Becoming a family child care provider is not for everyone.
People who choose this profession have made a truly a unique choice.
‘Choice‘ by definition means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” – (source: Google Dictionary)
If you are reading this article, you most likely have chosen to run this type of business out of your home; caring for and educating tiny humans of all ages before they enter Kindergarten.
There are some people in this world who have no idea how you do what you do on a daily basis and wouldn’t touch this profession with a 10-foot pole.
They can’t quite understand why someone would make the choice to welcome a group of children into their home with the expectation that you will feed them, diaper them and teach them.
As the child care provider, you will be the one who will walk them through their tantrums, their never-ending runny noses, occasional blow out diapers and potty training mishaps.
You will love them anyway.
You’ll chop up their food into tiny bits and then sweep up their food from underneath a row of high chairs and learn that your least favorite thing to sweep up is corn or ground meat. You’ll clean stains of who-knows-what off of your clothing each night.
You will love them anyway.
These children will not always take the best care of your walls or your flooring or your furniture. (sigh)
You will love them anyway.
In most cases, you will work alone with no other adult to consult with and often times when a day gets a little rocky, you’ll turn up the music and dance with 6 or 7 tiny humans underfoot; encouraging them to dance along with you.
Some adults find that taking care of their own child(ren) is enough of a challenge and you, oh dear one have chosen to welcome more children into the mix.
Other people’s children at that.
It is critical to remember that operating a family child care business is a choice that will affect children and their families as well as your own family for years to come.
In any profession, it is good to take pause and ask yourself “why” you have chosen this field.
Over the years, I have heard from other family child care providers who have shared their WHY.
Some people will shout their WHY proudly and it will sound something like this:
“I love rocking babies and loving on them. It brings me great joy.”
“I love working with kids! They are so funny and keep me young!”
“I love teaching and this is one way I can make my own choices about how I want to educate young children.”
“I love being my own boss. I can make my own schedule and use my own philosophies when it comes to teaching young kids.”
I believe almost all ‘whys’ can be the basis of really great programs as long as a provider remembers to then turn their gaze to the true focus of being an early childhood educator in the field of family child care: Meet the needs of each child in your program in a loving and meaningful way.
Others share their WHY that stems from a different angle:
“It was too difficult for me to trust my baby with anyone else.”
“I wanted to be home with my own kids.”
“I make good money and get to be my own boss.”
“My spouse lost his/her job and I needed to step up and be the bread winner for our family.”
“I thought it would be an easy gig.”
The key here is to understand your WHY and own the decision with pride.
If you love teaching and educating young children, go and do so with passion and purpose! Learn all you can about child development and seek out other courses and resources that will give strategy and direction in how you interact with the kids in your group.
If you chose this position for one of the latter reasons mentioned (because I had to, or I didn’t think I could get another job that pays as well as this) you’ll need to enter your work as a caregiver/educator with the same amount of gusto and passion.
Figure out what skill sets you can bring to the table and use those to shine!
Perhaps you have a knack for gardening…show the kids in your group how to plant flowers and vegetables. Give them experience of something you love to do.
Perhaps you are musically inclined. Use instruments and music in your program. Show them how to use a piano or learn about the different families of instruments!
Perhaps you are a gifted builder. Allow the kids to experience this hobby on a small scale — hammering, sanding, or building small items like a box or a bird house!
Perhaps you can bake like no other. Bring the kids into the kitchen! Teach them about measuring and pouring and show them the tools and how to use them when cooking or baking.
Choosing to be a family child care provider because you think it will be easy or because you want to be your own boss won’t get you very much depth in the profession.
With no passion or purpose in this profession, all you will see is the labor that goes into the love. Instead of the love that comes from the labor.
I love this quote by Steve Jobs:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
Burnout is real in family child care and on the really challenging days, the love of what you do (caring for young children) will carry you through.
By spending your days with young children, you have positioned yourself within a part of their story that experts say is the most critical time period in a child’s life.
According to all4kids.org…
One of the most critical time periods in child development and learning is from birth to five years old. The first five years of child development is crucial to their health, well being, and the overall trajectory of their lives in a variety of ways.
We must get it right and do the job well.
Figuring out your WHY and how you can best impact the kids in your program will give you your best shot at being successful in this field.