Have you ever received a gift with purchase? It was probably a nice surprise, right? A little something extra that you could use or even wanted. Well, some surprises are the kind you could do without and don’t want or need. Here are 5 unexpected things about being a childcare provider.
Some Unexpected Things About Being a Childcare Provider
When you start something new sometimes you don’t know what to expect. Well, childcare is no different. Actually somethings that go with being a provider no one would ever expect. Here are some things about being a childcare provider I never would have expected.
1. Chasing Payments
This one is number 1 for sure!
I don’t know why but I just didn’t expect to have to deal with receiving payments late. Seriously! I mean why would they pay me late? I was providing a quality service. And it was a service that parents needed.
So when I did encounter late payments I didn’t know how to handle it. It took me a long time to realize that I was the one who had to change.
I needed to set certain policies in place and I needed to enforce them. If I didn’t I was the one breaking the policy first.
Eventually, I placed quite a few processes in place to avoid, confront and give consequences for late payments.
Now thankfully, I rarely have to deal with late-paying clients. But when I do, I do!
2. Dealing with Custody Issues
I am sure this one was never on my radar. Even though research says almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation.
Still, I didn’t really think I would have to deal with anything other than the average two-parent client. Well, that just wasn’t the case.
Over the years I’ve had parents that were divorced, in the process of separating or never really together. Which meant that in some form or another I had to be involved or aware of a child custody arrangement.
This can be tricky for sure. I learned that the best course was to TRY not to take sides and just deal with the legal arrangements surrounding dropoffs & pickups, tuition payments and regarding emergency contacts.
Again, this can be tricky, especially if there are no formal custody arrangements. I have found it best to stress that as a provider you can only follow a legally enforced custody agreement. Which by the way, I ask for a copy of to keep in the child’s file.
Anything else will need to be handled through the court system.
3. Resentful Clients
Talk about unexpected things about being a childcare provider! Having resentful clients would have to be in the top 3.
You see for some reason some parents may start to be a little resentful of the time a provider spends with their child. Time that they feel they are missing out on.
I once had a parent who would purposefully not listen to anything I would suggest regarding her son. She loved her work and had a higher corporate job. But having her son must have left her torn.
She still wanted to work at the career that she had worked so hard at for years, but didn’t count on what that meant or the feelings she would have when she had a child.
Balancing the corporate career and mom left her upset and that translated into snide, resentful exchanges with me.
Another time I had a parent that I thought was great. That is until she accused me of not giving her child water later in the day so that I could avoid additional diaper changes.
I know! CRAZY rite!
Turns out she had wanted to hire a nanny instead of putting her child in childcare but her husband objected. So, in turn, she was taking it out on me.
Going through experiences like these have made me very deliberate about my enrollment process. From the beginning, I try to convey to prospective parents that I see my role as a “mother’s helper”. I want them to understand that although as the provider I will usually spend a considerable amount of time with their child, I do not see myself as the primary caregiver. That is their role.
Another way I screen parents is by asking lots of questions. My questions are designed to give me as much insight into what parent expectations are regarding childcare. You can get a copy of the questions I ask here.
4. Hands-Off Parenting
One morning I happen to overhear two of my clients chatting at dropoff. The one mom said that “If it’s hard, I just have Ms. A do it.”
What she was referring to was that if she didn’t want to deal with something with her child she would just punt the responsibility to me. NOT COOL! And also not my role.
Again, I see myself as a mommy’s helper, not mommy. And I still feel this way. But over the years I have seen this more and more. Parents not really parenting.
I see parents not wanting to deal with uncomfortable issues with their children so they don’t. They expect the provider to do it. And the thing is, the child knows it.
Changing of the Guard
Providers may notice that a daycare child will transform into a completely different child when mom or dad is around. In childcare, they call this “Changing of the Guard”.
It’s when a child will exhibit bad behavior at drop off and pick up. This is a time when a child may perceive that neither the parent nor the provider is in control. Unfortunately, many parents don’t ever take the guard.
In response what I have learned to do is to make the exchanges quick and not draw them out.
In the mornings, I will advise the child to say goodbye to the parent and invite them to join their friends. And in the evenings, I exchange daily information through Daily Notes and only give a few needed comments at the door.
It is my intention to make times of drop-off and pick-up a quick routine so that the parent assumes the responsibility of their child.
5. Lack of Respect
Finally, I would like to address what I have been fortunate to see only a few times over the years. That is what I think is a lack of respect for the provider.
Only on occasion have I had a client who didn’t seem to respect what I did for a living. Most parents truly (or come to) appreciate the role of the provider.
Parents Just Don’t Understand
A provider friend of mine once told me that a client told her that being a provider “wasn’t a real job.” And unfortunately, many people perceive the provider to be just sitting around and playing with the children all day.
They don’t see you changing 40+ diapers, cooking, cleaning, reading, comforting and kissing boo-boos.
But thankfully, most parents get it.
They realize the long hours we put in and the commitment we have to the children we serve. To be sure, what we do is needed and yet not easy.
But just as with not paying on time or not following a policy, sometimes we providers may have to show ourselves and our business the deserved respect.
As a friend of a friend of mine once said “The way people treat you is what they think of you.” So as providers and business owners we need to be the first ones to respect our businesses.
More Unexpected Things About Being a Childcare Provider
Somethings you might expect when you start a childcare. Things like cooking for the children, teaching, decorating the space and changing diapers.
But sometimes there is just no way you would or could expect certain things. Things like resentful clients or custody issues or chasing payments.
Believe me, I never saw them coming.
Over time and after confronting these issues (and many more) I realized I needed to stand up for my business & policies. Sometimes that might that I needed to change and so did my business.
Now you might think that this list of unexpected things is a bit incomplete. And you would be right.
There are so many things that fall under the heading of on-the-job training when it comes to being a provider. Things that you just have to go through to know.
But that is where you come in.
I would love to know what you say is something that you never would have expected being a childcare provider? How did you handle it? Please leave your unexpected thing in a comment below.