Articles & Stories for
Providers by Providers


 
Avoiding Burnout
 Written by Cassie D.

    Provider burnout is a problem for all of as at one point or another. It's the main reason why daycare providers leave their professional within the first five years. We are the nurturers  and as a result, tend to spend more time looking after the needs of others and often put our own needs last on the list of priorities. Burnout is caused by neglect. It occurs when people neglect their own self care. It occurs when people don't create a balance between what they give to others and what they give themselves. If we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be of help to take care of others.

    There are several reasons why home child care providers may need to pay special attention to the care of their own inner selves. Providers are often isolated from other adults. Our lives revolve around little people, whether we're working and playing with the children in our care or caring for our own children. We sometimes lose touch with the professional and social world outside the home and family.

    We often lack the respect we deserve from others. We're not usually seen as trained professionals who enjoy our work and take pride in it. We may not be considered to be a part of the working world because we work at home and are often referred to as babysitters. I've seen a great deal of change in this attitude and I want to encourage providers to continue to educate others to improve our image and promote your own professionalism.

    Many parents still see providers as people who work for them, rather than small business owners who provide a service. This is evident in the power that parents often yield in controlling fees that providers charge. We need to see ourselves as professionals who control their business and make decisions about what we will offer, what rules there will be and how much we will charge. We need to include things like guaranteed weekly fees, paid vacations, paid sick days and advance payment. Just taking control of these areas can relieve stress that relates to burnout.

    The best way to deal with burnout is to prevent it from happening. I know, easier said than done. Since burnout is often caused by stress and fatigue, you can do a lot to prevent burnout by dealing with those issues.

    Getting enough rest is the easiest to address out of the two factors. How much sleep is enough? If you are tired all of the time, adding more sleep to the equation could be a solution. If you wake up before the alarm goes off, you are probably getting enough sleep. If you are hitting the snooze button a few times like me than you more than likely shorted yourself in the sleep department. Try to clear your mind before you go to bed. Don't watch t.v. in bed. And the big one....try not to stress over what tomorrow maybe bringing, it will come whether we like it or not so don't let it keep you from getting your rest.

    There are countless things that contribute to stress in our lives, but the way that we deal with them is key to how we let it effect us. Whether or not an event becomes a major deal is something that you decide. Think about a recent event that has occurred in your life that caused a great deal of stress. How much of the way you responded to the event was impacted by fatigue at the time that event occurred? Do you think that you would have been less stressed if you had been able to look at what happened from a different perspective? I think that on a given day, I set the mood on whether I will be happy or miserable, agreeable or disagreeable, friendly or antisocial. What outlook I decide to carry for the moment contributes to the amount of stress I feel. We can learn to control stress by learning to control the way we feel. Think about the things that are really important in life and try to keep them in perspective in the order of their importance. When you do that, you'll find that a lot of things that seem like major issues are really just not that important. 

    One way to reduce the amount of stress in your life is to confront problems and deal with them in a proactive way. Two ways in which people commonly deal with problems include a proactive approach and a passive-aggessive approach. For example: A parent who constantly picks up a child late. If you're approaching passively, you would be unhappy with this parent and resent the disrespectful behavior, but you would not confront the problem. Instead you might show anger or talk about the parents to others. If you are dealing with the problem proactively, you would remind the parent in a friendly manner of your hours of operation and let the parent know that future tardiness is not acceptable. Work together on how to solve the issue. Dealing with problems proactively prevents resentment from building and saves you time from worrying which will prevent stress from overwhelming you.

    Last~ take time for yourself. If you want to continue to be a nurturer and be able to give to others, you must first take care of yourself. Make time each day to do something fun for yourself. This might be a half hour in the morning before everyone is up to have a cup of coffee or tea. Make it one priority for yourself, it's ok to do it. Be sure you get some exercise in even if it's just a walk, it could help you clear your mind. Eat healthy, take vacations (it doesn't have to be out of town), and make room for fun in your life.

    You are an important person and it's up to you to take care of yourself. It's not selfish. It's necessary. You can only have something to give if you keep giving to yourself.
 


 
Marketing and Advertising
 
Written by Cassie D.

     Marketing, it can sometimes be a nightmare. Unless you have clients lined up ahead of time, you had to try it at some point. Some of us are successful, but for some it left us asking...Why isn't the phone ringing? Different things work in different areas, there is no one fool proof way. Consistency is key. Marketing is something you just have to keep working on even when you don't have spots to fill.

     Anyone who watches TV has seen a commercial, so let's start there. What's in a commercial? Most have some type of spokes person right? So work on getting one of your own for free! Talk to all of your family and friends, tell them about your daycare with pride. Have them tell all of their friends and family. Word of mouth is free and one of the most effective ways to get the word out. Some of us are lucky enough to have this area covered already, but some are not. The following is a list of marketing tools you can use with ideas of how to use them.

 Tool 
Business cards - .pdf

Uses 
Hand them out to parents you come in contact with at stores, play groups, library,
fun centers, school functions, parks, church, neighborhood, etc.
Laminate them to children's books and donate them to local libraries,
doctors and dentists offices.
Turn them into magnetic cards and let current clients take them to work to put up on  the fridge in the break area or put a whole bunch on your car to let people
take when you're out and about.
Give a stack to local relators to hand out to new home owners.
Put them on the windshield of cars that have car seats in them.
Pass them out with your Halloween candy.
Put them in goodie bags during birthday parties.

 Tool
Flyers

 Uses
Hang them at church, stores, city hall, local schools including colleges, laundry mats, recreation centers or you can go door to door around the neighborhood.
Mail them out with a welcome letter to local businesses to hang in
their employee break areas.
Have them placed in the Welcome Wagon packets that the
city puts out to new residents.

Tool
Magnetic car signs

 Uses
Place on your car or maybe family and friends cars too.

 Tool
Outdoor signs

 Uses
Place them in your yard or the end of your street and at busy
intersections near by if your city allows.

 Tool
Mass market ads - .pdf

 Uses
Place an ad in local newspapers, yellow pages (basic listing is pretty inexpensive), church bulletins, Chamber of Commerce member listings, direct marketing mailers, daycare sites that offer listings or have your own website.

 

Miscellaneous
Make some laminated signs to put on a stroller or wagon that you use when
you're out with the kids.
Offer some free services at a silent auction.
Make some shirts with your daycare information for you and the kids to
wear out and about.
Paint an ad in your front window (be sure to use water based paint with a drop
of liquid soap mixed in it for easy clean up).
See if a local paper would feature something special you are
doing with your daycare.
Host a float in local parades to advertise.
Hand out cards or flyers during local festivities and shows.
Register with local referral agencies.

 Here are some do's and don'ts to consider when putting an advertisement together. Do make it colorful and creative, but professional. Check for grammar, spelling and errors. Keep it neat, organized and consistent (by staying with the same style and look it builds recognition). Include basic information like phone number, email address, 1st name or name of business, city and maybe a few qualifications (ex. licensed, professional, certified). If your budget allows try to stay away from using a white background. Be sure if you use a business name, it describes the type of business you are and doesn't mislead the public to think you are something else. Check with your city for requirements before putting an advertisement outdoors or in your window. Don't use all one color, hand write them, use florescent colors, use to much clip art, change your background color or include to much personal information (consider your safety).
 

 

Safety in the Child Care Setting

by Cassie D.

In light of current events many providers are concerned about safety and security in their environment. We put ourselves at risk following a daily routine by; taking the kids outside to play, doing first time interviews, advertising our business, dealing with domestic disputes between parents, and for some of us, working alone. There are many steps we can take to protect ourselves and the children we care for.

When taking the children outside be sure you have a phone with you. Be aware of your surroundings and any people near by. Play in an enclosed area like a fenced in yard so you only have one entrance to watch. Have all of the children play in the same area so you are able to do regular head counts.

First time interviews can be nerve racking in themselves, but consider your safety as much as the interview. Plan first time interviews after hours so there is no extra risk to the children in your care. Have another adult present with you while conducting an interview. Some parents may feel they need to see you in action during the day, you can always offer a second interview during this time. If you feel you must schedule an interview during day care hours, require that the parent bring their child with. A person would be less likely to do any harm with a child tagging along.

Advertising our day care can be a catch twenty-two, We want to get our name out there, but at the same time we are exposing ourselves. Some things to consider are; to not list you exact address, do not include your last name, and avoid advertising in front of your home. By advertising outside your home, it allows strangers to come straight to your door without any screening.

Domestic issues between parents puts us in difficult situations many times. It is important to address this someway in your handbook. Require the parent(s) to keep you informed of any changes in custody or if there are any restraining orders involved. Be sure to have any court documents on file. Always keep your ears open to what parents share with you, it may give you signs of future trouble to come. It is best not to get yourself in the middle of any disputes with parents.

Parents are not always going to see eye to eye with us. Some of our policies and rules that we enforce do not make sense or seem fair to parents which can put us in a hard spot. To avoid conflicts always cover your handbook thoroughly with parents before they enroll their child. Be consistent when enforcing your policies. If a conflict with a parent gets to an unsafe and uncomfortable level, it is a good idea to terminate care before things escalate.

In general, it is best to follow your instincts and use common sense. If you work by yourself, take extra precautions and minimize any unnecessary risks. Do not open your door to people you do not know or expect. Other measures you could take are; installing a keypad for code access or buzzer at the entrance for parents, wear a panic button or get an alarm system.

Every home day care is different and unique. It is hard to plan for every possibility. If you haven't taken a good look at you safety measures, today is a great day to do it!
 

Getting Organized

By Julie A. Brant-Drenovas

 

Well, it’s officially here…Spring! Time for flowers, chirping birds, longer days, and yes, oh yes, Spring cleaning! Ok, maybe not cleaning, but we can at least get our homes and daycares organized.

One of the first tips is to be realistic in what you really want to achieve. Getting organized doesn’t have to be a scary and overwhelming experience.  Following a few simple rules and taking things one step at a time will make things a lot easier.

The first place to start is with a list. First, what I’d call a wish list.  Write down everything you wish you could get organized and I mean everything—even the littlest things.

Now, prioritize. Time to be realistic.  Cross off what you know you can’t or won’t do.  Then beside the things you have left, jot down how long you anticipate it will take. For example, say you want to reorganize your files.  Think of what you will need to get (new folders or storage boxes or cabinets) and how long it will take to get it the items. Think about where the best place is to keep it all. Are there things you can put away in the attic, or garage, or basement that will allow you to have more space?

Once you have your list, double check to make sure you really think you’ll accomplish all you’ve set out to do. Don’t be afraid to cross things off. There will always be time somewhere down the line where you can make a new list.

Now pick one thing on your list and only one thing and get started.  Don’t worry about your estimated time for completion. If it takes longer then it takes longer. If it takes less time, well, good for you.  Work on this one project at your pace until it’s done.  Do not, I repeat, do not start on something else until it’s done.  Don’t tell yourself, “I’m almost done with this project so I’ll get started on the next.”  Well, take it from one who knows, if it’s not done now, it’s not going to get done.  Before you know it you’ll have a half done mess all over the place. Besides, there’s so much reward in crossing what’s done off your list.  And, the more you can get crossed off, the better you’ll feel.  This is also why it’s good to have little things on your list too that will take minimal time and effort because you can cross them off that much faster.

Here are some helpful hints on getting organized that I found at HGTV.

 http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_organizing_storage/0,1800,HGTV_3142,00.html
 

How do we get kids to stop tattling?

The Tattle Ear

When I had a group of older kids, I had them go tell it to the "tattle ear". I found a picture of a large elephant with large ears. I posted it on the wall and told the kids that I did not want to hear it-go tell it to the tattle ear. That worked for a LONG time, but now I have a group of 2 year olds that just don't get the picture yet. Older kids loved it, really worked and stopped alot of it. I would just point to the ear when they started to tell me. It's worth a try.

Thanks Janelle, this is great advice!!!

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