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How to burn out at childminding…. in 10 easy steps

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I tried nearly all of these when I first started childminding. So now I want to share. If you want to burn out at childminding… really fast…. follow these ten easy steps:


1. Save all your housework and shopping for the weekends and evenings

childminded-children-houseworkAll childminders should buy really expensive home corner play sets for their childminding settings but should never be seen to do actual, real housework around their houses while the children are present. Children should never be given real chores to do – they are paying customers, not servants! Children learn nothing from being asked to empty a washing machine and count out clothes pegs. They should certainly never be asked to help with shopping. Parents don’t send their children to childminders so they can be given chores like real children in actual homes. You need to do all housework and shopping in your own time.


2. Children always come first

It is really important that if small children want to speak to you that you drop everything you are doing and respond instantly to their request. If you are chatting to an adult friend or engaged in a task, and a small child tugs on your skirt or interrupts you, it is important that you attend straight away to the child’s needs. Never make a child wait or he will think his needs are less important than yours.


3. Assume you will be able to do everything you did before you started childminding

Everyone knows that childminding isn’t like going out to work at a real job, so there should be no reason why you couldn’t do everything you did before you started childminding. And to exactly the same high standards. You should be able to keep up all the housework, do the shopping, look after your neighbour, continue to be a volunteer school governor, and take your own children to every single club and class you used to take them to. The childminded children will just sort of tag along and join in or watch. It’ll be easy.


4. Do lots and lots and lots of paperwork

how-to-burn-out-at-childminding-imageWhen Ofsted come to visit you they bring a tape measure and a set of weighing scales. The Ofsted inspector will weigh your learning journeys and compare them to Ofsted standard learning journey weights which are outlined in their Inspection Guide. Policies are usually measured on length, by the metre – the longer your policies document, the better. Paperwork is great for parents too. The more bits of paper you get them to sign when they start in your setting, the happier they will feel about your ability to look after their child. So make sure you spend your evenings doing lots and lots of paperwork if you want to really impress both parents and the Ofsted inspector.


5. At the weekends, keep childminding your own kids and never ask for a break

All childminders love all children. All the time. It’s a fact. Childminders are all warm and fuzzy and cuddly types of people who want to be around children ALL the time.  If you don’t feel this way about children, then you should never let anybody find out because they will think you must be a bad childminder. At weekends you should never ask your partner to look after your own children for a while so you can have some ‘alone time’ or some time with other adults. If you ask for a break your partner will think you are weak, a bad parent for not wanting family time, will suspect you are failing at childminding and will tell you to go and get a real job.


6. Never sit and read a book while the childminded children are around

It is well known that if children see adults reading a book they will think that reading is bad. Never, ever let a childminded child catch you sitting down with a cup of tea reading a magazine or a book. Parents and other childminders will also think you are being lazy if you take breaks during the day.


7. Never let parents think you don’t know what you are doing

Most people who become childminders have a four-year teaching degree, a PhD in child development and child psychology and have taken a night course in police crowd control tactics. Many childminders (or at least those of us who want to get the best Ofsted grades) spend their weekends doing open university training on early brain development, plus politics and economics so that we can better understand how to ‘narrow the attainment gap’ in the children we look after. With all of this training, people rightly expect us to know everything about raising children, so it is important that if you have had less training or less experience than this yourself that you don’t let parents find out or they won’t send their children to you.


8. Set impossibly high expectations for yourself

be a practically perfect childminderBefore you even open your doors on your childminding setting it is important that you have weekly plans in place for the next 5 years for your practice. As well as memorising all the Ofsted manuals, you should read through every Facebook forum and all of the back issues of my Childminding Best Practice Newsletters. Every morning when you brush your teeth you should look in the mirror and say “I am like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way”. This will give you the right mindset to face every day.


9. Never ask for help. People will think you are weak and don’t know what you are doing.

Never admit that you are struggling. Ever. Nobody will ever have faced the problem that you are having before and be able to offer you advice or support. Every child is different, every problem is so unique that nobody in the history of mankind will ever have faced a childcare challenge similar to the one you are struggling with. Nobody can help you so it is best to keep your problems to yourself. Only weak people ask for advice anyway.


10. Never make mistakes of any kind

I saw a great bumper sticker once. It said: “If at first you don’t succeed, hang gliding is not for you.” Childminding is like this. There is no room for error. If you do something wrong around a child, it’s pretty much game over for that child. If you ever get discipline wrong, speak to a child in the wrong tone of voice, or (horror) lose your temper and shout at one, you will mess that child up foreverInstead of doing school-readiness activities, you might just as well do prison-readiness activities. Remember that if that child turns out badly, it will probably be because of that one mistake you made when you childminded them. So just don’t screw up. Ever.


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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.



  1. […] article takes a tongue in cheek approach to help you to think about some of the causes of stress in childminding and how you might reduce […]

  2. Tracey Oliver says:

    Thanks for putting things into perspective Kay, I have spent my week off sleeping 12,10,11,9 hours for my first 4 days off, and spent the rest of the week feeling inadequate because I’m not out washing my Windows, mowing the lawn, cleaning my house from top to bottom, decorating or washing my car. All my neighbours manage it so why can’t I, oh yes, that’s right, they are either retired or there’s two of them at home and their kids have left but most importantly their work is not in their house, eg, copious amounts of toys, rooms turned into playrooms, where’s my lounge again!! others people’s kids art on my walls and childcare related posters everywhere. And last and definitely not least those who work do a normal 7hr day. My day is 10hrs and that doesn’t include the clearing up and paperwork after the last child has left!!! But hey, I’m just a babysitter!!!! Love my kids, hate the paperwork, Love your newsletter, thanks 😀 Trace Oliver

    On 7 Mar 2017 09:54, “Childminding Best Practice” wrote:

    > Kay Woods posted: “I tried nearly all of these when I first started > childminding. So now I want to share. If you want to burn out at > childminding… really fast…. follow these ten easy steps: 1. Save all your > housework and shopping for the weekends and evenings ” >

    • Kay Woods says:

      Trace, thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoy my newsletters and the article. I hope you have a relaxing long weekend. =)
      All the best,

  3. Geraldine says:

    It’s always a pleasure to hear from someone with extirpese.

  4. Deborah Taylor-Morris says:

    Really enjoyed reading this article! So true!
    Also,never forget that childminding is not like ‘real work’ and you only do it because you love all children. So it really dosnt matter if parents don’t pay you on time. It’s fine if they have just paid for Christmas, booked a big holiday, are a ‘bit short’ this month. Waiting a couple of weeks to get your wages is no problem. It’s not as if you have any bills/monetary commitments of your own………


    • Kay Woods says:

      Spot on Deborah. Another excellent example! Made me LOL =) You are so right about some parents seeing things only from their perspective. Have a good weekend x

  5. Choochie Woodles says:

    Yep, totally started out like this! and even though I have relaxed a little I still sometimes think I should be capable of an immaculate house, perfect paperwork, all the gardening, veg growing, chicken rearing….and the list goes on, whilst home educating my own children (2,4 and 9) and childminding, feeling guilty if I do ANYTHING for myself… then I think… sod the dust/massive pile of laundry in the bedroom, the kids are happy!!! and then I get myself back on track, just enjoying it all! Fantastic article, we all need ‘grounding’ from time to time! (p.s Just had my Ofsted and it went brilliantly! Phew!) x

    • Kay Woods says:

      Thank you Claire. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Bits of it I have to confess I found hard to write because it made me think through things and look at how I faced them. I think I am a little older and a little wiser now, but I am still a massive over achiever and will need to reread my own article from time to time! =) Thanks again

  6. Sylvia Oglesby says:

    Hi Kay, once again you have put a smile on all of our faces with your fantastic story line. At first we all thought no way, but as we continued we thought you have got to be joking. My son, Husband and myself love to read everything in your news letters. You truly are a wonderful person and you are a inspiration to all childminders. Keep up the good work. Phil, Sylvia and Kyle.xx

  7. vicki johnson says:

    Not long into it when i realised you were taking the mickey.But until i did i thought you were or thought you were wonder woman.Got to the bit when child tugging at you skirt and you had to respond immediately it was then i realised you were not serious.Well written Kay

    • Kay Woods says:

      Thank you Vicki. I enjoyed writing this article, but also found it tough in several places because most of it was real and it was hard to think about. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for telling me. =)

  8. Teresa Speed says:

    I was fuming when I read this, then after the 3rd time, I realised this was how not to be. We work 13 hours a day, anymore would be adding another nail to my coffin. 😱

    • Kay Woods says:

      Yes, Teresa, this article was definitely meant to be read tongue in cheek. It is meant to raise some serious points about work-life balance around childminding, but I usually find the best way to reach people is through humour. Thanks for commenting, Kay

  9. Excellent! I love you article and even if I am not English, I understand sarcasm!

  10. naina29 says:

    Lol ???? but so true.


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  11. as someone said earlier in the comments – like the inside of my mind for about 10 years!! these days i try to be more realistic and not wrestle too much with my perfectionist guilt!!
    Thankyou for this it really brightened my day, I love that my work has enabled me to care for my sick daughter and still be fully at work and therefore self supporting, but boy the hours and restrictions (and no time off) get hard some days.
    have only just found your page and it is marvellous – thankyou x

    • Kay Woods says:

      Thank you Shirley. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and could relate to it. The long hours can be so tough sometimes, especially when there is no break at the weekend. But, as you say, there are no other jobs that give you the flexibility to do the things that matter to you, like look after your daughter, AND make a good income. Thanks for sharing x

  12. Susan Rose says:

    What does this say about childminders that so many thought this was serious. We all need to chill and have some fun. Ofsted come but once in five years the rest of the time we can enjoy the job.

  13. Sue Atkinson says:

    I would like to add that you should always remember that you are at home. Therefore it does not matter what time parents drop off or pick up their children. Never fall into the trap of thinking that you are not at home and able to do what you want until the last child has gone home. It doesn’t work like that.

  14. louisebrad70 says:

    Don’t understand some of these! Whilst I would never sit and read a book whilst minding, the children enjoy helping me sort socks etc from the washing basket so why shouldn’t I do this with them? Also they like to come shopping with me so don’t really understand that either. As for doing my own housework in the evening, I’m too tired to do it then so spend my time doing it at the weekend. Yes I do a lot of paperwork but that’s normal. So not really sure where this list is going! Sorry x

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    • Kay Woods says:

      Hi Louise,
      The post is not serious. It is tongue in cheek. I think it is great for children to see you reading and resting and doing housework. In fact, not only should they see you do it, they should be made to help you with it, including normal chores around the house. The article is meant to be funny, not serious. It is intended to make people think differently about some of the things they do and how to balance childminding with real life without going mad.
      I’m sorry that wasn’t clear, but if you read on down the list, you will totally get that it was meant to be funny, I hope.

  15. Jo says:

    Got to point 4 before realising this was tongue in cheek. That is why I feel burnt out! Thank you.

  16. piccolos@btinternet.com says:

    Oh how very true this is, Kay! 😂


    • Kay Woods says:

      Do you know, I think I honestly think I made nearly every one of these mistakes the first year I was childminding. You live and learn though! =)

  17. Giovanna Martinez says:

    I found this article a little confusing. Initially I thought you were writing for real! I nearly fell of my chair! Until I realised it was sarcasm. Not everyone is English and I didn’t find it amusing! I don’t really get sarcasm. I hope no one else finds it confusing…

    Giovanna Trew


    • Kay Woods says:

      I’m sorry Giovanna. There are lots of serious points in there, but I find the best way to talk about them sometimes is to try to make people laugh rather than just tell people what to do in a serious manner. I’m glad you figured out I was joking =)

    • Jalene says:

      Stellar work there eveynore. I’ll keep on reading.

  18. katharine says:

    Your best post ever😂😂😂Just like the insides of my mind!

    Sent from my iPhone

  19. Jane Doherty says:

    Hi Kay I am in tears laughing at this it is just soooooo true you could do stand up comedy with this !! I totally love your style !

    Jane 😂 xx

    Sent from my iPhone


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