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Home Daycare

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Opening a Home Daycare

Home Daycare is the perfect way to contribute well to your family’s finances, while still staying home with your own children.  It means that you can be there to see your child take her first step or say his first word.

But there are a few things to consider first.  I wish I had known these before opening up my home daycare!

1. Don’t charge different amounts for different ages or for sibling discounts.  A spot is a spot is a spot.  Daycare providers can only legally care for a certain number of kids.  That means that each spot should be worth the same amount of money, or you’re selling yourself short!

2. Aim for all full-timers.  When I was first starting, it wasn’t always possible to sign up full-timers.  But that’s what I should have been striving for.  Full-timers not only maximize the amount of money you can make, but they become far more familiar with the routines and rules, and because they’re more accustomed to the other children, they all get along better.

3. The daycare will take up a large part of your home.  Make sure you and your family is prepared for that.

4. Be strict about your closing time.  Unless a parent is in an accident, keep to your work hours to avoid things like missed practices and late arrivals at the Monday night PTA meeting.

5. Don’t be afraid to enforce your contract.  If it’s written in your contract, you need to stand by it — because if you don’t, no one else will either.

6. Don’t be afraid to let a child go if necessary.  If a parent has violated your contract, or if a child is getting out of hand, let them go.  Unless you’re absolutely in need of the money, the stress isn’t worth it.  And if it’s the child that’s causing the problems, other parents may start to pull their children out first.

Do you run a home daycare?  What do you wish you had known before starting?

Things I wish I Had Known Before Opening A Home Daycare - WelcomeToTheZoo.ca

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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!


  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    A good friend of mine has a home day care and although she has a strict closing time, there is one family that always picks up their kids late with a million excuses. Not cool.

    • Megan Elford

      That always bugged me … if a family doesn’t respect your closing time, what other policies will they disregard?

  2. Mystic_Kitchen

    Great tips for someone wanting to open a day care- thanks for sharing!

  3. Jamie (TigerStrypes) (@satrntgr)

    Great tips!! The biggest problem we found when our son was younger, here in a small town, was finding someone that was licensed!! There need to be rules, like your list, that all of the people follow!

    • Megan Elford

      I do understand providers not wanting to be licensed, but there are still laws that govern all daycares, both licensed and unlicensed. I really believe that when parents educate themselves on those laws (like you did!) that all providers will be forced to follow those laws.

  4. swellconditions

    Great tips! I couldn’t do that but I sure do appreciate those who do! When my son was little we used home daycares versus business type ones and was always very lucky to get good homes.

  5. Tiny Steps Mommy

    Yes! Great tips. I have been a home daycare provider since 2006. I only take full-timers now and I take my contract seriously. Paid vacations… snow days… sick days.. etc. I have only had to let kids go twice in all these years, but I learned to trust my instincts when it comes to these decisions. The kids and the families have to be a good fit.

    • Megan Elford

      I agree — it only benefits everyone when all are on the same page when it comes to contracts and policies.

  6. Sojourner Walker Williams

    Good to know. My husband and I, both former teachers were thinking about starting a home daycare. I’m not sure if it would be a good fit for our lifestyle (I really like the flexibility of being able to travel), but it’s nice to hear about other peoples successes and cautions.

  7. Katriza @ Everything Home Life

    Wow great tips! I’ve never considered opening one myself but I’ve looked into daycares when I was still working. I don’t think I could ever handle opening one of my own 😛

  8. Tessa Smith

    My mom used to run a home daycare. I loved it because I grew up with her watching me. But I don’t think I could do it!

  9. justamom8225

    I had always thought about opening a daycare though it would be for different hours outside of the ‘norm’ … then I realized how much strain that would be on my family and decided to not go there.

  10. maggiesblog2

    My friend is getting ready to start her own daycare this spring! I am going to show her this post!

  11. Liz Mays

    You make a good point about the discount for multiple siblings. I never would have thought of that, but it makes sense that a spot is a spot is a spot.

  12. Chelley @ A is For Adelaide

    These are great tips! Sibling discounts can be great when you’re first starting, but I agree that a spot is a spot!

  13. Onica {MommyFactor}

    As a parent who uses daycare, it’s interesting to learn about it from the business side. Yes alot of though needs to be done.

  14. Rosey

    My daughter-in-law considered a home day care. She opted instead to take her little one into another little boy’s home each day, and care for him She likes having just the two…for now. 🙂

  15. Kim Stern

    I have run a home daycare since 2005 and I have come across many of the things listed here at one time or another. Deciding to only accept full- time kids under school-age was a smart switch I made a few years ago. One good thing I have done since day one is collect payment for each week the previous Friday so I never have an issue with non-payment. I am so fortunate to have wonderful families now who “get it” but had to learn the hard way in the past to really watch for red flags when deciding who to offer a spot to in my daycare.

    • Michelle

      Have you had any problems with people up and leaving without a 2 week notice and payment for the 2 weeks?

      • Megan Elford

        Hi Michelle,

        I did … and lost several hundred dollars because of it :-/. I have heard of providers charging a registration fee that includes the last two weeks so that there aren’t any issues later on. It’s probably a good idea!

  16. Mrs. Jilly Fisher

    I might do this in the future. Things are too hectic right now. I know I will be coming to your blog to research everything if I ever decide to do it.

  17. Alysia from My Domestic Dish

    Those are all very good points. I used to use my spots for PT kids because they used to be full time and it cost me a ton of money :/
    I don’t HDC anymore, as I’ve got two toddlers on my own now and want to invest my time in them and the blog…but I’ll reopen sometime!

  18. Eliz Frank

    I’ve never run a Day Care but I commend all the people who do. It is a huge responsibility and very challenging work. Kudos! 🙂

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