Okay, so... things around here have been under constant mindshift for me the last few months. Some of you know pieces of what's going on, and some of you don't, but I thought I would just lay it all out. I do better with honesty- I don't so much see the point of not keeping you informed.
I've been doing this job for 14 years. It's been my favorite full-time job. (I still have a strange love for retail, I know it's weird. But I've never done that full-time.) This gig was an enormous blessing when my kids were little and I could be home with them and pour everything into them and have built-in playdates every day. The past year or so they've started to complain more and more loudly about how they feel like this job puts them last now.
I've built this business around the idea that I want to be SUPER reliable. I put out a calendar in January for the entire year and I really work hard to have no extra closings. I'm here when I don't feel 100% great. I'm here when I'd really like to be at my kids' field trips. I'm here all summer and all spring break when they are forced to sit in the living room and do nothing but too much electronics that give me mom guilt because their rooms are full of sleeping babies, I can't take them anywhere, and none of their friends want to come over into the baby chaos. We don't take summer vacations because I felt guilty being closed a whole week and I was afraid that people would pull out their kids and not come back. I worried so much about having a consistent business that I stopped putting my family first. It started to make me feel trapped, and I started to forget all the things I love about this job.
In the fall we were completely full, and all of a sudden we dropped enrollment from 11 to 5. It happens- I know there's an ebb and flow to this business. It's always been one of the downsides. People move, they find care closer to work or cheaper or offering a different program, or they age out... it's not a big deal. But we weren't getting any new calls, and I was starting to panic about feeling the additional personal responsibility of Anna not making her bills. Five kids wasn't enough for us to both make a living. (And to be clear, she never asked me to freak out or said anything to make me feel like it was really my job to be her financial advisor. But when it's at my house, I feel the pressure to make sure everyone is getting what they need, and I panicked big time.)
So I thought this might be a natural time to think about shutting it down, and about going back into teaching. I thought about how great it would be to close the daycare at the end of this school year, take the summer off to hang with my kids, and then go back to school with them. I told Anna that was the plan. She started looking for another job. I started going to interviews for office jobs too, in case I didn't get a teaching job. And then she found a job super quick. And I didn't.
She's really enjoying her new job and it gives her health care, which I love for her. She seems like it was a really good move for her, so I don't regret the way that ended up, even though it's weird here without her. Now that it's just me with five kids here though, I've been rethinking the entire situation.
I've decided I definitely don't want to teach. It has been 15 years since I've been in a classroom. They weren't even doing the STAAR the last time I taught. It would be like being a first year teacher again, and if I'm getting out of this job to create more family time, I'd want a job I could do and love while I'm there and then LEAVE it there. That's not teaching. And all the interviews that I've gone on either don't make my heart sing, or don't offer enough money to make it worth closing down. Doing this job does cost quite a bit. I run the dishwasher at least twice a day and I feed a whole bunch of extra people and I run the AC. But there are a lot of write-offs and I don't have to pay for afterschool care for my own kid. The amount of money I'd need to leave here isn't what entry level jobs are offering. Not to mention that I never wanted to leave this because I hate it. I still love it. The more I looked into other things, the more I realized everything I'd miss.
I really enjoyed working with Anna, and I am kind of weirded out by the way this turned out. I feel like it looks like I told her I was leaving when I wasn't actually planning to, or that it was some kind of passive-aggressive way of firing her without having the guts to say so. And that's totally not the case. But since she's left, I've gone over my budget, and I've settled into a calmer, quieter day with half the amount of kids here, and I've decided that I'm not in the market to close down as soon as I thought I was.
Figuring out what I want and letting go of the guilt I had about different aspects of the situation has been pretty freeing. I feel a renewed joy in this job and I'm enjoying switching little things around to suit the new smaller crew.
My first love is the teeny littles. My goal is to graduate earlier and keep the tinies. I'm working toward an 18 month graduation age. By then they are BIG KIDS and are definitely ready to move on to something with more action. I want to focus on cozy comfort and a little slower pace.
I'm still going to be reliable in terms of not having sudden closures. That won't change. However, I'm giving myself permission to take a couple more days off throughout the year. I hope that all my families can understand that a full-time professional job of 14 years deserves a couple more paid days off. And if not- it's okay if we're not a good match. :) There are lots and lots of home daycares in this area. I know some of them maybe take less paid time off than me, but I know for a fact that many of them take a lot more time, so I'm okay with bumping it up a bit to do what's best for my family.
And just because I've never said it and if I'm spilling my guts here, I might as well...... I have spent years and years feeling super guilty about that SMALL percentage of families who have in fact pulled their child from my care and moved them elsewhere because I had to call to say I was vomiting uncontrollably for one day, or who asked in a very rude and put-out manner, "Well why are you closed? What am I supposed to do?" Um, I like to go to the dentist and the doctor and just take a day off sometimes like everybody else. I have never once said "You had the day off today? Why didn't you spend the day at home with your kid?" You know why? BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS A BREAK SOMETIMES. And also because I get that you are paying me whether you bring your child or not, and it doesn't really matter to me what you're doing while your baby is here. You pay for them to be here, and you do what you need to do during the day. I'd love the same courtesy and understanding when I'd like to take a day off. I know that not everybody has family in the area and I know that sometimes it's a pain. It's why I give you as much notice as I possibly can. But in order not to burn out, and to be able to recharge and do the very best job with your babies that I can, I need to put on my oxygen mask first a little more often than I have been. (And it goes without saying I hope that the grand majority of my families have been absolutely awesome in this area. Isn't it the way of life though that the one or two who aren't awesome are the ones we judge our success by?)
Thanks for giving me this job. Thanks for continuing to trust me with your babies. And even though my kids complain, I'm grateful to be here when they get home and to have the life that we have. I'm happy I took the opportunity to explore leaving, so I have a renewed appreciation for the greatness this is.