I've Lost My Drive

I have been doing child care in my home for 6 years.  I have been told that there is a 7 year burn out rate.  I am now feeling it.  I have lost the drive an ambition I once had and it's not fun anymore.  I am married with 4 kids of my own ranging from 17 - 5.  My husband works in the home building field so times are tough right now.  thus making it stressful.  our oldest child is a sr. in high school and will be starting colleg in the fall.  my younges child will also be starting Kindergarten in the fall.  I am emotional person so its going to be a rough Aug/Sept this year for me. 

Any way, I'm not sure if its the group of kids i have, if it's because they are all different ages, or if it's me...but it's not fun anymore.  I don't want to plan anything and when I should be planning things (after hours) all I want to do is be with my family and work on my own house work.  I got into this so I could be at home when the kids get home, but the down side is I can't do anything for them...if they get sick I can't pick them up at school, I can't attend afterschool activities/sporting events because I don't close my daycare until 5:30...and I can not take 5 kids under between the ages of 1-5 anywhere.  That part kind of sucks.

I know people who have been doing this for 20+ years...but I also know that they don't teach anything....I have tried to be better than the best provider I had with my older kids...and it was good for a while but its gone now....and I don't know where to find my love of this again....

I've gone on vacation thinking I would have a renewed sense of what I wanted to do...but when I try to do things with the kids and they have the attention spay of 5 minutes I can't do it.  I'm sure i have to high expectations...but just trying to any little thing with all of them by the time I help the last kid the first has been done and wants whats next..   One person with 5 kids is extremely hard.  I wish I had an advisor/tutor or someone to give me advice.  someone who is willing to help without judging.  every day is like the last...i need something new...i'm not sure what...

I seriously think a job change may be in order...I know that I would love to work at the local school...not as a teacher but maybe in the office as a secretary or something like that.  That is what I did for 12 years before getting into this business....but with the economy being what it is I know that I can't get that job I want right now....so I want to do better at what I am doing until i can get what i really want...

any advice?

6yrdclady 6yrdclady
31-35, F
10 Responses Mar 26, 2009

Hi there, I know this is an old post but I am in same vote as you!
I have been doing daycare for 11 1/2 years and am feeling completely burnt out! I have tried every which way to set aside my feelings that I don't have that spark left in me anymore. I have cared children from both friends and family among other non friends and non family. Working with my friends and family, I believe has been a big part of the downfall for me in this business.
I look after my nieces and my friends two children and of course have given discounts to them to help them out. I have been pressured, scolded and even threatened when I didn't do things their way or had issues that were beyond my control. I have been paranoid of being scolded for something I may not have done for their specific needs or the stress of being asked something like "I need you to count the number of coughs' my child does in a day." I have become so resentful of all the expectations and the fear of them pulling their children out if I don't accommodate. (And I know they would!)
Unless you are in the daycare industry no-one knows the work and effort and time we put in to help the children become good people and learn and have fun doing it. Then, we find we don't have the energy to play and do the things we should with our own children. For me, I work a 10 1/2 or 11 hour day. Between the earliest people dropping off their children in the morning at 6:20 and the latest pick up at the end of the day at 5:30 it's a Long Day! I live in an area where $35/day for full-time is the average, but hear about others in my area charging $40.00 to $45.00/day for full-time.
When people are thinking about putting their child in our care they don't care how long a day you have. They don't think it's all that hard to do. From my impression, they think we have it easy and get to be home all day "looking" after their children. Where I live you can have only 5 children in your care under the age of 9 (other than your own). Making a living doing before and after school is good if you have a spouse who has a good job to carry most of the bills on their shoulders. You also have to think about the money you spend on crafts, food, snacks, cleaning supplies, repairs from damage to your home, items around the house, daycare toys, and toys that belong to your own children. I also get the big sigh when they find out one of their kids are sick. Apparently it is assumed that it came from my daycare (even though they go to school)! I learned this from unprompted, comments that some of the kids have made in the past.
I am now in the position where all the kids are at school (including my own) and am trying to get my foot in the door for a job that can balance the budget (you can't let family and friend's kids go just because they don't make you enough money.. or do you risk their friendship and ill will towards you because of the fact that it's not their fault that their kids grew up). I have no bad feelings toward any of my clients but feel that they would be seriously angry and unhappy with me for; leaving them in the lurch (even if I gave them a year to find another provider). I do also have to think of the fact that I have three children of my own to make sure to be home for, for before and after school as they are 4, 8 and 12. I do understand I wouldn't get a discount like I give my friends and family at someone else's daycare so I have to try and find a job that can be done between school hours.
Making balance in any job can be very hard but unfortunately there is just not many people who truly see daycare as a viable, respectable and hard job. They don't understand that all the love, time and care that we give to their kids and at most times try to give them our all, because we want them to be happy, healthy human beings.
Kudos to you hard working daycare providers! I wish that all daycare providers receive, the same love, care and understanding that we put forth -every day- to all our kids, daycare or not!

It is year six for me and I am feeling the exact same way....I am so over this profession. I can hardly devote anytime to my husband and children as I am operating sometimes 5a-6p, and when my children come home I am completely drained. I have done so much to create an awsome program and set myself apart from other providers but I still find that most parents still seem to treat me and my staff as less then professionals. This is the first extended vacation I have taken in six years ( I closed for 2 months) due to my having a child, it was so fustrating to see many families I have bent over backwards for get angry when we enforced meternity leave pay (1 week)...my children are now 9,8,5, and 3 months and my school age children are always upset that I can't attend graduations, mother's day tea, talent shows etc. I just feel like I am missing out on so much of my own childrens lives because I am taking care of everyone else's. ?. I have extended my hours, watched children with no pay when parents had financial problems, and did not charge late fees, I have even taken in daycare children as foster children for months when their mom was having issues......i have been totally used up by a business that i used to find so exciting. I am also looking for a new business venture, any ideas or advice I woild appreviate it.....it is good to see I am not alone in how I am feeling.,

Reading your post was like looking in a mirror! I am also in year 6 and I'm exhausted! My own kids are in 8th and 4th grades and I'm lucky if I can get to their back to school nights to meet their teachers. Being stuck at home as worn me down. I have to make a dozen calls to find someone to pick them up from school if they get sick. My energy and motivation is gone. I also took a vacation hoping it would help recharge my batteries but I came back dreading Monday. I'm sorry, I have no advice but it was nice to hear someone else in the same boat.

Okay it's naptime here and I just wanted to add ( meant to and forgot in my schpeel up there), that every one of you have valid points and that we have all experienced one, more or ALL of the things each of you has shared to some degree. I just didn't want to come off as acting like I am unaffected. I just have had very little of it and most was nipped in the bud. While other parents/children were sent packing. And those few that have been asked to leave were told so gently and diplomatically, that we are still friendly and we have even had referrals from them. I do have answers for things- tried and true. Let me be of help, it's my passion that those who choose this profession be elevated in our society and it all starts with each of us, one by one. Again, pardon any typos! I'm doing this from my phone and so hard to proof read.

Hi Shanna,
Do you give out your phone #?
I really need to talk about my situation...

Oh my goodness my heart goes out to each of you! But YES, you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get that spark back! I have been at this for 8 years and have had brief episodes of sheer exhaustion but they should be short lived. YOU have to determine what kind of provider you will be and what level of professionalism your business will reflect toward parents and potential clients. I have SOOO much more I'd gladly share, if you are interested. I usually have no less than 10 children contracted, and 8 under roof at any given time. My daughter has our 2nd location in her home with generally the same numbers. More money goes along way as more incentive to be at my best at all times. And that in itself has a snowball like positive affect on my whole business. I actually make more money than the majority of my parents do. They don't resent it one bit, be ause they get what they pay for and say they couldn't do my job. I love all my kids and parents too and they all know it. If little issues come up, I deal with it ASAP and then we move on and that's that! handling things that arise head on and firmly underscores you're running a business and are not just watching their child. I have so much more to share. I really can help you turn things around on all levels. Sorry if any typos! Got to get back to my littles!

I totally feel you. I have been a daycare provider for two years now. Single mom trying to do the best I can for my four year old daughter. Your post and the responses make me tear up a little (yes I'm a doof) because I'm not alone. This is such a difficult and demanding job. I feel a real lack of respect and appreciation from some of the parents and community in general (lots of people seem to think I'm a "babysitter"). To top it off the state keeps requiring more and more which is hard to get done after an 10 hour day. <br />
Thank you for sharing.

i couldnt believe your story! i thought that you were talking about me! : ) you have literally taken the word out of my mouth! i too am a home provider (6+yrs) and your story is exactly how i feel too! i also have no idea on how to find my daycare provider "spark" or if i will even get it back i too have taken my vacations hoping to feel renergized to come back to work with the kids but as my vacations ended, i would feel worse and not really looking forward to start up again.. lately i have been feeling resentful and guilyt because i have a 6 yr. old son who was jumbled up with the rest of the daycare kids and was practically raised more daycare style thana mommy/ son style and now i feel like i didnt really get to do my mommy bonding as i did with my older son because by the end of the day i was so burned out. luckily my son is really close to his daddy n older bro. but for me myself i cant help feeling as if i "missed out" on him. its a really sad feeling as a mom and as for my daycare business it also has been taking a toll on me sometimes its hard to be attentive to the kids and do your daycare thing when the bills, state/daycare paperwork, receiptes, household crap, files, our friends the debt collector callers, and anything else that us as moms/wives/homemakers/ work from home daycare employees must tend with. dont get me wrong, my family does help me out and i am very thankful for that but its just that with all of us as providers struggeling to stay afloat its getting harder and harder to put on a happy face. i am just left wondering if anyone has come back from a 7 year daycare burnout feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to reopen their doors?

I am also a home childcare provider of 30 yrs..but times are changing ..people do not just want us to take fun , loving care of their babies and they want us to do what they can't do themselves ..and you are right by the time we change ., feed, wash hands ,, cook ,,clean and did I say wash hands :) that is what the state wants now wash hands every sec.. LOL and count to 20 or is doesn't count and the babies hands too...take all the kids out everyday even if it is 32 degrees ..and stand over the babies for 2 hours and watch them sleep..they are now turning us into centers ..but we are so much better for we give more love and a great family home.....some of the new rating program may be great but I see it really taking a toll on us as family homes..

I feel the same way. I've been doing home daycare about 3 years now and i work with infants and toddlers, I am so burnt out and tired of breaking up fights inbetween diapers and snacks. I know I should be doing more to teach them but once there is a moment of not fighting I want to savor it. After all the effort to take care of them and work a twelve hour day the last thing I want to do is sit down and plan activities. I feel like I neglect my three year old more doing this job because she is the oldest and best behaved. I have guilt all day because I feel I'm not doing enough for anyone.

Don't be so hard on yourself. I've only been at this 2.5 years and I've come to quickly realize that when you have 5 kids from 5 different families and 5 different child-rearing beliefs, you quickly begin to understand that there's a difference between pre-school and daycare. HOW could you begin to teach any of them anything when the parents aren't parenting? How could you begin to teach any of them anything when you're breaking up fighting, changing diapers, preparing meals, helping with outerwear so you can go outside for a walk, to the park, to play in the snow? That's why we lose our drive to do this job. Then they're the parents who dose up their kids when they're sick and STILL send them in. There's the parents who tell you no driving with their kids and your kids suffer sick at school AND put all kinds of expectations on you to teach them colours, numbers and abc's AND do all kinds of crafts, no tv (so they can plop them in front of it when they get home and not feel guilty they've watched too much tv). <br />
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Doing home daycare is a sucky job - it's a total lack of respect from the entire community because you're either seen as a lazy stay-at-home mom only in it for the money and make the kids watch tv all day (there's a crap load of news articles that support that belief). <br />
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I don't know what to tell you other than stick it out until things get better and ADVERTISE for the kids you want out and re-work your routine (i.e., 2 hours of outside time, Friday's are craft days, free-play where kids really are at their best to learn and story-time). Ten hours is a long day and you should make it clear that quiet time is 2 hours - period!<br />
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Hang in there! Dump the crappy parents because they'll find themselves being dumped from other caregivers and make sure you NETWORK with other caregivers in your area - spread the word about the bad clients and then the parents will know that their only alternative is to be co-operative and behave.