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The Long Haul

The Long Haul

For the past eighteen years I have owned and operated a successful home child care. I started out in a 1400 square foot town home with three levels. In 2001 I moved to a house nearly twice that size with my then one year old son.

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to put in eighteen years of my working life into the same job. I haven’t really thought about the fact that as the years roll on that the odds of my being successful actually decreases. The average home child care lasts about two years. I’m fixing to bump into the two decade mark here in a couple of minutes.

When I’m asked by other providers how it is possible to have longevity in this business I can’t help but think that part of my success in this business is having other complimentary businesses alongside of the home child care.

When I first started out I sold cookie dough to my friends, family, and daycare parents. Three bucks a dozen was a decent amount of money in those days. That extra cash funded my passion for traveling and the adoption savings account I started when I was thirty.

In the early 2000’s I started an Ebay business. Ebay was a blast back then. It was a young company and if you were willing to work at it you could make some serious cash. I sold fancy European boys clothes. It was a way to make money from home, provide sweet clothes for my son, and a fabulous opportunity to meet other mothers interested in kids fashion. We went to Europe twice to buy inventory. I met one of my bff’s, Annie Anke, when I was hunting the world for little boy socks!!! My son, my assistant, and I took a trip to Germany to meet her and her family in 2004. She is by far, the biggest blessing that came from the children’s clothing business.

Nearly a year ago I started a child care consulting business.
A few months later I also had the honor to be asked to work for as a writer and an expert on their daycare forum.

The only time I haven’t had a second job in my eighteen years of child care was the two years I operated at nearly full capacity with the highest home child care registration you can have in Iowa. Running eleven kids a day, even with an excellent and experienced staff assistant, was too much work to even entertain the idea of more work!! You ladies that have ten kids by yourself please disregard this blog.

I know most new providers and mothers are so swamped that the prospect of taking on more work is daunting. I found that having my head somewhere else for part of my day helped me stay happy and wanting to continue to do child care.

For me, it has always been about finding work that I can do from home, that can be dropped at any time and picked up when things were slow in the day care. I also liked having something to give my helpers to do if we were low on kids and had everything done for the child care.

I have loved having something to fall back on if the daycare census drops unexpectedly. Selling clothes, making frozen dough, and now doing child care consulting have all provided a way to fill in the gaps when enrollment drops.

Having the security of a back up income can help you make decisions in your child care if you are having difficulty with a family. Knowing the income from the family CAN be replaced keeps the provider from making desperate decisions to retain families where the children or the parents are behaving badly or the care of the child becomes more than the provider can provide.

Some States don’t allow second jobs when performing child care. If you find something you are interested in doing make sure that you are allowed to do it on the daycare clock. My State doesn’t have prohibitions from operating a child care business and another business at the same time.

The further along I get in my business the more imperative it is that I have other sources of revenue and other interests to pursue. The odds of success in child care dramatically decreases as time goes on. The satisfaction in the business can lessen because the learning curve is near completion. I think it’s a great idea to find other interests that work well within your childcare routine to keep your mind fresh and your bank accounts a little heftier. I love cooking, children’s clothes, and talking day care. Those interests worked for me.

I know a number of providers who do volunteer work as their “second job”. If you are able to afford to offer that it’s even better. If you can include the children in the service it can bless both your home day care business, your family, and you.

  1. Annie Anke10-17-11

    I loved reading this post, Tori and it is such a treasure to be friends with you! <3 and hugs from Germany!

  2. Dominique10-19-11

    Great blog posting. I have added continuing my education to my already full schedule however, I find that with new interests, I am actually happier even though I am busier.

  3. Lori11-07-13

    Thank you so much for this advice. Some days even with a house full of kids i get bored

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