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

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.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

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.

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

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

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

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

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