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Don’t quit childminding until you’ve asked yourself these 13 questions

All childminders have those days when you wake up and think: I can’t do this anymore. But what about when that feeling of gloom goes on for weeks? Or months? When you reach the point where you just feel utterly miserable and can barely make yourself open the front door on a morning. If this is you, please don’t quit before you’ve asked yourself the following 13 questions:

 

  1. Are you just over-reacting to feeling a ‘bit down’?

Down patches happen to everybody, in ANY job. I don’t know a single childminder who leaps out of bed every single morning rearing to go. Long spells of bad weather can make you feel awful. Small children can be vile. But do you really feel miserable? Has this feeling been going on for a long time? Or is this just a blip? If it’s just a temporary down patch, don’t do anything hasty. Most childminders will tell you to hang in there and you’ll probably feel better again soon.

 

2. Are you sure it’s childminding that’s making you unhappy, and not something else?

When you have a lot of stress in your life, it can affect your outlook on EVERYTHING. If you are dealing with big, real other problems in other areas of your life (spouse, finances, children, illness) then even things you normally enjoy (like your work) will feel like more than you can handle. So before you quit childminding, first do some proper soul searching and make sure that it is really childminding that is making you miserable and not something else. Otherwise, if you remove childminding from your life, but it is not the real cause of your feelings, then it won’t solve the problem.

 

3. Do you have another job to go to?

I believe you should never give notice at a job until you have something else to go to. Unless childminding has made you fantastically rich and you plan to live on your savings (or your partners) in my opinion, you should be sure that you have a plan for what you will do ‘next’ before you quit.

 

4. Is your new idea really going to make you happier than childminding?

You know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side. Stop and look again at childminding. Is it really all that bad? You can make a decent amount of money, especially if you’re at the point in your life where childminding means you don’t have to pay for childcare for your own children. It’s fun and rewarding when it’s going well! And do you really want to work for someone else again when you’ve been your own boss?

 

5. Is it just the paperwork that’s getting on top of you?

childminding paperwork

Paperwork is one of the main reasons childminders quote for giving up childminding which I can understand but is a real shame because it is a problem that is easily solved. It is easy to get to the point where you feel so stressed about the paperwork that you don’t even know where to begin. Please don’t feel overwhelmed about paperwork. You are probably overcomplicating things. There are lots of companies who sell paperwork solutions especially for childminders (including me)! Before you quit childminding over paperwork, please at least take a look at my paperwork products which I promise will help you.

 

6. Are you lonely?

Talking to small children all day can be lonely, repetitious and tedious, and leaves many childminders longing for the adult company their old day job gave them. People always suggest going to childminder drop-in groups, which is great if you live somewhere that runs them, but hard if you’re somewhere that has less going on. It is also hard if you’re shy at those sorts of things and find it difficult to walk into a group of people who already know each other and make friends. Facebook has many groups where you can meet other childminders and talk online. My favourite is “Childminding For You” with 10,000 members chatting about their lives and sharing problems and successes. However, I do feel that if you have tried groups, and tried social media and these don’t work for you, then childminding is a lonely job and this is a very valid reason to move on to something new.

 

7. Can you reduce your hours?

If you can afford to reduce your hours, many childminders will tell you that this has been a life saver to them. One way to do this is that when someone leaves just don’t replace them straight away. Or switch entirely to before/after school care so you have some time in the day to yourself. Reducing your hours affects everybody and when I did it I hated letting the little boy’s parents down. However, I helped him settle into the nursery he would attend on the days I was to be ‘closed’ and did my best to make the transition smooth. In the end going from full to part time was the best decision I made. I had time to go to the gym again and energy to develop my business ideas so I didn’t feel so “trapped” any more. Trapped is a horrible feeling, so don’t quit until you’ve tried to free yourself a little.

 

8. Did you have a bad Ofsted inspection?

Not getting the grade you were hoping for at your inspection is really demoralising, but I don’t think you should quit over it. Being inspected is horrible but try to put Ofsted in perspective. They come once every 5 years or so. In between Ofsted, childminding goes on as it always has done. That’s a long time until you need to worry about them again.

 

9. Are you bored?

bored childmindingCan’t face getting the paint out again? Can’t think of anything more tedious than pushing ANOTHER child on that swing, AGAIN? Then do something different. Try a new park, try a new activity. Challenge yourself to come up with interesting new activities to do with the children. Try teaching the children something that will matter to their lives, like activities that promote diversity or safety and health. This is something I can really help you with and not a good reason to quit childminding. You will never be short of ideas if you check out my printable arts and activities packs.

 

10. Is it one particular child or one particular family that is upsetting you?

One of my favourite things to do each week when the children were small was Teddies Music Club. We danced, played instruments and I used to have loads of fun there with the children. Then we got a little boy, a one-day- a-weeker, who was just miserable. He clung to me and cried when the music started. He wasn’t settling and I was out of patience. I came to music club to dance and laugh with the fun children. And this boy was spoiling music club for me and for the others. I was so glad when he left because it stopped me from having to make a difficult decision. Was his £50/ week worth it, to totally spoil my Tuesdays and turn Teddies Music Club into an occasion that made me feel miserable and trapped? Sometimes you have to put yourself first. If you can pin it down to feeling miserable about behavioural problems from a particular child, or a horrid rude family, then don’t quit childminding until you’ve given that particular child’s family notice.

 

11. Do you just need to take a break?

childminding holidayAre you taking your holidays? I hear from far too many childminders who will tell me they haven’t had a proper holiday in years. Even if you do take holidays, you can’t put all your hope in holidays to take a break. What about the weekends? If you are looking after children all week, it is natural that on the weekends you may sometimes feel less than enthusiastic about spending yet more quality time with your own kids. One childminder friend of mine would get up at 4am every day just so she could have a bit of time to herself before the day started. That worked for her, and I tried it once, but I turned into a zombie by day 3. It is easy to get to the point where you feel you will actually explode if you don’t get some time to yourself for a while. Be honest with your friends, family and most importantly try to get your partner to understand your need for some time “off” children at weekends.

 

12. Are you feeling undervalued and underpaid?

If other childminders and nurseries in your area charge more per hour than you do, this can really get you down. Many childminders still charge the same fees per hour as they did 10 years ago. Be brave and tell parents that you are putting your prices up. You will feel a lot better about your job if you feel are being paid more fairly for the work you do.

 

13. Is your house a mess and full of baby things?

house full of plastic toysYour own children have grown into teenagers and yet childminding leaves you permanently stuck in the toddler years. There are plastic toys jammed into all the storage spaces and your spare bedroom is STILL crammed full of two cots and a change table. You’ve forgotten that doorways could ever exist without baby gates blocking them. This can be really hard to deal with. The constant feeling of never being away from work, and feeling stuck in time. If you’ve tried storage, if you’ve tried clearing things out, then this, in my opinion is one of the most genuine reasons to quit childminding because this is a feeling that builds up over time, a gradual feeling of just having had enough of it. If this is you, this really could be a sign that you’ve simply had enough and really are ready to move on and do something new. A deep feeling that you and your family have now outgrown childminding.

 

Hopefully after reading this you won’t give up after all, but maybe reading this will make you feel that it is in fact time to move on to something new. If it really is time to quit, then give yourself a quitting time scale and an ‘exit plan’, perhaps when your own child starts school or one of your mindees leaves for nursery. Having an exit plan with a time scale attached can help you to keep going until it really is time to move on to something new.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

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http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

www.kidstogo.co.uk


20 Comments

  1. Lisa Horwood says:

    Thanks for this. Love your info and emails. I’m about to return to childminding after having my 2nd baby but now with two early years children of my own I don’t know if I can earn enough money with only one space a day to offer. After school kids are only ever 2 or 3 hours a day.

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      I think that in your situation I would be asking myself what ELSE I could do with the time and two early years children of my own? If you paid to put them in childcare so you could go out to work, then you’d probably end up at financial loss. So, in my mind, ANYTHING you can make during the short but financially challenging couple of years while you have little ones at home is better than making nothing. =) I think that’s a better way to view the money you make at that point in your life. Good luck x

      Like

  2. Michelle says:

    Unfortunately you missed out one other important point! Our health, unfortunately it looks like I will be giving up as due to lifting and pushing children all these years, it has lead me to have to have an operation. I was advised before I had the op it wouldn’t be advisable to continue with little ones and before and after schoolers are less money and the registration costs more!
    Ladies please look after yourself and keep those core mussels strong!

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Michelle, I’m so sorry to hear that. That is very sad news. I hope that your operation will be successful and good luck to you with whatever you plan for the future. All the best, Kay

      Like

  3. roland says:

    every move by government is hostile to us. we are heading the financial brick wall with the 30 hrs funding so as soon as i can find a way out exit it is.

    Like

  4. Emma says:

    Interesting read, thanks Kay. I have considered giving up for sometime and its usually for one of the many reasons you list. In the past I have changed my working hours – when my youngest started school I stopped before & after school care so only had the under 5s during the day – this so happened to be term time only as they were all teachers children!! (extra bonus!) This has worked well for the past 3 years, however next summer all these children leave to go to school leaving me with 3 Full time spaces I have therefore decided that is the time to stop and change my direction in life.
    I want my conservatory back (which is currently the play room) I want my garden to myself at the weekends without the constant reminder of toys/ play house etc that I work & live all in the same space.
    My children no longer play/need all the toys I’ve started to declutter already and feel soo much better and happier now that I can see the end of the tunnel.
    Your article just made it more justifiable, my husband has supported me throughout my 10 years of minding – even moving house so we could have a separate play area for me but now he too is looking forward to having “his own space” in the conservatory!

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Hi Emma,
      I totally agree that you have thought this through and are quitting for all the right reasons. =) It’s such a big decision to make. I hope you have some idea of where you are going next. That’s the hard thing for many people. And if not, that you will find inspiration. Good luck whatever you decide to do, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I have had a lot of people email me to tell me they feel similarly to you. =)
      All the best,
      Kay

      Like

  5. katharine says:

    Thanks Kay,

    I love your newsletters but this one especially rang true for me. I was getting seriously depressed after looking after a problem child for 18 months! I was determined not to let it beat me, and we would go through periods of relative calm; however I realised it was damaging my health with it grinding me down, dealing with eventually bullying my own son and my other minded child (which I eventually lost early due to him) and so I packed it in before Easter and now feel liberated!

    I’m able to focus on my own 2 kids properly and fix our routines to suit our family. I’m in the process of gutting the playroom and refiguring it out. I wasn’t sure if I’d feel like going back to it again, but come the Summer I think I’ll be ready, revitalised and a bit smarter than before? I’ve already realised tweaking my hours to starting earlier at 7.30 am but finishing earlier at 5.30pm will fit my family routine much better. School runs shouldn’t be so rushed in the morning for my kids and enough evening will be left for some family time after homework etc. I’m really bad at not letting my job spill into our family time ( being flexible etc) but I know I need to put my own kids first instead of other people’s now and hopefully maintain a better balance.

    You’re totally right about taking time to think it through first. I’ve always found a good break from it is the only way to properly take stock, action the changes you know would improve the setting ( that you never have time to implement when you’re working!..) and plan a new and improved way to structure and run it all. Kind of SEF in action!

    Thanks again!

    Katharine

    >

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Hi katharine,

      That all sounds like a really good idea, taking a break and reordering things before starting back up. I hope you won’t be afraid in future to get rid of problem children/ families because becoming ‘slowly worn down’ happens to far too many people and burn out is hard to beat.

      Enjoy the weekend (and the down time), thanks for your nice comments on my article, and good luck to you when you start up again.

      Best wishess,
      Kay

      Like

  6. Amanda Round says:

    Thank you for this Kay, it’s strengthened my need to quit as number 13 is def me. My SEN son can’t cope with me minding, he’s 9 and I want our house back. I’ve minded for 15 years in October and it’s def time for out, my last Ofsted inspection didn’t go as planned either and knocked my confidence through the floor. Time for a 6 month break and redecorate the house, sell all the toys and relax. Then I’ll decide what next.

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      It sounds like you have definitely thought all that through, and in the end you have to do what’s right for you and your family. Sometimes it really is the right decision to quit and move on. Good luck with whatever you decide to do next =)

      Like

  7. JULIE DUNFORD says:

    Don’t know if I can reply to this, but wanted to say THANK YOU for writing it. I’m not about to give up, but it’s nice to know that it’s normal to feel the way I sometimes do!!

    Thank you!

    Julie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Thanks, Julie. I would think it more weird people who said they NEVER consider quitting or doing something different. Yes, everybody thinks about quitting sometimes =)

      Like

  8. Vanessa says:

    Hi Kay, I’m just wondering if you know where we could purchase a new signing in/register book please? We bought ours from Childminders Matters but they have dissolved so wondering if you could point us in the right direction for resources? Failing that, we’ll Google but thought it best to ask you first. Many thanks, Vanessa and Georgina

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Thanks, Vanessa and Georgina. I only sell simple, printable forms. I don’t have printed books. I think you should google it. There are lots of companies who sell printed register books if you look for them.
      Best wishes
      Kay

      Like

  9. Nichola Clark says:

    Hi
    Thank you for this. I’m actually interested in the diversity combo pack. How do I order and pay please. X

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  10. Piccolos says:

    Hi Kay,

    Having just had my inspection, I thought some lighthearted comments might cheer you up.

    Things You Hope To God They Don’t Say In Front of the Ofsted Inspector:

    “Look, Auntie! We made a bomb!” With plastic strawberries and lego…

    “We did craft this morning and it was rubbish!” No, Sweetheart, it was scrap.

    “Auntie tried to kill us yesterday!” No, we just gave the meatballs some extra cooking time to avoid food poisoning.

    (On the way to the garden): “We know: “Stay away from the rats nest!” It’s not a rats nest! It’s a hole in the garden we had checked out!

    “You brush my hair and I’ll throw a stone at a bird.” having heard someone use ‘kill 2 birds with 1 stone’.

    These are all things my little lot have said at one time or another in the past year. Care to guess the one they said in front of the Inspector? 😱

    Julie x

    >

    Like

    • Kay Woods says:

      Love it Julie. LOL here. I’m going to guess that the rats nest one in the garden was the one they used in front of the inspector. That’s so funny. I love it!

      Hope your inspection went well,

      Best wishes
      Kay

      Like

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