Planning 24-hour child care?
Did you plan for your vacation? Read this article for some items to consider.
After a short hiatus, it’s time to pick up where we left off. Breaks, you see, are good for the mind and spirit. Without them, people become walking zombies- no good to themselves or others. You need to thoroughly consider your hours of operation and time off arrangements before you open.
The best word of advice one may receive is, go into child care with your eyes wide open. It may seem financially beneficial, fairly simple, and a great business idea to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, it may be, if you make the right concessions. Providing quality child care is hard work. The average provider with standard operating hours of 7AM-5PM will have likely worked that entire 50 hours come Friday evening. This is actual child contact hours and does not account for cleaning, cooking, shopping, curriculum planning, paperwork, and other business duties that must be done outside of child care hours. Providers work, it seems, non-stop even without operating evenings and weekends. Committing to 24-hour child care, or even a 16 hour one is something that should be considered heavily before any definitive decisions are made. Things to consider are:
- Number of children you are willing to accept during non-traditional hours
- Feasibility of hiring help (or enlisting family) to be available should something come up during your extended hours, or even if you just need a break
- Family life. How will your family benefit from the extended hours? Is everyone on board with the idea of never having mom and/or dad to themselves? How will they be negatively impacted?
- What enrichment activities will you be willing and able to do each evening and weekend?
- Do you have room for the extra children during extended hours? (Beds, a room at the family table when husband and children are home, etc.)
Having nontraditional child care has its benefits, as well. Parents will like having a provider who is available for the occasional Saturday errand run or evening out. You will be marketing to a whole new segment of the market, the B- and C-shifters, those who often have trouble finding child care that accommodates their work schedules.. There is increased income potential and opportunity for financial and business growth. Operating extended hours for a short period of time may afford you the additional funds for a vacation or maybe startup capital for a center. If considering operating extended hours on a long or short time basis, for whatever reasons, be mindful of your limitations, liabilities, and personal wellbeing.
Along that same vein, plan for your mental health. This may mean writing up a twelve-month calendar and planning specific days off and/or vacations. Many just starting their child care business are reluctant to do this. They fear it will deflect some potential clients. In all honesty, it likely will avert a small number. That number will certainly be insignificant and most potential clients will not bat an eye. Conversely, in denying yourself the time off you need to rejuvenate you are, in essence, risking your business. A time will come when you will be too tired, worn out, drained, and/or burned out to continue operating at the high level of service your clients are accustomed to and deserve. Child care is a job, and no employer would expect an employee to give their all 52 weeks a year without a break. It is not possible. Take a week off, schedule off holidays, or random days throughout the year. It’s completely your discretion whether to charge for these days or not. But take them. You must take care of yourself first.