The trickiest problem you will face as a homeschool family will not be found in your math books. For many families, the hardest part of homeschooling pops up in the pocket book. Living on one income in this two income world is HARD.
Let me share our perfect solution with you.
In the Beginning
I began unintentionally. Many years ago a good friend needed a few hours of child care each week. We decided to help out. This turned out to be a BIG win-win! My children had a buddy to play with, my friend didn't have to pay for a full time center, and I could finally afford the occasional coffee during my strolls through Target.
The next year, word spread. And the year after that. And the year after that.
It turns out there is a massive need for FAMILY. Many women can not stay home, but they really want to give their child the experience of growing up at home. I provide that secure middle ground. The children who come here are loved as my own, fed as my own, and taught as my own.
Since that first year I haven't looked back, and the blessings are beyond measure.
Each year the daycare looks different. There have been seasons when I was basically a baby sitter, and seasons when I "bit off a touch more than I could chew" and ran a full fledged child care center. Every season has been a blessing, though. If your family is looking for spare cash, I highly suggest considering this option.
As with most things, the devil is in the details. Ask yourself these questions before you jump in.
How long are you willing to work each day?
How early can someone come to your home every day before you become resentful?
How late can someone stay every day before you become resentful?
Do you want daily work or more of a "mother's day out" program?
Are you going to be able to give up the ability to leave the home on adventures to the park and the library? (Or are you going to require parents sign a waiver to allow you to travel as you desire?)
What is your backup plan for sick days?
Are you going to need vacation?
Are your vacations going to fall on "normal" holidays or do you want to be able to announce Monday that you are taking a three day weekend this week?
How much of your home are your friends going to be allowed to explore? Will there be off-limits spaces that only belong to your family?
Will you cook for everyone, or are families expected to send a lunch?
Are you willing to have the argument each day when you serve your children broccoli as their friends open more gold fish?
What is your city's legal requirement for in-home care centers?
What about your state?
Are you going to need to inform your home owner's insurance? Is that going to change the cost?
Are you going to request payment at the first of the month or the end of the month? (I HIGHLY suggest the former.)
How late can a parent's payment be? What are the repercussions for late payment?
How many times can they have "emergencies" and show up late? What are the repercussions for mismanaging their time?
Can they send their child to your house with a fever? What about a stomach bug? What about a runny nose? Even though YOU may never dream of sending your child into another person's home with a fever, your parents will have a different perspective.
Even tiny annoyances, when repeated daily, become big resentful issues. This means you need to know exactly where your boundaries are before you invite another child into your life. Because in-home care resembles home, your families will become family. This complicates the usual employer/employee relationship. If both parties are clear about what the other is comfortable with, though, the experience can be a beautiful one.
How to Get Started
Before you begin anything, spend a good chunk of time researching the legal requirements for your area. You will probably need a background check and a license, even if you only plan on one or two kids.
Then, visit a local in-home center that gets good reviews from the social media momsphere. (Maybe even a few.) Child care is seldom a competitive industry. The high demand means you are probably going to be welcomed in, and having an experienced person to call is priceless. Play nice, though. Don't mention their business in any negative way EVER, and don't undercut their prices.
After your visit, create a working model for arrival times, nap times, play times and departures. Where are your extra friends going to nap? We have a few pack 'n plays in my children's bedrooms that work for the babies, and old crib mattresses for the big kids. As long as it works for you, fantastic. But don't let that first day catch you off guard!
Start Small! Begin with one or two extra children. Let them get settled in before you open up any more spaces. This will provide you three benefits. First, it will allow your skills to develop before you have an overwhelming number of children in your home. Second, it will allow you to "eyeball" how many children you are actually comfortable adding to your homeschool environment. Third, starting small will keep you from having a house FULL of children all transitioning into the home at the same time. That initial transition into your home is hard for kids. They have to adapt to new surroundings and learn to trust you. You DO NOT want to try doing that with 5 children at the same time.
The Benefits of Running a Home Daycare While Homeschooling
There are many ways to make money from home while your kiddos are homeschooling. (Especially if they are older and fairly independent!) But this is hands-down my favorite! How many jobs come with built in friends for your kids? We all know one of the primary concerns with homeschooling is the socialization aspect.. This line of work gives your kids a leg up on public school children and homeschooled children!
Having children of all ages in your home allows you the privilege of keeping a family culture focused on personal growth and life long learning. My children have watched tiny tots potty train, learn to walk, learn to color, learn to enjoy playdough, learn to cut, learn to ride a bike... When they come up against something difficult in life, they jump straight to that magic word, "YET". They know, through repeated exposure, that they may not know how to do something yet, but with hard work and practice, anything can be achieved.
Last, but definitely not least, we learn best when we teach. When you keep children of all ages, the big kids get to teach the little kids, and the little kids get to look up to the big kids. Learning becomes a bit of a game, as everyone who has ever played school knows!
I hope you find yourself excited to start. Small pods of children learning and growing together is the "school" model of the future. (Or at least I hope it is!!) Good luck on your journey!!
Buckets & Berries