Busy parents know that having access to a quality childcare provider can be invaluable since it allows them to focus at work, and they don’t have to worry if their kids are being looked after well. A recent survey shows that 55% of mothers and almost 90% of fathers are working on a full time basis, and since it’s likely that more parents– especially mothers– will be considering full-time employment in the near future, the demand for childcare is expected to grow year after year.
Although daycare centers are the preferred choice of most parents, some are willing to look into alternatives, especially if budget is a consideration. For those who want affordable childcare, something like a home-based daycare setting may be a good fit.
Daycare centers are usually run in a commercial building with enough space for the kids and staff, and they have early learning programs for children. Meanwhile, a home daycare is a business that operates in someone’s home. Those who wish to open a home-based daycare business may find that it’s a great way to earn extra income since a lot of parents like the fact that it offers flexibility while providing expert care for their children in a home-like setting.
If you’re thinking about opening a home daycare, there are some things that you have to do to ensure that kids will be happy and out of harm’s way while you’re caring for them. Here are some ways to create a safe and welcoming environment in a home daycare setting.
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Do a Thorough Clean
Any childcare facility, whether it’s a conventional daycare or a home-based daycare, should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at all times. Keep in mind that germs and bacteria can lurk anywhere, and these can cause sickness or infections in kids and adults. Make it a point to sweep and vacuum in the morning before the children arrive, and do another round after everyone leaves. You should also wipe surfaces down with a cloth spritzed with a gentle disinfectant, paying close attention to hot spots like door handles, tables, and toilet seats.
Shared toys should be cleaned too, since germs can stay on surfaces for days. Plan on washing plastic toys in hot, sudsy water with a few drops of tea tree oil to naturally eliminate germs. Meanwhile, plush toys or toys that can’t be washed should be vacuumed, spot cleaned with a cloth and some soapy water, and sprayed with a disinfecting mist before air drying. This can be done at least once a week, but during flu season, it may be a good idea to clean children’s toys every two to three days.
Remind Everyone to Practice Cleanliness
Running a daycare at home requires cooperation from everybody, and not just the kids that you’re taking care of. Your family should also make an effort to ensure that your home daycare is safe and clean for everyone, so consider enforcing a few rules to keep your home pristine and germ-free. For instance, everyone could leave their shoes outside to prevent tracking mud and bacteria onto their floors. Anyone who arrives in your home should also wash their hands with soap and water– make sure that there’s a place for handwashing, and don’t forget to provide some soap and hand towels.
Get Rid of Health and Safety Hazards
Children are naturally curious, and most have a habit of exploring new places to see what they can find. You can expect the same to happen in your home daycare, so you need to be prepared to keep the kids from getting injured or hurt. Sharp objects, such as kitchen knives, should be kept in a place that’s out of reach of children, or in a drawer with a safety lock. Chemicals such as kitchen and bathroom cleaners should also be kept in a place that cannot be easily accessed by kids.
Meanwhile, the corners of tables should be covered with a cover protector, while TVs should be mounted on walls to prevent kids from knocking them over. If you have stairs, you’ll need to install a baby gate to keep toddlers from trying to climb them and hurting themselves. As for bookshelves, they need to be anchored to the wall to prevent them from toppling over, so go to a hardware store and look for an anti-tip wall strap or a wall anchor for this purpose.
Don’t forget the kitchen when child-proofing your home daycare. Keep in mind that most accidents in the home happen in the kitchen, so you’ll need to be prepared to prevent them from occurring. Buy stove knob covers and use them on stove knobs as well as your water dispenser. Wipe up any spills immediately to prevent slips and falls, and don’t keep expired food in the house since children may eat it even if they’ve gone bad.
Create a Cheerful Environment
Apart from being safe, your home daycare should feel warm and welcoming so the kids will always have a good time whenever they’re there. If your living spaces feel a bit gloomy, consider painting the walls in a light color and opening the drapes to let in some natural light. You may also want to play some soft, cheerful music and use a diffuser so that your in-home daycare will be filled with pleasant sounds and smells.
Consider incorporating some color into your decor to give your home a lift. Think bright yellows and splashes of orange or red here and there to energize and uplift, plus some greens and soft blues to relax and calm young minds. You don’t need to redecorate your entire place to get color into your home though. Simply add a few accessories, like throw pillow covers, throw blankets, and rugs, and you’re done.
The kids that you care for will consider your home daycare as their second home, so make it a point to treat them kindly and show them love and generosity. Provide healthy snacks and meals, and create warm and comfortable places where they can rest and nap. Add some new toys to the ones you have every few weeks or so, and celebrate birthdays with some freshly baked cupcakes, a birthday cake, or some pizza. Doing these things means that you may have to shell out some money every now and then, but it’s worth it in the end since the kids will always have a great time in your home.
A home daycare should be a warm, safe, and happy place for children. Consider these tips to create a welcoming and healthy environment for kids– their parents will be happy that you went the extra mile, and you’ll have a steady stream of income for many years.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.