Many new moms feel the same way; you can’t afford to stop working, but you want to be there to see your children grow up. There may be a way to be both provider and stay-at-home mom. A home daycare business allows you the best of both worlds. You can provide the second income your household needs and be there for your children when they need you most. At an average rate of $6 to $10 an hour per child, you could bring in a decent income.
There are certain things to be considered before you decide if this is what you want to do. Will you be happy living and working inside your home? You won’t have the benefit of leaving your house each day and going to a job where you can socialize with other adults. Will you mind opening up your home to other people and their children? Are you prepared for long hours, as some children may be dropped off early and others picked up late?
Sound like something that would work for you? Here’s how to get started:
1) First you need to get certified. Check with your local Child Care Licensing agency for the requirements in your state. You will most likely need to be certified in CPR and emergency first aid. The agency will come into your home for an inspection. They will also do a background check. Most states will allow up to 6 children per licensed provider. For more information see the Child Care Center Licensing Guidebook or visit daycare.com.
2) You need to set up your home to provide the proper space to run a daycare. At least one dedicated playroom indoors and a safe fenced in area for outdoor play, lots of toys, games and other age-appropriate playthings, a bed or sleeping area for each child (for nap time) and a crib if you’ll be taking care of infants. On the plus side, everything you buy for your business… toys, swing sets, cribs, safety gates, computer, etc… can be claimed on your taxes, amounting to a hefty refund for you!
3) Decide on your costs. Will you charge by the hour, the day or the week? Will you charge more for infants because they are more work? Offer a discount if someone registers 2 children? If you’re not sure what to charge, do a little research online or ask other home day care providers in your area how they charge.
4) Set up a file cabinet for what will be LOTS of paperwork… An important rule to remember is PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Document everything, for your sake and to avoid any confusion for the parents. You’ll need to give the parents a monthly calendar with your hours, their hours and any days off you need. Contracts should be signed as a mutual agreement between you and the parents as to terms like what the cost is per child, what is included and what they need to supply as well as stipulations for sick children, cancelations and early drop-offs/late pickups. Menus are usually required by food programs in order for you to get reimbursed for meals. There should be forms in case you want to take the children out or off your property, progress reports, which are always welcomed by the parents and you’ll surely find need for more forms as you go along. You can get many basic templates online for free… just print them up.
5) Come up with a schedule for the children. Consistency will make your days run smoother. Have regular meal times, nap times, outdoor play, arts and crafts, quiet time or TV time. Keep a daily journal for each child to record special moments for the parents. A schedule will also keep you in a routine which means less stress and a more enjoyable work environment for everyone.
A home daycare is a lot of work and you’ll be wearing many hats. You won’t be just a babysitter. You’ll be a teacher, mom, cook, business woman, manager, referee, events coordinator, housekeeper and record keeper. But it will be rewarding for you and, by providing a loving home environment for children, you will be providing a much-needed service for parents who work.