I’m in a closed Facebook group for dayhome providers in Halifax.
It’s a nice space. It’s very welcoming and accepting. We trade craft ideas, ask each other for help drafting better contracts, crowd-source challenging issues with the kids, and generally function like any professional association would. Occasionally we have differences – there are some ladies who charge half-nothing, don’t take holiday pay or paid vacation time, and seem insulted that some of us treat this as a business, not a Sacred Trust™ – but by and large it’s a good group.
We also use it as a place to vent, and rant, and say “OH MY GOD CAN YOU EVEN I CANNOT EVEN” when parents do things that upset us. And boy, does that happen a lot! Parents of Halifax, I hereby present you with a list of things to not do. Seriously. We talk about you, and if you develop a reputation as a problem client you might find yourself without childcare when you need it.
Without further ado, my “Don’t Do What Donny Don’t Does” list for parents with kids in dayhomes. These have all happened to people in the group. A few have happened to me.
- Don’t read the contract. Even a little bit. Flip to the last page, sign it, then forget it exists until a dispute happens and you are proven to be in the wrong according to the contract’s terms. Get pissy about the contract and try to negotiate your way out of it.
- Ask a potential provider what their rates are. As soon as you hear the rates, immediately ask for a discount.
- Indicate a drop-off and pick-up time for your child. Never, ever abide by them.
- Dress your child in white. Or sundresses in January. Or long pants in July. Bonus points for shoes that are too big, too small, or unsafe for running and playing.
- Bring up any issues or problems in the doorway at pick-up time. If the provider tries to suggest discussing the issue at another time when she isn’t at work, ignore her and keep talking.
- Walk right into the provider’s house without knocking. Bonus points for leaving your shoes on and tracking mud, snow, slush, and salt all over the floor where children are playing.
- Be late with payment.
- Complain about paying for holidays and vacation time.
- Tell your provider that your child’s vaccine schedule is up to date. Reveal months later that the child has had no vaccines and you have no intention of rectifying that.
- Give your feverish child a big dose of Advil or Tylenol and drop them off as usual without mentioning it. Act surprised when your dayhome provider calls mid-afternoon for you to come pick up your child.
- When you are called to pick up a sick child, make it take as long as possible. Stop on the way home to run some errands. And act indignant when your provider reminds you that the child must be symptom-free for 24 hours before they can return as per the contract you signed but didn’t read.
- Bribe your kid with candy. All the time. ALL THE TIME. Offer them candy for getting dressed in the morning, sitting at the table, getting out of the car without whining, getting into the car without whining, going to the bathroom, getting into pajamas.
- Present your dayhome provider with a problem and ask for advice. Argue with them immediately and disregard all of her suggestions without first trying any of them.
- Complain that your two year old won’t eat enough solid foods, but refuse to stop giving them 24oz of milk in bottles every single day.
- When told that your child hits or bites children or pets, shrug like it’s no big deal and refuse to take it seriously.
- Text or call multiple times a day, every day, asking for minute-by-minute updates on your child.
- Assume that “support for toilet learning” means “dayhome provider will do all the work & present you with a fully toilet-trained child”.
- If you are a dad, intimidate your dayhome provider. Be kind of a bully. Make her nervous about your propensity to “cause a scene” when questioned.
- If you are a two-parent family, communicate separately with the dayhome provider. Give conflicting information all the time.
- Use “winter driving” as your go-to excuse to be late for pick-up every single day from January to April. Never ever leave work five minutes early to compensate.
- If your provider closes at 5:30, peel into the driveway on two wheels at 5:29:58. Every day.
- Get off work early, go home, turn off the ringer on your phone, have a nap, and forget to pick up your kid. Do this more than once.
- Say you’ll be picking up early, then don’t, but don’t call to advise of the change. Or, pick up early but don’t give a heads-up, arrive during naptime, and make a lot of noise.
- Complain about personal matters on a regular basis. Overshare about your family’s finances, the state of your marriage, situations at work or school that are bothering you. Don’t take any gentle hints to stop it.
- And finally, treat your dayhome provider with less respect and kindness than you would treat your barista at Starbucks, your waiter in a restaurant, or your co-workers. Call them “babysitters”. Don’t say good morning or ask how their day went. Never stop to consider that they are caring for your child up to fifty hours a week.
We all have bad days. We all have times when circumstances conspire to mean that we run late. Kids can be unpredictable and sometimes they will behave in ways that are out of character. No one is perfect.
But really – be kind. That’s all.