As an in-home childcare provider, you aren’t going to get yearly raises from your boss! You ARE your boss….but your clients are also kind-of like your boss, as well. I always joke that when I need a day off, I have to ask my bosses, all four of them! However, you are actually in control of a lot by running your own in-home daycare. One of the things that you control is how much you charge. In order to justify charging more, you need to increase the value that you offer to your clients. In this article, I will explain several ways to do just that!
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Use A Babysitting App
A great and easy way to increase your value is to use some kind of babysitting app. Your parents can be updated on their child’s activity throughout the day. Parents love that and it’s especially nice for infants! It’s important to track diaper changes, feedings, and naps for kids below 1 year old. Those are usually the first signs that they might be having a health issue.
There are many babysitting apps available for smart phones these days. They will make tracking those things, and much more, a lot easier than writing it down on paper to give to the parent at pick-up. I use the Brightwheel app and love it! I am not affiliated with them in any way. I just love their product! There is a free version that offers less options but I use the paid version because I want to be able to message parents, leave photos and videos, and much more!
For six active kids in my care, I pay $20 per month (Packages and prices may vary) but this allowed me to justify raising my price by $5 per child per day. So, there is a great return on that 20 bucks per month! It is free for your parents to use. I’m able to enter diaper changes in just a few seconds with a few simple clicks! Lunches are just as easy because you can enter all the kids lunches at the same time, assuming they are being served the same thing. The app stores a food list that you create by entering foods. Once you enter a food, it is in the list. Next time, you just click the food item and you’re done!
The very best thing about this app, and probably most of the others, is that the parents have control over what activities they can receive alerts for. They may not want to know every time you change a diaper or upload a photo but they may definitely want to know if you enter an incident (injury) for their child. The parents also fill out the profile for their child, which includes any allergies or other very important information. If an allergy is present, there will be a little icon on the child’s photo to remind you of it always. That is very helpful!
Both you and the parents can actually pull up reports on their child’s activities, either all of the activities or just one specific activity like check ins and outs. This feature has come in handy several times for me when I had to figure out what a client owed me for the week and their child had a few half days sprinkled in there! It eliminates the need for a sign in sheet, as well! You just hit a few buttons and check the child in when they arrive or you can set your phone as the sign in sheet and the parents can do it themselves when they get there! Neat!
Definitely don’t just pick the one I am using! Do your own research and choose the app that works best for what you want it for! There are many options!
Cameras in Your Home
It’s been my experience that some kind of cameras inside your home are absolutely necessary when you are an in-home childcare provider. It’s only happened once that I felt like a family thought I might have caused an injury to their child. It wasn’t said to me, just implied. That was enough to motivate me to invest in some cameras! I don’t ever again want to be in the position where I can’t prove that what I said happened actually happened. The stress of that situation was a real learning experience for me!
I’ll leave a link below of the exact cameras I have in my home but you can research and pick the best ones for your situation. The ones I use are security cameras which are sound or motion activated. Because of this, they kick on and stay on for a few minutes when sound or motion is happening in the room. I actually kind of like that because it records in little 5 minute video clips or so. I can scroll through until I get to the time frame I am looking for and it’s only a few minutes I have to look through instead of a whole day worth of footage.
I can download that little block of video to my smart phone with just a couple of clicks and then easily edit it down to the exact moment I need to see or email or text without even needing another app to edit it. My smart phone can handle that! It’s very convenient and I have access to the video for a week before it is gone to make space for new footage. I never have to worry about a parent wondering if their child is safe in my care!
It is not the kind of camera, however, that I can give a parent an access code to. They can’t simply tap into it throughout the day to see what their child is up to, but I’m okay with that. I just like have it there and being able to pull up any moment that a parent needs to see.
The reason this adds value to your in-home childcare is if a parent is given the choice between a childcare provider with cameras and one without but with similar other features to their home childcare, the parent is usually going to go with the one that has cameras. It just feels safer. You will have a much easier time staying booked up with the added feature of security cameras. We also have a video doorbell, which parents also like. It’s just that added layer of safety for their children AND for me! You can see the little Arlo camera mounted near the ceiling in this picture of the business end of my playroom. I’ve also got one in my living room.
If you are caring for young children, you should definitely be CPR certified. From a safety stand point, this is always a good thing to do. You want to be able to handle any situation that comes up, especially a situation where a child is choking or has stopped breathing for whatever reason. Some parents require this but a surprising number do not think to ask about it. For those parents who aren’t necessarily requiring it, if they have to choose between a provider who doesn’t have it and one who does, they will likely go with the one that does. That means having CPR certification gives you extra value over that other provider.
I also think it makes you look more professional. For safety sake and for value, it’s always a good thing to have. You can google where to get certified near you or just ask around. I got mine at the local YMCA. Sometimes you can find a place that does it for free but most places charge a small fee. I think I paid $50 at the YMCA and that was a little on the high side but they were offering a class that was convenient at the time so I did it. Make sure they give you a certificate at the end because some parents are going to want to see it!
Have Outdoor Play Equipment
Having outdoor play equipment like a swing set, sand box with a lid, or fenced in area or yard can also increase your value. Parents are tired when they get home from work and don’t have the energy to get their kids to a park or watch them play outside for a while. They will depend on you to get their kids outside for some fresh air while they are at work! Having the space and equipment to do that makes you more valuable than another provider who doesn’t. I’ve especially had parents of boys choose me over other options because I had more space and they had a very active child that they knew would need that space!
I’ve supplied some links below of things that I find useful! The swing set is a bit pricey but I wanted to invest in one that I knew was sturdy, that older kids could swing on as well, and that would last a while. We replaced the middle play bar with a baby swing so the little one can swing, too!
Baby Gates Everywhere!
I’ve also had parents choose me over other options because I had fully gated areas where their very active toddlers could play and not be in danger of getting hurt as easily. Any space that you will be using for childcare needs to be fully gated, not just for increased value, but also for safety. There will always be times that you need to step away to help with potty time or to prepare lunch. You need a safe place for the kids to be while you take care of business!
The links below are the actual baby gates I have in my home and love! You may feel cautious about the retractable baby gate but that is my favorite one! When it is not in use, there is no floor bar to trip over! Just make sure you don’t put it in front of any stairway. It’s not safe to use in front of stairs that lead down.
Parents are worried about many things when they choose a childcare provider for their children, not the least of which is making sure that child isn’t just sitting in front of a tv all day long! They want to know that their young child will have learning opportunities throughout the day, once again because the parent is tired when they get home and won’t have the energy to teach their child as much as they’d like to. They will depend on you to give that child those all important learning moments during the day. A preschool curriculum is a great way to do that and add major value to your in-home daycare!
Now, this is where I need to tell you that I have not yet implemented a preschool curriculum yet. I definitely provide learning moments throughout the day during free play time and I have a lot of educational toys available. However, I am still working on the curriculum. I do have a certain curriculum in mind and am still in the research stage. I intend to implement one fully next school year. For now, I am slowly adding things like circle time and flashcards into our daily routine in order to see what works best for me. Once I have a curriculum in place, you better believe I’ll be increasing my price by $5 per child per day! It’s a lot of work and expense to provide that kind of service to the children, a definite increase in your value!
Claim Your Income
Not only is it the law that you must claim your babysitting income on your taxes, but it gives the client a great advantage in that they can claim the childcare expense on their taxes. Parents love this because it benefits them but it also makes you more desirable as a childcare option! You won’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the dreaded IRS and you can write off business expenses like your babysitting app, food, a portion of your home and so much more! Understand that I am no accountant or tax expert or lawyer so be sure to seek professional advice when making tax decisions. I have a tax professional do my taxes each year because I want to be sure I’m claiming what I can and doing everything right! I don’t want any problems!
Just know that it makes you look way more professional and gives a great benefit to your clients when you claim your childcare income on your taxes. It’s worth it so just do it! ha ha
Include Lunch and Snack Time
Including lunch and snacks isn’t just more convenient for both you and the parents, it also increases your value because parents don’t have to spend extra time in the mornings packing lunches and snacks everyday! Trust me, they will appreciate this! Make sure you are aware of any possible allergies, however mild they may be. If you use a babysitting app, that should take care of that detail but also verbally ask, too.
In order to keep my food costs down but still offer quality food options, I buy in bulk at both Sam’s Club and Costco. Sam’s is great for certain foods that the kids like and Costco is great for others, like their cheese pizzas that are $9 for a box of 4 medium pizzas! (Prices may vary) I am not affiliated with either of those stores, I just find it useful to shop there for deals on bulk childcare foods like fresh fruit or a big bucket of animal crackers! ha ha The kids love pizza day on Fridays and they never have to know that it’s only costing me $4.50 for those two pizzas! Become a deal shopper and you’ll add much value by supplying food yourself!
A Designated Playroom
The final suggestion I have for you to increase your childcare value is to have a designated playroom in your home, especially if you live in a colder climate and have parts of the year that you can’t get outside to play. Not all houses have that kind of space naturally so you may have to create it. If you don’t have a spare room to turn into a playroom, you could use your living room as a playroom. You will definitely want to run this idea by your family first because they may not want a living space full of children’s toys and equipment. However, if you want to increase your value and thus your income, you may have to sacrifice your living room to the in-home daycare!
In this room, I suggest you have a few key items and I’ll leave links for them below. Definitely shop around and visit garage sales to find the best deals! These items are very popular with the kids I have kept! I find that the more you have available to engage the kids with, the better they will behave and the easier your job is! Bored kids are mischievous kids! ha ha
I hope these value increasing tips help you to book children more easily and to charge a fair price for your services! If you have any other ideas that may increase a childcare provider’s value, please comment below!
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