It’s the last day of my first full week with at least one extra kid every day. (Don’t worry, it’s naptime right now. No children were neglected in the writing of this post. Although I am avoiding folding four baskets of laundry.)
I’ve learned a lot. On balance I am loving my new vocation; it’s been good for the family I think, good for Thing #2 for sure, and I’m reasonably certain my clients are happy.
But for any of you who either have your kids in a dayhome, or are thinking about it, I’m going to make you the favoured client. Right now! It’s not hard! Print the following handy list, follow it faithfully, and bask in the warm glow of knowing that your child’s caregiver not only loves your kid, she loves you, too.
How to Make Your Child’s Caregiver Happy
1. Be on time. Let me say that one again – Be On Time. BE ON TIME. When you are bringing your child to someone else’s home for care, remember that the caregiver’s family is ‘working’ too, because their lives are being rearranged around the extra kids. Be on time for drop-offs, but especially be on time for pick-ups. And if you can’t be – because life, traffic, and last-minute email bombs all happen – CALL. We are in a wired world. There is no excuse for being 45 minutes late with no word. Between cell phones, texting, email, the good ol’ land line, passenger pigeons, etc., not calling is not cool. Bonus points: when the caregiver finally calls you to make sure you aren’t dead in a ditch somewhere, do not say “we’re running late. Is that alright?” The time to ask was before you were horribly late, when it would have been. Now, your child will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
2. Dress your child appropriately for the weather. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but apparently it isn’t. Warm clothing for outdoors. At least one extra outfit in case of messes. Enough diapers.
3. If the child has a lovey or comfort object they can’t nap without, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DON’T FORGET IT AT HOME. If you’re worried that it will get lost, buy another one. Seriously. It’ll make things much easier for all concerned.
4. If you are providing lunch, don’t send incredibly messy or hard to eat foods unless you know that the child is capable of self-feeding such things without ending the meal awash in liquid.
5. Pay your provider promptly and with a smile – counting out $20 bills with a pissed-off look on your face is just rude. A good provider will have worked out with you ahead of time what the payment schedule should be, and will be flexible (biweekly payment dates tied to your own pay schedule at work, for example) – show that you appreciate this service that institutional daycares won’t offer by holding up your end of the bargain. (If this one is hard, call some daycares, find out their rates, and ask how flexible their payment terms are.)
As you can imagine, each of these were inspired by actual events from this past week.