As we all know every childminder is different, as every home is different and equally, we each have different daily patterns in our childminding. What we do throughout the day will vary depending on the ages of the children being minded on that particular day, their interests, how many hours they are with us, the weather etc. Daily patterns vary from one end of the scale, seeing how the day unfolds, to the other end, having a daily plan, to everything in-between.
One of your fellow childminders and Board member Becky Lynch has kindly shared the below insight into her daily routine. If you would like share what a typical day looks like for you, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org Each of us being different is what makes childminding different so remember “you do you.”😊
Over to Becky…
In this article I am going to talk about Daily Routines and about having structure to your working day. I will talk about the benefits and downsides of planning and how I deal with this.
The first thing I think about is who I have in my care, how old are they and what are their requirements? For example, when caring for babies/toddlers who aren’t in preschool, then I am not in my car as often and can plan activities that aren’t time constrained.
If you have children who go to preschool, you must factor in dropping and collecting from school – usually it’s a 9 AM drop and 12 PM pick up. Depending on where you live, you may have to be in the car at 8:30 and back in the car at 11:30 to be back in time. You also have other factors to consider such as lunch and dinner, possible sleep routines, nappy changing, allowing time for free play and planned activities such as homework if school going or an art activity you might have planned.
It is important for me to have a certain amount of structure to my childminding day.
Some of the reasons for the structure would be consistency for children. It is important that children have consistency in their daily routine especially when small, as childminding days can be long and sometimes hard for young children. An example would be after an evening snack the child would learn that shortly after, is when Mom or Dad return to collect them in the evening.
I’ll give you an example of my childminding day and how I structure it.
7:40 AM- Make time for a cup of tea and prepare to greet the children as they arrive. This for me is vitally important because it can sometimes affect my whole day if I miss it. For those who don’t like tea you could choose coffee or something else, even a few minutes of mindfulness just to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
8:00 AM – Tabletop Play.
I try to have a small variety off toys on the table at drop off. This could be wooden stamps and paper or colouring pages and crayons. These would be optional and only if the child wanted.
8:15 AM – Breakfast Time.
I check to see who has had breakfast. We dedicate this time to anyone who might like a little bit more or choose their own breakfast. Everything is accessible to the children such as plastic bowls, spoons, cups and cereal.
8:45 AM – Prep for leaving the house.
We tidy up after breakfast and prepare the coats and bags for the car, then the children have some free play time.
9:10 AM – Exit Stage Left!!
The children put on their coats and shoes, and we get ready to get in the car. I live only one kilometer from our local, rural school which starts at 9:20 AM. After I drop at school, we continue another 10 kilometers to drop at playschool for 9:30.
9:40 AM – Free – Fluid Time.
This is what I like to call free time – this can be fluid and changeable time with little structure. Depending on the day, weather, and what children I have left we might take a trip to the local playground for a while. Before COVID restrictions we would have gone for a visit to the library or a café and sometimes we would meet another childminder with her mindees. You can also use this time for planned activities like arts and crafts or sensory play.
10:30 AM – Morning lunchtime snack.
Children have a small snack at this time such as fruit yogurt raisins, sandwich and other small things provided by their parents or arranged by the childminder depending on individual circumstances.
11 AM – Nappy change time and sleep time for small ones if you have them.
11:15 AM – Free play or planned activity.
12:10 PM – Back in the car to collect from Playschool.
1:00 PM – Lunch Time.
1:20–1:50 – Free Play. I sometimes set up colouring or jigsaws at the table as an option after lunch as sometimes the kids can be tired from play school and prefer easy activities. These are still just options, and the children are free to choose what they want to do.
2:00 PM – School pick up. (Depending on day)
2-3 PM – This is a transition time for me that goes quickly. It’s usually free play for anyone who wants to while the school going child changes from uniform to regular clothes and has something to eat and start homework. I also use this time to prepare dinners. At 3PM I collect my own daughter from school.
3:15 PM – Time for a light dinner and homework to follow. I find if homework is not started at this stage, it becomes quite difficult and can drag into the evening time. The children can see the older ones completing homework and I think this is good for them to observe the process with school so when it’s their turn to go to school, they know the routine of the day. The smaller ones sit to the table from time to time and draw or just watch.
4:00 PM – Free time. Depending on lots of things we could be outside or inside playing. Sometimes there is games time where we play twister or other board games. This time is very much child led and sometimes there is one child off doing something else if they so wish.
5:00 PM – Home time begins for some, and others may have an evening snack such as fruit or yogurt. This is relaxation time where the children choose what they want to do.
So that’s pretty much it, there’s no point in planning anything big after 5:00 PM because children leave at various times between 5 and 6 and games can get disrupted as people leave.
This is just an example of how I structure my days. What is important to note is that this is just a guide. I try my best to have some planned activities, arts and crafts. Usually these are in line with the time of the year such as Christmas, Easter, Saint Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s and other annual events that we can create things for. What we forget is that children receive a lot of this kind of interaction in play school and school, so I do try and refrain from heavy, adult planned things. I find children learn best when they’re allowed to explore and create and play their way. It’s through their play that they make sense of their world. They might play restaurants or household games where they have a pet and maybe one of the kids pretends to be a dog and the other pretends to be their sister.
Sit down with a pen and paper. Write down all the children you have each day then look at their needs and requirements. This will give you a broad view of what’s achievable. If you have mostly toddlers, you’re going to spend a lot of your time on the floor playing, less time cleaning but more time picking up toys. Planning massive activities can put unnecessary pressure on the childminder because at the end of the day you have to prepare, set it out and clean up afterwards all while trying to care for these beautiful children.
What’s equally important to note is that if your day does not go to plan and you don’t do the activities you had planned to do, don’t be too hard on yourself. There is always the next day to do the planned activity, at a time that suits the day. There are so many things that can go wrong or can take up time you hadn’t foreseen. So yes it is important to have daily structure and routine planned in advance but it’s also OK for things not to happen how you planned each day as tomorrow is a fresh new day to start again.