Things to Consider Before You Start a Day-home

I took care of a kid for one school year. Originally I was told it would be 2, maybe 3, days a week. No matter how many days a week it will be here are some things I didn’t consider, but should have.


The difficult bits…….

1. Have a contract.

Oh, but, it’s for friends you say. Oh, but, I like these people you say. Oh, but, verbal contracts are the same as written you say.

You are wrong.

Contracts do many things. They keep things clear. Humans like certainty and a contract creates certain rules that will be understood and followed…certainty. You can always reference the contract if you feel it isn’t being followed.

A second thing a contract does is make sure that the people who hire you respect you as a business and see this as a serious commitment by the both of you.

A contract makes sure that you have in writing that you both think the agreement is fair and must be followed.

It also emphasizes that you are not just “babysitting occasionally” and that your job will go far beyond that.

There should be a stipulation in your contract that they tell you in advance if their schedule changes. You will have a lot of schedules to juggle, so that is very important.

Make it as simple as you want or as complex, but have one.

2. You will be working long after they go home.

Dishes, putting away toys they missed, cleaning up snack and snack crumbs, and setting up things for the next day. I spend a lot of time cleaning up after the kids go home,  even if the boys tidied the toys (which is a must at my house, not an option).  I end up sweeping and making sure things are okay for the next day at night. And the bathroom! I can’t count how many times I end up wiping down the bathroom, as well as mopping the floor. Those doorknobs get dirty fast.

If I am doing a craft or field trip with my kids the next day I make sure to get everything prepared the night before. That means at least a half hour of prepping paper or cutting shapes or making play-dough or what have you.

3. Decisions about food.

Will they be bringing food? What are you willing to prepare for lunch? How much will this factor in to the cost of running the daycare?

For myself, I chose to provide the food. However, I forgot how much growing kids will eat and will definitely factor that cost in to the fee next time. I only took in a couple of kids so it was not worth claiming food receipts on my taxes. Keep this in mind and check this out before you proceed.

However, I did manage to provide extremely healthy meals for my kiddos and a healthy dessert. I would make sure that it contained all four food groups. If I had enough time that day I would arrange the sandwich in to a face or make a picture with sauces. It was fun. On the days I fed them Kraft dinner I would finely grate veggies in there for them. They didn’t notice and were still getting extra nutrients for playing all afternoon. Desserts were usually yogurt or fruit or apple sauce.

Beyond that they had a snack at 10 am every day. This snack was to hold them over until lunch time and was usually cheese and crackers or fruit and cheese. They also had a snack at 2pm. Any later than that and I was afraid they wouldn’t eat supper! I made sure the rule at my house is to eat healthy, so this would be yogurt and raisins, or some kind of fruit. Nothing too heavy in the afternoon.

If we played outside all day I would cut up extra little snacks for them. I can’t deny a hungry child! Again, nothing past 2pm, but if they seemed extra hungry or their energy was lagging we would have a slice of cheese, bits of fruit, dry cereal or rice cakes.

Decide ahead of time how many snacks you are willing to provide, or if the parents should pack some.

But keep this in mind when you start. If you decide snacks will be your responsibility,  you may want to prep some of the food the night before. I have never been organized before having this business- but it has become a necessity!

4. Discipline.

Talk to the parents and follow their lead. Their way of discipline may be different from yours, but they know what works. If it’s time-outs, do that. If it’s drawing their feelings, do that. Keep communication open and let them know anything pertinent.

5. Your Own Children.

Be advised. Your kids may get tired of sharing you or not having alone time with you. Especially if you do your day home full time. Make sure that you spend time with them after the other kids leave. For me, this meant the hour after dinner time before bed. I also started talking to them for 5 minutes after tucking them in to bed as a way of checking in with them. This often meant leaving the cleaning and tidying until after they went to sleep.

6. Advertising.

You are running your own business and at first will have to advertise aggressively. Give business cards to parents that use your day home and ask them to hand them out if a friend needs someone. Use posters on community boards. Advertise in community newsletters. This will take time but will be worth it in the end. Eventually, if this is a good business fit for you, word of mouth will be your advertising.

The easy bits….

1. The Kids!

Although this was- hands down- the most difficult and possibly most tiring job I have ever had (and I’ve worked 4 part-time retail jobs at once!)- it can also be the most rewarding. Bonding with the kids and watching them play- or joining in- is really fun. Seeing them blossom as they socialize with each other is very rewarding. I even loved getting down and doing preschool like things with them! Practicing letters and numbers, playing simple board games, putting on silly songs for them…rewarding.  Plus, listening to them use their imaginations to make up silly games or stories for each other is the best.

2. No Commutes.

Trying to keep school schedules is kind of tough but most days your work comes to you and stays with you! No rushing to get ready in the morning. No fighting rush hour!

3. I’m the Boss.

I get to set the schedule. I say what happens when. On top of that, I am teaching future bosses leadership skills and manners. How meaningful and great is that?

4. Being a Kid Again.

I don’t know what being a grown up is, really. I never have felt “I finally have it all together and am an adult now”. So…this job is kind of great for me. I get to goof around and entertain kids. I get to reconnect with all my favourite cartoons at TV time and introduce a new generation to my faves…like Care Bears! I get to do all the silly kid crafts I love and I get to remember how fun play-dough is.

5. No Day is Boring.

Kids are unpredictable and no two days are the same!


Because I set my price so low (my fault), I basically made $3 an hour, if that. After I factor in all the learning materials I bought, the food costs, basic costs for mundane things (extra toilet paper, paper towel, cleaning products, laundry costs to clean play clothes..), craft costs- I made about $3 an hour. Next time I will factor that all in.

Right now I am taking a break from running a day home to spend time with my own kids, and work on some stuff for myself. But who knows? If approached properly it may be a good fit again in the future!

So, these are things to consider if you are thinking of starting up your own day home. It may be an excellent fit for you. I hope this list helps if you are still deciding.





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