This month, we welcome Chloe Webster of Pebbles Childcare, to contribute a guest blog on her topic of choice – helping childminders to unlock more time in their day.
As a home-based childcare provider, you don’t get the luxury of a team of staff to delegate to, a lunchbreak to do paperwork in, or sometimes even the opportunity to go to the toilet in peace!
The struggle is real – especially when you’re working from your own home and have your own life admin and housework as a reminder of all the things you still need to do.
That, and it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day, when your workspace is also your home.
So, here are five small, but simple, ways in which you can buy yourself some extra time in the day. Even if it’s 10 minutes, these tips will give you that little bit of extra breathing space at the end of the day – or enough time for a hot drink at least!
1. Prepare in advance
As the saying goes, failure to prepare is preparing to fail!
Are you left waiting for children to arrive in the morning? Or finding them being collected earlier that you were expecting?
An early finish is joyous – even more so if it’s unexpected – but before clocking off, why not do something your future self will thank you for and prep an activity for the next day, or even organise and re-stock your outings bag ready for your next trip?
These are little jobs that take minutes to complete, but can make all the difference in a busy day.
2. Utilise naptimes – you’ll miss them when they’re gone!
If you’re lucky enough to have a cohort of children that still have an afternoon nap, however long they sleep for, reply to those emails, complete an invoice, or even prep dinner while enjoying a brew.
Utilising these quieter moments – no matter how brief they may be – will mean you can switch off from ‘work mode’ as soon as the last child has left and spend some time with your family or doing something for yourself.
3. Encourage independent play for short periods
As practitioners, we can be so guilty of assuming that we must play and provide challenges for the children in our care during every minute of every day, but it is also essential that little ones are given the time, space, and opportunity to play independently too.
This encourages and promotes creativity, allows children to learn and develop their own interests, and test their own ideas and theories through self-directed play.
So, use this time when they are all occupied and busy in their play, to make those phone calls, respond to enquiries, or update a few observations. Whatever you do with the time, make sure it’s beneficial for you and your business!
4. Get the children involved
Do you have a list of things to do that never seems to end? Are you plagued by an array of household and garden chores that you’ve been putting off?
Then why not get the children to help you?
What may feel like mundane tasks to you, can actually be some of the best learning experiences for young children!
Whether it be raking leaves in the garden, potting plants, washing up, grooming the dog, or even cleaning and rotating the play space, get your children engaged. Not only do you get to tick off a load of jobs from your list, but the youngsters get quality time and hands-on experiences that enable them to develop essential life skills.
5. Batch cook
When you’re feeding a number of young children every day, as well as your own family, it can feel like you’re constantly in the kitchen being chief chef.
The best thing you can do to allow yourself more time to spend with the little ones and doing other things, is to batch cook meals that you can then get out and use as and when you need them. You could even get the children involved.
You will find that by engaging children in the food preparation process, they will not only develop a range of skills – such as peeling, chopping, mixing, and measuring – but they are also more likely to try meals and new dishes if they have helped to prepare them.
Therefore, not only does batch cooking provide a fantastic activity and learning experience for youngsters, but it also saves you slaving over a hot stove for countless, precious hours in your day!
Hopefully by utilising even one or two of these ideas, it will help to save you some time in your day and allow you to utilise your working hours for work-related tasks. As a result, restoring more work-life balance will then allow you to spend more evenings and weekends focusing on yourself and your family.
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