At-home daycare can sound like a very attractive business to start. But is this the right income opportunity for you? Find out about home childcare regulations and ways to get started as a daycare provider.

How true the above quote is for many parents, especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom and running a stay at home mom businesses! Until you become a parent, it’s hard to understand the things our own mothers did to keep us well cared for.

And now that you are in the position of caregiver yourself, it’s only natural to want what’s best for your children. The question of who will take care of your munchkin during the workday is never an easy one and often can be as stressful as the decision of whether or not to take an epidural in childbirth!

If you’re a stay home mom and reading this, then you’ve probably toyed with the idea of operating an at-home daycare. In-home daycare means you provide a childcare facility right out of your own home which meets home childcare regulations.

A daycare business is a wonderful option for the stay at home mom or dad who wants to be near their child, see them develop and grow with their peers, and bring in an extra source of income. Also, running an at-home daycare offers some great tax advantages and job flexibility not often found in the corporate world.

Advantages to Running a Home Daycare

Let’s face it. Our babies grow up too darn fast! An at-home daycare is one way to keep up with all the developmental phases in your child’s life instead of having to hear about them second hand.

Also, you will be able to provide them peer and social interaction with the other kids under your care, making every day a play date filled with laughter, learning, and song.

One appealing benefit for the hardworking stay at home mom: at home daycare allows you to become your own boss, setting the rules and hours which work best for you, as well as, the parents and kids you care for. Take the time to learn about your state’s childcare regulations.

It may sound like it’s just a simple process of agreeing to open your home to children, but you are actually beginning a small business. Your state’s home childcare regulations for daycare providers will help you learn how to do that and save you from possible legal trouble and heartache later on.

Research the tax advantages to this arrangement, too. Many of the things you purchase for your at-home daycare can be written off, thus saving you money in the long term.

Put the word “flexibility” in your list of pros for starting your at-home daycare. Yes, you will be busy monitoring children, cleaning up messy art projects, and putting out small fires (figuratively, of course!), but there will be moments when you can get other things done.

Naptime – ah, the very word feels like a small miracle – is a great time to pick up things around the house, return calls, or start the laundry. Of course, depending on the age of the children enrolled in your at-home daycare, you may be able to do those things at other times of the day, too.

Disadvantages of Running a Daycare

“Youngsters of the age of two and three are endowed with extraordinary strength. They can lift a dog twice their own weight and dump him into the bathtub.” -Erma Bombeck

If you are considering starting a home daycare, here are some things that you should consider:

  • How many children do you want to watch?
  • Is your home childproofed?
  • Does your state require you to have a license?
  • Are you CPR certified / Does your state require you to be?
  • How much should you charge?
  • How will you advertise your home daycare?
  • What hours will you operate your home daycare?
  • What types of activities will you provide?
  • Will you serve meals, and what types of meals will you provide?

Is a home daycare business right for you?

Starting a home daycare should not be a hard decision to make. You will be able to spend more time with your own children while providing the attention and care for other children. Providing a caring environment and making great money are just two of the many benefits of starting a home daycare.

Any mom knows that children are always exploring their surroundings and eager to learn new things. Sometimes their explorations take them off the beaten path, a path which can lead directly to using finger paint on your nice white walls or tracking mud onto the freshly cleaned carpet.

There are days when the little ones may be sick and not their normal happy-go-lucky selves. It takes patience and a large can of Lysol to deal with these things!

The hours can be long, too. Some parents need to drop off early so they can get to their job on time, and depending on the length of their workday, could be picking up late in the evening. These are things you will definitely want to clarify before agreeing to accept a client in your at-home daycare. Unfortunately, there will be those parents who think it’s okay to take advantage of you, too.

Late payments, bounced checks -yikes! But those are the realities of being in business for yourself, and by recognizing them early you can prepare and have a plan of action in place to handle them. Be professional, know what the home childcare regulations are for an at-home daycare, and share the information with the parents you contract with, too.

Creating a Daycare Schedule

Creating a daycare schedule is an important step in the process of starting a successful daycare. A daily schedule gives structure to your day and creates a more professional appearance to potential customers. A schedule also provides a sense of routine for the children and gives them an idea of what to expect next as the day progresses.

Here are a couple of things to consider when creating your daily daycare schedule:

1. Your Personality

Some daycare providers prefer not to have a strict daily schedule. I’ve met other providers that have a rigid schedule and all activities are planned virtually to the minute. You should strive to create a daily schedule that is somewhere in between these two extremes. Having a schedule in place creates a routine that the children can follow and shows the parents that their children are actively involved in activities throughout the day.

Try to be somewhat flexible in your schedule planning. You may have an activity planned that the children don’t find as interesting as you had envisioned. Flexibility will allow you to “mix things up” and switch to something that will keep them interested.

2. The ages of the children that you will be caring for.

In your daycare, you may choose to specialize in providing care for a specific age group such as newborns or after-school care for school-age children. In these situations, creating a daycare schedule will be a fairly straight-forward process and you can create a schedule with activities that focus on this specific age group. Creating a daycare schedule that will appeal to a wider age range will be a bit more complicated.

3. Any special training or abilities that you have.

If you have children of your own, then you already have some experience in entertaining children and keeping them involved in activities. Any special abilities that you have can also factor into your daily schedule. A friend of mine runs a successful home daycare and she also plays guitar. She added a block of time in the afternoon when she plays children’s songs on the guitar and has a sing-a-long with the children.

Your daycare schedule should be created with your personality and your particular circumstances in mind. Make it a goal to have a basic outline in place at the very minimum. Regardless of how carefully you have planned your day, remember to have a little bit of flexibility.

Home Daycare License – Do You Need One?

A home daycare license may be required by regulations in your state and local area. In some states, you are required to attend an orientation session as a first step in getting your home daycare license. Further steps may be required such as a written application or a visit from a home inspector. The process of getting licensed can be educational because you will learn not only about daycare requirements in your area, but it will give you an opportunity to network with other new daycare providers in your area. You can later use these contacts to help grow your daycare business through referrals.

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