dancing rabbit daycare


{I found and purchased the dancing rabbit image via etsy}

Many of you have been oh so curious about our decision to have a daycare in our home.

If you had asked me at any point in my life what I saw myself doing for a living, home daycare would have been the last thing I would have answered.  I have always dreamed of owning my own shop or some sort of furniture building.  But a few weeks ago, Mike and I were chatting over coffee about how we would like to have more regular play dates {I am sure I have mentioned how much I hate that term, but have yet to come up with a better one} for the kids’ social sides.  Minutes later I checked my email and there was an email from a local couple who had seen my poster in the post office and were wondering if I would be interested in caring for their two young children a few days per week.  The next day we met and all felt comfortable with making it a reality.

Now, I had considered doing home daycare, but never thought it would be someone’s first choice with our free range chickens and numerous pets, but we found out from chatting with them that there is both a need and a lack of childcare that doesn’t include plopping the kids in front of the television and feeding them poor quality foods.  I was shocked, but when you consider the average hourly wage of the home daycare provider it has to be  a labour of love.

Some of you may think I am insane for taking on more children as I have often written about how exhausting it is being a full time stay at home mom, but a lot of the exhaustion comes from worry and maybe even some guilt.  I worry that I am not enough or that my children are bored or under stimulated (they aren’t).  I think that home daycare will give me the focus and organization I often lack as well as provide a change of scenery and important  social skills for the kids.  We also hope it will loosen the financial cinch as a side benefit.

Some of you have mentioned that you have considered doing this yourself so here are a few simple steps I have taken to prepare:

  • Notified our home insurance provider that we will be providing home child care 2 to 3 days per week
  • Registered my business name with the government – this way I can claim things like food costs, toy and book costs, and even a percentage of home maintenance costs.  The tricky part will be to put the taxes away for tax time.
  • I have taken the full first aid course many many times in my life, so I purchased a concise laminated copy of the emergency basics to keep in the bathroom with a few first  aid items.  We also have a home first aid learning kit we got from the local EMS.  It is important to refresh the basics on a regular basis.
  • I refreshed our stock of basic craft supplies like scissors, glue, construction paper, and ingredients to make bubbles, cloud dough, slime, finger paint, etc.
  • I did some basic meal and snack planning and will continue to go through our cookbooks and Pinterest for great ideas.
  • When purchasing groceries and supplies I tried to fairly divide it into two purchases – home use and daycare use so that the receipts are simpler to tally up.
Need to do:
  • Make up a simple info sheet for the parents to fill out – birthdays, emergency contacts, general information, etc.
  • Create an invoice template to issue – because families can claim childcare costs most parents would require a receipt.
  • Find an effective and simple software to keep track of expenses, payments etc.
  • Organize a file folder for receipts and documents as well as purchase a ledger (I still prefer paper records though it would be wise to transfer it to the computer as well)
Yesterday was the first day and it was a good day.  There were no tears, though I know it was a transition for everyone involved.  The kids shared well and there were no arguments.  They are two very sweet boys, but it is still 4 children to feed and care for so it was a big change for me.  As we all get more comfortable, I would be open to taking on one to two more children depending on their ages, but will take the time to adjust to two extra bodies first and see if I think I could comfortably take on more.
We had some free play, lots of outside time, bubbles, water, sand, and ball play, painted with watercolours, paper cutting, gathered eggs, played with the bunny until it got too intense, reading and looking at lots of books, a healthy snack tray (a la Dr Sears) with orange quarters, apples, cranberries, crackers, cheese, and dry cereal and a homemade lunch of organic beef stroganoff.
Some activities I would love to do with the kids:
  • transferring their crayon drawings to a blank shirt
  • cloud dough
  • giant bubble wands
  • cut and paste with old magazines
  • colour matching with paint chips and clothespins
  • felt and button bracelets
  • simple baking and diy pizzas with homemade pita breads
  • gardening
  • nature walks
The day’s goal rhythm:
  • greetings, getting settled, free play
  • outdoor free time, let chickens out, check for early eggs, gather fresh grass for the bunny
  • morning snack
  • main activity/craft
  • tidy up
  • lunch
  • stories/reading
  • quiet time/nap time
  • wake up, afternoon snack
  • yoga dvd/outdoor time/or movie (weather depending)
  • gather clothes and items for home time
  • goodbyes
*all snacks, meals, and activities will be done outside when possible because a) it keeps cleanup a little simpler and b) outside time is good.
*if and when they do watch television I would do a quick tidy/catch up and then sit with them while doing some simple hand craft like knitting or crocheting.
go gently + be wonderful
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  1. Posted May 16, 2012 at 11:14 am by Teresa C | Permalink

    The tv is an issue at many daycares. One of the reasons we chose the one my son goes to is that it doesn’t have a tv!
    I think that your project is great. In Portugal there are registered nannies, but I’m not sure until what age (3 or 6 years old). Still, most don’t offer what you have to share!
    Best wishes for the Dancing Rabbit!

  2. Posted May 16, 2012 at 11:20 am by Misty Pratt | Permalink

    This is wonderful, thank you for writing this all down! I am now seriously considering my own daycare, but like you, I have my hesitations about how I can handle more kids when I am already tired out by my one toddler (and baby on the way, due in Oct). I’m also NOT crafty…although I can do simple things with paper and glue :) I’m curious about nap time – are you having them all lie down together in one room, or are you trying to separate them? Did you buy little cots/beds?

    • Posted May 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm by erin | Permalink

      The nap will be tricky for me…Poppy quit her naps at about 18 months and if she does get one she is up until at least 10 or 11 tossing and turning. Silas seems to be wanting to follow suit.
      I put the two daycare kids in one queen bed in a childproofed room and they are used to playing or reading until they fall asleep…we shall see how this goes as the new environment was hard for them to do so…
      Good luck with your decision :)

      • Posted May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm by Molly Makes Do | Permalink

        Our daycare does official “nap” time, but with the goal of quiet, more than sleep. If the children are sleepy they will eventually nod off, but there is a section of the day that for an hour (atleast) the lights are dimmed and the focus is on quiet time. Older children are encouraged to read or do another quiet activity while keeping in their own “quiet time” area.

  3. Posted May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm by Lise | Permalink

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous and show your good intentions well. There is definitely a huge need for play-with-chickens, get-muddy, eat healthful foods, get-outside-a-lot child care. And I love the dancing rabbits!

    I wanted to recommend the Redleaf Press Calendar Keeper for your record keeping. It’s got all the child care essentials figured out and organized (and some cheesy crafts and unhealthy menu ideas, but just skip that part). And I’d highly recommend reading their tax book; it will help you think of all sorts of deductions you might not have considered.

    Enjoy the rest of your first week!

  4. Posted May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm by heather+you make do™ | Permalink

    This was a wonderful introduction to your home day care decision and so many helpful details for those who have pondering their own foray into childcare. Your care sounds just what I would want for our children if I wasn’t caring for them myself. Wholesome, outdoors, healthy—you are giving them everything they need to really thrive. Beginnings are always hard, but you seem as if you have planned pretty well and set up your business properly so that you won’t have bigger stress later on. Now it will only get easier as you all fall into a rhythm of being comfortable with each other and what you are doing—when it begins to feel as if it has always been.

  5. Posted May 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm by Stephinie | Permalink

    I am so happy for you. You are providing something wonderful for these children and adding a little spice to your home life. Sounds like good stuff for everyone involved 😉

  6. Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm by Shannon | Permalink

    First off, I enjoy your blog on so many levels – the photographs, your family’s connection to the earth, the honesty in your writing. As a recently returned-to-work mama (a decision that I struggled with), my husband and I are in the middle of seeking suitable and loving childcare for our little one. The major problem for us is lack of options, as we live in Nunavut where daycare spaces have incredibly long waiting lists. Additionally, it is difficult to secure any private childcare providers. The vision you have for Dancing Rabbit Daycare is beautiful. Wishing you happiness and health.

  7. Posted May 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm by mel | Permalink

    omigoodness this is beautiful! Way proud of you for taking it on Erin… I wish I could be a toddler again to be part of the fun!
    Ok, so that gorgeous pic of Poppy and bunny, my word!! Now I need THAT one (and still the one of her all hands covered in paint).. you think I kid, but for real, let me buy them!! lol
    Wishing much creativity, delight and dancing your way.

  8. Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:51 am by Cary | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this post! Your schedule is exactly what I want to do, with more of a waldorf base. I am not nervous about the amount of children (in NC we can only have 5 in an in-home daycare- including our own), but the commitment. What happens if I am sick or one of my children gets sick? When will I have time to fix meals? When will I schedule dr and dentist appts? I just want to approach it as calmly as you have!!! And it is everything that I have ever wanted to do- I cannot imagine myself doing anything else! Sometimes I feel guilty because I am not homeschooling my own children (I have a 7 and 5 year old in public school- which I detest). But my husband and I don’t see eye to eye on the homeschool issue. I also have a 5 month old at home with me, so I know this would be good for her. It would also be fun to plan trips on the days my children are out of school.

    Geez- I am rambling. Sorry! Thanks again for this post!

  9. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm by Emma | Permalink

    Hi, I do home daycare also (in France) and am in a similar situation to you – two of my own and two day care boys. We don’t have tv but we have a dvd machine, as my daycare kids are 1yr and 1.5yrs they have no interest in it yet! We try and do a maximum of out door stuff (new sandbox is a huge hit) but we are snowed under 6+ months a year so this past winter with two babies not yet walking, was quite long. Our roads aren’t cleared enough for the stroller so they were both wedged into the sleigh with lots of blankets. I also offer homemade, organic when possible, meals and include a cooking activity (very messy) once a week. We are currently planting a veggie and herb garden – they love puling up herbs and offering them to me to smell! It’s exhausting work, low payed and is something I never imagined doing until I had my own kids, but I love it!
    Good luck with ‘dancing rabbit’, i hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  10. Posted May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm by erica | Permalink

    your daycare sounds so wonderful. as a mama making the difficult decision to return to work i so wish there was an option where i am for a daycare like yours. fortunately we won’t have to cross that bridge for another 6 months or so. all the best.

  11. Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:37 am by Ana | Permalink

    loved reading about this! How many children are you allowed to care for when there’s only one adult, do you know? Also, are the others potty trained – I wonder if it will inspire Poppy?

  12. Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:37 am by Nicole | Permalink

    Just stumbled upon your site- live it!! If you ever need any tips or advice- I would love to help. The animals are my favorite part of your program actually- its great for children to experience!! I was in your boat and still am so check out my site and feel free to ask me questions.

    • Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:06 am by erin | Permalink

      Great! Thank you so much :)

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