Wednesday, 29 November 2017

10 things your childcare provider wants you to know

I won't sugar coat it for you, working in childcare can suck some days. A lot of days. You work long hours, have minimal breaks, and spend all day thinking about numbers and safety ratios that half the time you don't even get to leave the room to go to the toilet. After long, busy days at full capacity comes staff meetings and training sessions and life in general. It can be tough, it really can. And much to a lot of peoples surprise, a career in childcare does not consist of changing the odd nappy here and there and spending your day playing with Lego, I wish it was - sometimes I can change 45 nappies a day! I've worked with children for the past 7 years now, I've worked in private early years settings, been a self employed nanny (not as glorious as Mary Poppins makes it out to be) and managed early years teams in extra curricular settings like holiday camps. I've met the rudest and the nicest parents and their children have given me some memories I will cherish for a life time. But how much do you really know about what happens at your nursery/early years setting every day? Or what your childcare provider really thinks?...

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1) Sometimes we have bad days.
Like it or not, we're just like you and we too sometimes get up on the wrong side of the bed. Sometimes our alarms don't wake us up and we wake up to find we've got 17 minutes to get up, dressed and in the building before you do to ensure your child's safety is handled. Sometimes we sit in traffic for hours on the simplest route just to take care of your children for the day. Whatever the situation, you can bet your life that (most of us) will always do our best to greet you with a smile and confidence when you step through our door at 7:30am. As I said, we all have bad days, so please remember that when you are biting our heads off because you couldn't get in the car park and have to get to the train station in 4 minutes which is a 6 minute drive. We know, life can suck.

2) Every child is different.
Some parents just don't understand that, mainly those with only 1 child. I once heard a parent complaining to a colleague that they'd been to a dinner party and a friends child could draw circles better then hers (perfect dinner party conversation) and that she didn't understand why we weren't teaching her child better. Honestly, some of the things parents complain about would baffle you. Yes, maybe little Jenny can draw that circle better then little Micky but is she potty trained like he is? Can she identify the shapes that he can? All children are different, they are actual little people. Just like you and me, they learn things at different paces, excel in some subjects but are weaker in others, they have their own identities. If your 3 year old can't write his name, please do not be to concerned, the day they learn will bring you so much joy, they will get there, when they are ready.

3) There are important policies and procedures we have to follow.
We know, its really annoying that you cant answer your incredibly loud ringing phone whilst in the building, its annoying that you can't take a photo of your child having a good time, and its a real pain in the arse when you have to wait for us to buzz you into the building to protect every child inside it. Like it or not, these policies are in place for a reason, to keep everyone safe. No we can't give your child the medicine that's not labelled by a pharmacist and no you can not drop off your child 40 minutes before your session starts. If we had no rules, your child wouldn't be safe. Yes they are sometimes annoying, but not as annoying as it'd be to pick up and find they'd had a 40 degree temperature and we hadn't bothered to let you know because we'd just given little Jenny some Calpol we had on the shelf... Is she even allowed Calpol?

4) We follow routines for a reason
Without routine, there'd be chaos. Can you really imagine leaving your child in a room with 19 other children and 3 adults for the day, free to run riot and do as they please? Do they do that in school? No. Young as they me be, we are preparing your children for life and what is going to come after their early years education. If the Spanish lesson is on a Friday morning, no we can't hold it off an hour or 2 until you've decided to arrive, it would knock out the whole day. There's a lot to do in 1 day, your children sleep at "sleep time" so they have enough time to do everything else during the day. Want them to have a longer 2.5 hour nap? That's fine but please don't then be alarmed that they missed afternoon garden time and woke up to sit straight at the tea table.

5) We have a lot to do in 1 day
Some people go to work, they sit at a desk maybe get up for a break or 2 and leave. Although that's tiring in its own right, we don't get it that easy. We prepare (sometimes) and provide your children with breakfast, snack, lunch, another snack and tea every day - that's 5 meals! 5x dishing up giving out and supervising 20 bowls of Spaghetti Bolognese! It's a job in itself. In between those 5 meals, we play with your children, change their nappies, change their pants, potty train them, put them to sleep, wake them up again, help them draw that picture you requested at 7:30am this morning, teach them phonics and about shapes, play with them and track their development for you. It's a lot, never mind the "favours" you ask for like finding your child's wellies or writing up a full report of the day. We do know what we are getting ourselves in for when we chose this career, and I'm not complaining, however it may sound. But please understand sometimes we can't find those wellies that day, especially if a regular staff member has called in sick or has taken holiday, we will do it, when we get a chance, we promise.

6) Sometimes, we just can't bond with a child at first
If we've come back from 2 weeks of annual leave to find a new child in class, we are a stranger to that 2.5 foot tall child. If they've been in all day everyday for the last week and a half, they've formed bonds already. It's not to say we'll never bond with that child, but sometimes it takes time. It shouldn't matter, we've all been in the room together, just because she sat on a different adults lap all day doesn't mean I don't know what she's eaten and how she's slept today. We are professional, would you not rather your child warm to someone in their own time, then find them upset they've been forced to spend time with the person they've never met before?

7) Praise goes a long way
As I said in the beginning of this post, working in childcare can suck some days. Most of the time we work 8-6 Monday - Friday with 1 break a day, every week. Let a lone the parents evenings we hold and all the extra reports to write for that, the open days we devote our Saturdays to, the charity events we hold which you attend as well. Sometimes everyone is just so busy that we forget to say thank you to other people, we forget to just let them know they are appreciated. At the last open day I attended, one of the children that had recently left popped in to visit me, his parents told us that I was the best teacher for their child and that they had been blessed to have me as his key worker. They even request I be his brothers key worker when he is eventually old enough to be in my class (a key worker is a 1:1 teacher that specifically tracks your child's development and effectively spends most time with them, teaching them the most). It filled my heart with so much love, I didn't know what to say. Sometimes parents leave at the end of the day and say thank you, or wish us a happy weekend because "we deserve it", comments like these change everything, they lift our moods and wash the bad days we may be having away. A little praise goes a long way and costs nothing.

8) We do genuinely care about and love your children.
No one goes into childcare for the money (harsh but true), there are no huge salaries in our future or luxury retreats, we do this job because we love children. Sometimes we follow a child through learning stages from the time they are 3 months old until they're 5 years old, that's a long time to spend with a child all day everyday, and after that they will inevitably go to school and literally forget who we are. We will literally be an erased memory by the time they are 7. We form bonds with your children, they tell us we are their best friends, we cuddle them when they cry, we wipe the tears away when they graze their knees, and we dance with them while they laugh. We help to teach them right from wrong and sometimes we spend more time with them then you do. Its not something anyone will admit, but we do have "favourites"... So do your children! You'll never know who's who's as (most of us) handle any parent interaction with complete professionalism. Its part of the job really, when you spend 40 hours a week with 20 different children, eventually everyone starts to have preferences. But regardless of preferences, your child is loved, and cared for, all day, every day. 

9) We don't have all the answers
Although a lot of us have been in this industry for a while, we don't know it all. If you need advise on potty training or a child who's a picky eater, that's great, ask away and we'll help you any way we can! But please don't be annoyed when we can't tell you why your child is acting up in a certain home situation when you've already got an appointment with a bloomin' behavioural specialist - you probably don't need that appointment btw, I'm 80% sure your child's just trying to get your attention but I'm no professional psychologist. For a lot of us, we do this job until we have children of our own. A lot of us don't have first hand experiences to fall back on, all we know is what we've learnt on the job, you probably know more then we do in some aspects! 

10) This job is the best of the bunch, and that's because of you
Moans and groans aside, this post could go on for months. At the end of the day, the job we do is great. Bad days can be really bad, awful, but the good days are great. Without you bringing your child to nursery every day, we'd be on different paths, we'd  be bored. Your children provide us with so much love, joy and happiness everyday, any other job would be boring. We also get to work with great teams of people, some days we laugh all day, others we walk around with faces like a slapped arse. I've made friends during my career that I have no doubt will be friends for life, I have memories that I'll never forget and embarrassing stories that could go on for days. Your children's early years are precious and sometimes parents can take their innocence for granted. Put your laptop down and ask your child what their favourite song is. They might reply with "Despacito" and proceed to sing it to you... It happens! You'll love it. 

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A career in childcare isn't the easy day job some people think it is. We work just as hard as you may do on a shop floor or in a bank. Appreciate us, like we appreciate you and your children. Sign the registers, pick up on time and take your children out at the weekends. They grow up quickly - that's not just a saying! 

Bonus - We aren't all chocolate fiends. Christmas is coming and although we appreciate all the gifts we receive, there's only so many boxes of chocolates we can get excited over. We also like wine, flowers and bath stuff to. Just saying...





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