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Balancing Child Care & Family

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Dear Debi,
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, but providing child care during many non-traditional hours really cuts into my personal time. How can I manage family and friends around my work life?
Stella, Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Set time limits in your contract with parents and stick firmly by them. Remember it is harder to change the rules once they're set.
  • Sit down with your family and discuss your responsibilities for the child care; remember to allow your family to voice their feelings, also.
  • Create a goodbye ritual. Get your family involved in running the child care, this will allow your family to be more connected with you and the business, as well as help them feel more comfortable at home.
Expert Advice
Laura Cárdenas-Villagrán
Laura Cárdenas-Villagrán
Marriage, Family and Child Counselor, Human Services Association
Balancing work life and family is very difficult for many of these providers. Some of the factors that contribute to their stress is that they really love their jobs and want to do the best they can at it. Therefore they often times go above and beyond the call of duty.

I try to tell them that this is a business and they need to set limits on their contracts with parent. They need to take care of themselves - which means personal time and eating right and getting exercise.

Also, getting the family involved in running the business can help reconnect with your own family and keep them feeling more comfortable in their own home.

From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday is the time to run the child care business. Evenings and weekends should be time dedicated to your family and yourself. If a parent starts infringing on that time, make it clear from the beginning that it is not acceptable to you.
Child Care provider Comments
Sandy
Sandy
Family child care provider for 5 years
It is very important to interact with other adults and do things that grown-ups do, otherwise you loose track of yourself and your needs. You need that clarity to built a support system that can help you keep it together. Your life shouldn’t be all about kids.

Last year my father-in-law was going through chemo and it became very difficult for me to run my business. My family became my support system. They helped me out with the housework and I made sure to rest on the weekends. I’ve learned that I need to keep work to Mon-Fri. It’s a little more consuming than any other job because it is in your own home, but that’s part of the business.
Darlene
Darlene
Family child care provider for 4 years
At the end of the day, I make sure I go out for a walk and get away from the routine and the house. I have to put an end to the workload so that my personal life can begin. One of the things I tell my parents is: you don’t want me to burn out. So make sure you include vacations in your contract!

When I first began my day care, I got rid of all the furniture in my living room and dining room to give more space for the children. It got to the point where the business took over the entire house; I couldn’t have visitors over because there was no place to sit! When I realized I‘d had enough I decided to use the outdoor space and converted the garage into a play area. Now, when the kids go home I can have it be my home again.
Jo-Ann
Jo-Ann
Family child care provider for 2 years
Sometimes I feel like my job has taken over my personal life. It's like any profession, when you first start it's hard. But slowly you learn the tricks of the trade, find your niche and how to balance your time. It's like anything in life, the more you work at it, the better it gets. Ultimately, it is a time-management issue.

My last child is picked up at 9:30PM three days a week. After all the kids leave I sit on the balcony and decompress; relax for a while. I still have work-related things to do, but I give myself a couple hours. There are times when I stay up until 1:30AM so that I can have quiet time, regain my mental health, and prepare for the next day.

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Resources
First 5 LA Connect
1-888-347-7855
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
1-800-359-3817
Head Start
First 5 California
 
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