Thus far, you have known me to be a professional organizer, which I am in the evenings and on weekends. My day job, however, is running my own in-home daycare! I’ve decided to start sharing my tips and tricks for in home childcare as well as organizing! This post is my very first childcare post so I thought it only appropriate that it would cover things you need to consider, but may not have thought of, before you begin your own in-home childcare situation. There really is a lot to think about before jumping into such an endeavor!
There are affiliate links included in this blog post. I will make a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you click the link and make a purchase.
It goes without saying that if you lack a great amount of patience and a nurturing spirit, childcare is definitely not for you. I’m not at all saying that to be mean, but this is the very first thing you should consider when thinking about caring for other people’s children. There is an immense responsibility that comes with another person trusting you to care for their child while they are not present.
Parents will know if you have what it takes, too! By meeting you during the in-home interview, they will be able to get a feel for you just as you will get a feel for them. If you have any doubts at all about whether you are up for the challenge of in-home childcare, I’d suggest you consider other income options. It can be very stressful and draining at times. You also need to have the right support system around you, as well. If your family is not on board, they will be less likely to lend a hand with household chores while you are exhausted from a 10 or 12 hour day with young children.
You see in the news often that a childcare provider became overwhelmed and lashed out at a child. Not all of those people are bad people, they just didn’t have the temperament that is required to care for young children all day, every day. Protect yourself from that kind of situation by truly considering if this line of work is what you really want to do.
Again, I am not trying to be mean or negative, I’m just trying to drive home the reality of in-home childcare to someone who may not have fully considered what that will involve. There will be days that the children are in rare form and you feel like you can’t get anything accomplished and no one is listening to you. Then, you will wake up the next day and do it all over again! Make sure that’s something you can handle. This job is NOT easy money…
Rules & Laws in Your State
Every state has their own rules and regulations concerning childcare so always research your own state thoroughly before babysitting in any capacity. I am not a lawyer and therefore cannot give you legal advice. Always do your own research or contact a lawyer or other professional that can give you proper guidance. I am simply going to share with you what I do in the state of Ohio.
Using the website https://www.daycare.com/ohio/ outlining childcare regulations, I learned that the state of Ohio has different categories of childcare, some require licensing and some do not. My in-home childcare falls under the Type B Home category and does not require a license because I have 6 children or less (no more than 3 under 2 years old) in my care at all times. If I ever had more than 6 kids at one time or more than 3 kids less than 2 years old, I would be required to be licensed, which my neighborhood HOA does not allow. Also, keep in mind that your own children often count towards that number. My youngest is currently 10 but if he were six years old or less, he would have to be included in the six children or less that I am allowed to babysit in the state of Ohio.
The idea behind these regulations is to make sure that you are able to give adequate attention and care to each child that you are responsible for. I know it feels like a pain to keep track of all these things but it really is in the best interests of the children AND you! Who wants to be stressed to the max by caring for 15 kids everyday, all varying ages?! Certainly not me! As an example, I currently care for a newborn, two 18 month olds, and a 3 year old. The reason I only have four kids when I am allowed a total of 6 is because I have a 2 month old baby in my care. They are a LOT more work so I keep my numbers down so I can give the proper attention to each child, including the baby.
Definitely think long and hard about the age ranges you are comfortable with and the number of kids you are comfortable with. Yes, your desired income will have to be considered as well but never force yourself into a stressful situation just because you need to bring in more money.
Instead of going for quantity of kids, go for quality of care you are providing for those kids. Parents are most concerned with the quality of care their children are receiving and will pay a little extra if you are providing a service that they see as valuable and beneficial to their child. Offering things like a babysitting app to keep the parents updated throughout the day, cameras in your home for security, CPR certification, background checks, claiming your income on your taxes so they can claim the expense on their taxes, having a fenced in back yard, having a designated playroom, or offering a preschool curriculum are all things that will increase the amount you can charge for spots in your in-home daycare.
The Size and Layout of Your Home
When considering starting an in-home daycare, definitely consider where you actually live! Believe it or not, people don’t always think of this important little detail. You want to make sure that your living space is conducive to having lots of little ones crawling or running around all day! There are some amazing baby gates out there that can cover the span of a whole living room! My home is an open floor plan (which I highly recommend for this line of work) and I have one of those really long baby gates separating my living room from my dining and kitchen area so I can safely make lunch while also keeping an eye on the kids in the living room. Very handy!
I have another smaller gate to close the only other entry into my living room (and I highly recommend the cloth gate because it is amazing!) and I have a gate to close my basement playroom so I don’t have to constantly watch to make sure kids aren’t sneaking up the stairs while we are playing. Never assume that you will be able to simply keep an eye on them to keep them from unwanted spaces! That will end in disaster! Gate every room they will be in!
Think about where they will have enough uncluttered space to play, where they will safely and quietly nap, and where they will eat. Little kids move around A LOT! They need as much space as possible to move and play, especially if you live in the north like I do. I have a backyard with a sand box and swing set but we can really only use that for 4 to 6 months out of the year. That is why I have a pretty big basement playroom!
We had childcare in mind when we bought this home so we were able to choose a home that would accommodate an in-home daycare nicely! If you are already in your home, walk around and take note of what rooms could be used for what and any changes or enhancements you might have to make. Your family will have to be on board with you running a daycare out of the home because it WILL take up a fair amount of space in your home, not to mention there are sometimes still kids here when my husband gets home from work. I don’t have young children of my own anymore but I still have baby and toddler toys and baby gates in my living room. I had to make sure that my husband was okay with that.
If your home is on the smaller side of things, I would suggest that you declutter as much as possible to allow the most space for the kids you care for. It doesn’t just benefit them! If they are happy in the space they’re in, they will be less cranky and restless for you while you watch them! It’s a win-win!
You may have to become somewhat of a minimalist with your own things so you can fit the childcare items into your space. This is the sacrifice in-home childcare providers make. Our home is also our workplace. When a family comes to your home for an in-home interview, it’s so they can not only meet you but also see the environment their children would be in every day. They want to see that you have enough educational toys to occupy and teach their children as well as enough space for them to have some freedom of movement and safety. DECLUTTER, DECLUTTER, DECLUTTER!
We all love our pets as a member of our families, for sure! However, pets are something you definitely have to consider when offering in-home childcare. Some families are not comfortable with large dogs or certain breads of dogs. Some families have allergy issues to dogs or cats or guinea pigs or whatever. I, myself, have one cat and two guinea pigs. I have to warn people when I am advertising on local facebook groups that if there are allergies to cats, guinea pigs, grass, or hay, my home may not be a good fit.
If you choose to have pets in your home, it will limit your possible clients a bit. We would love to get another yellow lab since ours passed away several years ago but have decided not to until I am no longer babysitting. It’s just something you have to be aware of when making the decision to babysit in your home.
Childcare Contract & Policies
Always have some kind of childcare contract and a list of policies so your clients will know exactly what to expect of you and what you expect from them. This helps limit misunderstandings and issues on down the road. I will show my paperwork here so you can see what I use but definitely do your own research and consult your own lawyer when forming your paperwork. What works for me in my area may not work for you in your area.
You’ll have to think about how much you will charge based on your area, if you will offer half days for less money, would you want paid sick days or paid vacation, possible late charges if they pick up late, returned check fees, how you would like to be paid, when you want to be paid, and so on. It does help to ask for payment at the beginning of the week vs the end so your clients don’t have to worry about forgetting to pay you and then you go the whole weekend without pay. That rarely happens to me but it does happen. People are human and mistakes happen. Asking for pay at the start of the week helps all but eliminate that issue.
Your policies page is just as important as your contract, believe it or not. This page will let your clients know exactly what you offer their children, what qualifies as sickness when they need to be kept home, when you will clean, what will happen if their child hurts another person, and so on. Be extremely detailed. If you feel like you are being too detailed, you are probably on the right track! Trust me, parents love the attention to detail because they will know exactly how you run things and what’s expected of them and their children.
I wrote a separate article about exactly what things you can offer to increase your price and value. In that article, I cover curriculum vs no curriculum, babysitting apps, the best toys for your playroom, the best educational toys, sensory boxes, and much more! I hope this article has given you a good idea of what goes into starting an in-home daycare and if it is the right fit for you! If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to give it a like!
For more of my in home childcare posts, click here!
To see my organizing posts, click here.
If true ghost stories are your thing, check mine out here!