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The Parent That Calls Every Day

The Parent That Calls Every Day

Forum member “SilverSabre25” asked “How often do your dcps call you during the day  just to check up on their child?”

It’s not unusual for clients to want to check in via phone with you for the first two week or so of their child’s daycare. They are nervous and don’t know the provider well so they want to build a rapport with the provider and know everything is okay so they can get through their day.

When it gets beyond the second week it can get taxing on the provider because by that time there usually isn’t much to talk about. Parents who call and check beyond the second week are usually first time parents and the child care is their first time having anyone work “for” them. It’s the first time they have paid a large sum of their weekly income to someone other than their landlord or mortgage company.

Daycare service isn’t a tangible service like the four walls around you in your apartment or house. It’s not so “obvious” what the money is being paid for. Sure it’s for feeding, diapering, supervising, etc. but beyond basic care is a gray area. Some parents get lost in this and try to work into understanding what they are paying for by exacting out specific services to make them feel like they are getting their vision of what they are paying for and influencing what day to day care their child gets. A daily phone call makes them feel like they can get at least a glimpse into what is going on and then have input into care.

Because there really isn’t that much to talk about once the kid gets into a routine, the provider can begin to resent the forced daily conferences. These can happen with daily phone calls or extended parent conferencing at arrivals and departures. Often parents will over exaggerate health issues or the emotional state of the child just to have something to talk about. This only disenfranchises the provider because she is responding to something that doesn’t really exist.

If the provider doesn’t answer the phone when the parent calls because she’s in the middle of doing something she can’t abandon, often the parent will make one cal after another until it’s answered. Then the provider not picking up becomes the parents topic of the call and usually this is framed in “there’s something wrong… is my baby okay?”. Assuring the parent that not picking up had nothing to do with their child doesn’t stop the assumption the next time it happens.

After the two “get to know you weeks” the  common term of engagement the parents uses is “Is she doing ___ with you at day care?”   It’s usually something that is developmentally or behaviorally concerning to the parent or speaks to the child being advanced.    Even if the provider says “no I haven’t seen that” the door is open  for the parent to talk about their child doing it at home.  There’s an endless supply of “Is she doing ___” questions which feed into the mid-day phone call topics.

If the provider starts shortening the amount of conversation time with the parent she is met with resistance. Her unwillingness to spend the time the parent wants on the phone becomes the parents topic for the call. It’s an endless circle of bad communication that can chip away at any potential of a good working relationship.

The only way to solve it is to assure the parent that you will call them if anything unusual occurs or if you have any questions. Tell them “no news is good news” and that you don’t really do mid-day conferences after the first two weeks of care. Tell them that you have six children (or whatever number you have) with twelve parents so you can’t accommodate twelve check in calls per day. Most of the parents would like this mid day service but they don’t do it because it would overwhelm you and keep you from doing your job well. Just with the current group you have a daily five minute call could take over an hour a day. It takes away from the care of the children as a group. During naptime it interrupts your lunch and the break you so badly need.

Part of the parents acclimation to having a child in group care is acknowledging the impact or magnitude of “extra services” if all of the parents wanted the service you are wanting. The parent needs to consider the care of her own child being compromised if eleven other parents called for five minute conferences every day. The provider being the gatekeeper of time spent on non-direct care of the kids has to be the one who lays out the “multiply this by eleven other parents” and you can see why I can’t do daily phone check- ins.

“Group think” is something the new parent has to get used to. It takes a while for them to move away from thinking only of their child into more universal thinking about the others in the group and the provider caring for them. If you let them know that you WILL call them if there is anything even slightly off and will be happy to answer any emails or texts as you can get to them it should wean them off of the private phone conferencing. 

It’s a good idea to call the parent now and then out of the blue to ask them questions. Let them know you WILL call if anything is up and show them you will do it. Just start with “nothing is wrong I just wanted to ask you something”. Try to get that out quick like because they will be in tachycardia when they realize it’s you calling them.

A few phone calls from you to them lets them know that you really are keeping appropriate lines of communication open. They call when there is a schedule change, their child is mildly ill, or when they have just forgotten something important and you are calling them when you DO need them. This reasonable pattern of communication should meet everyone’s needs.

I really enjoy texting with parents. Texting is the best new technologies for parent communication for my business. I started when the only thing I had was the phone, then emails, now cell phone texting. Texting is great for quick check-ins and to send fun snippets of the child’s day. I can even send them some videos now and then which they enjoy SO much. Little forty five second videos can make the parent feel like they got something special to see their child is happy and engaged with the other kids.

Texting has a few drawbacks but for the most part it allows easy daily communication that keeps the parents plugged in but doesn’t take too much of my time. I just don’t use it when there is something serious to discuss. It is just for the easy back and forth so we can stay tuned into each other as we can all go about our busy day.

  1. Deb03-29-11

    Hey Nan!

    I tell parent’s from the get-go that I don’t mind phone calls during the day, but they must be short and to the point. What usually happens is that after the first week or so, they don’t bother to call anymore. I can tell you that it’s been quite a while since I’ve had any call from any parent.

    I also limit my time at the door at drop off and pick up. I send a report home every day with the highlights of the day and any concerns I have.

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