Prior to having my second child, my career was that of a childminder. I had finished Uni with a degree in Children and Young Persons and had a small baby to look after. The thought of paying someone else to look after him seemed bizarre, when I had the knowledge and skills to do it myself. So I worked in Sainsbury’s and did a bit of ironing on the side, to save up enough money to start a childminding business. Believe it or not, it does cost a few bob to start up. (I guess like any business, you have to spend money to make money.) If you are interested in becoming a childminder, I recommend you checking out PACEY for further information and support on getting started.
Like any job, there are aspects you are going to love and others you will hate. And like a lot of things I am learning about life at the moment: sometimes you just have to laugh. Otherwise you might cry.
So here are six things that I know every childminder will be able to relate to.
1. Being called a “Babysitter”.
Had to bite your tongue when a family member asks how the babysitting is going? When I last checked, babysitters don’t need to do short and long term planning. Nor do they have to fill in Learning Journey’s/accident forms or have a file of policies in place. Maybe the phrase “childminder” should be changed to “Early Years Professional and general dogs body”?!
2. “You must sit around on Facebook all day.”
Yes, this is very true. In between the pick ups/ drop offs, nappy changes, toilet stops, craft activities, tidying up, taking photos and observations, stressing over Ofsted requirements, fire drills, long walks, nose wiping, singing songs and reading books… I am on Facebook.
3. Strange, unexplained stains on the carpet.
Even though I haven’t been childminding for a year now, there are still a few questionable marks on the carpet which I have learnt to ignore but maybe cover when we have people over. I also have a bit of paint missing from my sitting room wall, (which is now covered by a sticker) from where a poster was ripped off. Your house will never be the same again after a hit from other people’s children.
4. Not being phased by poo, wee, snot or congealed food.
Need I say more. If you can’t stomach the above, then you may need to rethink your profession. Nobody said it was glamorous. My husband hated the majority of these things but was very patient and (kind of) understanding so maybe this is a must as well. You will find yourself openly talking about a dirty nappy with a parent or even find yourself laughing at a “bogey story” when retelling it later on. Things you probably never thought you would do as an adult.
5. Worrying about being paid on time/at all.
I guess this goes for any self employed job. It is a risk you take working for yourself but this surprised me for some reason. I thought everyone would be honest and pay on time. Not always the case. (I think I was very naive when I first started out but have learnt to grow a pair since then and stick up for myself.) At the end of the day we all have bills to pay and if someone isn’t paying you on time for your services then you shouldn’t have to put up with them. But, if you are anything like me, you give them another chance. And another.
6. Feeling warm and fuzzy when a child achieves a milestone.
I guess out of everything, this is the most important one of all. And the only thing that really matters. You have helped a tiny person learn something. Maybe they said a first word, managed to do up their coat or whatever developmental milestone you have been working on. It will of course be recorded somewhere for parents and Ofsted to see, but the most important thing, is knowing you helped achieve that. Leaving you feeling warm and fuzzy. (A good, child relatable word!)
I do miss aspects of childminding and it was great fun. It is only now looking back I realise that all the hard work did pay off and maybe I was a bit hasty thinking otherwise. I still see some of the children I cared for and I love seeing the little people they are growing up to be.