Every now and then blog readers send me a email or leave a comment in the comment section that I need to answer. When I think other readers might be interested too, I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days…
“Congratulations to the whole family.! My 2 daughters gave me 2 granddaughters 10 months apart! Such an honor and a blessing to care for them while their parents are at work!! One 16 mo toddler and a very strong 6 mo old infant already crawling and pulling herself up to stand! We are busy!
Sometime when life permits, I’d love to know how you structure your daycare charges’ day. Where do they nap? Etc”
I know I have several childcare providers that are readers and I know I have lots of grandmas that are doing childcare….and I know a bunch of you are curious so I’m tackling this question today.
First off I have to say that ALL OF THIS IS FLEXIBLE. I learned long ago that with childcare one of the #1 things I need to do for it to be successful is to be flexible. Kids are sick…or moody or I have a different mix of kids so we can’t always do the things I hope.
Kids arrive, for the most part, between 7:20 and 7:45. I have one family that comes later. At about 7:45 I often turn on Youtube and find Super Simple Songs. The songs there are all fun and encourage movement. I leave it on for about 20-30 minutes. It seams to get everyone in a mood for play. The sleepy ones gradually wake and the busy ones get busy dancing.
After that…breakfast. As the kids are finishing up breakfast we have circle time. I read 6 or so books and I do some finger play/puppet/felt board type things. Typically the things we do relate a little bit to the season. The kids adore this. All of the things I do are all math and literacy based. I have 5 two and three year olds at this time of day and four of them know almost all of their uppercase letters, all of their colors and quite a few of them know numbers. I attribute much of that to this time of the day.
All of my kiddos take care of their own dishes. I’ve taught them how. They take their plates to the garbage and scrap them themselves. Then we wash up. After that it’s free play time. Now is when I finish cleaning up and prep lunch as far as I can. I also often prep an art activity.
By 10:30 my other family is here and we often do some type of art activity. It’s nothing fancy…sometimes true art…sometimes something with do a dot markers…sometimes painting. It varies. Sometimes it’s a glorified worksheet or coloring page.
After that we clean up and I get out what I call table toys. We have lots of Melissa and Doug puzzles and other activities that are learning based.
Part of this time I sit and talk with them as they work on these, the rest of the time I’m finishing up a couple lunch prep things. I prompt all the “Wow you have lots of circles in your picture. Let’s count them” interactions.
If the weather is nice…spring, fall and summer, we are outside and all of this is left behind. Outside is WAY more important and I’m thrilled with the opportunity to provide that time with the kids.
Lunch is at noonish. We’re done with eating and washing up and the potty parade by about 12:30. The kids all make their own napping spots in the living room. Some sleep on the couch…some on nap mats or blankets on the floor. They watch Sesame Street as it finishes up and then Super Why from PBS. I clean the kitchen then and eat. I leave the television on but all of the kids drift off to sleep. If anyone is still awake at 1pm I sit in the living room and cross stitch long enough to get them to sleep…usually 10 minutes does it.
The kids gradually wake up…they continue to lay there and watch television. PBS is on so it’s all good educational television and it keeps them quiet so the others can sleep. At 2:30 I go in and anyone awake gets up and comes to the kitchen for table games. Sleepers are left to sleep and know that they can come out once they wake.
At 3:15 parents start trickling in. At 3:45 the bus drops off the school kids and chaos rules!! We have a snack and the kids have free time play until parents come. At 4:30 we all clean up. My last parents come at 5ish.
No food is ever fed without toys ALL being cleaned up first. I will put their food out on the table but they aren’t allowed to eat until they clean up. I try really hard to have the kids put one thing away before getting something else out but sometimes they slip past me. I try really hard to clean as we go so the mess isn’t so overwhelming and big.
I am busy and on my feet 95% of the day. When the kids nap I eat lunch, clean, prep snack, change laundry, prep an activity, do bookwork…anything and everything I can to make the rest of my day easier.
Right now I have the two and three year olds and a six month old little one. When one that little is here, all of the things we do depend on the mood and needs of the little one. Some days the baby is fussy…some days she doesn’t want to hang out in her jumper while the kids do art so some things don’t happen. I used to stress about that but now I’ve figured out that it’s all okay. I operate a family childcare and just like a family, not everything happens the exact way we want it to because a baby is hanging out.
Kramer has been here for lots of childcare days since his surgery. He often comments that most people couldn’t do it. I’ll admit that some days the screaming as kids race their dump trucks across the floor, the potty training, the spilt milk, changing schedules, sick kids, fussy babies and impatient kiddos can get to me, but all in all, I wouldn’t do anything different.
If you’re a grandma staying home with your grandkids don’t feel for one second that you need to have a schedule like I do or that if you aren’t providing this care that you are somehow lesser. YOU ARE NOT!! The care grandmas give is so valuable…so important. The care kids get at childcare can rarely beat the care a grandma can give.
There have been rumors going around our town that I’m quitting childcare. I’m not. I love my job. I love being with the grandkids. I love making a difference. I watching kids reach their milestones. There is such a shortage of childcare providers already…I’m staying right here for as long as I can.