Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day Care...special thanks to special people

Paperwork, e-mails, studies, assessments, record keeping...words, words, words.  

Sometimes words can get looked over and other times they grab our attention.  I get lots of paperwork to read, review, fill out, keep track of or post as a day care provider.  Sometimes I have to pay special attention to dates.  Occasionally I will get a mailing that was put together just for day care providers that is full of information to read and enjoy...and then I can throw it all away. 

Recently I received one publication...from a day care organization that I belong to...that let me know that it was Day Care Provider Week.  I was told to place this special flyer at my home so my families could be sure to thank me for the job I am doing.  As I read it the first thought in my head was, "Wow, another holiday made up just for Hallmark to get rich."  My second thought was that I hoped that all parents who use day care realized how hard being a day care provider was regardless of if they worked at a center or a home.  Then I began to think of those that have helped me in those times when day care was needed in our family.

When Sid was about 1 she went to day care.  I had a huge need to go back to the working world and we had a great day care provider, Missy.  We also had Micah watched a little bit by the same person.  As my working life was in limbo and I tried to be a real estate tycoon, a mommy, a wife and run Teen MOPS (I am stressed just reliving that!) Sidney and Micah were also watched by a friend as we would swap kids and coordinate our schedules so we could get to our real estate appointments.  Those were crazy days and many times I had more anxiety just over getting the kids up, fed and out the door or figuring out who was going to watch the kiddos rather than my work itself.

Missy and Lori (and Missy's family and Lori's family)...this post is for you.  

Thank you for all of the time you spent with my kids.  I realize now, being a day care provider currently, how hard your job was with my kiddos.  I know my kids weren't perfect all the time.  Seriously.  My kids are not perfect.  I love them and love how much they have grown over the years and developed into kids that love to be with other people, serve others in various ways, are great friends to others and are constantly trying to do the best that they can.  I know that they have their down days, just like everyone else.  Those are the days when they need another hug and I am thankful that you were there to provide that extra hug when I wasn't.

Thank you for playing with them.  I am glad that I had a place for my kids to go that was safe and that I trusted and had other kids to socialize with.  So many of their skills that they need to make friends were developed as they played with their friends at day care.

Thank you for helping their owies when they needed help but also showing them that they are strong little people for the times when they didn't need a band-aid.  Just by that alone you have saved us hundreds of dollars.  :)  

Thank you for the times when they were sick and you were there to make sure they had a Kleenex, a movie to watch or someone to cry at as their fevers went up while I was on my way to pick them up and take them home.  

Thanks for making them so many meals!!!!!  There are days when I think I never stop cooking.  Planning out the food, figuring out how much food to make, cleaning up the mess made by the kids, and then cooking again for your family...such a big job.  You could use your own cook, seriously.

Speaking of food, thank you for teaching my kids table manners.  While we are out at restaurants now we will see those looks that the older generation will give our family as we sit down to eat at a table by them.  The looks aren't always nice...more of a glare type of glance at times as three kids get closer and closer to the empty table by the grumpy looking elderly couple.  At the end of our meal they will sometimes (not always!) come over to us and tell us how well behaved our kids were.  Sometimes Quinn will get a pat on his head, not sure why.  In fact, he and I went to Culver's last week and two older people patted him on the head at two different times while we were at the restaurant.  He just looked at me very confused why people were touching his head.  :)  A few elderly couples have even told us how they weren't sure that they wanted to sit by our family since we had 3 kids with us but were pleasantly surprised with our kids' behavior.  I remember walking in the day care sometimes at meal time and the kids would be sitting at the table, eating over plates and actually using silverware.  Sometimes these were tasks that we weren't able to get our kids to do at our own house. 

Cleaning...where to start on that one?  Cleaning noses, puke, diapers, spit, food, spilled drinks, floors, bathrooms, toys, toys and more toys.  Not everyone can handle cleaning up certain types of messes, especially messes that involve kids that move around and can make an even bigger mess than the mess they currently made.  We have had our share of cleaning at our day care and at times I am sometimes ready to just go for a walk, shut the door behind us and hope that the magic cleaning fairy will visit while we are gone.  (It never has happened though...even when I wish on a pretty flower that the kids tell me makes wishes)  Cleaning kids is a challenge.  As the kids fell into mud today, as I have cleaned up poop and puke out of my carpets or repaired parts of our house because of something that happened, I am reminded that you did the same for my kids.  If I never told you thank you for those times...THANK YOU!

Teaching my kids different things is a huge task.  Many things can be taught by a parent but sometimes teaching a parent is something else that is part of being a day care provider.  Learning about what my child did during the day, tasks that were completed and that were actually done by my child helped me open my eyes to what my child can actually do.  Sidney was probably close to 2 and I learned that she was helping unload the dryer and putting the clothes in the basket.  Why didn't' I ever realize that she could help with things like that?  Using silverware and actually sitting in her seat while we were eating...not getting up whenever she wanted to or using her fingers to eat was something we learned that could be accomplished also.  Sleeping...oh sweet sleep.  Sidney could sleep at your house.  Our house...we had some issues with our nap times.  Picking up toys, putting dishes away, sweeping the floor, cleaning the table...I have come to realize that kids can actually do things a lot earlier than we think they can.  We, meaning me as the parent, was just doing everything for my child and so I didn't even give her a chance to learn how.  Being a day care provider, you not only can't do everything for every single person but also understand that the kids will learn these "life skills" at some point.  They might as well start learning as early as they are able to figure it out.  Kids don't have to be able to do the life skill well...they just have to try and know that they are doing a good job.  They will figure it out eventually...it's a life skill!

Thank you for disciplining my child and establishing rules with them.  I have seen the good, the bad and the really ugly being a day care provider.  The good...have great rules and consistency at home and it flows into day care.  The bad have a mixture of consistency at day care and/or at home but there is a loop hole somewhere that the child has figured out.  The ugly...is just plain ugly.  There is zero consistency and no support or respect for the day care provider by the parents.  I have lots of stories and am scared for the future of the little lives that I see going down a path of major destruction.  Many issues in our schools and at home could be solved if there were rules put in place and followed not only by the kids but by the parents.  Luckily, our day care kids have very little behavior issues other than the usual age issues of a 2, 3, 4 and 5 year old.  If there are issues, we deal with them right away, take care of the problem and find the consequence for the choice that the child made and then we are done with it.  We don't need to dwell on it again.  We rarely have issues that continue.  

Thank you for sharing your family with my family.  Your time, home, toys, furniture and pretty much everything in the house was part of my childs' life for a short time.  Sharing is so tough for kids and I remember the times when your own kids were having a rough day because one of their toys was being played with by a day care kid.  This is so hard for kids!  Sharing mom is also tough and some kids just don't handle it as well as others.  I remember the days when your family had their own personal issues that needed to be taken care of and my child was still in your care during some of those times.  Juggling schedules, your own children, other people's kids and just life...that can be so hard some days.  Thank you for your strength during those days that you just wanted to break down and tend to your own family but you stuck it out and were still there for your job.

As a day care provider now I know more of the behind the scenes stuff too with the state, food program, paperwork this, paperwork that, rules about blah, blah, blah...Thanks for following what you were supposed to do.  I may not have understood most of it then but I do now.

Missy and Lori...big THANKS to you!  To all of you that take care of kids...thanks!  

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