There are so many wonderful positives when you open your home as a child care service to share with other families and their children…but i'm not going to lie, it can also be frustrating, tiring, intrusive and you might often feel as though your home is no longer your home, just a place of work.
I'm often asked how I handle using my house rather than a garage or spare room or even a granny flat like many home day carer's do. Well, for a start of I actually don't have any of those things and I'm not going to spend extra money to make it happen.
One of the things I love about family day care or FDC for short (what we call home day care in Australia) is that children are entering a home environment each day for their care. It's not huge and scary, not filled with unfamiliar things, not to much unlike their own home and routines really. There are many wonderful spaces in FDC where educators have turned sheds and granny flats into special welcoming environments for children but my own personal belief is that a home care environment adds that something special and unique.
I also like to be able to move around my house during care hours and not be confined to one room or a garage space. Everyone is different though and what works for me might not suit another educator…and that is perfectly ok!
Since I have been asked quite a few times now though I wanted to share how I have set up our home for care but also tried to keep it a welcoming and homely space for my own family…we have to live here everyday after all!
Here's my top tips and strategies….
Keep your own style
Utilise movable furniture
Break up your spaces
By breaking your spaces up within your home it helps children to find their own interest area or quiet/busy activity and helps slow them down as they find new spaces to explore or work in.
Obviously you will need some childproof locks on your cupboards but if you don't like the look of them all over your house then try the magnetic locks, you won't see a thing!
Organisation and storage.
Choose your entry/sign in area very carefully.
Nappy Change/Toileting Area – Consider carefully what will work for you…
The funny looking thing on the mixer tap is our invention to stop children turning the handle to the hot water side. This saved us having to get a plumber in to reset the water temperature. There are always cost effective solutions, you just need to think outside the box.
Be creative – use the space you have outside your living areas
Easy to pack away areas
While the children are attending care I like to find ways to make them feel as if they belong and are welcome in our home. But when they go home I want my own family to feel as if the house is again their home so I make sure many of the obvious daycare setups can be packed away easily.
The items on this table below are stored in a box for easy pack up, daycare artworks are displayed on the verandah sign in and play area but inside is just for my own girls artwork, I love photos of children playing but I display them in the sign in area, not throughout my home. Even if your sign in area is inside you don't need to spread everything across your walls. You can use noticeboards and magnetic boards that are easily taken down at the end of the day or week or just keep the daycare art and notices to a specific area. Remember to respect the spaces of your own family members as well.
I spend 30 minutes after the children leave each day to pack up and tidy. It helps me to feel as though I am ‘clocking off' somewhat and can now reclaim my home!
Invest in some outdoor storage
I use a little shed that his patient self built into our retaining wall, we still need to add some more shelves so I can store more resources but it is working well. I usually set up the space on a weekend according to my program and the children's current interests and it will stay like that most of the week.
I tidy but I don't pack everything away and then pull it out again each morning!
Ensure you keep some day care free spaces in the home
Even if you have a small home, make sure you keep a few areas just for you. The door at the end of our lounge is always kept closed as this leads to our bedroom and the twins bedrooms as well as our other bathroom, this is just family space…and a good place to throw everything if I haven't had time to clean up and organise before kids or parents arrive.
If you have your own children I would suggest making their rooms an off limits area to daycare children if you can. It allows a space for your child to keep their special toys or escape to for a little time to themselves away from daycare children.
We also have our front verandah to relax on.
And for us there are always outdoor spaces to explore when the daycare kids have left for the day – have you left yourself some space just for you?