I’m not a childcare provider, and my kids are grown so I don’t have little kids running around these days, but my 21-year old daughter is a lead school-age teacher in a daycare facility. She works 25 hours a week, is a full-time college student, and provides daycare for a church on weekends. She’s in demand as a babysitter, pays her own tuition and even does laundry. The girl is smart, strict, upbeat, and busy. On the flip, she can also be irritable, overwhelmed, and moody. But who isn’t?!
Anyway, with schools in Maryland closed, and new demands being placed on daycare facilities, daycare providers are in a strange limbo. They are unsure whether or not new rules will eventually make daycare facilities close – and that may mean going without pay and possibly watching their employers close permanently – but they still have to up their game to meet the new state-imposed requirements. These are small businesses for the most part, and even the larger companies are working with small profit margins. There’s a lot of uncertainty for these, and a lot of other, folks.
Here’s the thing though: Natalie, like many of her co-workers, spent this morning cleaning and sanitizing their facility, all of the toys, and all of the furniture to make sure kids and their families are as protected as possible, babies are not exposed to the virus, and kids don’t take the virus home to their siblings, parents, or grandparents. She spent her own time yesterday working on lesson plans for those kids who are now likely going to be coming to daycare longer so that their parents can work either at home or in the office. In the meantime, my daughter, an auditory learner, is trying to figure out how she is going to successfully navigate her college classes online, work more to make sure her school-age daycare kids are getting the academic challenge she is committed to giving them, come up with creative ways to enforce social distancing in small children, and worry about whether or not she’ll have a job in a few weeks.
It’s a lot for anyone. My point with all this: If you’ve got a child heading off to daycare this week, be kind to your providers. They’re doing everything they can to keep your children healthy, active, safe and smart. They love your kids, maybe not in the huggy, over-indulgent ways of their grandparents, but when it comes to laying down the law, engaging your children, keeping their lives normal, and holding it all together, they’re your best friends. And you’ve got extra Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, send them with your kids!