a sample routine from the last year of my own home daycare:
7:00 – Open; Breakfast
7:45 – Breakfast Ends; Free Play (this was when I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, etc)
8:00 – Diaper/Potty Time (I always took all of the kids at the same time since the bathroom was upstairs)
8:15 – Get Dressed for Outdoors
8:30 – Leave For Bus Stop
8:45 – Back Inside; Diaper/Potty Time
9:00 – Circle Time
9:15 – Craft Time
9:30 – Extra Work For Bigs (2+); Free Play For Littles (2 and under)
10:00 – Diaper/Potty Time
10:15 – Snack Time
10:30 – Get Dressed For Outdoors
10:45 – Free Play/Walk/Park/Outdoor Arena
11:30 – Back Inside; Diaper/Potty Time
11:45 – Lunch
12:00 – Free Play/Finish Lunch (this is when I would clean up lunch dishes)
12:30 – Diaper/Potty Time
12:45 – Littles Nap Time (anyone still in a playpen)
1:00 – Bigs Nap Time (anyone on a cot)
2:45 – Wake Up For Everyone
3:00 – Snack Time
3:15 – Get Dressed For Outdoors
3:30 – Bus Stop
3:45 – Back to House/Free Play in Yard (parents would start picking up around now)
5:00 – Close (if it was winter, we’d head inside when it started to get dark and have Free Play or read books til close)
As you can probably tell, I am a routine-oriented person. I expect that your schedule would be quite different, or perhaps much less detailed. Figure out what works for you, AND what you can implement without feeling rushed or stressed. But whatever it looks like, get it down on paper so that parents can see what’s going on through the day. You’ll feel productive and the parents will feel secure in the fact that their child isn’t being left to their own devices all day. They’ll also see that their child’s diaper is getting changed regularly and that they’re being offered food regularly (it sounds simplistic, but it’s a real fear when you’re leaving your child with someone you’ve just met!).
Feel free to post your own routine in the comment section!