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9 tips for staying healthy when you childmind

When you’re self-employed as a childminder you’ve got to look after yourself because when your health suffers you ultimately risk losing business. Here are some tips for looking after both your physical health and equally as important: your mental health.

 

Learn to lift children and pushchairs properly

Back problems and joint problems are one of the biggest health problems that childminders experience often due to lifting incorrectly. It is so easy to do – you bend over to lift up a toddler who is clawing at your thigh, or swing a push chair into the boot, and feel a twang in your lower back that takes weeks to go away. As you get older, these problems increase, so if you are reading this and you are in your twenties, thinking you’re young and fit and this doesn’t apply to you, think again. Some day you will be older and you will wish you had spent the time learning to lift things properly when you were young! Some councils run training on proper lifting techniques – if you have to pay this would be a tax deductible business expense. If you can’t get on a course, check out this leaflet from the Health and Safety Executive and teach yourself to always lift with your legs rather than your back.

 

Don’t let children get used to being carried

A further risk to childminders is strain caused by carrying children around all day. Even if the parents carry a baby around all day in a sling at home, or have a toddler permanently balanced on their hip while doing everything from preparing lunch to sorting laundry, this doesn’t mean that you have to work under those same conditions. If you make it clear that you will not spend hours carrying around their child, then the parents will not expect you to. The long term risk of straining your back or limbs is simply too great.

Right before I started childminding I had a horrible moment where I was holding my 11 month baby daughter on my hip. Then someone handed me my nephew and I had him balanced on the other hip. My mother-in-law laughed and said to me, “that’ll be you, soon, lugging round two babies all day”. For one awful moment I felt the weight of two babies, one on each hip, and I said to myself at that moment, there is NO WAY I WILL EVER CARRY MORE THAN ONE CHILD AT ONCE. And I literally never did. The children learned to wait. They never expected to be picked up at the same time because I simply never did.

 

Walk everywhere and get lots of fresh air

Finding time for proper exercise at a gym can be really hard when you childmind, especially if you work long hours. The good thing about being your own boss is that you can spend as much time walking around as you like! Walk whenever you can, and buy one of those double buggies that means you can speed walk while pushing it. Walking is one of the best types of exercise there is.

 

Don’t finish the children’s food

It can be really hard to scrape that fish finger the child hasn’t even touched into the bin when nobody is looking and there are children starving in parts of the world! But if you are trying to watch your weight, then this is a habit that you need to break. The accessibility of the biscuit barrel is hard enough to avoid when you work at home and are trying to lose weight or stick to a fitness plan. Don’t make it worse by finishing the children’s lunches.

 

Don’t get lonely – stay connected

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.

 

Get a flu shot

When you’re self-employed you can’t afford to be off work for two weeks with an illness that will leave you feeling tired and weak for months afterwards. Especially an illness that is preventable with a shot. Make sure your other immunisations are also up to date – you really can catch measles, for example, if you haven’t been immunised, especially if you live in a part of the country where lots of other people haven’t been immunised.

 

Enforce your exclusion periods when the children are sick

If you let children come when they are sick, as well as all the other risks to the other children that you may have considered, remember that there is also the risk that YOU will get sick. Don’t forget that if you get sick and have to close, then everybody loses out in the long run. Stick to the exclusion periods recommended by Public Health – they are there for a reason. Do you know what they are?

 

Don’t get bored

Boredom, like loneliness, can lead to health issues if you don’t deal with it including problems like overeating and high stress levels. It can also make it hard for you to want to open the door on the mornings. This is something I can help with – if you are bored it is time to try something new. Try doing some activities like exploring a theme each month or invest in your own continual professional development CPD as a childminder.

My Childminding Best Practice Club is all about keeping things fresh and new and will definitely help you not to get bored.

 

Don’t ignore high stress levels and hope they’ll go away on their own

High stress levels can lead to all sorts of serious health problems when you ignore them. When you are stressed, childminding can be one of the worst jobs because there is no possibility of just switching the children off for a while to deal with the cause of the stress. At those times, it can feel that quitting childminding is the only option, however, there are lots of things you can try before you quit to help you to reduce your stress levels. Don’t give up childminding for the wrong reasons and then regret it.

This 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 them.

 

Being self-employed as a childminder gives you freedom and has a lot of benefits including offering you plenty of time to be outdoors and walk and get fresh air. But ultimately you are on your own when you childmind and when something goes wrong with your health it can all come crashing down. Try to ask for help when you need it – and most importantly take your own health and mental health seriously.

When you make a living from being a care-giver, don’t forget to take the time to care for yourself as well.

 

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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.

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

Do you have a poison childminding garden?

Do you know which of the six plants pictured here are poisonous?

6 pictures of poisonous plants for quiz

Britain doesn’t have a lot of really nasty poisonous plants, but as childminders there are a few you should be able to recognise. Some plants can make you very ill if you eat them or give you a nasty skin rash if you touch them. Do you know which ones they are?

 

Six Poisonous Plants

The quiz is a trick. In fact, ALL of the plants pictured here can harm you, causing symptoms that range from nausea and vomiting to nasty skin blisters that last for months. Some of these plants can actually kill you. But don’t overreact and go cutting down trees and pulling up flowers! Read on so you understand what the risk and real dangers are to yourself and to the children you care for.

 

A: Foxglove Leaves

foxgloveThe leaves of foxglove plants are poisonous. They contain a drug that is used in medicine to regulate the heart, but eating more than about two of the leaves can cause a heart attack. The leaves apparently taste very bitter so you are unlikely to eat them by accident! Many people who try to kill themselves by overdosing on foxglove leaves often find that they throw up before the poison starts to work.

One fatal accident involved a child who drank the water from a vase containing foxglove plants. So don’t pick foxgloves and put them in a vase in your playroom!

 

B: Laburnum Seeds

laburnum tree close up on flowersThe seed pods of laburnum trees look a lot like bean pods. It is easy to imagine why children think the early seed pods are beans especially if you ever let them open and eat sugar snap pea pods. As they ripen, they change colour from green to black and they also harden so they are less likely to be eaten later in the season.

You certainly don’t need to cut down your beautiful laburnum tree if you are a childminder. But you should prune off the lower branches which will keep the seeds out of reach of young children or put a fence around the bottom. Most importantly is to tell the children not to eat them and explain why. Apparently it takes quite a large quantity of the seed pods to cause any real harm to a child, but I wouldn’t chance it. If a child eats any laburnum seeds seek medical advice.

 

C: Mistletoe

MistletoePeople bring mistletoe into their houses at Christmas and put little sprigs over doorways to kiss under. But mistletoe is actually poisonous and poisoning can occur when you eat any part of the plant, especially the leaves. You can also be poisoned from drinking a tea created from the leaves or berries. So watch out! If someone ‘lovingly’ tries to feed you mistletoe berries while kissing you underneath a sprig, they are probably actually trying to murder you!


 D: Daffodil Bulbs

daffodils

The bulbs of daffodils are poisonous if you eat them. Apparently what happens is that people find them in the shed and think they are onion bulbs and then cook stews with them by accident thinking they are cooking onions. The resulting meal will taste very strange and make you sick. It could even kill you. When you see this box of bulbs you can see why it’s not as crazy as it initially sounds!

daffodil bulbs look a lot like onionsDoes this mean that you shouldn’t plant daffodil bulbs on your windowsill with small children anymore? Of course not! But if there is any chance that a small child could have eaten one of the bulbs (and we all know small children who just might) then I would definitely seek medical advice, just in case.

 

E: Yew Tree Leaves

yew tree

Yew trees are evergreen trees that are often grown in cemeteries and can be really, really old. They often have signs on them asking you not to climb them and this is actually to protect you as well as the tree as the leaves of yew trees can cause nasty skin blisters if you rub up against them. These blisters can be quite severe and last for many months. If you eat the leaves they are also poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and can even kill you.

Our infant school has a lovely yew tree right in the front ground. The children used to sit under it to eat. Then one day they fenced the whole thing off, which we all thought was quite mean, but now I understand why.

 

 

F: Giant Hogsweed Sap

Giant hogweed is a wild plant that grows along footpaths and riverbanks that makes stinging nettles seem positively friendly! Giant hogsweed can grow up to five metres tall. If the sap of the plant comes into contact with your skin, it can cause severe, painful burns.

giant-hogweed

If you touch a giant hogweed wash the affected area with soap and water. The blisters often heal very slowly and can develop into phytophotodermatitis, a type of skin rash which flares up in sunlight.

 

Don’t panic!

I do hope this article hasn’t made gardening with childminded children or taking them on a walk in the countryside sound as dangerous as taking them to feed the lions. These are just dangers that, like all the poisons found inside your house, you should be aware of when you look after young children.

Always teach children not to eat anything from the garden or while you are out walking unless you have told them it’s ok. Be very careful about giving mixed messages to young children. For example, everyone tells children not to eat red berries because we all know that red means poison. However, blackberry picking is great fun, isn’t it? But blackberries can appear quite red before they are fully ripe. And they’re not poisonous. How are children supposed to know? This certainly doesn’t mean you should never go blackberry picking. Just that it is important to teach children to be sensible and to watch them carefully.

 

For More Information

Read this NHS article for more information on plant dangers in the garden and countryside.

This full, exhaustive list of plants that could cause poisoning from the Royal Agricultural Society  will make you afraid to grow anything other than grass in your garden.

And if you’re really interested, there’s a whole book on the subject: ‘Poisonous Plants: a guide for parents and childcare providers’, by Elizabeth A. Dauncey

 

The plant photos in this article are all reproduced under The Creative Commons License

 

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

Six Childminding Safety Hazards You Might Not Know

6 safety hazards

Look carefully at this photograph of a typical childminding scene.

There are six potential hazards to young children in this photo. Can you spot them, and do you know why they are dangerous?

Part of the mission of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is to stop children being accidentally killed or injured in the home. Their website has lots of resources aimed at childcare providers as well as parents, and there is also a free newsletter that is worth signing up for.

So, how many did you spot?  The six hazards are circled here:

6 safety hazards answers

  1. Nappy sacks – children, especially young babies can suffocate on nappy sacks. It is tempting to let the children play with them in your baby dolls role play, but safer not to just in case.
  2. Balloons – popped latex balloons are a leading cause of suffocation deaths in young children. Balloons are not dangerous to children when they are blown up, but please remove them when they burst.
  3. Blind cords – children can strangle themselves on looped blind cords like these. You should tie them up.
  4. Cleaning products – this is just an example of how easy it is to overlook things and why it is important to risk assess your setting continuously. It is so easy to get distracted half way through a task like cleaning and accidentally leave cleaning products within reach of children.
  5. Trip hazards – watch out for trailing cables. Fasten them to the wall or tape them to the floor.
  6. Grapes sliced the wrong way – If you are going to cut grapes up for children because you are wary of them being choke hazards then make sure you slice them lengthways. Sliced crossways they are still exactly the same diameter as they are when whole (and as a child’s windpipe).

 How many did you get right?

 

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

EYFS Paperwork

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwork

Kay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go for the last six years. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare).

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

www.kidstogo.co.uk

Everything Childminders need to know about Food Business Legislation

If you are a childminder and you provide food as part of your childminding service then you have to register as a food business with your local authority. Food safety is very important for childcare, because children are a vulnerable group and can be more seriously affected by food poisoning than some other groups of people. So food safety is not just a ‘meaningless piece of legislation’ or another ‘hoop to jump through’ for childminders.

I spoke with the Food Standards Agency and the Environmental Health Officer at my council to find out exactly what childminders have to do.

childminder food safety

How do I know if I have to register as a food business?

If you ever prepare food for the children who attend your setting then you probably have to register as a food business. If the children only eat food they have brought from home in their own lunch boxes then you may not have to register. Your Environmental Health Officer at your local authority (council) will talk you through it.

 

I’m a new childminder. How do I register as a food business?

When you register your childminding business with Ofsted, the details you provide to Ofsted will also be used to register you as a food business. This will happen automatically so you don’t need to do anything. This only applies for registrations made on or after 1 January 2014, and only if you tell Ofsted that you plan to provide food as part of your childminding service.

 

I registered before January 2014. Do I have to register as a food businesses?

If you are a childminder who registered with Ofsted before January 2014, who provides food as part of your childminding service, then you should contact your local authority Environmental Health Officer and register yourself. It is free to register and it is very unlikely that you will ever be inspected. You will be sent important information on food safety to help you to keep the children’s food safe.

 

Do I need to go on a proper food safety course?

No. However, childminders who provide food as part of their normal childminding service are responsible under food law for ensuring that food is prepared, stored and handled in compliance with the food hygiene regulations. The Food Standards Agency has produced a special pack called Safer Food, Better Business For Childminders which you should read. Your local authority and many private companies may run food safety courses if you would like to go on one, but this is optional. There is no requirement for food handlers to attend formal courses or to acquire food hygiene qualifications.

 

Do I really need to keep all my food receipts and if so for how long for?

Yes. Keep all of your food receipts for four weeks from the date when the children ate the food that is listed on the receipts. That way if there is a safety problem with food you have provided (like an outbreak of food poisoning) then you have a traceable record of the individual ingredients in the food the children have eaten.

 

Do I have to use fridge/freezer thermometers?

Food that is stored at the wrong temperature can quickly become unsafe to eat. In order to make sure that the food is stored at the correct temperature you need to check every day to make sure that your fridge is set at 5°C or below and your freezer is working properly. It is a legal requirement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to keep high risk food at 8°C or below. Make sure your fridge is operating between 0°C – 5°C to ensure the food inside is kept at 8°C or below.

The reason for the thermometer is to check the actual temperature of the fridge is suitable. Some fridges will have a digital display to show what temperature they are set, but most fridges simply have a dial inside with numbers the numbers ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5’ on it. These numbers don’t relate to actual temperatures which is why you need to check the temperature with a thermometer. Even if your fridge is one that displays the actual temperature, you should still check it occasionally with a thermometer to make sure that it is displaying the correct temperature.

 

safer food safer business for childminders

Where can I get advice on food safety and registration?

It is important that food handlers have adequate knowledge to prepare and supply food that is safe to eat. If you have any further questions about how the legislation applies or if you would like free advice on food safety, contact your local authority (council) Environmental Health Service. You can use this link to find your local contact: The Food Standard Agency website provides further information.

 

Do I really have to list all the allergens in the food I prepare?

From December 2014 new rules will be introduced requiring all food businesses including childminders to provide allergy information on the foods they provide to the children. The Food Standards Agency has produced guidance on the 14 allergens that must be declared in any food that you prepare. It is very important that you become familiar with the allergens listed here.

2c4352db3a2506711fa0ffea57c2f5fdTo comply with legislation you should always ask parents if their children have any known allergies. If any of the children you look after have an allergy then you should speak to the parents about it and plan for how you will ensure at your setting that the child does not come into contact with the food that could harm them. One way to do this could be to make a list of all of the food you prepare that contains the allergen to prevent that child from coming into contact with it.

The Food Standard Agency has lots of information about food allergies and there is even an optional online training course that you can take if you would like to learn more.

 

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

EYFS Paperwork

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwork

Kay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go for the last six years. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare).

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

www.kidstogo.co.uk

 

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