Guest blog post from www.nanny.net – "A Nanny’s Guide to Packing for a Daytrip"

For many nannies (or dayhome providers), trips to the zoo, farm, museum, or other age-appropriate venues are part of their weekly adventures with the children they watch. Being prepared for a long day away from home can make the difference between having a fun or frustrating time.

Before heading out, use the following checklist to be sure you are prepared. Many of these are for infants. If the children in your care are older, your list will be much shorter – phew!

  • Diapers. A rule of thumb is to pack two for each hour you’re away.
  • A package of resealable wet wipes. Forget the small plastic containers that hold a handful of wipes. If you’re heading out for the day you’ll want an entire package of them. From wiping bottoms to wiping hands, faces, and sticky surfaces, you can never have enough wipes.
  • Diaper cream. It’s always essential to have a full supply on hand to protect her bottom before leaving the house. This is especially true if your charge may be sitting in a diaper for longer than usual (due to traffic or a long ride), which could lead to a rash.
  • Changing pad. When heading to public areas with highly trafficked restrooms, disposable changing pads come in handy.
  • Change of clothing. Leave a spare set of clothing in your car as well as in your diaper bag.
  • Bibs. If you have a drooler then you’ll want a few extra bibs for drooling and a few for eating.
  • Burp cloth. One or two burps cloths should be enough to get you through the day. New, prewashed cloth diapers make great burp cloths.
  • Formula or breast milk. Consider using a divided container that holds premeasured formula powder, and always bring twice what you think you’ll need. For breast milk, be sure to store in an insulated pouch or sleeve and use prior to its expected expiration.  
  • Bottles. Three to four bottles, depending on how much and how often baby eats, should be sufficient. Bottles with disposable liners are great for day trips. Pack one or two bottles, along with several nipples and liners, to save space.
  • Bottled water. Bring enough bottled water for mixing formula and for drinking, plus some.
  • Baby food. Pack double what you think you’ll need. If you plan to be away only for lunch, pack dinner along with it just in case.
  • Snacks. An ample amount of assorted snacks is necessary for daytrips. Divide snacks into single servings using fabric or plastic Ziploc bags prior to heading out.
  • Lunch. If you’ll be away for lunch, even if you plan on purchasing it on site, pack some essentials. Yogurt, string cheese, and berries will hold your child over or compliment what’s available on location.
  • Plastic bag. A plastic grocery bag that can be used for trash, dirty diapers, or dirty clothes will likely come in handy.
  • Small toys. Small, handheld, age-appropriate toys and books are great for long car rides, and can serve as a useful distraction.
  • Cooler or insulated bag. Even if you don’t bring it in with you to where you’re going, having a cooler stacked with your perishables can come in handy. Even if it’s in the car, you can have fairly easy access to it.
  • Stroller. For daytrips choose the high-end umbrella stroller over the full-size travel system. Be sure the stroller you choose can recline for naptime, has a five point harness, and provides ample comfort.
  • Baby carrier. If you tend to carry your charge you’ll want to bring along your carrier, sling, wrap, or whatever else she’s accustomed to being in.
  • Blanket. From blocking out the sun to warming her up should she become cold, a blanket comes in handy when away from home.
  • Lovey. If your charge has a lovey and you typically bring it wherever you go, don’t forget it.
  • Sunscreen and hat. If you’ll be outdoors, sunscreen and a hat can prevent your charge from being sunburned, even on a cloudy day.
  • Emergency contact information. Be sure to carry an In Case of Emergency card complete with the child’s name and any essential information, as well as the parent’s contact information. You may also wish to include an emergency number for yourself and to indicate that you’re not the parent.
  • Authorization to treat a minor. If an accident happens you’ll want to ensure your charge receives prompt care.  Having an Authorization to Treat form can guarantee that your charge is taken care of if the parents are unavailable by phone.
  • Cell phone. You should always carry a fully charged cell phone when you head out for the day. Bringing a car charger is also a smart idea.
  • Money. In addition to a major credit card, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash on you should you run into a situation where plastic isn’t accepted.
  • Hand sanitizer. When you’re out and about you may not have immediate access to a sink and water. In those cases, hand sanitizer comes in handy.
  • Extra pacifiers. If your charge uses a pacifier, be sure to have several on hand in case one gets dirty or lost.
  • Mini first aid kit. From band-aids to antiseptic wipes and ointment, it’s always a good idea to have a basic first-aid kit with you.
  • Any prescription medications. If your charge is on any prescription medication you’ll want to be sure to take those, and their appropriate measuring devices, along with you. Be sure to store as directed and follow dosing instructions carefully.

When heading out for the day it’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared. If the items in the list seem like too much to carry you may want to consider packing two bags and leaving one in the car. Heading to the parking lot is a lot quicker than heading home, should you have a need for something. 

A place for everything, and everything in its place…. hopefully!

I am one of those people who cannot think or focus in clutter. Even just being in a house that is really cluttered makes me twitchy :) Before I sit down to write, work, plan, mark, etc. I have to have a clear space around me. The nights before report cards are due, or if I have a bunch of work to do for Dayhome Registry, you will find my office, kitchen and living room at its tidiest.  Over years of working with this need to stay tidy, I have come up with a few strategies that work for me, at least most of the time.

1. Books, magazines, papers and mail: I am an avid recycler, but there are some papers and such that you do need to keep! The trick is how to do it without drowning in papers. At my front door I have a basket for the mail. On a day when I’m in a hurry, I grab the mail and throw it in the basket. My favorite magazine, Today’s Parent, goes on the back of the toilet in the bathroom – I know that there I can grab a few minutes a day to read it. Once I have a minute to deal with the mail, it gets separated into piles – home, work, junk mail – and then put away from there. Magazines or flyers I want to hang on to for a while go into a magazine holder from Ikea in the kitchen.  Then, when we are done with them, to the recycling they go. Each of my kids have a bookcase in their rooms, and we have 3 bookcases in the basement. I group our books by topic or author in the bookcases.  The bookcase in the guest room holds fun, easy reading books. The books in the office are about work, entrepreneurialism, and teaching. The bookcase in the playroom is filled with home, and self, improvement and our favorite, never get rid of, books.  In our craft/workout room are all our photo albums.  Can you tell we are a family of readers?   Once a year I go through all the bookcases and purge books that we no longer read, want, need, etc.

2. Clothes:  growing kids have a LOT of clothes – summer clothes, winter, school, activity, etc. They can pile up REALLY quickly. Again, I purge regularly. Too small? They go in the “too small” bin in the closet, and once that’s full, out the door to either a friend with younger kids or to Goodwill.  I keep “off season” clothes in another bin in their closets so when we get that freak snowstorm in September, I can get my hands on mitts and touques really fast! For the different activities, I keep the different clothes for the activities in a separate drawer or cupboard so they are easy to grab before running out the door.  Speaking of running out the door, to keep hats, mitts, scarves, bug spray, sunscreen, etc in easy grabbing distance, we put up shelves with baskets up on the wall in the backhall.  Each person has a basket, and all the stuff goes in there.  Now if I could only get my son to not lose his things, his basket would have all the stuff he needs! For a dayhome, I would have a basket, bin, or bag for each kid, and then one “extra” to cover the kids who have lost or forgotten stuff.

3. Toys:  Toys are fantastic, fun, exciting and…. everywhere!  My two kids have a ton of toys, I can’t even imagine how much dayhomes have!  We are lucky enough to have a basement playroom where most of the toys are kept. This allows us to have a living room upstairs that I can keep relatively toy free. However, with my need for order, I have a system in place in the playroom as well. Ikea is my friend, and pretty much all of my systems are from there.  I have the toys separated out into “themes”: Lego, cars, Nerf, sports, games, kitchen, trains, dress up, music.  Each theme has a bin (or two) that then fits into a storage unit. The bins are different colours, so the kids can pick out what they want to play with quite easily. It also means that they know where to put the toys BACK when they are done with them.  Like most kids, remembering to clean up is the hardest part!  To encourage the kids to help clean up, I use a few tricks. Firstly, I ask them to do a set amount: Can you clean up all the cars, and I will do the trains and Lego? Can you do JUST 10 handfulls of Lego, and I’ll do the rest? Secondly, I put on music – Mary Poppins’ “Spoon Full of Sugar” is a really fun one, but anything you can “bop” around to – and we dance around while we clean up. Lastly, if nothing else is working, we make it a race: who can clean up their pile the fastest?  Around Christmas time, we go through the toys and I help the kids choose some of their toys that they don’t play with anymore to donate. I also take note of the toys that aren’t getting any play time and pack them away for a while. If they get asked for, I bring them back out, if not, I donate them after a few months of being packed away.

4. Crafts and Art:  I struggled with this for a LONG time. My daughter is a voracious artist, and during the winter comes home from school and the dayhome with at least 4 or 5 pieces of art everyday!  The piles of artwork were getting a bit out of control, and I only have so much sticky tack for the walls!  My organization system was inspired by how our dayhome and my daughter’s playschool keeps arts and crafts organized. I have a rack with different sized bins for all the supplies. In the playroom, I have a kid sized table and chairs where they can do their artwork.  To display the art, I have 3 lengths of string pinned into the wall. I then use clothes pins to attach the art to the string. This doubles as a display, and a place to dry paintings!  I also have a shelf above these strings where I display sculptures, etc. I employ the same strategy with art as I do with toys. I keep the very precious and unique, and after a period of time, some of the “regular” pieces get put away or recycled. For those really special pieces, again Ikea is my friend. I bought 6 different coloured frames, and framed them to hang on the wall. They look fantastic, and makes the kids feel really proud.

Keeping organized and tidy when you’ve got kids around (or husbands with many hobbies) can be challenging. A system, even if it isn’t used perfectly, gives you a way to deal with all the “stuff” when you just can’t handle the chaos anymore.  I find that as the kids get older, I keep having to modify mine, but this is a good starting point.

A tip that I got from organizing guru Peter Walsh: fold all your sheets from one set, and then tuck them INTO one of the pillow cases from that set. They pack away nicely, and when its time to change the sheets, its all together! Brilliant!  Do you have tips for other dayhomes when it comes to organizing?  Add to our forum topic so we can share ideas! http://dayhomeregistry.com/forums/2

Keeping Life Organized

Life is busy. And when you care for other people’s children, its even busier!  There are a number of tips and tools out there to help keep your brain from exploding and helping you stay on top of things. As a business owner, teacher and mom, here are some things I do to help keep me sane – they work…. most of the time :)

1. Menu planning – there is nothing worse than coming home at the end of the day, or having hungry kids sitting in front of you, and you with no idea what you are making them. For myself, I have a few things I do to keep organized and to keep the kids from eating off their left arms. For breakfasts, I have a list of about 8 different options on my fridge, and in the mornings I offer choices of 3 of them to the kids.  For lunch, I try and do a rotation. Soup, sandwiches, “snacky lunch”, hotdogs and smiley faces, leftovers (if there are any). I find dinner the most difficult, so I do the most planning for that. On a Sunday evening, I sit down with a few of my favourite cookbooks and choose 5 or 6 meals for the week. I write down what I am planning on my calendar in my kitchen, then create my list from those meals. I plan the protein, the carb and the veggie for each meal so there is no guess work when it comes time to cook. I only plan 5 or 6 meals per week because I find most weeks something comes up that we end up eating elsewhere, or having left overs.

2. The dreaded To Do list – I am a list maker. With all the different hats I wear, I find it is necessary to keep lists so I can keep all I need to do straight in my head. I have different categories of lists: Dayhome Registry, Kids, Home, Work.  Then, under each of those categories, I break it down into timeframes: What do I need to do today? this week? this month? this season?.  I have an android phone, and it comes with a great task organizer complete with due dates, recurring “to dos” etc. There is also a great i-App called Trello. It allows you to share your lists and “to dos” with others via email.

3. Paper organization – We are supposed to be moving towards a “paperless” society, but somehow, the papers keep piling up!!! I have a table/bench in my kitchen where I have baskets for my different papers. As papers come in, either for home, the kids or the business, I pop them into their appropriate baskets. Then, when I have a minute (or an hour), I tackle one of the baskets and deal with the papers. I have added “paper organization” to my recurring to-do list, so my phone reminds me to get it done!

4. Filing – once I pull out the papers from their baskets, they need a home to go to. I have a three drawer filing cabinet, each one labeled appropriately (Home, Business, Teaching Work)  When organizing papers for a dayhome, I would have a folder for each child containing their registration, allergies and medications, parent communication and receipts.Once you receive payment, generate the receipt and put it in that child’s folder.  For the business side of things, have 12 different file folders, one for each month, and then file expenses (craft supplies, groceries, cleaning supplies, diapers, etc), statements, and utility bills by month. If you buy sand toys and bubbles in May for the dayhome, put it in the May folder. At the end of the year, all your receipts are neatly organized for doing taxes and giving to parents. Have a file folder for craft ideas, recipe ideas, games ideas, etc. When you are stuck for something new, you can pull out a quick idea to use with the kids.

This all helps me keep my brain and business organized. Next week I’m going to get into organizing “stuff”.  I find that the neater my house is, the easier it is for my kids to find their toys, games, crafts, etc. I’d love to hear how you stay organized! Comment below, or be a guest blogger on our site!

Blog: Choosing the Best childcare for your child and your life. Part 3

Part 3: Keeping your child, provider, and you, happy (and how to tell if there is a problem)

After time searching, interviewing and finding different providers, you have finally settled on the place you feel will be the best place for your child.  There are some things you can do to help keep that relationship a good one, and some signs to watch for from your child so that you know the relationship continues to be good.

First of all, when dealing with the provider, be open and honest. If there is something you are concerned about bring the issue up right away. Allowing issues to fester in your mind, or theirs, will only make the discussion that much harder. Find a good time to talk to them, preferably without your child around, and without accusations, lay your concerns on the table. For example, you could start the conversation with something like “Jonny LOVES coming to you, and always tells me how much fun he has here, but I am a bit concerned about how often I see the T.V. on when I drop him off and pick him up”
If you need to change your schedule or something else about the care, as much as possible, give the provider lots of notice. Perhaps you have just been given a promotion at work, and will need to work an hour later each day, or you are going on vacation for a week at Spring Break. Give the provider as much time as you can to accommodate for those changes.  Or, maybe you want to start potty training, and need the provider to help you with that when your child is in their care. Discuss your potty training strategies with the provider so you are being consistent, provide LOTS of extra underwear and clothes, and start the process at home on a weekend so that it has already been started before the provider needs to follow through.
Some providers have a communication book where they will jot down a few key points from the day, or any important information you need to know. Kids will not tell you everything they did in a day.  At the end of the day, everyone is in a rush and some things get forgotten.  Having it written down really helps if there is anything really important that comes up.  This may not work in a daycare situation where there are many kids, but does work really well with a Nanny situation. My Nanny would write down what the kids ate for lunch, a few things they did during the day, and any major behavioral issues that may have arisen.   That really helped me because then I knew what questions to ask “Did you have fun at the spray park today?” “Can you show me the craft you made with Mary?”
Now, assuming all of the above is going smoothly, how can you tell if your child is happy with their childcare situation?  Remember every child is going to find the first few weeks in a new childcare situation difficult, and drop offs for the first while are probably going to be hard on everyone. Expect them to be more tired and cranky than normal at first, especially if they are in a big daycare with lots of other kids around.   However, you know your child better than anyone. Watch for changes in behaviour and do a “gut check”. If you think they are happy and content there, they probably are. If you are having warning bells going off in your head, it’s probably for a reason: start investigating.   It’s hard to tell, especially with infants, if things are going well.  Pay attention to whether they are eating, sleeping and playing normally? This shows that they are comfortable enough to trust the environment they are in.  It’s a good idea to pick up at a variety of times, just to get an idea of things that happen at different times during the day.  Also, watch how your child reacts to the provider. Does he/she smile at them, and seem happy to see them (even if the actual transition, or hand off, is rough)?  Does the provider seem genuinely happy to see your child?  If your child is in a situation where there are other children, watch how they are with the providers and each other.  If you know of an older child in the same care, ask them how they like it, what they do in the day, etc.  This MAY give you a taste of what the care is like.  Remember though, a grumpy, hungry and tired four year old usually doesn’t like ANYTHING! :-)   Another good thing to keep in mind is that crying when you pick them up is NOT necessarily a sign that they are unhappy in their care situation. When my son was little, he used to cry almost every time I picked him up, simply because he was tired, and he finds change harder than some kids.  My daughter now cries sometimes when I pick her up because she is having too much fun, and doesn’t want to come home!!!  
If you are concerned about your child and their care environment, you need to address it. Talk to the provider about your concerns and ask if they are seeing the same things you are.  If they seem flippant or unconcerned about it, it might be time to start looking elsewhere. If you feel there is a distinct possibility your child might be in danger, listen to your gut and pull them IMMEDIATELY! However, most people in the childcare industry are in it because they love children, and they do have your child’s best interests at heart. Calmly bring your concerns to their attention, devise a plan to help your child be happier in care, and enjoy the days when your child says “ YEAH!!! I get to go to ________________________ today!!”
Still searching for that place your child is THRILLED to go to?  Use our search feature at www.dayhomeregistry.com
Until next time,
Faye

Blog: Choosing the best childcare for your child and your life. Part 2

Part 2: What to look for in a childcare provider.
After doing some reading and research, you’re pretty sure you’ve settled on the TYPE of care you are looking for. So now comes the job of picking the right dayhome, daycare or Nanny.

In today’s blog, I will outline what to look for, especially as it pertains to dayhomes. However, this would be a good checklist for day cares, and as a guiding principal when interviewing Nannies as well.
First and foremost, parents are looking for a place where their child is going to be happy.  Leaving your child in care is hard enough. Knowing they are happy takes a HUGE weight off our minds. As a parent, the following points help me know that my children will be happy in their dayhome, and I will be happy to drop them off there:

  • Is the dayhome child friendly? Are there a broad range of toys and activities for boys and girls of all age ranges?  We want to know our children will not get bored and will be stimulated appropriately.  I like to see a good variety of books, crafts, and toys for all kids.
  • Is the dayhome clean?  Everyone has different standards of what “clean” means to them, so drop in, have a good look around and make sure the dayhome meets your standards.  
  • Are they open to drop in visits? As parents, if we need to book an appointment to visit the dayhome once our child is registered, we wonder if there is something to hide. On the other hand, visiting parents can disrupt the flow of the care; so while you need to feel comfortable that you CAN visit anytime, respect your dayhome’s autonomy.
  • Is the dayhome safe for children of all ages? I like to see gates on stairs, broken toys mended or trashed, plug covers on outlets, doors to cupboards with child safety guards on them, etc. Private dayhomes do not have someone coming into check on these things, so again, have a good look around for the safety features your child will need. These change over time, as the children grow older, so again, it needs to meet your child’s need.
  • Can the provider explain what kind of programming they offer?  Some dayhomes offer a purely play based program, some offer more of a preschool program, and others an emergent learning based program. I have found that with my own children in part time care, and in school as well, I wanted a play-based dayhome; a place where they could relax, unwind and be themselves.  However, if you have a 3 year old in full time care, you may well be looking for a preschool type program. Check out our BaC Pac: its great for moms too! http://dayhomeregistry.com/pages/pricing#BacPac
  • Does the dayhome provide meals and snacks? Most dayhomes provide the needed food for the children, but not all daycares do. Some daycares require that you provide snacks, and they will provide meals.  Always ask first.
  • Are the meals and snacks healthy? Do they provide opportunity for physical activity? With childhood obesity on the rise (currently at 26%), everyone is more and more conscious of healthy eating habits.  Does the dayhome provide fruits, vegetables, and an otherwise balanced diet?  Trips to the park, walks around the neighbourhood and a fun, active outdoor space encourage our children to MOVE.  
  • Do they accommodate for dietary intolerances/allergies?  Many children these days have some kind of dietary intolerance or allergy.  We as parents of these kids (read dairy, soy and gluten intolerance) need to be confident that the meals are not going to set off any reactions.  I provide “safe” alternatives for our son, which works really well for us.
  • For infants, is the provider willing to do cloth diapers, or will they only do disposable? As a parent, I choose to have my children wear cloth diapers, so following that protocol was important to me.
  • Does the provider have certifications, training and/or experience in regards to caring for children?  These provide peace of mind, and show that the provider has thought about the different facets of caring for kids. All childcare providers should have at a minimum a Criminal Record Check done.
  • Are they organized?  A dayhome who provides a package outlining all of the above shows that they are organized and have thought through all the ins and outs of caring for children. A contract to sign, forms clearing them to administer needed medications or transport children, and a handbook outlining the dayhome program will give you a good idea of how the dayhome operates on a day to day basis.
  • How many children are in their care? What is the adult to child ratio?  The required ratio for a dayhome is 1 adult to 6 children. Some dayhomes try to keep their numbers a bit lower so things aren’t as hectic, especially if the children are younger. Some kids thrive with lots of friends to play with, some would rather less kids around.
  • What are the ages of the other children in the dayhome? I have found my own kids are the happiest when there are other kids that are around their own age

Whether you are just starting your journey into finding childcare, or a long way into the process, and still not sure where to go, I hope these tips will help you get things moving in the right direction. We hope you find the childcare situation that is perfect for you and your child! If you have decided a dayhome is the best arrangement for you, find your dayhome at www.dayhomeregistry.com!

Faye Holt
Dayhome Registry

For parents: Choosing the best childcare for your child and your life.

What are your childcare options?
So, its time to go back to work.  After a year (or maybe longer, like in my case) at home with your baby, this is a hard transition for everyone.  Finding the right care for your situation and your child makes this transition SO much easier.   However, if you are a first time parent, the world of childcare can be big, scary and confusing!  What are your options, what do you look for in a childcare provider, and how do you know you’ve found the right place for your child?

Today, I will outline your main three childcare options and the pros and cons of each, as I see them.

#1 Dayhomes: A small group childcare arrangement in a private home. On any given day, dayhome providers may not have more than 6 children in their care. Mothers who want to stay home with their own children, and still earn an income to contribute to their family often run dayhomes. Dayhomes offer a more “homey” option of childcare, and are often open to taking children on a part time basis. For example, my children go to their dayhome 2 days a week, and I only pay for 2 days a week.

Option #1A: A licensed or registered dayhome. This is a dayhome that is licensed or registered with an agency.  The childcare is still provided in a private home, but the dayhome pays the agency a monthly fee to take care of the business end of things, such as payments, taxes, and advertising to fill open spaces. The agency also has guidelines that the dayhomes need to follow, such as more specific ratios of children in care (only 1 child under 12 months, 3 children under 36 months, etc.), discipline strategies, hours of operations and safety. Agencies usually will send out a representative to the dayhomes to check in and ensure everything is running appropriately.

Pro: Peace of mind that the agency is keeping tabs on the dayhome, ease of receipts at tax time. Offers more regulated care, but still in a homey environment.        

Con: Lacks some flexibility when it comes to the children in care, and personally, I feel most of the guidelines about discipline are too lax. They are sometimes more expensive because the dayhome has the added cost of paying the agency.

Option #1B: A private dayhome. This is a dayhome that is NOT registered or licensed through an agency. They follow some of the same guidelines as agencies, but do not have the stricter ratios of children at certain ages.  The dayhome provider themselves also runs the business side of things. The provider is able to set the type of program they wish to run, how they discipline the children and the hours/days they are open.

Pro: More flexibility in terms of hours of operation, programming and discipline. Can be cheaper because they do not have agency fees to pay.

Con: No outside person checking in to make sure things are running appropriately. Parents need to be more diligent about checking up on the dayhome and making sure everything is being run appropriately.

#2 Daycare: This is a more formalized childcare facility. Daycares can take large groups of children, and children are grouped into aged groups, usually into separate rooms or areas. Each age group is taken care of by a number of childcare providers; enough to ensure the regulated ratios are met. A manager or director oversees the childcare providers. They are more heavily regulated because they are bigger institutions.  Some daycares provide a more school like atmosphere for older children.

Pro: Children are in groups of the same age, so your child will have playmates their own age. Many will pick up and drop off from school for older children. Daycares often provide a school like atmosphere for preschool and kindergarten age kids.  There are generally more strict regulations in regards to the caregiver’s certifications. There are always caregivers on duty, so no need to find alternate care if one of the caregivers gets ill.

Con: Often more expensive, especially for children under 18 months of age. Generally not willing to provide part time care, or will take a child part time, but you will need to pay for a full time spot. A busy daycare may not be a good fit for a child who gets easily overwhelmed by a lot of people, noise and activity.

Option #3:  A Nanny.  A Nanny is an individual person whom you hire to come to your home to look after your children. If you are working part time, sometimes you can share a Nanny with a friend to help share the cost.  There are a few different nanny situations. One is to hire a Live In Nanny, often from overseas.  The nanny will live in your house and look after your children while you are at work. You will need to provide a private room for the nanny so she has her own space. Another option is a Live Out Nanny.  The nanny will live in her own place, but come to you on the days you need childcare. Most nannies will cook and clean in your home if you make it part of the requirements.

Pro: Your children are cared for in their own space. Nannies will often cook and clean for you. Live in nannies will usually babysit in the evenings (for an extra fee of course).  No need to get the kids up and out the door early if they tend to sleep late.

Con: You need to have the extra space for a live in nanny. There can be difficulties with visas and such with nannies from overseas. If the nanny gets sick, you have no backup.  Kids do not get other socialization from other kids every day.

As you can see, there are benefits and drawbacks to any childcare situation. The key is to weigh all your options, investigate the ones that seem to fit your needs, and ensure you are picking the best person you can for your child. You also need to be flexible and remember that no childcare situation has to be forever. If it’s not working for you and your child, end the relationship gracefully and respectfully, and find something else that will work better.

Dayhome Registry has both private and licensed dayhomes registered. Use our advanced search to specify the type of dayhome you want, enter your search area, and find the dayhome that fits your life! www.dayhomeregistry.com/searches

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you….

So, I’ve been writing this blog for about a month now, and it is getting some reading (yeah!). I thought perhaps this week, in celebration of Canada Day, and my daughter’s birthday, I would tell you a bit more about me, my family, and what makes us tick. I think I’ll begin with our Canada Day celebrations.

We promptly got up at 6:00am, ready and raring to head down to the Leg. grounds to run the annual Canada Day Race. Ok, Jon, I and the Duchess were fairly prompt (she awoke with ” ONLY ONE MORE SLEEP TILL MY BIRTHDAY!!!!”), while the Skinny Bean was slightly less enthusiastic (we’d been met with “this race idea is stupid” most of the day before, mostly ’cause the Skinny Bean is sick with a cold). After doning our Canadian celebratory t-shirts, we popped into the car, and headed down to the Legislature grounds to run like the wind!

Jon and I have run this Canada Day Race every year, except for one, in some way, shape or form, since before the Skinny Bean was born – so going on 8 years now. Some years we have both done the 15km, some, only one of us, and the year I was pregnant with the Skinny Bean, I did the 5km, Jon did the 15km. I have hurt my back this year (SO frustrating), so Jon is doing the 15km solo. I have been feeling quite jealous about this fact, and just yesterday had the brilliant idea that the kids and I could do the 2.5km fun run/walk – so off the Duchess and I went to the Running Room to sign up!

We were really lucky with the weather, because for the first time in 8 years, the weather was threatening to be WET! The kids and I saw Jon off on his run, his goal being under 1 hour for 15km!, then we got ready to do our “race”. The Skinny Bean got over his grump, and took off like a SHOT! The Duchess and I jogged/walked along together, usually behind The Skinny Bean. Two laps, 2.5 km, and 22 mins later, we celebrated our finish, and settled in to cheer on the runners. At 1:07, Jon came running in, looking good! My best time is 1:35, so I am SERIOUSLY impressed by that time! We then headed off for breakfast at Cora’s to celebrate the run and the day.

Breakfast, or any meal in a restaurant for that matter, can be tricky for us. Jon and the Skinny Bean are both gluten, lactose and soy intolerant. It took us a while to figure that out, but boy, when we did, WHAT a difference! Luckily, Cora’s has lots to offer for the boys, so we all enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. We were planning on heading out to Stony Plain to cheer on friends who were competing in the Great White North half-ironman (Jon became a certified Canadian Ironman in Penticton last August), but the driving rain, thunderstorm and a partially complete brother/in-law move convinced us to go home (ours and the partially vacated Brother’s).  Once we were all settled in at home, it was time to bake a birthday cake (a strawberry flavoured, ballerina, teddy bear cake) and then break the “No screen rule” and watch a movie.

Normally, on Sundays, we have a rule in our house of “No Screens” – this means no phones, no computers, no T.V., no iPad. With Jon and I running Dayhome Registry, plus working our “day jobs”, we are often in front of screens. Our “No Screen Day” is a day to slow down, re-focus and reconnect with each other and the kids. It usually means long lazy walks, playing at the park, playing copious board games, or just chillin’ out together.  Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t glued to screens, and we are really strict about how much screen time the kids have, but it IS easy to let those pesky screens distract us. Tomorrow is the Duchess’s 4th Birthday, and a holiday; the perfect time to slow down, and chill out; so it will be our No Screen Day this week.

So, to sum up: We are a family of four, with “high maintenance” eating needs, high activity levels (running, swimming, biking, ballet, yoga, camping, etc.), and a passion for helping others. All of this led us to starting Dayhome Registry. What to know more about our story? Check out “About Us” at www.dayhomeregistry.com

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

So, for the next few weeks, I want to expand upon “What Parents are Looking for in a Dayhome”.  I feel it is important that we get down to the nitty gritty, so here goes.
This week’s topic is:

Is your dayhome safe for children of all ages? We realise you cannot plan for every possible eventuality, but our peace of mind is your peace of mind, because you want them to be safe too!

Alright, so what kinds of safety standards are there, where can you find that information, and what tools are out there to help you be a Dayhome that parents know is safe?
Firstly, Safety Standards for Dayhomes. Well, the short answer is that unless you are with an agency, in Alberta there is no easy way to find what the really specific safety standards are. The Family Dayhome Standards Manual for Alberta has a basic checklist which licensed dayhomes must comply with. If you want to read through the document, here it is http://www.child.alberta.ca/home/documents/childcare/Family_Day_Home_Standards.pdf
On the checklist is:

  • you must have emergency plans for evacuation procedures, as well as a preset evacuation route. All of this must be written down and accessible.
  • All developmentally able children need to know where they will meet you outside of your home in the event of a fire.
  • You need to practice fire drills monthly, preferably using the actual smoke alarm so children know what that means.
  • You need to have a working phone available with you at all times
  • You need to know the different procedures for calling for help. ie: 911, poison control, etc.
  • You need to have phone numbers for: emergency medical service, ambulance, fire department, police, poison control, child abuse hotline and the nearest hospital or emergency medical facility. All these phone numbers need to be easily accessible.
  • All medicines, including vitamins, must be kept away from children, under lock and key
  • All chemicals, alcohol, personal products and cleaning supplies must be stored where children cannot access them

In my search, I came across some checklists from other parts of the world (Australia and the Yukon to be exact!), and other resource sources, which I think would also be really helpful for both dayhomes and parents.  You can find those checklists here:

As for tools to check off all those little boxes, there are a few companies that make fantastic safety equipment.  Just a caveat here, I am NOT being sponsored by these companies to recommend them, I just happen to like them personally, so use what works for you!
Safety 1st – they make latches, door handle covers, garbage can locks, toilet seat locks, baby gates, plug covers, monitoring devices, etc.
KidCo – they make most of the same devices as Safety 1st. Their specialty is gates of all shapes, sizes and needs. I REALLY like their foam edge protector. Its great to prevent some of the bumped heads as kids are starting to walk. I also happen to LOVE their Pea Pod Bed – a fantastic alternative to a playpen.
Prince Lion Heart – they don’t make as many devices as the other two companies, but what they do make, they make well. They make a good stove guard,  and they also make a good variety of edge guards for corners, fire places, tables, etc.

What are Parents looking for in a Dayhome?

So. You’ve decided to run a dayhome; either privately, or with an agency. Whether you are new at this, or just need a refresher, here are some tips: WHAT are parents looking for?

First and foremost, parents are looking for a place where their child is going to be happy.  Leaving your child in care is hard enough. Knowing they are happy takes a HUGE weight off our minds. First impressions are huge. As a parent, the following points help me know that my children will be happy in their dayhome, and I will be happy to drop them off there:

  • Is your dayhome child friendly? Are there a broad range of toys and activities for boys and girls of all age ranges?  We want to know our children will not get bored and will be stimulated appropriately.  Have a variety of books, crafts, and toys to engage all kids.
  • Is your dayhome clean?  We understand you are looking after many children and sometimes tidiness is tough, but food crusted on chairs and tables, and mud on the floor is NOT ok.  Have the kids help you clean up as part of their dayhome routine!
  • Are you open to drop in visits? As parents, if we need to book an appointment to visit the dayhome once our child is registered, we wonder if you have something to hide. 
  • Is your dayhome safe for children of all ages? We want see gates on stairs, broken toys mended or trashed, plug covers on outlets,  doors to cupboards with child safety guards on them, etc. We realize you cannot plan for every possible eventuality, but our peace of mind is your peace of mind, because you want them to be safe too!
  • Can you explain what kind of programming you offer?  Some parents are looking for a purely play based dayhome, some are looking for more of a preschool program (check out our BaC Pac!), and some are looking for an emergent learning based program. Think about what you love to do, or teach, and work with that strength.
  • Are the meals and snacks healthy? Do you provide opportunity for physical activity? With childhood obesity on the rise (currently at 26%), we are more and more conscious of healthy eating habits.  Do you provide fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, etc?  Trips to the park, walks around the neighbourhood and a fun, active outdoor space encourage our children to MOVE.
  • Do you accomodate for dietary intolerances/allergies?  Many children these days have some kind of dietary intolerance or allergy.  We as parents of these kids (read dairy, soy and gluten intolerance) need to be confident that your meals are not going to set off any reactions.  We, as parents, provide “safe” alternatives for our son, which works really well for us.
  • Do you have certifications, training and/or experience in regards to caring for children?  These provide peace of mind, and show that you have thought about the different facets of caring for kids.
  • Are you organized?  A dayhome who provides a package outlining all of the above shows that you are organized and have thought through all the ins and outs of caring for children. A contract to sign, forms clearing you to administer needed medications or transport children, and a handbook outlining your dayhome will go a long way to impressing prospective parents! Need a start up package? We can do that!

Whether you are a parent looking for a dayhome, a new dayhome provider just getting started, or an experienced dayhome needing a pick me up, hopefully these tips will help you get things moving in the right direction.
Dayhome Registry

Licensing and Regulations of Private Dayhomes in Alberta:

Here’s some things you need to know:


A license is required under the Child Care Licensing Act to operate a childcare program that provides care for seven or more children except for:

  • §       Private babysitting in a private home for six children or less.  The caregiver’s own children are not included in these six.
  • §      Approved family day homes are not required to be licensed as they are monitored by the family day home agency.

Ok, so what does this really all mean?

If you want to start a private dayhome, you do NOT have to be licensed if you take in less than 7 children, not including your own.  If you want to take in more children, you need a license, which you can apply for through http://www.edmontonandareacfsa.gov.ab.ca/publish/578.cfm


If you choose to run your dayhome through an agency, you do not have to be licensed, as the government trusts agencies to monitor their dayhomes closely.  There are a variety of agencies in the city that provide this service. They charge both the provider, and the parent, for this service.


The licensing guidelines recommend that you do not provide care for more than one child under 1 year of age, 2 under 2, 3 under 3, 4 under 4 and so on, until they are considered of school age.  What this means is that you could look after 4, 4 year olds, 1 one year old and 1, 3 year old.  HOWEVER, if you are running unlicensed, then these are simply guidelines.


Dayhome Registry is an organization that provides support and resources for dayhomes, but we are NOT an agency.  Register with us today, and join our community of dayhomes!

www.dayhomeregistry.com